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  2. If you’ve got great ideas and a passion for design, this is your chance to work with Computer Arts and create a one-off cover, showcasing your talent to the creative industry. In partnership with our friends at D&AD New Blood, this year’s competition is offering a £700 prize for the winner, and with the addition of a special decorative print finish from our pals at Celloglas, this will be a unique addition to the winner’s portfolio! The brief To enter you must be a current student or recent graduate (within the last two years). That includes mature students, and you can be based anywhere around the world. The issue your cover will adorn is our annual New Talent issue. Inside we will be looking at the very best of this year’s UK creative graduates. As such, we’d like a cover design that speaks to the spirit of new talent. You can visualise that anyway you want – be abstract, funny, literal, whatever – but it must be at the core of your design/illustration. The special print treatment from Celloglas will depend on what works best with the winning entry. Maybe it'll be six metallic colours, or scratch and sniff paper? Maybe, like last year's winning entry, we'll go for Mirri, or we might decide that glow in the dark works best. Take a look at what treatments Celloglas offers, and by all means tell us if you have a favourite! Download the cover template, and make sure your idea works to the Computer Arts' cover specification. Once you’re happy, you’re ready to enter! How to enter This competition is a little different to others, as it accepts mockups as well as finalised art. This is because entrants span designers, typographers and illustrators, so it may not be possible to provide the finished article straight away. Also, the winner will then need to work with CA’s art editor to make sure their entry works perfectly as a cover with a main hit and other coverlines. Therefore, we need some information about you, including a link to your portfolio, and a short paragraph giving it a bit of context to your entry – maximum 100 words. Send all that to hello@computerarts.co.uk. Entries will be judged by the CA team based on creativity of concept, its suitability for use as a magazine cover, and the quality of your existing portfolio – and the winner will receive a paid commission of £700 to develop it into a final cover with direction from CA's art editor. Deadline for entries: Midnight (BST) Sunday 24 June 2018. We will also showcase a selection of the best entries on Creative Bloq, including a paragraph about the artist and a portfolio link. Good luck! Hi-res artwork (or any amends) will only be requested from the chosen designer once the commission is set up. All IP remains with the creators, until a contract is set up with the winner. View the full article
  3. I’m not a typographer. And if my shoddy handwriting is anything to go by, I’m not very good at creating letter shapes either. I am, however, lucky enough to write about design for a living, which means I get to meet all sorts of creative folk who help make people like me experience what it’s like to make something. That’s just what happened at this year’s TYPO Berlin as I got to dabble in a typography tutorial with a difference. For the uninitiated, TYPO Berlin is an international conference where the biggest names in typography and design come together to share their stories, reveal how a project was made, and generally dish out inspirational advice for creatives to put into action. This year we learnt how some technical wizardry with OpenType features can help you design a handwriting font that isn’t boring. Another amazing part of TYPO Berlin is the workshops. Hosted by big names in the design industry, these sessions are an invaluable opportunity to watch experts like logo designer Aaron Draplin in action. This year I dipped my toe into the world of type design first-hand as I attended a Tricotype workshop and created lettering out of a rarely used font medium: wool. Multiple strands of wool can be fed through the knitting machine As well as being new to typography, I’m also an inexperienced knitter. (My portfolio consists of an unevenly knitted length of wool I generously call a scarf.) Thankfully, just as digital tools can take out some of the strenuous legwork of illustrating, there was a domestic 1970’s knitting machine hired from the Electronic and Textile Institute Berlin that made knitting idiot-proof. That was the knitting process sorted, but what about the typography? In the workshop hosted by artist and videosmith Sam Meech and Jonathan Hitchen, even this became easy thanks to the use of punch cards. Simple punch card grids can create lots of different lettering styles With the help of the grids on these punch cards, typographers (and me) can create lettering that looks like a piece of pixel art. All you have to do is pencil-in your letter shapes in the grid, punch out the marked squares with a hole punch, and you’re ready to feed the card into the machine. If you’re familiar with a jacquard loom, you’ll know what happens next. Once the machine has cast on the wool, and you’ve created a few layers by moving the mechanism left to right and back again by hand with a satisfying shunk-shunk, it’s time to feed in the punch card and change the settings. Thanks to a simple turn of a dial, the hooks on the knitting machine change position and start feeding a new strand of wool through the gaps in the punch card grid. A few more shunk-shunks later and the lettering starts to appear. It’s like a combination of ancient computer coding and traditional crafty materials. Different colours of wool create dynamic combinations It only took a few minutes for the punch card design to be knitted. And it turned out that the knitting machine did make the process idiot-proof. Mostly. Occasionally, the wool slipped off one of the many sewing hooks, but luckily Sam was on hand to recast and easily fix these little mistakes. I think they give the finished pieces an extra level of character. Like all of the workshops at TYPO Berlin, this one was incredibly popular. Each workshop walked six people through the process, with each person creating a letter for a knitted alphabet. The workshops build up an entire knitted alphabet The finished pieces showcase just how much flexibility there is for type design, even when you’re working with a standard grid. And thanks to the different colours of wool, no two designs looked the same. All of the finished designs will be compiled into a pattern zine so members of the type and knitting community will be able to recreate the letters. Want to stay in the loop for when future workshops are on the horizon? Be sure to bookmark the Tricotype site and check in for updates. Related articles: The 10 commandments of typography The rules of responsive web typography How to improve your digital typography View the full article
  4. You're reading UX Design and GDPR: Everything You Need to Know, originally posted on Designmodo. If you've enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+! The internet is where we spend a lot of our time, whether working, studying or communicating. And if in physical life there are very clear laws and regulations in terms of privacy and personal life, things are quite different on … View the full article
  5. Yesterday
  6. NickTheGreek

    IPS Community Suite 4.3.3

    Good news! Version 4.3.3 of Invision Community is now available. New features for GDPR compliance: New feature for administrators to download an XML file of all personal information held. New setting to automatically prune IP address records. New option when deleting a member to anonymize content submitted by them. New setting to automatically add links to privacy policies of integrated third party services such as Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel to your privacy policy if they are enabled. Fixes an issue where Calendar events submitted in different timezones to the user may show at the wrong time. Other minor bug fixes and improvements. Learn more about GDPR compliance features in this release Also included: 4.3.2 Version 4.3.2 is a small maintenance update to fix issues reported since 4.3.1, including: Promotes non-functional when "Our Picks" disabled. Various emoji fixes, including skintones and mobile issues. Online stats. Numerous IE11 fixes. PayPal billing agreements failing due to lack of address.
  7. This year's OFFF Barcelona is just around the corner. Taking place 24 - 26 May, the ever-popular design festival promises to delight with a range of innovative and international speakers, plus workshops, activities and performances. The upcoming event is the eighteenth edition of OFFF Barcelona, and to mark the occasion it's trying to answer a crucial question: just what exactly is OFFF? As well as trying to find some definition through all the talks, Italian artist duo Mathery have puzzled it out with some lateral thinking for the OFFF opening film (teaser above). Taking the name of the event as a starting point, Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli explored what OFFF would mean if the word was an acronym. Possible ideas have included Oyster Flavoured Food Festival and Orange Fringe Feathers Festival. We talked to the pair about how the project came about... A series of characters feature in the OFFF opening film "Last year we reached out to OFFF to see if they were interested in having us as speakers," Mathery tells Creative Bloq, "unfortunately all the spots were already taken, but they mentioned that for us they had a different plan… So a week later they got back asking us to design the campaign OFFF2018 and the opening film, it was baller news!" "There was no brief, we were completely free to do whatever we wanted, which at first was shocking, but we knew it was just the best thing ever!" As for where the idea for acronyms came from, the pair tell us that "after the moment of panic and excitement…we started the process by analysing the festival and all the campaigns from previous years." "When doing this research, we realised that none of us were aware of the real meaning of the OFFF acronym, and talking with OFFF we understood that the real meaning is something that doesn’t reflect the festival anymore, for us that was the perfect input to work on." The film has a 'What the hell am I looking at?' feel The project is Mathery's second short film, and with it they wanted to recreate the feeling of an opening ceremony. "We wanted the film to respect and represent our aesthetic, with a narrative that doesn’t tell the audience right away where you want them to go, but that gives a bit of suspense and a 'What the hell am I looking at?' feeling that magically disappears at the end where everything comes together." Details of the rest of the opening film are firmly under wraps, but Mathery was able to give Creative Bloq a taste of what to expect. "If you imagine we gave the OFFF letters a body and soul, what could happen? What are these four characters getting ready for?" "If with the photographic campaign we have explored the idea of the acronym in a visual way, in the film we went even deeper as the letters that actually dictate the story." Given that OFFF is a big, globally recognised event, the chance to create the opening film was a great opportunity Mathery didn't want to miss. "For us it’s been a unique experience to work on this because we rarely get the chance to spend time on projects without creative boundaries, aside from our personal projects. And the fact that OFFF always completely trusted our ideas and taste was gratifying and inspiring. We felt free to push boundaries and we can’t wait to see our images printed on giant canvases and to show our film for the first time to such a cool audience." Keep up to date with all the latest OFFF news here. Related articles: How to organise a conference 4 design trends we're all tired of hearing about 10 top design-related movies View the full article
