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  2. New .htaccess injector threat on Joomla and WordPress websites redirects to malicious websites. View the full article
  3. The Windows 10 update that's rolling out addresses insecure Wi-Fi hotspots with new user notifications. View the full article
  4. From cartoons to crochet, stop-motion to 3D models, the new issue of Computer Arts reveals the secrets to strong character design, with the insight of the talented cover artist Julian Glander, Elenor Kopka, Jeron Braxton and Philippa Rice. We explore the tips and tricks to better implement communication and storytelling in creative projects, look at how techniques and trends in character design have changed over the last 15 years, and pick out the standout talents of that period. And, for our men's fitness-style magazine cover, we've partnered up with illustrator Julian Glander and our cover treatment pals at Celloglas to achieve a beautiful colour palette that fits perfectly with the fluted foil CA logo and a soft touch finish. Buy Computer Arts issue 293 now Bulk up on big ideas and get buff at character design Talking of covers, we've announced our sixth annual cover competition! If you're a student or a recent graduate, head over here to find out more, and be in with a chance of winning an £800 commission to create our cover. We also speak to the wayfinding and graphic design legend Lance Wyman about branding Mexico City, collecting war masks and the power of meditation. Elsewhere, we delve into the benefits of embracing, and learning from, your mistakes – with a whole raft of creative professionals dishing the dirt on the the biggest blunders they've made, and why they wouldn't change a thing about them. Save up 59% on a print and digital subscription now We also head over the pond to take the pulse of US design studio COLLINS, and sit down with NB Studio and find out how it created a D&AD shortlisted packaging project that turns into a jet pack! Flick through some of the page below... Computer Arts is the world's best-selling design magazine, bursting at the seams with insight, inspiration, interviews and all the best new design projects. For all this delivered direct to your door each month, subscribe to Computer Arts. Right now you can save up to 70 per cent off the cover price. Related articles: Win a commission to design the cover of Computer Arts 5 huge illustration trends for 2019 12 top learning resources for illustrators View the full article
  5. You're reading Free Bootstrap Themes and Templates, 2019 Updated, originally posted on Designmodo. If you've enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook! It is no secret that free bootstrap themes and templates are the first options when it comes to creating a presence online. There are several reasons for that. First, most designers are used to this boilerplate. It has been with … View the full article
  6. Want to become an app developer? Get started with Hacksaw Academy. A lifetime subscription to this training tool is only $19.99. Among the sea of generic coding videos that populate the Internet, Hacksaw Academy stands out from the pack. Rather than teach you generic, overly complex coding styles, Hacksaw Academy is an interactive elearning platform that helps you build real tech skills which will get you employed. The best VPN service 2019 The platform offers bite-sized, easily digestible programming projects that help you master essential coding tools, such as HTML and JavaScript. You'll learn how to create important things like landing pages and portfolios, and these hands-on projects are perfect training for what you'll design when you're a developer. Get Hacksaw Academy: Lifetime Subscription for only $19.99. Related articles: The best code editors The future of web design Agile development: How to use it in your web workflow View the full article
  7. Making people listen to your brand is arguably harder than ever. People are overwhelmed with a cascade of content via social media, which means that well-meaning messages can sometimes get muscled out by companies with more budget and clout. However, with craft and careful consideration of what your brand means, there are still lots of ways to get your point across without compromising your integrity. We’ve seen creators from all corners of the design universe share their advice at this week’s D&AD Festival. They had plenty to say about how they connected with their audiences with both straightforward and experimental designs in a way that stayed true to their brand. Here’s what we learnt... 01. Don't be afraid to be human If you’re locked away in a studio or office all day, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your brand is talking to people, not online algorithms. So it makes sense that a brand should communicate in a human way. For Susan Hoffman, the executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy, forgetting this is a fatal error, “without humanity, our creative voices are drowning". Of course, what being 'human' means is a huge topic. But in terms of branding, the team at Wieden+Kennedy have cracked it because, as Hoffman puts it, "they let weirdos do their job". This off-the-wall approach has resulted in some fantastically bizarre campaigns, such as the smooth-talking goofiness of the Old Spice ads (above), and an overhaul of the KFC identity that saw Colonel Sanders crowned the 'world’s sexiest chicken salesman' by People magazine. This isn’t weirdness for weirdness sake though, and Wieden+Kennedy keeps the important things in its cross hairs at all times. “The work comes first,” adds Hoffman. "We like to make people feel something." After all, if all you’re focused on is the hard-sell, how do you forge a human connection? When it comes to the balance of profit and creativity, Hoffman reveals that, "you can be driven by one or the other, but not both". 02. Respect the needs of your audience It might sound obvious, but knowing the needs of your audience will direct the tone of your brand’s voice. What isn’t so straightforward though is the way that their needs will translate to your communications. For Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, AKA plant-based cooking duo Bosh!, a certain word at the heart of their whole operation was off the table when it came to setting up the voice for their recipe videos and online content. "We didn’t shout about veganism", says Firth, having found out the hard way that it could irk potential customers, including family and friends. In fact they steered clear of the word vegan entirely to begin with, and relied on the fact that their recipes just happened to not include animal products. The reason behind this, Theasby argues, was that: "people going vegan didn’t want to change who they are". By showing good food instead of telling people about its vegan credentials, the brand could tap into the market of 23 million flexitarians in the UK in a welcoming way. 03. Focus on good design, not profit Okay, this is always going to be a hard one to sell to cash-conscious clients. However the benefits of good design have a direct impact on your brand, and therefore its revenue. For Mark Adams, the managing director at furniture company Vitsœ, good design also generates a brand’s most valuable asset: trust. At the core of Vitsœ’s work are Dieter Ram’s 10 principles of good design. The renowned and forthright German designer created furniture for the company in the '60s, and his approach is still felt today. During his talk on the importance of good design, Adams highlighted that between 50 and 60 per cent of Vitsœ’s customers are returning clients, purely because its products are so well made that they have embodied trust. Not only that, but according to Adams, Vitsœ undersells to its customers. You won’t see any seasonal or Black Friday displays in the Vitsœ shop window. The effect of this is that it reinforces the honesty present in the brand. Shoppers understand that they’re getting the best and fairest price possible all year round for a product that is built to last. Related articles: Build a better personal brand Liquid Death is 2019's stupidest branding Google's new gaming logo is cleverly off-brand View the full article
