Incorporate Bohemian Style Into Your Designs

November 17th, 2018 No comments
Bohemian Style

The Bohemian Style, also known as Boho Chic, appeared as a counterculture movement in the early 19th century, in England, but it only became popular worldwide in the 90’s. Back then, the term described the people who rejected the norms of that era. Today, Bohemian is a word describing a style focused on natural elements such as flowers, animals, and patterns based on geometric figures. Albeit it is not hard to recognize the Bohemian Style, not everybody can create a Boho design. Today, we are going to point out some of the main features of the Bohemian style and teach you how to incorporate it into your designs.

Let’s get a better understanding of the term “Bohemian”

In the 90’s, a bohemian person would be interested in “art, music, and/or literature, and lives in a very informal way, ignoring the usually accepted ways of behaving.” The term was directed at outcast artists who lived non-traditional lives. Nowadays, though, it means something totally different. It mainly describes a way of living that includes anything from home decor and clothing, to graphic and web design styles. You can tell it apart due to its main themes: leaves and flowers, vibrant colors that pop, layered clothing, visual textures, arrows, horns and antlers, floral wreaths, indoor plants, animal skulls, macrame, mixed geometric figures. Incorporated into a design, these elements will make your work stand out in the crowd. If this is what you want, let’s see how we can get the job done.

Incorporate Bohemian Style into Graphic Design

As you’ve probably deduced, the Bohemian Style cannot be introduced in all your products due to its specific characteristics. It wouldn’t look right to design a boho logo for a construction company, for example. As we mentioned before, Boho Chic is a way of living, so if you are not an adept, it will look wrong. Your clients, instead, might ask you to design Boho websites, business cards, wedding invitations, book covers, product packaging, clothing prints, greeting cards, wall artwork. In this case, you can take inspiration from the collections we listed below, which are exceptional examples of what your Bohemian Style design should look like.

Boho Bordo Watercolor Flowers

Bohemian Style

This stunning design was created by whiteheartdesign. If we take a look at this design, we can point out the main Boho elements the designer used:

  • watercolor flowers and nature resembling themes
  • accessories such as feathers, jewel shades of red
  • the decorated skull
  • the arrow
  • handwritten font
  • eucalyptus leaves
  • vibrant colors against a white background
  • mixed textures and patterns

Modern Boho: Pale Watercolor Set

The collection below takes another approach, featuring pastel colors contrasted by darker shades of blue and grey. This choice of colors and shades is specific to the Minimalist style, very popular, as well, among graphic designers. The result? Amazing aesthetics fitted for a more conservative client who doesn’t want a design that screams color.

Bohemian Style

This stunning collection was hand-drawn by Lana Elanor and it includes more than 140 watercolor elements such as:

  • 10 floral arrangements and bouquets
  • 2 clean + 2 decorative dreamcathers
  • 7 embellished floral frames
  • hanging indoor plants
  • set of 10 beachy boho shells
  • set of 20 feathers (peacock feather included)
  • 1 Giant Leopard moth (butterfly)
  • 1 clean + 3 decorative wooden Peace signs (hippie symbol of peace)
  • set of 12 crystals, gems, and slices of minerals (amethyst, quartz, etc.)
  • and much more.

50 Boho – Tribal – Gypsy Ai Brushes

The Boho Style has many elements in common with the tribal aesthetics. The African attire is, regardless of the event, an ocean of colors and geometrical shapes. Marish created a collection of 50 hand-inked tribal inspired brushes that will make your work easier where going for a Bohemian design. The designer assures us that they are great for:

  • Logos
  • Posters
  • Wedding Invites
  • Textile design
  • Mandalas

Bohemian Style

The beauty of this style lays in its imperfections. We rarely have the chance to see perfectly straight lines or perfectly drawn shapes. This will give your design a natural, effortless, yet trendy look. Do yourself a favor and download all the brushes in the collection above and start designing with style… Bohemian Style.

ANIMATED Instagram Posts-Boho chic

Needless to say, as a graphic or web designer, you need to make an impression by all means. Whether this means a gorgeous website or a stylish social media profile. If you are a fan of the Boho Chic, CreativeFolks will put your work in the spotlight. They created Instagram Story Templates that you can have fun editing depending on your mood. You can change the colors, the text, and even the animation. Check some out below:

Bohemian Style

For more Boho Design inspiration on Instagram, follow BohhoSoul.

Below, we have listed some more resources that will help you give your projects a Boho touch.