  8. Running a successful design studio requires dedication, ambition, talent and a fair bit of business savvy. But you also need the right equipment to do the job. There are certain tools every graphic designer should have on their studio shopping list, ranging from hardware and software to furniture and more. Creating an enjoyable, fulfilling working environment goes beyond providing the basics, however. There are various ways to make your studio a better place to work, ranging from communal refreshments to flexible working. Read on for our guide to eight great gadgets that will help make your design studio more stylish, productive and fun... 01. Stay alert with regular coffee Tell this Smarter machine to make you a coffee using the app A communal coffee machine is a great addition to any design studio, and it's a great way to help fuel designers through those heavy project deadlines. Take it a step further, save time and make everything run smoother by automating the process with a WiFi-enabled machine, like this one from Smarter. The best office chair in 2018 You can adjust it to suit the preferences of individual team members, or regular clients – and schedule hot steaming coffee remotely using the iOS or Android app. It can also be fully integrated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 02. Keep the team cool in a heatwave The Evapolar air conditioner cools an area of 45 square feet This is a neat little extravagance if your design studio finds itself in sweltering, dry heat over the summer and fans just aren't cutting it any more. Claiming to be the first desktop personal air conditioner, the Evapolar cools, humidifies and cleans the air around your workstation, creating a perfect microclimate to get on with the task at hand. Each unit cools an area of approximately 45 square feet immediately in front of the device, which should easily cover a large desk or meeting room. It's portable, and relatively energy-efficient – consuming just 10W of electricity. 03. Add whiteboards anywhere for cheap Think Board XL turns any surface into a whiteboard cheaply There are plenty of digital collaboration tools for design studios on the market, but sometimes there's nothing more satisfying than the old-school analogue approach. Think Board's XL whiteboard is a almost clear film that turns any surface – wall, desk top, floor, whatever you need – into a reusable writing surface for dry-erase markers. It's as simple as peeling and sticking the film on: a lo-fi way to transform any space into the perfect venue for a creative brainstorm session with the team. 04. Give your laptop a touchscreen AirBar makes your MacBook or PC laptop recognise gestures Ever found yourself instinctively reaching for your laptop screen to tap, swipe and pinch after spending a few hours working on your tablet? Invest in an AirBar and you'll never have to check yourself again. This simple, lightweight device attaches to the bottom of your laptop screen with magnets, and connects via USB. Use anything from a paintbrush to a gloved finger to interact with your screen. It works on Mac or Windows 10, great for impressing clients in pitches. 05. Automate common tasks with one touch bttn can either be WiFi enabled, or work with a 2G data sim This one's for anyone who likes a touch of drama in their day. If you've ever fancied your own physical Big Red Button on your desk, a bttn may be ideal for you. While it won't summon a nuclear strike, or Batman, you can use it for plenty of other things. It'll save time, and give you a little smile while you do so. Basically, your bttn can be programmed as a shortcut to products, services, or entire workflows. This could be anything from reordering supplies, to booking your favourite meeting room, to booking a taxi. Whatever you do regularly. 06. Reap the benefits of natural light Get a healthy spectrum of natural light at your desk Research has shown that natural light is much more conducive to a happy, healthy, productive working environment than its artificial counterpart. But not all design studios can afford giant floor-to-ceiling windows to flood them with light. One solution is the LifeLight Touch Natural Desk Light, a beautifully designed lamp that delivers the ideal spectrum of light required for peak performance. It also comes with a uniquely flexible positioning system, which directs light from above to eliminate glare. 07. Share real-time notes with everyone SMART kapp Capture Board's 84-inch and 42-inch models At the other end of the technological scale from the Think Board peel-and-stick instant whiteboard is this stylish offering from SMART Technologies. Available in both 42-inch and 84-inch models, the SMART kapp Capture Board is both intelligent and fully connected, so remote team members, clients and collaborators can see what's written on them from anywhere in the world. Best of all, you can write on it with the same dry-erase markers you'd use on the Think Board XL. When you do so, anyone you've invited – up to 250 of them – can see your notes. You can also save them to your phone, tablet or computer. 08. Add an extra perspective to meetings It looks like an owl... but it also captures meetings in full 360 Give video conference meetings with clients an extra twist of character with the Meeting Owl, a robotic video conference camera from Owl Labs. Its charming likeness to an owl is one reason to invest – but more importantly, it can capture incredible 360-degree detail around the room during your meeting. It uses audio and video cues to understand where people are sitting, and shifts focus automatically to highlight up to three speakers at once. Just place it in the middle of the table and get started – the Meeting Owl has plug-and-play compatibility with all major web-based video conferencing platforms. Related articles: The best computer for graphic design 2018 5 fail-safe ways to beat procrastination The five best desks for home office or studio View the full article
  9. Intel on Monday acknowledged that its processors are vulnerable to another Spectre-like speculative execution side channel flaw that could allow attackers to access information. View the full article
  10. It’s no secret: the best way to build your creative network is to deliver outstanding creative, on time, to budget, with a brilliant attitude. Word of mouth is the holy grail of self-promotion, and exceeding the expectations of your clients, colleagues and collaborators is the most effective way to achieve it. We’ve already looked at how to project your work onto the global design stage. Here, we explain how to build on that momentum once your work’s out there. Read on for pro tips on how to build your creative network. 01. Give your clients something to talk about Canadian motion studio Vallée Duhamel exceeded Samsung's expectations in this striking short video, Satisfied clients aren’t just repeat clients – they’re the gatekeepers to a whole new market of prospective clients and collaborators, so it’s in your interest to give them something to talk about. We don’t just mean exceeding expectations on the creative side during a project: this is also about investing in client care. You need to ensure your clients know when and how to get in touch with you, arrange regular catch-up meetings, and always be proactive with ideas to improve a project – or even a client’s wider business. The best way to encourage a client or collaborator to speak out about your services is to make every project the very best it can be. Just ask Julien Vallée, co-founder of motion studio Vallée Duhamel, which created both projects featured above. His studio has built a global reputation thanks to the team's stunning attention to detail, and willingness to go above and beyond every brief. 02. Exhibit your work Illustrator has displayed his work at exhibitions like London’s Pick Me Up Another great way to expand your industry reach is to participate in a relevant exhibition – or stage your own. However hosting an exhibition could raise your blood pressure before it raises your profile, so you’ll need to be organized: know your angle (what are you showing and why?), pick the right venue for your budget, and choose your date carefully. Publicizing your exhibition is crucial, so set up a website, design some eye-catching flyers and shout about it on social media. Then, on the day, don’t hide away. Approach visitors and be ready to talk professionally about your work. This is a prime opportunity to add to your contacts, so don’t waste it. Our best tip? Leave a large stack of business cards where they can be clearly seen, along with some beautiful takeaway marketing material – postcards or posters, perhaps – that tells prospective clients or collaborators who you are and how they can contact you. 03. Attend the right events Headline speakers like designers Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh can often be seen wandering around events like OFFF Barcelona There’s no substitute for meeting people face-to-face. Networking for the sake of it can be a soulless activity, but there are a few tips and tricks for making valuable connections – and they all start with picking the right events. First, identify who you want to meet and why: are you looking for prospective new clients, collaborators or creative employers? Heavyweight industry conferences like How Design Live, OFFF and Generate New York boast big-name speakers and lucrative networking opportunities; while weekend events like Georgia’s Creative South are fantastic for meeting like-minded new collaborators. Having good connections close to home can be invaluable, too. There are hundreds of less formal, local meet ups like Glug and AIGA events, as well as exhibitions and more – attending one or two might just reveal a booming creative network right on your doorstep. 04. Make the right impression A well-designed business card will leave a lasting impression with new contacts – so take them with you everywhere Once you’ve decided which events you’re going to attend, do some research before turning up. Which speakers or attendees do you most want to make a connection with? One way to make that initial conversation easier is to break the ice before the event – perhaps with a quick introductory email or tweet, letting them know you’ll be attending too and would love to meet up. During the event, your goal is to make a good first impression, so ditch the hard sell and focus on building relationships. Basic conversation skills are important here: listen as much as you talk, ask questions, make direct eye contact and smile. And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your business cards: this is exactly what they’re for. 05. Break onto the speaker circuit Designer Gavin Strange, aka Jam Factory, speaking at Reasons to be Creative conference Speaking at creative events is a brilliant way to raise your profile, as well as cement your authority as an expert in your chosen area. Plus, being able to talk confidently about your work in any situation – whether you’re on stage talking to an audience or pitching to a client – is a crucial design skill that will elevate your practice. However, without experience it can be tricky to bag your first speaking gig. But there are ways to persuade a conference curator to take a chance on you. Here are our best tips: Learn from the pros Analyze the presentation style of your favorite speakers: what do they do well? Why was it good? Equally, what didn't work so well and why? Write a winning proposal The best speakers don’t just walk through their portfolio – after all, it’s already online for everyone to see. To stand out as a speaker, you need to have a great story to tell. Know your audience Make sure you pitch your talk at the right level. There’s a difference between talking to students and professionals... Share the lows as well Audiences don’t want to be marketed to. They want to know about your failures and mistakes – and how you dealt with them; not just the highlights. Make your talk realistic and relatable to leave a lasting impression. 06. Get creative with video Artist and YouTube sensation has built up a huge following with his short, quirky art walkthroughs Video is king. Not only do audiences react well to video, search engines and social media platforms love it – so if you want higher visibility, a video strategy should be high on your list of priorities. That doesn’t mean you need to develop complex video-editing skills overnight, though. It could be as simple as natively uploading a 30-second video for your next artwork to Facebook (a sped-up screencapture, for example) with a call-to-action at the end and a link to your website. If you’re feeling more confident, why not use Facebook Live to offer portfolio reviews, or Instagram video to share a quick how-to? The key is to create engaging content that people want to share – so do what you do best and get creative. Ultimately, it's the same principle as getting your clients to speak out about your services: if you give value to your audience, they'll spread the word for you. And if you’re lucky, you might just go viral. Step up your self-promotion by heading over to digital print and design company moo.com. You’ll find a wealth of fun, affordable, easy-to-use tools for creating premium business cards and stunning self-promotional material that will project you onto the global design stage, and get your work in front of the people who count. Related articles: 10 steps to go freelance this year The pro's guide to creating memorable business cards Create better business cards in less than five minutes How to project your work onto the global design stage View the full article