  8. Adobe Fuse has recently been added to Adobe's Creative Cloud suite, and it's shaking up the world of character design. Creating new characters can be a tricky task for any 3D artist, and it’s even harder when the artist is new to CGI creation. While downloading basic models from stock sites can certainly be a good starting point, Adobe Fuse helps when you need something more bespoke. Adobe Fuse enables artists to create bespoke humanoid models, and clothe them using the array of clothing presets that come with the software. Adobe Fuse is primarily designed to work with Adobe Photoshop’s 3D system. Get Adobe Creative Cloud now What is Adobe Fuse? This often-underused system allows a 3D model to be part of a normal ‘2D’ Photoshop file. The model can be posed directly within Photoshop thanks to a wide array of poses and animations that can be stopped at the desired point for a still. Adobe Fuse files can be exported as OBJ models with their associated textures for rigging in 3D applications. They can also be uploaded to Adobe’s Mixamo service, where rigging and animation can be managed on the fly for the creation of an animated FBX or OBJ file. At first glance the current options in Fuse are limited (it is still classed as Beta software by Adobe). However, the wide range of customisation points for modifying the body, along with detailed control of elements such as eye detail and skin effects, make the creation of many unique characters very easy. This makes Fuse an ideal solution for a wide range of character uses. We've put together a step-by-step guide to creating a character with Adobe Fuse. Let's see what it can do. Click on the icon at the top-right of the image to enlarge it. 01. Create a character Fuse allows the user to choose each body part then blends elements together Starting with the head, Adobe Fuse allows the artist to choose the major body parts. Although there are distinct body parts for each figure, the four main constituent parts (head, torso, legs and arms) can be assembled together in whatever order the artist desires. Adobe Fuse will do its best to create a blend between the elements. Fuse follows normal 3D application conventions in terms of its UI, making it easy to move around and zoom in on the figure. 02. Customise the Adobe fuse figure Use the slider on the right-hand side to customise the figure Customising the figure can be done using a couple of methods. On the right-hand side of the UI are a range of sliders that control a wide variety of points on the model. The more intuitive method involves moving the mouse over an element and clickdragging it. Responsiveness is quick no matter what computer hardware Fuse is running on, and the appropriate slider is highlighted in the UI when selected. 03. Add clothing Change colours and tweak the underlying body model Clothing is the one area where Adobe Fuse could definitely do with more options. Still, colours can be changed and if the artist wants to tweak a feature on the underlying body model, any selected clothing will re-proportion itself to accommodate the change on the fly. Skin and hair can also be aged and changed, with convincing wrinkles and wear and tear on the skin. Eye colour and even cataracts can be added to the eye to denote age. 04. Integrate with Photoshop Move, scale and relight the model within Photoshop By exporting the Adobe Fuse model to a Creative Cloud Library, the character can be easily added to Photoshop. The model can be relit, moved and scaled within Photoshop, and works as a normal layer. Poses to the model can be easily added from hundreds of options from the Properties palette, and facial expressions can be modified as well. This allows a large range of options to be integrated into any Photoshop document. 05. Work with other 3D applications Fuse provides the base model to import to other applications Fuse can provide a base model that can be exported as an OBJ file with all the necessary textures (up to 4K). This file can then be imported into a 3D application for rigging for animation, or just to be used as a still. Textures are applied as generic UVs which means they could be further enhanced with texture work within the 3D application, or via texture-painting applications such as Allegorithmic’s Substance Painter. 06. Process with Mixamo Process your character through the Mixamo service Adobe Fuse characters can be processed through the Mixamo animation service. Fuse models are exported to Mixamo directly through the ’Send to Mixamo’ button on the UI, and after the model is uploaded, it is automatically rigged and can then have one of the hundreds of free-to-use motion samples applied to it. These can then be downloaded as an FBX or similar file to be used in any Digital Content Creation software. This article was originally published in issue 245 of 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Buy issue 245 or subscribe to 3D World. Related articles: How to create water simulations 24 free 3D models The hottest new tools for 3D artists this spring View the full article
  9. A new way of tracking mobile users creates a globally unique device fingerprint that browsers and other protections can't stop. View the full article
  10. As promised, developer SandboxEscaper has dropped exploit code for four more bugs, on the heels of releasing a Windows zero-day yesterday. View the full article
  11. Justice League is the original superhero team, created in 1960 as the Justice League of America and providing the impetus for Marvel's Stan Lee to develop his own superhero gang, the Fantastic Four. It's getting on for 60 years old now, and with an eye on this anniversary DC has just unveiled a brand new logo design for its Justice League comic. What's the deal with that star? Image: DC. Just as the line-up of the Justice League has changed over time – the current roster is comprised of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl – so the logo itself has been redesigned and modified, most recently in 2016. This one, however, harks back to the style of the original 1960 logo. How to create a comic page Over the years the Justice League logo has featured a signature star – in fact the original version had a load of them, perhaps a few too many – and while it's been missing in recent incarnations, for this latest version it's back, along with clean lines and just a hint of depth. The original Justice League logo from 1960. So many stars. Image: DC, cover art by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson. There's a slight weirdness to it that you might not immediately be able to put your finger on, however, and it's this: while the Justice League wordmark is slanted at a jaunty angle, the star itself isn't. Not only that, one of the vertices runs parallel to the angle of the text; it's clearly a deliberate design decision, but it does look a little bit odd. Maybe that's the idea; it certainly catches the eye. As well as marking the Justice League's 60th birthday a little early, this new logo marks the beginning of DC's Year of the Villain event, and it gets its first outing on the front cover of Justice League #25. In this extra-sized anniversary issue, Lex Luthor makes the world an offer: reject the Justice League and follow his plans to save humanity, because justice isn't getting the job done. The new logo makes its debut on the cover of Justice League #23. Image: DC, cover art by Jorge Jiménez and Alejandro Sánchez The new issue goes on sale in stores and online on 5 June; you can find out more over at DC Comics. Related articles: How to colour comics 14 imaginative web comics to inspire you How to combine 3D and comic art in ZBrush View the full article
  12. Most creatives don't realise you can make money on Pinterest. Many consider it a floaty sort of place where you can look at interiors, recipes and wedding crafts, and while you can do all those things, Pinterest is actually a very powerful tool. Pinterest is used by 250 million people per month, and 84 per cent of users use it when they're trying to decide what to buy. That means that as a designer, illustrator or artist, it's the ideal place to promote yourself and anything you're trying to sell – whether that's your services or your products. (If you're looking to sell more online, then you can also check out our inspiring list of ecommerce websites.) But how can you best use Pinterest? How can you get more followers? How many boards should you have on the platform? And how can you transform your pins into cold hard cash? To find out, we spoke to those who are currently making money from Pinterest to discover the secrets to their success. If you'd like to swot up on making the most of Instagram too, see our guide to how to make money on Instagram, as well as how to change the font in your Instagram bio. 01. Think Pinterest when creating images It may be worth making bespoke images for Pinterest, like these ones by Vicki Psarias Award-winning blogger and author, Vicki Psarias has been using Pinterest since 2012. The platform is the second biggest referrer to her blog after search traffic, and an average of one million unique users visit her Pinterest page every month. Psarias makes sure that she thinks about Pinterest when she's creating images for her blog – something that many overlook. "Now I have bespoke Pinnable images on almost every blog post in addition to editorial images," she says. What sort of images do well on Pinterest? Long and thin images tend to stand out, but apart from that, Pinterest works like any other platform. "I think the fact I opt for high res, eye-catching, beautiful images definitely appeals," says Psarias. Don't forget that you can also pin videos, Psarias pins directly from YouTube. 