Bohemian watercolor collection II

Bohemian Style

Beautiful Boho Designs

Bohemian Style

55 Boho Style Vector Set + Bonus

Bohemian Style

Before we close up this article, we listed a few tips for incorporating Bohemian Style into your design in a more natural way:

1. Choose your color range from the beginning. If you prefer vibrant colors, make sure you stick to them to the end of your project. Same case applies to pastels. But don’t be afraid to juggle with them.

2. Don’t over use elements. There are plenty of Boho designs already created out there and it’s very easy to get carried away and add too many to your design.

3. Be consistent. When branding a new company, make sure the website, the logo, and the business card feature the same Bohemian elements.

4. Pay attention to your client’s directives. With such a detailed style like the Boho Chic, you might miss some details your clients want.

5. Creativity has no limits. The Bohemian Style offers you the freedom to express yourself through colors, patterns, themes, and so much more. Make the best of it.

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Can Your Logo Maker Do This: A Real Designer vs A Logo Maker

November 16th, 2018 No comments

Every business needs a logo and all major ones will view it as a key aspect of their brand building. A logo is the first impression a customer will get of your brand, so it has to look clean, professional and tell a story about who you are and what you do. Which is

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GraphQL is Everywhere!

November 16th, 2018 No comments

I find GraphQL extremely fun and empowering tech to work with, even as a novice just getting started. You’ve probably heard the elevator pitch before: it allows you to ask for exactly the data you need whenever you need it (probably at the component level), and it arrives as lovely JSON data for your usage.

I see it used as part of modern website builds all the dang time. The overall vibe is, “I want to do whatever I want on the front end, and that actually allows for more back-end choices as well.” And by “whatever” on the front end, that generally means a fancy SPA-ish JavaScript-powered thing or a static-site generator-ish thing.

Here’s a quick smattering of articles that are everywhere these days. Instead of the actual article titles, I’ll rename with the stack parts.

GraphQL is certainly in the new-and-hip category, but as ever, everything old is new again. Check out Query by Example, a language from the 1970’s:

.....Name: Bob
..Address:
.....City:
....State: TX
..Zipcode:

Resulting SQL:

SELECT * FROM Contacts WHERE Name='Bob' AND State='TX';

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An Overview of Render Props in React

November 16th, 2018 No comments

An Overview of Render Props in React

Using render props in React is a technique for efficiently re-using code. According to the React documentation, “a component with a render prop takes a function that returns a React element and calls it instead of implementing its own render logic.” To understand what that means, let’s take a look at the render props pattern and then apply it to a couple of light examples.

The render props pattern

In working with render props, you pass a render function to a component that, in turn, returns a React element. This render function is defined by another component, and the receiving component shares what is passed through the render function.

This is what this looks like:

class BaseComponent extends Component {
  render() {
    return <Fragment>{this.props.render()}</Fragment>;
  }
}

Imagine, if you will, that our App is a gift box where App itself is the bow on top. If the box is the component we are creating and we open it, we’ll expose the props, states, functions and methods needed to make the component work once it’s called by render().

The render function of a component normally has all the JSX and such that form the DOM for that component. Instead, this component has a render function, this.props.render(), that will display a component that gets passed in via props.

Example: Creating a counter

See the Pen React Render Props by Kingsley Silas Chijioke (@kinsomicrote) on CodePen.

Let’s make a simple counter example that increases and decreases a value depending on the button that is clicked.

First, we start by creating a component that will be used to wrap the initial state, methods and rendering. Creatively, we’ll call this Wrapper:

class Wrapper extends Component {
  state = {
    count: 0
  };

  // Increase count
  increment = () => {
    const { count } = this.state;
    return this.setState({ count: count + 1 });
  };

  // Decrease count
  decrement = () => {
    const { count } = this.state;
    return this.setState({ count: count - 1 });
  };

  render() {
    const { count } = this.state;

    return (
      <div>
        {this.props.render({
          increment: this.increment,
          decrement: this.decrement,
          count: count
        })}
      </div>
    );
  }
}

In the Wrapper component, we specify the methods and state what gets exposed to the wrapped component. For this example, we need the increment and decrement methods. We have our default count set as 0. The logic is to either increment or decrement count depending on the method that is triggered, starting with a zero value.

If you take a look at the return() method, you’ll see that we are making use of this.props.render(). It is through this function that we pass methods and state from the Wrapper component so that the component that is being wrapped by it will make use of it.

To use it for our App component, the component will look like this:

class App extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <Wrapper
        render={({ increment, decrement, count }) => (
          <div>
            <div>
              <h3>Render Props Counter</h3>
            </div>
            <div>
              <p>{count}</p>
              <button onClick={() => increment()}>Increment</button>
              <button onClick={() => decrement()}>Decrement</button>
            </div>
          </div>
        )}
      />
    );
  }
}

Example: Creating a data list

The gain lies in the reusable power of render props, let’s create a component that can be used to handle a list of data which is obtainable from an API.