  11. Over the past 15 years WordPress has become the world's most popular content management system. Easy to get started with and extremely versatile, it's one of the best blogging platforms around – the ideal home for your design portfolio, or something more ambitious. There's a huge assortment of WordPress themes to choose from, while if you're unafraid of a bit of code you'll find loads of WordPress tutorials that'll help you get to grips with its more complex features. 10 top WordPress resources A big drawback of WordPress's popularity, however, is that it's a prime target for hackers. If you want to avoid losing control of your shiny new site, follow these tips for keeping it secure. 01. Add extra security to user accounts Lock down user permissions to prevent unauthorised access to admin areas A great deal of vulnerability comes from the user accounts that intentionally give access to your site, particularly administrator and editor roles. If a hacker gains access to one of these accounts, of any user on the site not just the main admin's one, then they can make changes at will on the website. Always make sure accounts only have the access they need. For example, if a user is only going to be writing articles, consider giving them only contributor or editor access, never administration. Keep in mind the level of ability of your users, ensuring that anyone with admin or editor access is fully trained to use all the account's features to avoid accidents. You can add features to allow temporary access to a certain role level, i.e. if you have a contractor working on the site and they need temporary admin access, you could give it to them with a set time to expire so that you don't need to remember to revoke their access later down the line. If a certain role level does not need all of the default permissions, you can install a roles and permissions plugin to turn off certain permissions that will never be used. You can also create other roles with only specific access. Restrict users to only the permissions they need to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of a feature. To help prevent attacks coming from user logins, put a limit on the number of times an account can make a failed login attempt before that username is locked out for a period of time. This mostly catches out bots who are guessing passwords, but remember to warn your users that they should not attempt to log in more than the number of times you set in a row. If they can't remember their password, and if they forget their password, they should reset it instead of trying to guess! It's also good practice to remind users to use secure passwords (over eight digits, with upper, lowercase, numbers etc), and to change them every so often. Remind them never to write their passwords down, and log out when they are finished with their session to avoid unauthorised access to their accounts. Two-factor authentication is an extra level of security that can be added to logins. They require users to use their authenticators when logging in to increase the number of credentials needed from just the standard. Users will need an extra code or pin to log in, usually randomly generated by an app or sent to a phone by text. It can feel like an extra barrier to login for users, but it's also an extra barrier for hackers. 02. Change old defaults Changing the name of your admin account will make a hacker's job a lot harder New WordPress installs make you choose a custom username for your admin account, but if you installed your site a while ago, your admin account may have the default name of 'admin' – this makes it easier for hackers to guess your login credentials as half the work is already done for them. Change the default admin username to something else to improve security. You can do this manually via the database in the wp_users table, or you can create a new admin profile and delete the old one via the Admin panel (be sure to attribute all the old account posts to the new one). You can also change the default database prefix to something other than wp_ to add a further layer of obscurity to your default setups. The easiest way to do this on an existing install is via a plugin, but backup your databases first. 03. Keep WordPress updated Make sure you're running the latest stable build of WordPress WordPress is always updating and improving its built-in security, so make sure that your version is the most up to date to stay ahead of old vulnerabilities and exploits. Most WordPress installations update automatically, but if yours doesn't, keep an eye on your Admin panel or Inbox to be notified of when new updates are ready to install. Hackers are on the lookout for sites that haven't been updated, and only 22% of WordPress sites are running the latest version. Since WordPress runs almost 30% of all websites on the web, that's a lot of outdated websites! If you're running a staging site, you can test all updates for compatibility with your current theme and plugins before pushing live. This is good practice to avoid any automatic updates accidentally conflicting with existing installations. It gives you a chance to catch any problems before going into production. Don't forget to update your Plugins and Themes too. It's not just old core WordPress vulnerabilities that can give hackers a way in; anything you install on your WordPress website needs to be secure as well. The next tip will tell you more on choosing trustworthy plugins. 04. Install trusted plugins and house clean regularly Not using an old plugin any more? Get rid of it! There's a temptation to install as many plugins as you have problems to solve, but too many plugins can cause bloat and one unreliable plugin can cause a security risk. Always check that plugins are trustworthy before installing. Download through the official WordPress interface or website, and always check the star rating and reviews for negative feedback that may indicate a security flaw. Plugins are created by developers with all different levels of ability. Even though plugins are vetted before being added to the WordPress site, you should always do your own research to make sure the code you are installing is solid. The WordPress website will tell you how old a plugin is, when it was last updated, and most importantly, if it's compatible with your version of WordPress. A plugin that has not been updated in a while is not necessarily a bad one, it may just mean it hasn't needed an updated in that time. Check for recent reviews to confirm the plugin is still viable, and that it's still compatible with your version. An old plugin with recent low star reviews and an unknown compatibility is worth avoiding. Regularly delete unused themes and plugins, as even a deactivated plugin can be a security risk if a vulnerability is found and exploited. Keep your plugin directory clean. You should only have plugins installed that you are currently using. Check older plugins when you update to see if they're still compatible. Review your plugins periodically to make sure you still have the best one for the job. There could be a new plugin that combines the features of a few that you already have and might be better supported, more secure and easier to maintain. 05. Consider managed hosting Managed hosting will cost you more but will prevent cross-server contamination It's not just the security of your own site you need to think about. If you host your sites on shared servers, you run the risk of cross-server contamination, where hackers gain access through a different site and are able to damage other sites sharing the same space. Consider managed hosting or Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting to eliminate this threat, where your site is hosted separately. Cost is an obvious implication, but for sites with high loads and traffic, dedicated servers can improve performance as well as security. Different hosts have different solutions; compare a few to assess which best suits your needs. 06. Mask, lock and hide Hide your WordPress version number and change the name of your login page Hackers have less leverage if they don't know where to start. Hide your WordPress version number from your code so only admins know which version of WordPress you're running. That way, hackers don't know which vulnerabilities are present to exploit. Move your login page from /wp-login to something that's not default. This makes a huge stumbling block for DOS and brute force attack bots that trawl sites looking for login forms to target. It also adds a more aesthetic value, in that you can change the URL to something more memorable for your users. Deny external access to wp-config.php and .htaccess using the following code in your .htaccess file: You can also disable file editing from the Admin panel if you know that your themes are only going to be edited via file uploads on an FTP. This prevents anyone with access to the Admin panel from directly editing files accidently or as a hacker with malicious intent. Insert the following into your wp-config.php file: 07. Run backups frequently Never forget: if it's not backed up then it's not important Make sure that your site is backed up in the event that your site is hacked and you need to roll back to an earlier clean version. How often you should run backups depends on how often your site is updated. It's integral to back up in a place where your site isn't hosted to avoid any malicious activity on your WordPress hosting from infecting your backups too. Backups can be stored on your own computer or a cloud-based service like Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon S3. Backing up in a location that is not your current server also helps if you have an unresolvable plugin or theme conflict and can't access your site, or if there's a catastrophic server malfunction and you lose all your work. Dedicated backup plugins exist to help you keep on track, most with options for scheduled or manual backups. Free and premium versions give you various options, BackupBuddy being the most popular paid service as they have their own third-party storage for your files, plus the ability to restore from a backup directly. Compare other plugins like UpdraftPlus and BackWPup for their free and premium versions to see which has the features you most value. 08. Install security and anti-spam plugins A good set of security plugins will keep your site safer Many security features can be added with a comprehensive security plugin, such as iThemes Security or Sucuri, both of which both have free and premium versions. Security plugins come with a suite of tools to lock down vulnerabilities on your site such as those already mentioned in this article; from masking your version number, to installing two-factor authentication for logins, the feature lists are often extensive. These types of plugins can be invaluable in making your WordPress site more secure, and most security plugins are easy to use with single-click installation for the most important features, and optional installation for the more advanced or complex features. This makes them perfect for WordPress beginners, as there's no coding needed to get a well-protected site in minutes. More advanced users will have access to features that can further secure your site, such as closing down unneeded access to protocols such as XML-RPC, and updating the WordPress salts used in encoding. Such plugins will help to protect your site against brute force and DOS attacks, which can take your sites offline if there is too much load on the server. They can also firm up the login process with additional levels of security to prevent your user accounts being used as a method of attack. Malware scanning and activity logs keep records of any suspicious behaviour or corrupted files for review, warning you of any attacks in progress and giving you an idea of where your site's vulnerabilities lie so you can resolve them. Some security plugins also come with backup options, for that all-inclusive service. Having all of your security needs organised by one plugin means that the features are easy to organise, with less risk of conflict between similar plugins. Make sure you do your research, however, as this plugin is going to be the thing standing in the way of your site and anyone wanting to cause it harm. You will need to pick one that will do the job admirably. Additionally, an anti-spam plugin such as Akismet will keep spammers from clogging up your site with unrelated comments. If your security plugin isn't already doing so, it can assist the security plugin by adding an extra layer of security to your community interaction by using validation tools like CAPTCHA and other anti-bot devices to make sure only real people are commenting. An anti-spam plugin helps keeps your site clean, as well as your database behind the scenes. Screening for valuable comments has the added bonus of giving your content more weight by only showing proper engagement from readers. Each plugin comes with its own different tools, so compare the options for something that suits your needs. Consider premium versions of plugins for additional features since this is an integral part of your site and generally speaking, paid plugins will give you the most comprehensive service. Ideally you want a suite that covers at least the basics of security, such as the other tips named in this article. This article was originally published in issue 272 of creative web design magazine Web Designer. Buy issue 272 here or subscribe to Web Designer here. Related articles: 37 best free WordPress themes 9 security tips to protect your website from hackers Power a blog using the WordPress API View the full article