02. Curate carefully Just some of Mr Cup's Pinterest boards It's easy to just keep clicking 'pin', but the most successful Pinterest users curate their boards carefully. Psarias advises having "100 boards maximum with a minimum of 40 pins per board." She also recommends using a mix of different image styles, for example, "a mix of Pinnable images ie. text over an image, and editorial images without text too, so as to appeal to all pinners." Fabien Barral, aka Mr Cup, agrees that curation is key. He's been using Pinterest to promote his products since 2010, and has over 55,000 followers, meaning that Pinterest is now making him money. He prefers boards that have a theme. "I like people who are creatives with their boards, ordering by colours, or texture," he says. His own boards include colour, wine, wood blocks and nice to meet you – where he visits studios. He often links to his blog, which links up nicely to his shop. When it comes to what to post, Psarias recommends going with your gut. "Pin what you like," she adds. "It sounds simple but as with SEO, a like-minded audience will find you so don't worry if you think you're the only person in the world who wants to dedicate a board to glitter make up." It's also a good idea to offer your audience some content they can learn from. Psarias suggests blogging tips, how-tos, tutorials and quick recipes, and artists could also include WIP shots and quick process videos. 03. Switch to a business profile If you're using a personal Pinterest account, then switching to a business one is probably the easiest way to help you understand the platform and your place on it. Find out how to get a business account here. Once you have a business account, you can see your posts' impressions, and gain insight into your audience – finding out key metrics such as their average age and where they're based. If you have business accounts on other platforms (learn how to switch to a business account on Instagram here) you can then compare this data with them, and tailor your posts accordingly. 04. Pin other people's content Psarias' boards contain roughly 40 per cent of her own content, and the rest is other people's "Pinterest isn't interactive in the same way Instagram, Facebook or Twitter is," says Psarias. "There isn't a conversation happening there and in many ways it offers you a chance to rest from that." That doesn't mean that you shouldn't pin content from other people, though. "Do some research and follow accounts which catch your eye (with both large and small followings) and dedicate some time to pinning others' content as well as your own," says Psarias, who likes to balance her page with 60 per cent of other people's content, and 40 per cent her own. "Join group boards too with large audiences too (they'll mention how in their bios) and that way your own pins, which redirect to your blog/site, will get seen by more than just those who follow you." 05. Post regularly Like with most platforms, the more you post, the more you'll get out of the platform. Psarias posts daily. Barral posts: "When I have a new project going on, or I see a picture I like and it fits one of my boards and I do not want to lose it." Try to set yourself a schedule and stick to it. If you want to schedule pins, Psarias recommends paid-for service Tailwind, which also works with Instagram. 05. Include keywords in your bio and descriptions Anagrama's bio includes various keywords If you think of Pinterest as a sort of Google for images, then it makes sense that including the right keywords will lead to more people finding your boards. To do this you can think about what sort of words people might be using to search for your content, e.g. letterpress business card, and add those words into key areas of your Pinterest profile. If you'd like to do more in-depth keyword research, you can also use tools such as Google Trends to investigate further. Where should you add these keywords? First of all, you can optimise your bio so that people will find it, and know exactly who you are when they land on your page. Think about who might be looking at your boards, and try and curate appropriately. If you sell one thing in particular e.g. cactus prints, then include that in your bio. You can also add keywords in the alt text of your image, in the description of your image as well as your boards. Instead of just having a board called 'design', go for something more specific – 'lino print design', for example. 06. Focus on building a following Like most platforms, making money on Pinterest can take time. Focus first on building a following and a bespoke selection of boards that are visually appealing, and make sure that you include a link to your site where possible – as well as in your bio. "Do not try to make money out of it, be yourself and touch people with your personality and money will come," says Barral. "Share your world, and your creations, as everything is linked." Read more: How to hack the Instagram algorithm How to nail your social media strategy The best infographics View the full article
  13. If you want to present your images in style, having a quality collage maker is valuable tool. A fantastic way to show off a selection of images, it's no surprise to find that collage makers are hugely popular right now. Many popular mobile and web applications are now including built-in collage maker tools to simplify the process, and there are several dedicated collage makers out there in app and browser format. The quality of these varies wildly, so we've tried some out to see if they're up to scratch. Of course, it's perfectly possible to use general design software, such as Adobe's suite (get Adobe Creative Cloud here) as a collage maker tool. However, unless you already know what you're doing, you're going to need to set aside some time and probably hunt out some Photoshop tutorials in order to be successful. What's more, as technological innovations mean many smartphones can now take great quality photos, opting for a collage maker app means you can create eye-catching collages directly from your camera phone. 01. Photo Joiner Photo Joiner has an intuitive interface Photo Joiner offers a range of different collage maker options. The one we're most interested in here is Collage; a classic collage maker tool. The process is easy to follow: upload images, choose a template, drag your images into the slots (you can zoom in and out, mirror or rotate to suit the layout), then save and share. You can narrow templates by number of photos included, and set custom image sizes and borders. If that's not what you're after, take a look at one of the other Photo Joiner tools. Stitch is a simpler tool designed for joining together photos vertically or horizontally, using one of Photo Joiner's preset layouts. Meme lets you add text and decorations to images. FB Cover offers a range of templates to fit Facebook's cover image dimensions, to take the effort out of creating an impressive cover collage. Price: Free Download here 02. Ribbet Flash-based collage maker Ribbet is simple and fun Free online collage maker Ribbet has a smart interface, which is a delight to use. There are plenty of handy features to help you create a custom collage: pick a template, upload images, adjust sizing, round corners, edit lighting, exposure and so on. If you change your mind, you can easily adjust your template by adding extra rows or columns. The basic version is free, but to access the majority of the more complex templates you'll need to upgrade to the Premium version. There's also a free iOS app and one for Android too. Price: Free (Basic); from $4.95/mo (Premium) Download here 03. Adobe Spark Spark distills Adobe goodness into a super-simple interface Spark is a free photo collage maker from Adobe. Its simple interface means it doesn't require the same learning curve demanded by most Adobe applications: simply name your project and use the various design options available to arrange your photos into an eye-catching collage. You need a Creative Cloud account for full CC benefits (sign up here), but it is perfectly useable without. Price: Free Download here 04. Canva Collage Templates Canva offers a big selection of collage templates Canva offers one of the best free online collage makers around. This is an all-round design package you can use in the browser or as an app for iOS and Android. The basic package is completely free, but there are paid plans available if you want something more advanced. Amongst Canva's tools is a big selection of collage templates, which look great and are easy to use. You can also spice up your collages with Canva's enormous selection of effects, filters, fonts, shapes and more. Price: Free; from $12.99/mo (Pro) Download here 05. BeFunky BeFunky is available in the browser or via a mobile app BeFunky is one of the best free online collage makers around. It offers tons of templates, a simple interface and seamless integration with the BeFunky Photo Editor. The free version works well, but if you're after more photo effects, higher-resolution downloads and the ability to use your collages commercially, you'll need the BeFunky Plus account. As well as an online tool, BeFunky is available as an app for iOS or Android. Price: Free (Basic); from $4.99/mo (Plus) Download here 06. piZap The free piZap is funded by ads, but they're not intrusive Ad-funded online collage maker piZap has the option of a Flash interface or a new HTML interface. The latter is currently in beta, and to be honest there are more intuitive free collage maker tools on this list. However, there are plenty of templates, stock images and fonts to choose from, and you can add text and stickers to liven things up. A nice feature is the inclusion of Facebook banner templates, to help you upgrade your social media branding with ease. The Pro version offers ad-free designing, a much bigger selection of fonts, stock images and templates, the ability to download your collage in super high resolution, and more. You can suss it out via the free trial before you commit. Price: Free (Basic); from $2.99/mo (Pro) Download here 07. PhotoCollage PhotoCollage has preset social media banner sizes PhotoCollage has a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin name, and the web-based collage maker is no less straightforward. It works on Mac, Windows, Android and iOS platforms including touchscreens, and you can choose from collage templates or use your skills to create freeform collages. You work with low-resolution images, then once you're happy with the arrangement you can choose to 'order' a high-resolution version of your design. One frustrating feature is that the editing tools aren't sticky, so you'll probably need to scroll up and down to find the ones you want. The interface also isn't as nicely designed as other tools on this list. Price: Free Download here 08. Fotor collage maker Fotor is a pro-level online collage maker Fotor is a professional-level online collage maker. You can import a load of images, which are displayed on the right-hand bar, then choose when and where to place them in your collage. This simple feature makes it easy to put together attractive collages. The only glitch we ran into is that large images failed to load, with no error message to indicate the problem. You can only get part of the way with the free version – you can design collages, but they'll feature the Fotor watermark, which isn't ideal. For advanced features, an ad-free interface, watermark-free collages and cloud-based storage, you'll need to shell out for the Pro version. Price: Free (Basic); from $3.33/mo (Pro) Download here 09. Photovisi Photovisi is a little on the cheesy side Photovisi is a stand-alone collage maker with no fripperies and no photo editing tools to distract and confuse. You simply select a collage design, add your photos and drag them around till you're satisfied, then download it. What could be easier? If you want to download a watermark-free collage, you'll need to pay up on the Premium plan. Some of the templates are a little on the cheesy side, and overall this collage maker tool is looking a little dated. Price: Free (Basic); $4.99/mo (Premium) Download here 10. Google Photos Google Photos used to be Picasa Google Photos, once known as Picasa, is an image organiser and photo editor – but did you know it comes with a built-in collage maker? You can experiment with six different collage types in the hands-on collage creation screen, and they will be saved in your 'Collages' folder. It's pretty basic, but as you'd expect from Google, the interface is nice and clear and what it does do, it does well. Price: Free Download here 11. Kizoa Kizoa offers dozens of ready-made templates The web-based Kizoa collage maker is one of the most difficult collage maker tools to navigate, but it does offer dozens of ready-made templates (both static and animated) for all kinds of occasions. You can customise the templates or create your own from scratch, then add photos, GIFs, videos and even stickers to your designs, and finish the whole thing off with some text. Kinoa membership also includes access to a movie maker and photo editor, so you can accomplish any number of creative tasks from inside the browser. Price: Free (Basic); lifetime Premium memberships from $29.99 Download here 12. FotoJet FotoJet enables you to create show-stopping collages Price: Free (Basic); $6.99/mo (Plus) Download here Pearlmountain's FotoJet is a free online collage maker that enables you to create collages, photo cards, posters, Facebook covers, Twitter headers, YouTube banners, fun photos and more. There are hundreds of templates for you to work with, including some of the most creative designs we've seen so far – such as this one, where you can add images into coconuts. The paid Plus option offers a much wider range of resources to work with. 13. PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey's free tools give you plenty of control over your collages Part of the PicMonkey suite – a web app that also offers image editing, touch-up and design tools – PicMonkey collage maker is a fast and powerful way to organise your images into attractive shapes. Import images from your computer or connect to online services such as Facebook, OneDrive, Dropbox and Flickr. You can fine-tune your collage by adjusting the zoom and placement of your images, and add filters. 'Supremium' users also have access to advanced touch-up tools. This was once a free online collage maker, but you now need to subscribe to PicMonkey to download your design. There are three different plans available, depending on your needs. However, you can design your collage for free, and there is a week-long free trial available, which is worth exploring before you shell out. Price: From $7.99/mo (free trial available) Download here 14. PicCollage PicCollage is crammed with features Price: Free with IAP Download here Collage maker app PicCollage is crammed with features to help you create impressive collages from photos, GIFs and videos. Choose from a portrait canvas or a square one (ideal for Instagram fans), pick from over 60 templates, and clip images with your finger. There's a face detection template in case you want to add things like party hats to your friends, and you can share your creations to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, email, and more. 15. Layout from Instagram Layout for Instagram lets you select and rearrange images Instagram's Layout app is designed to help people create collages of their images and share their creations on social media. Layout lets you select and rearrange images by dragging and dropping, and you can also control the size of images by pinching, or tap to mirror or flip them. This collage maker app includes a built-in Photo Booth that you can use to take spur-of-the-moment shots, and instantly see them laid out in various combinations. When you're done, you can easily save, and share your collage across your social media networks. It's very highly rated on both the App Store and Google Play, so you can be confident you're getting a quality product. Price: Free Download here 16. PhotoVideoCollage Pro PhotoVideoCollage brings video to the world of collage makers PhotoVideoCollage brings the classic photo collage to the next level. Not only can users add photos but also videos and soundtracks of their favourite music. The user can select a layout template from a multitude of presets, add photos and videos to the layout and adjust additional settings like border width, curvature, colour and texture. The placement of the photos and videos inside the collage can be easily changed via drag and drop. Price: $9.99 Download here Related articles: 20 pro tips for creating inspirational mood boards 4 huge visual trends for 2019 The 65 best infographics View the full article
  14. The world of the web moves quickly, and keeping up to date with new web design tools can often be a job in itself; no-one wants to be using old tools and techniques when there are new ones available that make your life easier and enable you to implement the latest techniques in your builds. To help you ensure that your workflow's up to date, here's a selection of some of the best new web design tools we've seen so far this year, covering everything from CSS animation and accessibility through to colour management and dealing with user feedback, and many of them are completely free to use! 6 best web design tools for coding novices 01. CSSFX Give your interface a touch of movement A little bit of movement on your website is a great way to draw the visitor's eye to important interaction and make navigation easier, and here's an easy way to implement it. CSSFX features a collection of open source animations that provide visual feedback when users click or hover over elements; simply select the ones you need and the CSS is automatically copied for you. 02. Humane by Design Eliminate dark patterns in your apps Ever felt that you're being manipulated by mobile apps? Often they're designed specifically to be addictive, to exploit psychological vulnerabilities through dark patterns, and to monetise our personal information, and Humane by Design, created by product designer Jon Yablonski, is a resource that aims to combat this. It provides guidance on creating ethically humane digital products that put people first and encourage healthy user behaviours; why not be one of the good guys? 03. Accessibility Insights Sort your accessibility with this helpful extension Accessibility is one of those things that everyone agrees is a vital element of good web design, but which many designers leave until the last minute. Accessibility Insights, a Chrome extension and Windows app from Microsoft, makes it easy to identify and fix accessibility fails on your sites, with a quick check that'll point out the most common problems in seconds, and an in-depth audit to help you make your site WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant. 04. Absurd Design Why have normal illustrations on your site? Illustration is a popular way to give a landing page a bit of visual interest, but it often ends up being groups of colourful cartoon figures doing stuff that sort of reflects the company's product or service. If you want something a bit different, Absurd Design is the place to go; it has a whole load of fantastic-looking free-to-use images, and they're all wonderfully whimsical and utterly surreal. 