  12. For some time now, the paradigm for web service architecture has been RESTful services, which enable representations of resources from one system (usually in JSON form) to be made available to another over a network. A basic REST service might expose a /customer/ resource that returns a collection of all customers in a company’s system. An HTTP GET request to /customer/12/ would return the record for customer number 12, attributes as JSON properties. It’s this simplicity that has made REST so attractive. However, there are limitations to RESTful services that can make more complex use cases needlessly convoluted. As a result, in 2015, Facebook’s GraphQL was unleashed. GraphQL offers an alternative paradigm and language that overcomes many of the perceived shortcomings of REST, and alongside Facebook counts Twitter, GitHub and Pinterest among its users. REST services provide responses in a format determined by the server, and aim to isolate resources based on a logical model. This introduces two issues that GraphQL sets out to solve: Since the response structure is determined by the server, a typical REST response will provide more information than is necessary for the client. Changes to this response structure may be breaking and require versioning the API. Where development responsibilities are separated, this also places a dependency on the team developing the API to respond to changing front-end requirements. It’s rare that meaningful functionality can be implemented by manipulating individual REST resources in isolation, resulting in ‘chatty’ APIs that require significant back and forth across the network to fulfil any practical Let’s say our RESTful /customer/ resources include a customer’s name, email, and a list of order IDs. We also have a separate collection of /order/ resources representing individual orders that include the product name. To get the names of all products a specific customer has ordered, we first need to retrieve the customer resource (GET /customer/12/), then get the order resource for each item in the array of order IDs (GET /order/#/). Along the way, we also receive the customer email, which we don’t need. Conversely, GraphQL lets the client specify the exact information needed as a single request. The complexity of gathering this information and consolidating it into the required format is shifted to the server. A server-side runtime sits in front of your application, and processes these requests based on a set of data types and functions you define. Many developers are excited about GraphQL, and it’s likely that its footprint will continue to grow To fulfil our need to obtain a list of products a customer has ordered, the GraphQL client will tell the server that it wants the customer name, and a collection containing the product names of their orders. The server will return only this information. In GraphQL terms, this is a “query”. If we want to modify resources on the server, we use a “mutation” (as a POST request). These are defined similarly to queries but each request specifies a function that is implemented on the server to update data. Many developers are excited about GraphQL, and it’s likely that its footprint will continue to grow. A turning point will come when it reaches sufficient maturity that corporations become comfortable using it. The best place to start learning how to create and deploy GraphQL services is graphql.org, and howtographql.com offers an excellent set of resources for popular web development stacks. View the full article
  13. We're all kind of aware that sitting hunched at a desk all day isn't the healthiest way to live; bad posture can lead you to all manner of aches, pains and worse later in life. Doing some regular desk exercises can help combat the effects of a long day spent editing paths, and choosing the right desk or chair for your studio can make a difference too. 10 ways to make your desk more comfortable If you're spending your days drawing or sketching, though, you might need to go a little further to prevent your precious hands mutating into gnarled claws after all those hours clutching your 2B (or stylus). To help keep your paws in tip-top shape, comic artist Kaitlin Bruder has put together this infographic detailing a number of hand and wrist stretches that she does regularly, especially when she's drawing or has been on her phone of computer for a while. Click the infographic to enlarge it Kaitlin recommends these exercises for before and after heavy or repetitive hand, wrist or arm activity; "As a baseline i usually do ‘em when I wake up and before I sleep and then as needed through the day," she explains. If you find these exercises useful and need a more permanent reminder of them, Kaitlin has put them on Redbubble for you to buy them as a poster or a t-shirt, so there's no excuse for having ruined hands. Related articles: The best keyboards for designers How your desk job is affecting your health – and how to improve it 5 mindfulness apps to save you from creative burnout View the full article
  14. Light and shadow can bring a new level of artistry and storytelling to our charcoal drawings. My professional work as an animation artist calls for a strong understanding of light and shadow. Indeed, it’s one of the most important art techniques in my toolbox. I need to have a technical understanding of how light works so that I can give a believability to the scenes that I create. Passages of light and shadow can be designed to give special emphasis to each moment of a film. Vibrant contrasts of light can convey an exciting energy, while nuances of light can create subtle mood changes. This workshop is taken from How to Draw Portraits in Charcoal – buy your copy here Long before I began working in film, my understanding of light developed through observational drawing. The study of light on form has been key to everything I do as an artist. In this workshop we’ll explore how to draw a portrait in charcoal, using light and shadow to convey form. 01. Establish where direct light falls Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image Compare the egg diagram with the generic light-and-shadow head (below). Notice how each major protuberance of the head is like a mini version of our simple diagram. For instance, take a look at the nose: it has a highlight, halftone, core shadow, reflected light and cast shadow. Now analyse the chin, the lower lip, the cheek and the forehead: each has the same quality of light and shadow. Even the eye, as it protrudes out of its socket, can be treated the way a simple sphere reacts to light. When you learn to observe these simple relationships of light and shadow, rendering form becomes relatively straightforward. 02. Find the ambient light Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image Common sources of ambient light are indirect window light or outdoor lighting on an overcast day. This type of lighting is potentially even simpler than direct light: forms curve away from the light source into shadow, and cast shadows are soft edged and diffuse. Because electric lighting is relatively recent, there’s a long tradition of portraits painted under ambient light sources. Standard practice was to place the portrait subject in the light of a north-facing window, which would maintain a consistent level of illumination for many hours during the day. Even today, many portrait artists prefer the soft quality of ambient lighting for a sensitive rendering of their subjects. 03. Simplify what you see Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image The next important simplification is to organise the head into clear, committed masses of light and shadow. As a drawing teacher I’ve found that new students nearly always look at individual contrasts of anatomy as they draw, rather than noticing the bigger, simpler masses of light and shadow. The results are bumpy, overwrought anatomy that starts to look more like a sack of walnuts than like a human head. So before we ever start rendering the nuances of light and shadow, I ask students to identify and commit to the simple masses of light and shadow. They also have to look for and emphasise the quality of the shadow edge. For instance, cast shadows tend to have a hard edge, and turning forms tend to have a soft, blended edge. If we emphasise this simple statement of light and shadow in our portraits before we render nuances, we’re more likely to end up with strong forms and an accurate likeness. 04. Use highlights to emphasise form Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image Examine the highlights in the drawing of this plaster cast. See how they tend to fall at the crest of each form facing the light? The placement of highlights is critical to show turning forms. Pictured above is a simplified version of the face to show how the highlights describe the curving forms. The highlights tend to fall on the corners between the large planes of the head. 05. Notice where planes meet Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image The red-lined diagram shows the side plane and front plane of the cheek, with the highlight falling where they meet. It’s the same with the nose: the highlight falls along the edge where the side plane and the front plane meet. Whenever you’re struggling with creating clear form in your drawings, fall back on this simple quality of highlights. Even if you end up exaggerating what you see, you’re telling the little white lie to convey a greater truth. 06. Don't draw everything you see Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image In these two drawings, the woman on the left is primarily in shadow and the woman on the right is primarily in light. When I was drawing the woman on the left my eyes could perceive a great deal of value range. But I knew if I tried to render every subtlety, not only would it take too long but the masses of light and shadow would be broken up and confusing. I had to decide what to emphasise about my subject and what to edit. 07. Explore different types of light Click the icon in the top-right to enlarge the image I decided that the rim light on the left-hand face should be pushed into a narrow range of brightness so that I would have the rest of the value range to render subtleties on the shadow side of the face. The value chart below the drawing shows the break between light and shadow. The result is a clearer, more committed drawing. For the right-hand drawing, I was interested in the subtleties of character and form created by the halftone lights. This led me to make the decision to push all the shadows into a very narrow dark range, as seen in the lower part of the value graph. That choice opened up a wide range of tone to render strong form and character in the light. This article was originally published in ImagineFX, the world's best-selling magazine for digital artists. Subscribe here. Read more: Get better at figure drawing How to choose the right drawing tools 9 top tips for drawing in black and white View the full article
  15. Running a studio can be tough. There's business cards to think about, office chairs to buy and employees such as art directors to think about. Here, leading designers and illustrators revealed the biggest lessons they've learned, and how these have helped them run their winning design studios or practices. 01. Give designers space to hone ideas Lippincott worked with Bain Capital to create a number of assets "It takes a village to execute a complex, global design project, but you can't underestimate the importance of the individual in that process," says Lippincott's Heather Stern. It takes one person to have the idea, but many people to execute it. I've learned how to protect an individual's idea and craft within the demands of a global design project." It's my job to give designers the space they need to hone their ideas. We're successful when I'm able to respect that brilliance and mobilise a team to help bring it to life." 02. Making the client happy isn't enough "The biggest lesson I've learned so far is that making the client happy isn't enough," advises Sagi Haviv, partner and designer at iconic firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. "At the end of the day, you, the designer, must be proud of the result, and the way to achieve that is to show the client only those options that you believe in wholeheartedly. 03. Empower people Wolff Olins' work for media brand USA TODAY Ownership of the work and open communication is key, says Wolff Olins design director Dan Greene. "By making people feel valued through their contribution and giving them the platform to have input into the direction of a project, it can give team members the extra 10 per cent they need to turn a job from good to great." 04. Respect everyone "Treat people like humans and with very little hierarchy," says Snask's Fredrik Öst. "Make sure that everyone is a superstar and that everyone has a life beside their job." 05. Don't back down with tricky clients Sarah Mazzetti created this giant wood "thing" for TICTIG exhibition at Casa Testori "Be firm and clear about the fact that there's a reason why you want things to be done in a certain way," advises illustrator Sarah Mazzetti. 06. Treat every project like it'll be your best "One of the most important lessons I've learned? To treat every new project as if it'll be the best of my career," says Northern Ireland-based graphic designer and writer David Airey. "It doesn't matter who the client is, or what industry I'm designing for, I'm the one responsible for just how good, how interesting, how successful the result is." This was originally published in Computer Arts magazine, the world's best-selling design magazine. Subscribe now to make sure you don't miss future issues. Related content: The designer's guide to the Golden Ratio How to start a blog How to create your own font View the full article