05. Social Sizes Perfect for those of us who can never remember the right image sizes for social sites Getting images and video the right size can be hard enough when you just work with one CMS, but once you throw in social media things can get really complicated, so keep Social Sizes bookmarked to make your life easier. It contains image and video templates for Sketch, Photoshop and Adobe XD that'll help you get things right across all of the right major social sites: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitch. 06. Colour Harmonies Play around and discover palettes you'd never have thought of If you're in search of the perfect colour palette for a new site, Colour Harmonies is a fun way to find eye-catching combinations that you might not have considered. It's styled like a set of paint colour swatches, and by playing with the various sliders you can create well-matched palettes of all sizes and see how well they fit with each other. Once you find a combo that you like, you can simply copy the hex values and you're good to go. 07. Velocity Make design systems a little less terrifying Creating a whole design system from scratch is a daunting prospect even for the most seasoned designer, but with Velocity the whole process can feel a lot more manageable. It's a combined design system and UI kit that works with InVision Studio, Sketch and Photoshop, and features 30 screens covering all manner of common app functions in small, medium and large sizes. With over 300 UI elements and 70 components to play with, it's an excellent way to approach building an app. 08. Nolt Collect, manage and act upon user feedback effectively User feedback can be a vital element in ensuring that your build does all the right things, but actually collecting and managing that feedback effectively can be a task in itself. Nolt provides a great way of handling it; it integrates with tools such as Slack, Jira and Trello, and enables users to leave anonymous suggestions that others can vote and comment on, while allowing you keep your users up to date on how updates are progressing. 09. CodeTalks Catch up with all the amazing keynotes you've missed There's nothing like a good conference to bring you up to speed on the latest trends and techniques in web design and development, but it's not always convenient to attend. At CodeTalks, however, you can catch up with all those great conference keynotes that you missed – or get a refresher on the ones you did see but forgot to take notes. All of them are arranged by event and topic, and there's a full list of categories to make it easy to find a talk on the subject you need to know about. 10. Verifier Say goodbye to fake sign-ups It's great to get loads of people to sign up for your product or service, but it's not so great if you get inundated with sign-ups done with fake or disposable email addresses. With Verifier, though, you can eliminate most of these at the sign-up phase; it checks against a list of 18,000 disposable domains, and will also check that the address's domain is valid and actually exists. Related articles: The future of web design Colour in web design: all you need to know The 7 deadly sins of web design View the full article
  15. Have you ever wished you had more hours in a day? Or that you could be more productive so that you would have more time to be creative? In this one-of-a-kind exercise, Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of recent New York Times' number one bestseller Tools of Titans and The 4-Hour Workweek, uncovers the little changes you can make that will help create better habits and routines in your life. Tim Ferriss was listed as one of Fast Company’s 'Most Innovative Business People' as well as Forbes Magazine’s Names You Need to Know. He is also listed as the seventh 'most powerful' personality on Newsweek’s Digital 100 Power Index – so you can bet Ferriss knows a thing or two about being productive and efficient. This exercise claims to help you become 10 times more productive – and comes straight from the horse's mouth. How Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Master Productivity with Tim Ferriss is yours for $19.99. Related articles: How to network successfully: 19 pro tips What is biophilic design and how can it increase creative productivity? 5 top tips for creating a productive workspace View the full article
  16. We don't normally get over-excited about games consoles on Creative Bloq, but this one's an exception. Panic, best known for its Mac and iOS apps – and more recently for publishing the wonderful, thoughtful and atmospheric Firewatch – has just announced the Playdate, and it's without doubt the most beautiful and intriguing gaming handheld we've ever seen, and an amazing piece of experimental design. Developed over the past four years, it's a handheld system with a difference. It's bright yellow with the most amazing industrial looks, it features a black and white, high reflectivity screen, and it has all the connectivity you'd expect – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C and a headphone jack. 11 best video game character designs The little crank is the work of Sweden's Teenage Engineering. Image: Panic The most bonkers thing about it? An actual crank on the side, a flip-out rotating analogue controller created by Teenage Engineering, the Swedish electronics boffins best known for their gorgeous, tiny and expensive synthesisers (you doubtless have at least one friend who won't stop bloody going on about them). As well as supplying the crank, Teenage Engineering collaborated with Panic on the Playdate's design and build. Another sweet touch is how you actually play games on it. Rather than buy them as-and-when, when you get your Playdate a 'season' of 12 games is included. Once the Playdate launches they'll be delivered over-the-air, once a week for 12 weeks, and part of the fun is that each one will be a surprise – you won't know what you're getting until the new game light flashes. Simulate having your own Playdate and irritate pets with Panic's brilliant AR press kit Panic says it has recruited some of the world's best game designers to create the Playdate's titles, including Keita Takahashi, creator of the legendary Katamari Damacy. The one Playdate game that Panic is talking about is Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure created by Takahashi, in which you use the crank to control the flow of time and get Crankin' to his date with Crankette while avoiding ridiculous obstacles. Other top designers making games for the Playmate include Zach 'Spelltower' Gage, Bennett Foddy and Shaun Inman. If you want a closer look at the Playdate, get out your phone and check out Panic's media kit; there are couple of AR options available that'll let you put a virtual Playdate wherever you like. We've wasted a lot of time this morning playing with it already. The new issue of Edge has all the Playdate facts you need to know The Playdate is due to ship in 2020 for $149; pre-orders will open later this year, but Panic advises that there's going to be limited stock, so you should sign up for its mailing list right now if you don't want to miss out. Want to know more? Our friends at Edge magazine have loads of inside info; it's all in issue 333 which is available in stores today, or you can buy it online. Related articles: 5 casual games for designers How to create a video game character in ZBrush Unity vs Unreal Engine: which game engine is for you? View the full article