  16. Only co-founder Matthew Tweddle Achieving a balance between work and life is something I’ve always struggled with. At every stage of my career I’ve made the next creative challenge the most important thing in my life. But was I losing something in the process? Last September, I went to the Brand New conference in Chicago and heard Tosh Hall, creative director at Jones Knowles Ritchie, speak about his relationship with design. He talked about the need to strike a balance - for the sake of his sanity and to the benefit of his creative output. The message got through and I knew it was important to make a change... but old habits die hard. Those habits were initially forged during my first professional job out of university: artworking nightclub flyers and their promotional materials. This normally involved, at the behest of clients, using bright neon lettering to communicate a not-to-be- missed ‘£1 a shot’ offer. It was by no means a dream job, but I was determined to create the most elegant cheap drinks flyer the industry had ever seen. Ever since then, I’ve continued to throw everything at my work, and remain convinced that hard work is necessary to becoming a good designer. But this is complicated by the fact that as you progress through your career, you get less and less time to actually focus on design. What's your idea of success? As the creative director and co-founder of small branding agency, Only, progression for me still means carving out time to consider new challenges that push me beyond my comfort zone. But design is increasingly fast-paced. Very often clients don’t have the luxury of time — to develop an idea, to allow it to incubate, to experiment, and fail in the way that’s necessary to create truly wonderful work. I believe now that the key is doing all you can to manage your time effectively. One tactic I have learnt is to set your own achievable targets, and ways of measuring success that are within your own control. And that can mean taking a step back and reassessing exactly what you consider ‘success’ to be. It’s not as straightforward a question as it might seem. In the creative industries, there are many ways success can be quantified. As well as the ever- increasing number of awards, there are showcase sites and blogs, plus the constant pursuit of traction across social media. Then there’s the other kind of feedback; the increasingly negative commentary from other designers surrounding the release of new work, particularly new brand identity projects. I now accept that there will always be other people who enjoy greater success, who have more D&AD Pencils on their shelves, who receive greater critical acclaim, or who just have more followers on Instagram. The nature of creativity means there’ll always be projects that aren’t as well received, and even those who are highly regarded will always be open to subjective commentary and negative opinion. Accepting this and defining your own measure of success is essential to moving forward and remaining focused on the things that matter most. Quality not quantity I’ve also learnt to rely more on those with talents and interests different to my own. When the pressure is on, I’m always tempted to take on too much responsibility, in the belief that retaining control is the only way to resolve the problem. But all too often, that tactic falls down. As the hours get longer, productivity starts to fall. The jobs list begins to grow, emails go unanswered and project plans start to slip. As a way of working it’s unsustainable, and as an agency owner, it can stifle potential for growth. As a small team, we now hire on the basis of contribution and look for people who’ll bring something beyond the existing strengths in the studio, and contribute to our collaborative process. We also spend time seeking out creative partners who can bring their own expertise to the process. It’s always important to keep perspective and make sure work doesn’t completely take over Taking the time to collaborate is essential. Working through a problem with a talented team is much more rewarding, and different perspectives always improve the solution. Crucially, it’s sustainable and enables a far healthier work-life balance. All of this gets muddied when you consider design to be synonymous with life. Away from the office, my hobbies are all closely tied to my job and my favourite people are all in similar industries. It’s important to remember that most people don’t get to do something they love every day for their job. It’s a real privilege to work as a designer with people who trust you to help steer and define the direction of their business. As with any other craft or discipline, good work comes from caring about what you do. It’s always important to keep perspective and make sure work doesn’t completely take over. But being completely enthralled by the work in front of you can itself be enormously rewarding. View the full article
  17. What's in a name? Everything. The name Terry Bollea probably doesn't strike fear in to your heart, but Hulk Hogan sure does; Eldrick Woods doesn't sound as sporty as Tiger Woods; and Stefani Germanotta doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Lady Gaga. These aliases undoubtedly helped these celebrities become household names. The world of app design is no different. The best iPhone apps for designers Sometimes, a first impression is all you have – and that's often the case in the overcrowded App Store, especially when there are so many free apps available,. If you've figured out how to make an app you've done the complicated bit, so make sure your efforts don't go unrewarded by giving your app a great name. In this article we'll share how to name your creation so people pick it over hundreds of seemingly similar products. 01. Hint at functionality The phrase 'Tweetbot' effectively captures what this app does Your app name should provide some indication of what it does. If you go for something totally obscure, you'll be relying a lot on your app icon to convey its function, which puts certain constraints on your creativity. One convention is to pair the basic function of the app with a word that enhances it and adds originality. Think of Evernote, Wunderlist and Tweetbot as prime examples. Since clarity and recognisability are so important, make sure they take the front seat when deciding on a name. 02. Don't be a copycat Do we really need another 'Insta'? Your initial reaction may be to use a trendy convention to link your creation to other awesome apps – perhaps by adding the 'Insta' prefix or using the moniker of 'Angry' to describe your game that tosses animals at seemingly immovable objects (nobody steal that idea, by the way). However, what you gain in recognition you sacrifice in legitimacy. Who wants to buy the 75th app named Insta-something? Isn't the original one the only one worth buying? There's something to be said for breaking the trends and starting a new one, even when it comes to naming. 03. Differentiate Which 'Calculator' is the best one? The number one reason why your app's name is important has nothing to do with your app. It has to do with everyone else's. With such a proliferation of apps, it's easy for yours to get lost in the mix. For instance, let's take an iPhone calculator app. As well as the one Apple makes (aptly entitled 'Calculator'), a quick search yields thousands of other results – there's everything from 'Calculator+' to 'iCalc4me'. If your app isn't very original from a function standpoint, what you call it really needs to be. If you're really stuck for what to call your app, you might get a nudge in the right direction by using a name generator such as Nameboy or Dot-o-mator. The best way to use these is as kick-starters for new directions or ideas. 04. Use real words How will people tell their friends about this app, so they can download it too? For your app to gain momentum and popularity, people need to be able to talk about it in the real world. The trend of taking all the vowels out of a name has died out for a reason. And while 'Zombieeez' sounds cool, when it comes to telling others about it, you're going to need a pen and a good memory for spelling to get that name right. While you have complete licence to make up new words, use caution when making words that are hard to say and be aware of the impact this will have on how easy the name is to remember. It's certainly possible to have your app reach legendary status without an easy to say name, but again, why take your chances in it becoming popular in spite of that? 05. Stick to sentence case Why is 'SHOT NOTE' yelling at us? If you notice your collection of apps, most use sentence-case (e.g. Candy Crush Saga) or camel-case (e.g. WhatsApp). It may sound like a good idea to differentiate by starting your app name with a lowercase letter or opting for all-caps, in reality, this can delegitimise your app quicker. People will buy what they trust, and breaking the upper/lower convention is a quick way to make your app look sketchy. 06. Check no one else is using it The worst thing would be to spend countless hours developing an app, then submit it to the App Store and get it approved, only to then discover the name has been trademarked by someone else for their business. Even if there are no legal ramifications, you'll want to set yourself apart from what could be a widely recognised name for an entirely different reason. Get on Google and research every last permutation of your name. It may be a bummer to have to go back to the drawing board, but it will save you some headaches later on. 07. Find the right length The 'Go' suffix gives momentum to this app Keep your name short and concise. Long names are arduous to read, difficult to remember, and won't look right in someone's collection of apps. However, with really short names you may struggle to find something that hasn't already been used. Throw Twitter handles and domain names into the mix and the range of available names becomes even narrower. A smart way to differentiate your app name is by getting creative with prefixes and suffixes. An 'app' suffix makes it clear what your product does, while prefixes like 'go' or 'get' can invoke action. 08. Take your time You learn WhatsApp is an app and get an idea of what it does through the 'What's up?' pun, all from a few letters While there isn't a magic formula for coming up with an app that will pocket you millions, if it's finished and in the App Store, a great name could be the thing that sets it apart and makes the difference between a download and a scroll-past. Don't let your app's name be an afterthought – you've put time in to developing this thing, so take time in finding the right name. What you name it should shout from the mountain tops what it is and what it does, since you will most likely only have that first glance to make an impression. 09. ... but don't take too long If you get your heart set on a name but the actual development of the app isn't very far along, remember that you can't squat on a name, according to Apple. You'll have 120 days total to submit your initial binary in order to hold that name. Otherwise, you run the risk of someone else nicking it. Read more: 10 creative free iPhone apps for designers 18 of the best Android apps to download for creatives How to pick the perfect app font View the full article