  17. NatWest bank has launched a campaign that apologises to women for having patronised them in the past. But judging by the tone of the campaign, that doesn't look set to change any time soon. The campaign saw men dressed up as 'typical bankers' in pinstriped suits and bowler hats handing out letters in copies of Stylist magazine to London commuters. The letters apologise for "creating a culture that still, in 2019, has made you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome when it comes to talking about money." In doing so, the bank has managed to make plenty of people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, as well as pretty pissed off. The ads won't be making it into our list of brilliant print ads any time soon. The letter in full, from 'Mr Banker'. Image: Stylist This is the sort of behaviour we might expect from a bank, although that doesn't make it any less disappointing. But one of the oddest things about the campaign is that it's backed by Stylist, a publication that prides itself on providing content through a "feminist lens". That lens, it seems, has become blurred – or perhaps skewed by the subject of the campaign – money. The front cover of Stylist showed a bunch of flowers containing £20 notes, with a tag saying,"I'm sorry, we seem to have been using sexist imagery and language for the last few decades. But we're changing! Honestly!" However, the use of flowers, and the stereotype this suggests – that all women love them – feels tired and outdated. Many took to Twitter to express their disgust at the campaign. The word 'patronising' came up a lot. Others were 'disappointed' by the campaign... While some wondered who the bank was trying to target... To its credit (or was it its detriment?), NatWest kept on replying. The campaign was created in response to research by YouGov, which found that 83 per cent of women feel banks don't make products easy to understand. The same survey found that 79 per cent of men felt the same – so it's not totally clear why the bank felt the need to target women in particular. NatWest aims to help women feel more confident when talking about their finances. Sadly, this effort at doing feels misjudged, and frankly, a bit embarrassing. If it really wanted to talk to women, why did NatWest draw on an age-old stereotype of Mr Banker to do so? You can read more about the campaign on the NatWest website, and on Stylist. Read more: Join the fight for gender equality in design The problem with period product branding Can the Halifax rebrand humanise banking? View the full article
  18. McDonald's has created some clever marketing campaigns over the years – featuring regularly in our round up of the best print ads ever – but the one the company revealed this week has got to be our all-time favourite. Opening what it is calling 'the world's smallest McDonald's' in Sweden, you'll find no Happy Meals or Big Macs served at the new McHive, for this restaurant is open to just one special customer: the wild bee. Celebrating World Bee Day and as part of the brand's sustainability efforts in Sweden, McDonald's collaborated with marketing communications agency NORDDDB to create the miniature restaurant, which is also as a fully-functioning beehive. The idea came about after finding many of Sweden's McDonald's outlets had beehives on their rooftops. “We have a lot of really devoted franchisees who contribute to our sustainability work, and it feels good that we can use our size to amplify such a great idea as beehives on the rooftops,” said Christoffer Rönnblad, marketing director of McDonald’s Sweden. The beehive design was created by award-winning set designer Nicklas Nilsson, and has already proved so popular another four have been implemented across the country. There's no denying McDonald's impact on global food supply and therefore the vested interest the company no doubt has in ensuring these gorgeous little creatures keep doing what they do. But if this campaign places more focus on and awareness of the wellbeing and preservation of bees as a result, we're all in favour. Here's hoping McDonald's continues to use its platform to raise awareness of issues like the plight of bees, and other big brands follow closely in its footsteps. Read more: 40 traffic-stopping examples of billboard advertising Russian studio reinvents the periodic table Jumbled beer labels promote Repsnosilbe Dirnking View the full article
  19. Everyone loves a good video. Not only does it build trust, promote engagement and keeps Google happy, it can also make you some serious money. But if you’re new to the world of video creation or want to upskill in the discipline, it can be daunting, especially when presented with some of the complex video editing software currently available like Adobe Premiere Pro. Good news is there’s a quicker and easier way of creating professional-looking video. FilmoraPro from Wondershare is a video editing tool that makes the life of a creative much more simple, offering all the tools you’ll need to create quality video without the steep learning curve. Built very much with the user in mind, FilmoraPro’s powerful features can be accessed via a highly customisable, easy-to-use interface. Including everything from compositing and motion graphics tools to special effects and colour correction features – it’s powerful, easy and fun to use. Power up your story Whether you want to create an eye-catching new marketing campaign, add some footage to your online portfolio or be the person behind the next video to go viral, FilmoraPro’s impressive toolset can help you reach your creative goals. Key features include: A dynamic timeline to help you edit more efficiently with unlimited tracks, advanced editing modes, grouped timeline clips, range markers, split edits, and more Powerful audio editing features in Filmora’s Pro, including noise reduction and audio transitions, to help perfect your soundtracks The ability to create custom animations for text and graphics using keyframing. Ease in and ease out tools also feature to help replicate real life motion Visual effects tools even the biggest Hollywood studios would envy. We’re talking lens flares, chroma keys, blurs and distortions – the lot! Professional colour correction tools, including colour wheels, scopes and controls for highlights, midtones and shadows, to help define your video’s visual style Navigating FilmoraPro’s highly intuitive and customisable interface is a cinch One editing solution for all FilmoraPro is compatible for both Windows and Mac [links here], and, unlike other video editing software, available for a one-off fee, which gives you lifetime access to the software. FilmoraPro’s bestelling plan costs just $149.99 – one payment for lifetime access that covers all future updates and technical support. There’s also a free trial option if you want to take Filmora’s Pro for a spin before you commit – it’s super-easy to get started, especially with this dedicated FilmoraPro video editor film guide to hand. If recent growth and current trends in production of online video content is anything to go by, being able to create quality video footage is a must-have skill for any creative wanting to stay ahead of the curve. And if you want a professional but fast and easy solution, you’ll be hard pushed to find better than FilmoraPro. View the full article
  20. The two critical cross-site request forgery flaws in the online learning non-profit Khan Academy have been resolved. View the full article
  21. SandboxEscaper has released her latest local privilege-escalation exploit for Windows. View the full article
  22. We all remember the periodic table on the wall of the school chemistry lab. For over 100 years the table, developed in the 19th century by Russian scientist Dimitri Mendeleev, has been the accepted representation of the chemical elements. It's a useful visual tool because it groups the elements according to their predominant properties in a way that makes it easy to understand both the elements and the relationships between them. However as a piece of data visualization it's not without its problems; there's much more to every element than the properties illustrated in the periodic table, and there have been arguments in the scientific community for years over whether the table should be rearranged, and if so, how. The 55 best infographics But now there's a compromise that should please everyone from teachers or students who just need a simple visual guide to the elements, through to more serious scientists and researchers who require more some of the more esoteric properties of elements to be on show. It's the work of Russian design studio Art.Lebedev, and it's addressed the challenge by creating an adaptable version that enables users to set their own properties and create a brand new table based around them. There are any number of ways to construct your own periodic table Art.Lebedev says that there are over 100,000 possible permutations of this customisable table. There are some ready-made versions supplied, such as the classic classroom table, a more complex college table and even a table that shows where each element was discovered, but the real fun lies in the ability to roll your own periodic table in any colour scheme you like, arranged by more characteristics than a non-scientist would think possible. Once you've constructed the periodic table of your dreams you can download it as a massive print-quality PNG, ideal for turning into a large-scale poster and sticking to the wall, and the whole process is completely free. The hardcore option is for badass super-scientists only If you've ever dreamed of creating your own periodic table - and who knows, maybe discovering relationships between the elements that the scientific establishment had somehow overlooked until now - you can find Art.Lebedev's new version here. Related articles: 35 incredible dataviz tools 6 ways to get into creative coding Use Chart.js to turn data into interactive diagrams View the full article