  18. CBA Paris’ head of strategic design Anne Henry Branding was originally about labelling and distinguishing one product from another, but today it has lost sight of this mission. Brands are now seen as instruments of a consumer society, and much of the new generation denounces this system of commercial self-interest. As designers, it’s now urgent to question and realise the purpose of a brand in order to avoid obsolescence and remain desirable to today’s consumer. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 69 per cent of the world’s consumers trust businesses to change the world, while only 47 per cent trust governments to do the same. Consumers both look for and expect brands to take a proactive role in making wider society better. As designers, it’s now urgent to question and realise the purpose of a brand Signals of this consumer shift can be seen in the rise of the sharing economy in the States with car pooling via sites such as BlaBlaCar, or Thredup, a site for buying and selling secondhand clothing. There’s also the rise in popularity of farmer’s markets; and an ever-increasing awareness of using and buying goods made from more sustainable materials. The rise in the number of creative briefs about brand purpose, or the need ‘to embody an alternative’, attests to the urgency that brands from all sectors are placing on these ideological upheavals and new consumer aspirations. Here are my tips on how to create successful and tangible brand purpose and engage today’s consumer: Create flexible designs Conceive a flexible brand design that allows you as a brand, or your consumers, to appropriate or play with the brand elements, bringing people closer to your values and purpose. For example, cult streetwear brand Supreme create limited edition T-shirts featuring new versions of their iconic red box logo to celebrate each new store opening. This allows them to constantly reinvent their brand and links back to a key characterstic of streetwear fashion: playfully appropriating other brands and parts of culture to forge a new sense of identity. Promote engagement Dare to extrapolate the design codes to take a stand and promote meaningful engagement, perhaps through semiotics. Sustainability and environmental concerns have long been a part of Ben & Jerry’s brand identity. Now, their typography alone plays the role of a destroyer of global warming by featuring on placards and signage at climate change protests. Engage in conversation Engage in an intimate conversation that speaks to individuals’ social consciousness. Despite some notable environmental and civic initiatives by big brands, such as the Nestlé ‘Engagement Plan’, the DanoneWave initiative in the United States, and the Heineken Group’s position on a borderless world, large companies still struggle to be credible in the market when compared to smaller ones, which are much better at occupying a purposeful ‘activist’ stance on global issues. Faced with this distrust, it’s necessary for big brands to use their influence to educate consumers about important issues, and in turn help improve perceptions of their own brand. Make a mark Create a unique stylistic fingerprint to communicate the brand’s purpose in line with the company’s DNA. For example, the Australian drinks brand Sparkke Change promotes social progress by printing societal aspirations such as ‘Consent can’t come after you do’ or ‘What’s planet B?’ on white packaging. Method, which sells green cleaning products, through transparency of all its brand assets and vocabulary, brings respect for the planet at the heart of its value proposition. When they get it right, these bold brands are all examples of memorable design footprints. For them, branding is the expression of a commitment that aims to transmit a new collective imagination. At the dawn of a new world, which is more conscious and experiential than ever before, we need to reconnect brands to people by using design beyond its functional or aesthetic aspect, and focus on promoting sustainable progress instead. View the full article
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  20. If you sit for long hours at a desk – perhaps you're working on an important logo design, perfecting the art of your skills using a photo editor or working on a website's landing page – it's important to make sure you have the best ergonomic office chair you can afford. Whether you're a freelancer looking for an office chair for home, or you have a whole studio to furnish, you'll find our pick of the best office chairs here in this buying guide – as well as a few things to consider before handing over your cash. The best computer for graphic design The best 4K monitors Firstly, a decent office chair should last, so it's worth investing in one that's going to give you the back support you need – even better if it actually improves your posture. You'll find our favourite ergonomic office chairs below, at a range of different price points. You'll also want an office chair that's adjustable, and as this is a long-term investment, it's worth checking that it comes with an equally long-term guarantee. (All the best office chairs do – just read the small print to make sure.) Throughout this guide, you’ll find the best office chairs available: these are the chairs that give you the most bang for your buck. You'll also find more expensive options with more features, and cheaper alternatives for tighter budgets. And we've included our pick of the best office chairs from Ikea, Staples, Amazon and all the most reputable retailers as well, to help you make the best purchase possible. Read on for the best office chairs for your home or office. No, it's not a spelling mistake. The Humanscale Diffrient Smart was designed by American industrial designer Niels Diffrient and is, in our view, the best office chair out there. It's a minimal mesh chair that embodies stunning, ergonomic design, and is available in a variety of colours and fabrics. This office chair doesn't have manual controls, but adjusts automatically to your size, shape and movements. As the armrests are attached to the back of the chair instead of the seat, they move automatically as you recline. The backrest also pivots as you lean back, adjusting to the shape of your reclined spine, all the while the tri-panel mesh backrest provides consistent lumbar support. The Humanscale Diffrient Smart is definitely an investment, but it comes with a whopping 15-year guarantee. However, bear in mind that although Humanscale claims this chair is suitable for all weights and sizes, if you're six-foot or more, you may find it too small. Buy the Humanscale Diffrient Smart office chair for $999 / £480.96 If you suffer from back pain, then the HAG Capisco Puls 8010 is worth considering. It might look a bit odd at first glance, but trust us, that's a good thing: this is one of the best ergonomic office chairs you can get. This Scandinavian chair is made of a mixture of steel and plastic, and unlike most others, is suitable for sit-standing desks. It has a moulded seat based on a horse rider's saddle with a foam infill and places your legs quite wide apart, encouraging you to place your feet flat on the floor. Meanwhile, the adjustable seat is angled to fit with the natural curve of your lower back. Hag is all about encouraging movement, so you can also sit on this ergonomic office chair back-to-front, and use the elbow rests. It's available in various colours – we like petroleum – and comes with a 10-year guarantee. While Herman Miller's Aeron chair, above, is an absolute classic – and makes an excellent option if you don't mind spending almost $1,000/£1,000 – we actually prefer its stylish cousin, the Sayl. It comes in at roughly half the price, and the British School of Osteopathy use it at their training centre, so you know it has top ergonomic credentials. This chair was inspired by San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. And although the idea of a suspension bridge-inspired chair might seem odd at first, it makes sense once you sit in it – it's all about getting more from the least materials possible. The 'suspension finish' back allows you to stretch and move while it supports you, providing more support in some areas of your back and allowing the back to maintain its natural curve. It's supremely comfortable, and comes with a 12-year guarantee – though we doubt you'll need it. These chairs are built to last a lifetime. It might not look particularly exciting, but IKEA's Markus office chair ticks a lot of boxes – and at this price it's not just one of the best office chairs at IKEA, it's one of the best full stop. You can adjust its height, there's built-in lumbar support and the mesh material enables you to air to your back, which is great when you're sitting down for long periods. There's also a brake that engages when you stand up, to help avoid that awkward moment when your chair slides out beneath you. Many office chairs – including the Humanscale Diffrient Smart, above – feature a back support that moulds into your back over time, but not everyone gets on with this system. The Markus chair's back support combats this by re-puffing when you get up. Happily, it also comes with a 10-year guarantee. The only real downside is that the armrests aren't adjustable, which might be a problem depending on your height and the height of your desk. However, they are removable so you can get rid of them if they start to annoy. Ficmax's Ergonomic High Back supremely comfortable model is one of the best ergonomic office chairs at Amazon – and for good reason. It was designed for gamers, but that doesn't mean that designers, illustrators or anyone who sits in an office chair for significant periods of time won't enjoy it too. After a long day's work – or even during a long day's work – who doesn't want a massage? Just plug it in via USB and sit back. Even without the massage function, which admittedly gets old a bit quickly, this leather office chair gets five stars for comfort. It has a retractible footrest, a headrest and can recline right back – up to 180 degrees, so you could even take a quick nap if you wanted, or else be satisfied with the excellent lumbar support as you work. In addition, the armrests are thick and adjustable, and the frame comes with a lifetime guarantee, while the parts are guaranteed for 12 months. Not everyone will love the PVC leather, which can be a little squeaky. And while this ergonomic home office chair is available in more overtly 'racing car'-inspired designs, we recommend sticking with the black, especially if you're going to invite clients over. If you're looking for a cheap office chair, the Amazon basics range is the place to look. More specifically, we recommend the Office Essentials Mesh Back Swivel Desk Chair, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It's ergonomically designed and has a cushioned seat and a mesh back providing breathability. You can also adjust its height and the tilt. Amazon admits this chair is not designed for eight-hour days, but can be sat in for up to five hours at a time. But that could be the perfect excuse to make sure you get up and away from your desk for at least an hour at lunchtime. You could also invest in a lumbar support to make it more comfortable for long periods of time. This chair is ideal for students or those on a budget, and in terms of quality price ratio, you won't get a better deal. The Staples Darcy Bonded Leather Executive Chair takes top prize for the best office chair at Staples – and the best leather office chair, too. It's a great option for people who don't like mesh chairs, and it has adjustable seat height and tilt tension, which you can lock into place. It's also very easy to put together, and you can comfortably sit on the soft-leather cushion for an eight-hour stint. Best of all, it's definitely got the executive feel that the name suggests, so you get to feel super-important when you sit at it. Naturally, it only comes in black. The Staples Darcy Bonded Leather Executive Chair is excellent value for money and comes with a three-year warranty. Note that the name is slightly misleading, though, as the back of the chair is made of PVC. Also, black leather chairs and hot environments are usually not a good combination – so if you don't have air conditioning or a decent fan for the summertime, this probably isn't the office chair for you. Related articles: The best laptops for graphic design The best Adobe deals The best drawing tablet View the full article
  21. The code is integrated with at least three exploits that target unpatched IoT devices, including closed-circuit cameras and Netgear routers. View the full article
  22. Executive creative director Sean Thomas. Illustrator credit: Anna Higgie My art teacher once ended our monthly life drawing session with a quick exercise. We first took sheets of paper decreasing in size from A1 to A6, and then lined up materials increasing in size, from a fine-haired brush to a solid block of paint. As the exercise progressed, we were given less and less time to capture the model’s changing poses, with the canvas reducing as each implement grew in size. It was frenzied, instinctive mark-making that made me feel increasingly uncomfortable. The culmination of the lesson saw us grab a solid block of unwieldy, wet, black paint which spawned – in five seconds – the most exciting piece of art I’ve produced. For years, I couldn’t put my finger on why I loved that lesson so much, but recently I realised it was because the outcome surprised me. I simply couldn’t believe I had produced this work. It was as if it had just appeared through a surge of nervous adrenaline or someone had possessed me. And it felt good. Evolve and adapt Regularly moving out of our comfort zone is something we have vowed to do more at Jones Knowles Ritchie. Not because it makes us money - often that first attempt at something is costly and difficult - but because it’s exciting, and because learning new things is invaluable. The best brands stay relevant and adapt to evolving times. They don’t fall by the wayside. Brands will endure for as long as they find pertinent things to say and create, and I think clients, designers and agencies are no different. In the time I’ve worked in the industry, I’ve seen design shift hugely, and it’s never been more thrilling. And in my eight years at jkr, the business has already undergone two big transformations. At one point, it was paying people to look for talent and clients, rather than attracting them through the work. So the owners shook everything up. They made decisions that could have fundamentally broken a successful agency and put their faith in the people hungry to prove themselves, under the mentorship of those who had got the company this far. The results were unorthodox but