  23. If the world tends to blur after you've had a few drinks, then stay away from Ambev Brewery's latest campaign. The Brazilian brewery recently switched up the letters of the names of its beers, for example, changing 'Bharma' to 'Brahma' and 'Corona' to 'Cronoa' during the broadcast of a major Brazilian football match. The brands were initially changed without explanation in order to get consumers asking questions. And it worked – there were over 619,000 interactions with the campaign in the first 48 hours, with many thinking that the brewery had simply made an error. A big one. The next day, through a combination of print ads, and other mediums, the brewery announced that the campaign was actually about responsible drinking, in particular, drink driving. "Soemtimes you drnik and evethyring appaers to be ok. But it's not. If you drink, don't drink," say the ads, which were created by SunsetDDB. This clever campaign focusing on how our perceptions are altered through drink is a great way to get people talking about drink driving. The impact is particularly strong as there were several brands involved. It's not the first time that brands have switched up their names or packaging in order to raise awareness of an issue. Skittles has 'given up' its rainbow for Pride and Lacoste has recently replaced its famous crocodile logo for endangered species. This is certainly a good way to get people's attention, although some have questioned the ethics of big brands attaching themselves to issues in this way. Whether this campaign will make a difference when people are out drinking remains to be seen. Read more: 6 times brands temporarily changed their packaging Join the fight for gender equality in design How Nike's circular design aims to save the world View the full article
  24. You're reading Get Location Data for Your Website with Open Source API, originally posted on Designmodo. If you've enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook! Do you ever wish you knew more about website visitors to provide more personalized experiences? IP Geolocation API does just that. It’s a free an open source tool for IP to geolocation. It’s fairly easy to use and can help … View the full article
  25. When we think of UX, we tend to think usability, or at least we used to. However these days UX is a much broader church with many more aspects to consider than straightforward usability. Like web design tools, UX rules and best practices keep on evolving, and if you've been sticking to the same UX process for the past few years then they're almost certainly in need of an update. Whether you need to overhaul your UX workflow completely or just want to check that you're ticking all the right UX boxes, take a look at the 7 essential rules of UX for 2019 and beyond. 5 emerging UX trends in 2019 01. Design for users Never forget about the users Falling in love with 'good' ideas is easy. Too easy, in fact, and seemingly harmless until we realise that it's not love at all – it's infatuation, and infatuation inevitably fades with time. This is what causes freelance designers to constantly redesign their portfolio; they're motivated by their temporary infatuation with visual aesthetics rather than the user's needs. Thankfully, figuring out whether or not ideas have user-value (or at the very least, business-value) isn't too difficult. It revolves around asking users two core questions: "Do you want this?" (asked during user testing) "Can you use this?" (asked during usability testing) Not very romantic, we know, but at least we won't end up wasting resources and time designing the wrong thing (or the right thing in the wrong way). It's safer to simply ask users what they want and need. Scarier, sure – but safer, and when the results are in, you'll feel relieved, even if the feedback is negative. Substituting guesswork for qualitative feedback from users should be observed as more of a blessing than something to be feared, and when done correctly, it can bring huge amounts of motivation, positivity and clarity to the product roadmap. With the right attitude, feedback can be our mightiest resource! User testing It's likely that you already know what user testing is, and have heard the benefits of doing so countless times, so here are some undervalued testing tips that often end up taking the back seat: Maintain a list of loyal testers and use them often Award free access in exchange for regular feedback Have fun automating the workflow with various apps Regularly sit down with the team and organise the feedback All-in-all: don't overthink it (too much) and simply enjoy building high-quality relationships with your main advocates. Gathering feedback Getting face-to-face with users, either in real life or with remote user testing tools, is what designers fear most about user testing, but it's actually really useful, not to mention the best way to build relationships with our main advocates. That being said, don't let it be known that face-to-face interviews are the only way to receive quality feedback. Here are a few excellent tools that are not only useful individually, but can be superhumanly powerful when linked up using automation software like Zapier. Free feedback survey tools include Typeform and Google Forms, and free feedback management tools include Trello, Asana and Google Sheets. How a Zapier workflow works Zapier is also known as a 'Zap'. To use it, collect feedback with Typeform, then send it to a column in a Trello board (aptly named 'New feedback to discuss'), then, optionally, create a notification in Slack. Setting up these workflows is really fun, not to mention it saves bundles of time, allowing teams to collect feedback at the drop of a hat. 02. Provide absolute clarity Keep things clear so you don't confuse users When users become confused, a number of things happen. They become stalled, they trust our brand a little less, and most importantly, they hit the back button, never to return again. Sadly, we live in an increasingly impatient world, where a cheaper, faster, better alternative is always right around the corner. Users cannot be taken for granted, so being clear is an absolute must. But, what exactly do we mean when we say clarity? Let's take a look at a few examples. Colour Colour is one of the many ways users learn how to use and understand how an interface works. Where it's human nature to recognise rather than recall, colour is subtly one of the most recognisable aspects of everyday life, despite colour meaning different things in various cultures, and in different contexts. Want to convey error? Well… the best choice is to use red. Design principles As well as colour, a combination of contrast, repetition, proportion and proximity* can help to establish clarity. Contrast Contrast, in short, helps elements stand out. We can optimise contrast with colour, size, depth and more, which in turns aids clarity by shifting the user's attention. It's a non-verbal way of clarifying what the user should be looking at above all else. Repetition Reinforcing a concept through repetition is another sure-fire way to infuse clarity. Is the next step in the journey to click a certain button? If so, contextually display it a few times. Proportion Proportion — similar to 'size', but with one fundamental difference. Proportion is a relative measurement, size is the measurement in itself (ie making something large doesn't add clarity if other elements are just as large). We can optimise visual hierarchy by ensuring that important elements stand out simply by being relatively sized in relation to other elements. Proximity A tap target by itself is just that – a tap target – however, where the link is displayed can say a lot about what it does and in which scenario users should click on it. A tap target in the main navigation tells users that it's a link to somewhere else, but it might not necessarily be the link the user needs. Alternatively, a set of horizontal cards each containing a button (think: a pricing table on a pricing screen) illustrates that a choice needs to be made. So, as you can see, proximity conveys how various elements are related, whether that's for choice-based interactions or navigational items. UX copy Last but not least, there's the wording itself. Imagery is subjective, but words offer a chance to be literal. The intent of a button saying 'Let's do this' could be inferred from the context, but the added cognitive load from this (and other contributing factors) just isn't worth the chance to sound cool. Hitting the submit button on a contact form infers that the user's email was sent, however, a properly worded confirmation can go a long way, especially in the event of a lost connection. Words matter! 03. Give users control Giving customers control can really enrich their experience As humans, we haven't yet evolved to mind-read, and given the endless options that some apps and websites offer, that's a shame. Let's take eCommerce stores for example, which often have a ton of items in a ton of categories. On top of that, items can be further distinguished by defining features such as colour. This means that search results are often further narrowed by filters and tags, requiring more interactions than the average interface, but that that's not a bad thing, and this doesn't get mentioned enough. Users want to customise their experience. The benefits of control A holidaymaker isn't just looking for an Airbnb, they're looking for their Airbnb; the home that's going to make their holiday special in a way that no (or not very many) other Airbnbs can, indicating that control goes way beyond the considerations of usability; it actually enriches the overall customer experience. Control can also lead to the development of new features and boosted engagement. Think about it: despite a few usability setbacks, Slack users could create 'Private Groups' long before they existed, simply by direct messaging multiple users at once. These setbacks would eventually warrant the implementation of the feature itself, but until then, control allowed users to tailor their experience in a way that suited their own agenda. The negatives of zero-control Micro-interactions are often hindered by a lack of control, but even when user flows are designed to be relatively linear (for instance, a sign-up flow or some other form-based interaction), control means the user can fix and edit without any trouble. If we compared this to a human-to-human interaction, a lack of patience would surely make the encounter less than friendly. Consider splitting up lengthy forms into several smaller micro-interactions (where the user can save their data periodically and even navigate back-and-forth between the different sections), and also adding a confirmation screen so that the user can check over their input before hitting the magic button. As an added bonus, if the user can log in and correct mistakes after they've been 'sent', that's even better. In short, let the user take the wheel. 04. Predict, then adapt Don't overload visitors with too much choice Hick's Law states that the time it takes to make a decision correlates with the amount of choices the user has to make — too long, and the user won't make a choice at all. This kind of cognitive overload is known as analysis paralysis, the act of not being able to make a choice when there are too many options. Let's take a look at two ways to reduce choices. Context Luckily, by keeping layouts minimal, both conceptually and visually, we can help users make decisions faster, and thus increase the likelihood of conversion. But, is this a task easier said than done? After all, it can be quite difficult to force an element to take the back seat in favour of something else, especially when said element is also somewhat important. The solution? Context What's important on one screen may not be important on another screen, in which case tucking away not-applicable-in-the-current-context menu items in a hamburger menu actually makes sense (yep, the hamburger menu isn't as bad as we might think!). If that seems risky, there are a number of data-driven ways to lesson the risk. Firstly, there's analytics tools that track user behaviour, and then there's heatmap tools, which can show us where users are actually clicking (or not clicking), which in this scenario is the better option. If you'd rather take a toe-dip approach, A/B testing can help us test layout changes with a fraction of our audience before committing them app/site-wide. Here are three tools to help you kick things off: CrazyEgg (A/B testing and heatmaps) Hotjar (heatmaps and on-site feedback tools) Google Analytics (free web tracking software) Relation Artificial intelligence helps users access relevant content without them having to search for it. Here are a few examples: Further Reading Similar Books Products You May Like Customers Also Purchased These types of UI components are built upon data, either data collected from the user themselves (hopefully with consent), or collected from other users (ie Customers Also Purchased). Personalised experiences have proven to be highly valuable in recent years. From Spotify's Made For You Playlists to Netflix Recommendations, users enjoy products that seem as if they were built just for them, and while the ability to customise products is of course a huge selling point, the true value proposition is revealed when artificial intelligence does the bulk of the work. Remember, design dynamic products that users can customise! 05. Maintain consistency Don't mess with those mental shortcuts Consistency has long been a key element in branding, but consistency also contributes heavily to user experience as well. Brains are designed to learn mental shortcuts, right up to the point where we don't even realise we're doing it. When traffic lights turn green, we don't analyse the situation and then make a conscious decision to accelerate, we just do it instinctively. Now imagine that one day, the typical green, yellow, red setup was replaced with Go, Get Ready and Stop. You'd be taken aback for sure, and even if just for a few seconds, you'd contemplate what the hell is going on before accelerating off. Problem is, these few seconds are critical when it comes to design. Users simply expect things to make sense, and can quickly become frustrated when they don't. Let's take a quick look at a more digital example: sharing something on Facebook. You already know that to share something on Facebook, you'd flick to the top of the screen and write your status in the input field. To share something in a group, even if you'd never done so before, you'd mimic that behaviour because it's what you'd expect. This is an ideal example of consistency. Measuring consistency Back to colour. We fill out an online form, then submit by clicking, say, a blue button. Then we fill out another form, and the submit button is also blue. Eventually, we decide to subscribe, and the call-to-action is… blue. Every time we interact, we become better, faster and overall more efficient by learning how things work and recognising design patterns. The time that it takes, known as task time, is one of the metrics used to measure the level of usability, which again shows the benefits of usability testing as mentioned earlier. Consistency and innovation Naturally, consistency limits innovation; however, innovation can be a game-changer so long as the lack of consistency is worth the value it brings to users in the long run. In this scenario, a well thought-out onboarding UX that introduces users to the app (or certain features) can be a suitable alternative. In a nutshell, don't underestimate the power of sameness! 06. Treat users as customers and vice-versa Wait, aren't users and customers the same thing? A user is somebody that uses the app or website, but some users are also customers (ie they pay us for something). Others – well – we just wish they were customers, because at the end of the day, money is the nutrition businesses need to stay alive. But what happens once a user becomes a customer? Do we stop caring about them? Well, actually, many companies do exactly that – sell the product, abandon the customer, and then acquire new customers because it's much cheaper to do so than it is to take care of current customers. It's a method labelled 'Churn and Burn'. Here's why that's really bad business for most businesses: Consumers often experience anxiety about their purchase even after purchasing, which can result in buyers remorse A bad customer experience could mean they'll never return Bad reviews could stop other users from becoming customers The solution? Treat customers like they're still users. Go for hard sell at every opportunity, never stop giving. And vice-versa, treat users like your best customer, and they will be. Customer experience Curious about how to improve the customer experience? Follow up with free updates, feedback requests, or simply just check up on the customer to see if they're doing alright. Perhaps let them know we're around if needed by reminding them of our customer support, or that we can answer any questions they may have on social media. A huge contributor to customer experience is how we treat the user or customer when they're not being a user or customer. It shows we care beyond the revenue. Also, if you happen to catch their name, use it during communications. Users love to hear the sound of their own name! 07. Communicate value proposition Value isn't understood subconsciously, it has to be communicated and consciously understood. As human beings, we constantly look for instant gratification, and at the surest sign that there isn't any, it's all too easy to close the tab and move on. When we think value proposition, we think about the product itself, but if we can remind the user of the positive outcomes of even the most boring interactions, the sense of fulfilment is higher. Don't get me wrong, we're never going to convince users that forms can be fun, but a little encouragement can be the motivation the user needs to keep going. If the user feels like you want them to stick around, they'll want to stick around. Long story short, treat every step like a fun adventure, where each one has its own objective and benefit once completed. And at the end, say, for example, when the user is checking out, make sure to remind them of the product benefits… to be safe. This article was originally published in issue 285 of creative web design magazine Web Designer. Buy issue 285 here or subscribe to Web Designer here. Related articles: Performance UX: a primer 7 steps to a solid UX strategy Get to grips with the theory of UX View the full article
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