transformative. Design and strategy directors now effectively lead their own mini studios, account managers with a love of words have become copywriters, our 70-year-old typographer teaches every graduate how to create their own font, the head of workshop who displayed an interest in animation now runs a filmmaking team, our 3D packaging experts are running client workshops. Bit by bit, those same clients who told us they didn’t have any more work for us have commissioned jkr to fundamentally overhaul their brands from top to bottom. The Jones Knowles Ritchie team brings F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night novel to life with this beautiful branding for London perfume house Miller Harris Learning curves It has been a brilliant, rewarding and terrifying era of my life. We were going into pitches diverting from the given brief in favour of what we believed the real issue to be. We were responding to clients with a single solution, knowing we’d lose the account if they disagreed. We were turning away projects, because they didn’t motivate us or benefit the brand. We were asking people to do things they’d never done before. And of course, we failed. Countless times. But we learned from those experiences and we also benefitted from them. All of this helped us figure out who the most proactive members of staff were, what our clients were looking for that we couldn’t yet offer, who was doing the wrong job and what sort of work we wanted to be doing as a company. If you choose to play it safe, repeating the same old tricks, you will miss an opportunity to empower the next generation of creatives This period also made me realise the importance of relinquishing control. There have been high profile rebrands I personally didn’t love aesthetically; however, the team had been so passionate, I held my tongue and slept on it. At the time, that feeling made me deeply uncomfortable – do I let something leave the building I don’t like? Or do I shatter a passionate, emerging team’s vision? As the work answered the brief, I took the call to see what happened and embrace the uncertainty. These projects have become two of jkr’s most warmly regarded. I’m no different to the majority of people working in the creative industry. I dread someone coming up behind me, tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘I’m onto you and we all realise you’re clueless’. Putting a bit of yourself onto a piece of paper (or a screen) and having it torn to shreds never gets any more fun. But if you don’t keep doing it and you choose to play it safe, repeating the same old tricks, you will miss an opportunity to empower the next generation of creatives to follow your lead. And remember what happens to the brands that do that? To this point, I’ve realised you create your own luck. So my advice to anyone who asks me now is this: go in the direction that looks most interesting, no matter how illogical it seems. And if you’re not inspired by the people around you, leave. View the full article
  23. They say a bad workman blames his tools, and it's certainly the case that even having the best top-of-the-range kit won't make you a great designer. You need great ideas, and the skills to execute them. Everyone's needs are different, and you need to tailor your investment accordingly – whether it's big-budget hardware, software or office equipment, or the simplest, single-purpose tool or plugin that can make your life easier. Spending a small fortune on high-end digital hardware when all you need is a new sketchbook is a waste of your time and money. Likewise, if you're a freelancer who's constantly on the move, you want a lightweight laptop – not a heavyweight desktop machine. Whether you're re-fitting your design studio, looking for ways to become more efficient and productive, or are just keen to make freelance life easier, we've compiled a handy resource to help you make those all-important decisions. So read on for our essential guide to the very best tools for designers and illustrators, whatever your unique requirements may be. We will continue to add to this list in the coming months... 01. Essential tools for designers 02. Productivity tools for designers 03. Collaboration tools for designers 04. Creative tools for designers View the full article
  24. Typography has always played a major part in any designer’s arsenal of tools as they select the right typeface that will enhance the message and present the right context for what is being communicated. Over the past eight years, web designers have had the ability to bring in custom typefaces such as kinetic typography to their design and have similar typographical control to those enjoyed by print designers. Take a look at many of the sites that are featured as award-winning or receiving ‘site of the day’ titles and you will soon notice that their use of typography becomes central to the design, allowing them to rise above their competition. This can range from animated letter forms, reactive movement to the user interactions, to bold use of type forms taking centre stage. 3D fonts: 9 top type tips In this tutorial, the type effect will use the shapes of the letters as a mask to some fast, free-flowing particles trails that will dynamically swirl and move through the letters. Not only will there be this beautiful animation, but as this will be rendered onto the HTML5 canvas element, this will be transformed in 3D to rotate towards the mouse as it moves around the screen. This is perfect for site headers or just when you need to grab the user’s attention for a call to action. Download the tutorial files here 01. Start the process Open the ‘start’ folder from the project files in your code IDE. The project is going to start by creating the particle object class. This will be used to create the flowing imagery within the text in the project. Open the ‘sketch.js’ file and add the following variable to start creating the base particle. The effect that is being created is helped extensively by the p5.js library that enables a number of helpers for drawing to the HTML5 canvas element 02. Update the particle In order to move the particle, an update function will be run each frame, this will work out the velocity of the particle and the acceleration to the velocity. The velocity will eventually be limited by a global variable which will be added later. The velocity is added to the position of the individual particle. By creating one particle, several thousand will be created on the screen at any one time. 03. Go with the flow To give the particles their flowing movement, a flow field generated by noise will be followed. The function created here enables the vector of flow to be passed in and it will then be followed, hence the name of this function. The force of the vector direction will be applied to the particle. 04. Follow but not too closely In order to stop all the particles bunching up together, which can easily happen with this kind of movement, the particles will have a very small amount of randomness added to their position. This will cause a slight amount of scattering to occur. The basic HTML5 layout and CSS design has been created in advance so that you can focus on the integration of the flowing lines of the text effect in JavaScript 05. Display the particle The show function here displays the particle. The first thing it does is add a one pixel stroke of a light grey colour to create the line. The line is drawn from its current position to its last position on the previous frame. The previous position is stored for next time through the loop. 06. Wrap around The edges function works out if the particle reaches the edge of the screen and, if so, wraps it around to come on the opposite side. This section deals with the x position so it is detecting if it is greater than the width of the screen then sending it to left edge and vice versa. 07. Wrapper’s delight This code is the remainder of the edge detection and it detects the particle on the y axis for the top and bottom of the screen. The brackets here wrap up the entire particle class. This means by using this class many particles can be created. 08. Make many particles Now as the particle is created it’s time to think about making many particles. To do this all of our code can go above the Particle function class. Here a number of global variables are declared to enable the system to run. They’ll be called at various times during the code, so they can then be explored. 09. Set it all up The setup function, declared here, sets how the screen will look at the start. The first detection being done is to see what the width of the screen is. If it’s relatively large, a large image is loaded, the canvas is created and this is scaled via CSS to fit within the display. Once the particle object class is created, a number of particles are added to the page. The flowing lines can be seen without the addition of the text effect 10. Other screens The rest of the if statement checks different screen resolutions and loads an image that is most appropriate for that screen size. Similarly different-sized canvas elements are created. This is mainly to stop a mobile dealing with more pixels than it has to. 11. Make a grid Once the screen size is worked out the canvas is placed inside the header div tag in the index.html page. A number of columns and rows are worked out based on the width and height; it’s a little like an invisible grid. Finally, an array is set for the flow field. 12. Make particles The number of particles is set up based on the width of the screen – if the screen is 1920 pixels wide then 2500 particles will be created and it moves downwards from there. A for loop creates the new particles. The background colour of the screen is set to almost full white. 13. Draw the screen The results of all the calculations are drawn on screen every frame in the draw function. Firstly, a light grey rectangle with a very low opacity fills the screen to fade what has been drawn previously. After this is drawn, the fill is turned off as the particles will be made up of strokes not fills. 14. Create a flow effect To get the flow effect there are two ‘for’ loops moving through the rows and columns to update the noise values. These are then changed into angles from the noise value ready to update the particles for each of the positions on the screen. 15. Update the array The array of flow is updated with the angle and the values are increased so that the offset of each position is increased each time it goes up. This might seem complicated but it really just creates random flowing motion for the particles to follow on the screen. The text is now present and it’s possible to see the flowing lines, swirling inside the text of the design 16. Update the particles Now the particles are all looped through in their array. Each individual particle is told to follow the flow field, to update, check the edges of the screen, scatter slightly and finally be drawn on the screen using the show function. Save the file and test the ‘index.html’ to see the particles moving about. 17. Add the text The text is a mask that is placed over the top. To do this, the correct image is placed over the top of the particles. Add this code before the closing brace of the draw function. Save and check the browser to see the effect working with the text now. If the design is loaded on smaller size screens, the number of particles is reduced as there is less screen 18. Detect the mouse position The mouse position is referenced and the x and y values are mapped onto degree angles that can be moved. On the y axis this will be -25 to 25 and vice versa for the x axis. The remaining code should be placed after the last code was added, before the end of the draw function. 19. Ease into place The target position is now given a little easing so that the degrees slowly reach their target. This is created using a classic easing algorithm of taking off the current position from the destination and multiplying by a low number. 20. Write the CSS The ‘t’ variable here takes the calculated values and places them into a CSS string using the transform values of rotateX and rotateY. The current position is calculated from the position the canvas is currently rotated to. The final section of code takes the mouse position and applies a CSS transform to the canvas element. This rotates the canvas towards the mouse in 3D space 21. Finish off Now the CSS is applied to the canvas element in this code. Save the page and preview this in the browser. Now the mouse fully updates the rotation of the canvas so that it turns as the mouse moves. Of course all of the particles in that space move with it on the screen. This article was originally published in creative web design magazine Web Designer. Buy issue 271 or subscribe. Related articles: 70 best free fonts for designers 6 steps to the perfect online reading experience Free online tool shows you what your fonts can do View the full article
  25. Photo: Dan Taylor The Next Web kicks off next week in Amsterdam (24-25 May), and this year's event looks set to be bigger and better than any that have gone before. The core of the conference focuses on digital innovation, but this year organisers have scaled up in a big way: there are now a whopping 19 content tracks, covering everything from pure creativity to how to build for the future. Creative Bloq will be at TNW, reporting on all the action as it unfolds – keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates. We caught up with director of events Wytze de Haan to find out more about the event, and get a taster of what ticket-holders can expect this year. There are still some tickets available to buy here, but if you can't make it there will also be live streams of all the stages. How are preparations going for this year's TNW? Building a technology festival for 15,000 attendees outside in a park is one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. An enormous amount of detail goes into the execution and each year as the event grows, the pressure to outperform the previous edition grows with it. The production is one beast to tame, but then there are also the 264 speakers, 59 brands we partner with and roughly 750 staff members that play a part in the event. I really can’t imagine the preparations being more overwhelming than they were now, but then I say that every year. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way, working on TNW Conference is like taking cocaine: it’s really addictive and we spend way too much money on it. What sets TNW apart from other events? The answer to that question is hard to put into words. I think one of the defining fundamentals of what makes the event great is the fact that we’re innovators building for innovators. I don’t have to stick to some bullshit corporate playbook, and not everything we decide to build or implement has to make sense commercially. Sometimes you just want to create stuff because it’s provocative, crazy and never been done before. If you’re going to spend so much of your time and energy building something, it’d better be something you’re proud of. Xander (creative producer) and I both loved the film Prometheus. The opening scene has Peter Weyland do a talk at TED2023 in a 360-degree arena. We both really wanted to rebuild that setting into the Gashouder – five months later we have a real-life version that fits 3,100 people and is equipped with eight 5x3 metre screens. You've scaled up from last year. Tell us about some of the themes you've added… We’re in a position now where we’re seeing that technology is no longer an industry, but rather the underlying driver of change and innovation for every business everywhere. We’ve added tracks like Offside to discuss how wearables and eSports are innovating the sports industry, Music Summit to talk about distributing music over the blockchain and The Future of Work to look ahead at how Internet of Things will affect the way we work and live in the near future. Overall it’s clearly evident that blockchain, artificial intelligence and internet of things are the key themes of this edition, but what’s really fascinating is to see how these three technologies are being used in niches you would have never expected. That kind of inspiration is what makes it interesting to be here for these two days. For designers attending, what talks would you recommend? One of the tracks we’re launching this year is Design Th:nkers. We have some of the leading experts in design thinking coming to share how they’ve implemented that in their business. Even though I’m usually trying to convince non-designers why they should attend sessions that will help them think like a designer, I also believe this content to be great for designers wanting to understand how their work can help drive business innovation. And then for the creative minds, come and see Jason Silva. His mind works on a completely different level and the last talk I’ve seen him do really blew me away. Read more: What the hell is blockchain? The 5 biggest UX design trends for 2018 What to learn to upgrade your web design skills View the full article
  26. Our day-to-day existence is often far less exciting than we wish it was: always the same old street corner, the lonely bus stop, or familiar patch of sky glimpsed through the bedroom window. Instead of zooming in on the smartphone screen, maybe we can improve the bigger picture, by adding the hidden friends, absent monsters, or secret figments of our imagination we wish were there? Pictoplasma, the world’s leading festival of character design and art, has teamed up with Adobe Project 1324 to invite all global youth (aged 18-24) to augment the banality of everyday routines by giving a face to their imaginary friends and secret sidekicks. Starting with a regular photograph of a typical setting like a nearby shop, the office lift, the school gates, or the front doorstep, entrants are invited to add a character (or characters) to the scene. Any medium or style can be used to alter the original photo – from drawing and collage making to digital painting or vector illustration. Winning streak Up to five winners will be awarded with a Pictoplasma Character Design fellowship, including travel costs and attendance at the 15th Pictoplasma Berlin Conference May 2019 – and the opportunity to exhibit in an exclusive group show. One of the winners of last year’s challenge, Helena Covell from the UK, has already contributed with her Secret Sidekick reference work, entitled W8ing Room (image above). “Having spent a lot of time visiting the hospital in the last few months, I wanted to try and attach a positive feeling to a difficult place. So I reimagined the colourful spirits of the laid-up patients as characters, out of their bodies, up and about and free.” The Secret Sidekick Challenge opens to entrants on 23 May, and the deadline for submissions is 25 June 2018. Related articles: 60 amazing Adobe Illustrator tutorials How to draw: 95 tutorials for drawing animals, people, landscapes and more The best pencils: colouring, drawing and sketching View the full article
  27. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the process of maximising conversions from existing traffic. For example, if you get 1,000 visitors per day on average, and have a 1% conversion rate, that means 10 of those visitors will convert. CRO is the process of trying to optimise your site, to improve that rate of conversion to 20 users (2%) for every 1,000 visitors on average, for example. The success of your ecommerce website depends on mastering CRO. Imagine that you’re the owner of your town’s first supermarket and you notice that your large store is selling less impulse products (think chocolate and soft drinks) per customer than your smaller corner shop competitors. This is despite your supermarket offering a much larger and higher quality selection. Why would this be the case? After examining your competitors, you realise that the majority of their impulse sales come from displaying their impulse products within eyesight of the checkout while waiting to pay. As such, you trial placing the chocolate near to the cashier and notice a major boost in sales. Following your first success, you then take your improvements one step further and trial different chocolate brands, sizes of package and flavours at each checkout. You monitor which three products sell the most so that you eventually place the most successful products across all cashiers to further increase sales. This is a real world equivalent of Conversion Rate Optimisation and supermarkets across the world are still trialling new layouts and approaches to increase sales of key products all year round to maximise profits from their existing footfall. You should get in the habit of applying the same logic and mindset to improving your website and attempt to convert more visitors into customers. CRO doesn’t just apply to ecommerce sites and product sales but also increasing user signups, newsletter signups or any other KPI that increases revenue, user experience or engagement. Illustration: Neo Pheonix 01. Select your tools There is a large selection of tools to choose from to achieve your CRO goals. Depending on your technical ability and complexity of A/B tests required, a simple visual editor to change some content, visual styles or CTA (Call To Action) elements may be all that is required. On the other hand, if you need more comprehensive A/B tests that justify an integrated service within your application, enabling you to A/B test the back-end logic or serve totally different experiences to your users, then a more advanced tool will be needed. 02. Identify your KPIs Before you get caught up in deciding which CRO tool to use you should clearly define the KPIs that you wish to improve. For an eCommerce site, these are likely to be as simple as more clicks on the Add to Cart button, fewer exits from checkout pages and more newsletter signups. For a SaaS website, the KPIs might be more signups or more upgrades to higher membership types, for example. For a blog these may be as simple as more page views per visit or more clicks on the external ads. 03. Set up analytics and identify your baseline The next step is vital to be able to quantify your results. The easiest way to do this is to set up goals and events within Google Analytics. Once you have completed this step, you will have a firm and reliable baseline to evaluate your first round of A/B tests against. Another benefit is that it is very motivating to know (and brag about) an actual percentage increase, thanks to your hard work. Now for the frustrating part. Before you start your first round of A/B tests, you need to collect enough data from analytics to be able to identify if your improvements are actually working. If you have a busy site you can have this data within a day or two but be prepared to wait a week or two if you have a new website with lower traffic levels. Try to wait until you have data from 1,000 visits before making any major changes. 04. Identify weaknesses and plan A/B tests Now that you have reliable baselines set up for your KPIs, you have much more useful data available to you within analytics and may even be able to spot major weak points in your site. Is there a specific point during the checkout that users leave? Are less than 0.2% of people viewing the product page clicking the Add to Basket button? Is a very low percentage of first-time visitors to your site failing to click the Register button in the top-right corner? Once you’ve identified your biggest and most urgent weak points, evaluate the page, try to find the cause of the poor performance and plan your A/B tests. Is the Add to Basket button the same colour as all the other buttons on the page and therefore hard to spot? Is it below the fold and users have to scroll further down to see it? Think of A/B testing like a science experiment back in school. First you need to create yourself a hypothesis and then get to work proving it wrong or right. For example: “I propose that if I make my ‘Add to Basket’ button stand out more by making it a different colour with slightly bigger text and padding, then more users will notice it and be persuaded to begin their checkout journey." 05. Experiment Now that you have your baseline performance established and a hypothesis to prove, you’re ready to create some A/B tests and put them in the wild. We introduce some CRO tools in the box on the left if you’d like a starting point for available tools. Just remember to be patient until you have enough data to make an informed decision. Around 1,000 visits should be enough to clearly see the difference in performance between them. 06. Evaluate and repeat Finally, your first A/B tests are complete! Compare your results from the 1,000 (or more) visitors to your baseline conversion rates and identify the variation with the highest conversion rate. Put that version permanently live on your website and reap the rewards of your hard work. Now go back through the process, find the next biggest problem within your website, ensure your baseline data is collected, evaluate the page to see what may be the problem, create a hypothesis that you anticipate will solve it and then experiment with options! This article was originally published in issue 301 of net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 301 or subscribe to net. Eager to keep upping your digital marketing game? Sarah Parmenter is giving her talk Digital Marketing Strategies for the Busy “Web Master” at Generate London from 19-21 September 2018 If you're interested in learning more about marketing, make sure you've picked up your ticket for Generate London from 19-21 September 2018. An award-winning designer with clients including Adobe, Ellen Degeneres, Apple, Blackberry and News International, Sarah Parmenter will be delivering her keynote – Digital Marketing Strategies for the Busy “Web Master” – in which she will discuss the idea of quarterly website design reviews with a “design once use everywhere” mantra. She will also dig into the ever-changing world of Instagram algorithms, Facebook marketing and topical social media takeaways for immediate implementation. Generate London takes place from 19-21 September 2018. Get your ticket now. Related articles: 7 ways to simplify your ecommerce site 7 essential SEO tips for developers Promote your brand with content marketing View the full article
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