See the Pen React Render Props 2 by Kingsley Silas Chijioke (@kinsomicrote) on CodePen.

What do we want from the wrapper component this time? We want to pass the source link for the data we want to render to it, then make a GET request to obtain the data. When the data is obtained we then set it as the new state of the component and render it for display.

class Wrapper extends React.Component {
  state = {
    isLoading: true,
    error: null,
    list: []
  };

  fetchData() {
    axios.get(this.props.link)
      .then((response) => {
        this.setState({
          list: response.data,
          isLoading: false
        });
    })
    .catch(error => this.setState({ error, isLoading: false }));
  }

  componentDidMount() {
    this.setState({ isLoading: true }, this.fetchData);
  }

  render() {
    return this.props.render(this.state);
  }
}

The data link will be passed as props to the Wrapper component. When we get the response from the server, we update list using what is returned from the server. The request is made to the server after the component mounts.

Here is how the Wrapper gets used:

class App extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <Wrapper
        link="https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/users"
        render={({ list, isLoading, error }) => (
          <div>
            <h2>Random Users</h2>
            {error ? <p>{error.message}</p> : null}
            {isLoading ? (
              <h2>Loading...</h2>
            ) : (
              <ul>{list.map(user => <li key={user.id}>{user.name}</li>)}</ul>
            )}
          </div>
        )}
      />
    );
  }
}

You can see that we pass the link as a prop, then we use ES6 de-structuring to get the state of the Wrapper component which is then rendered. The first time the component loads, we display loading text, which is replaced by the list of items once we get a response and data from the server.

The App component here is a class component since it does not manage state. We can transform it into a functional stateless component.

const App = () => {
  return (
    <Wrapper
      link="https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/users"
      render={({ list, isLoading, error }) => (
        <div>
          <h2>Random Users</h2>
          {error ? <p>{error.message}</p> : null}
          {isLoading ? (
            <h2>Loading...</h2>
          ) : (
            <ul>{list.map(user => <li key={user.id}>{user.name}</li>)}</ul>
          )}
        </div>
      )}
    />
  );
}

That’s a wrap!

People often compare render props with higher-order components. If you want to go down that path, I suggest you check out this post as well as this insightful talk on the topic by Michael Jackson.

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5 Ways to Communicate With Non-Visual Thinkers

November 16th, 2018 No comments

Many, if not most designers will at some point encounter this scenario: they’ve just completed a digital wire-frame for a new project, with a new client. They’ve thought long and hard about the placement of everything, and they’re ready for feedback. They figure it’ll be a short conversation, just enough time for the client to say, “Yeah, that looks fine. Can’t wait to see it with the details filled in!”

The client will take a moment to think, their thoughts briefly visible on their face, and the designer will get nervous. After a minute or so, the client will look up and say, “It looks good…but I’m just not sure about all of those gray boxes.”

Even if they’ve been educated about the use of wireframes, some will still ask, “But you’re going to change the gray boxes, right?” Simply put, assuming that others think like we do is one of the silliest mistakes a designer can make, and we all make it at least once. As designers, even if we don’t start out as visual thinkers, we often end up as visual thinkers after some training.

That may not be so for your clients. For example:

  • Some think in words;
  • Some think in vague impressions and emotions;
  • Others think in pictures, but the images are “blurry”;
  • Some people think primarily in numbers;
  • And then there are spatial thinkers, for whom thoughts are related to each other by a sense of “distance”.

All of these metaphors are imperfect, but serve to highlight the different ways people can think. In fact, people are often on a scale, using one form of thinking or another depending on what they’re thinking about. As a designer, you’re going to have to deal with all of them.

1. Embrace the Differences

Realizing other people don’t think like you is hard, and often involves a rude awakening. It’s like accidentally seeing a roommate naked. It’s uncomfortable, and everyone wishes things were not as they are; but you just have to get on with your life, now.

It’s best if you simply accept that you saw them naked. Holding on to that feeling of awkwardness will lead to difficult communication later. Likewise, you should accept that clients often have a very different idea of what it means to think. Embrace the fact that they see things differently. Realize that their thought processes may yield insights you never dreamed possible. If you go on while feeling as though interacting with them is a chore, they will probably notice; and they will not like it.

On the other hand, nothing smooths over the bumps in a conversation like an open-minded attitude.

2. Build Trust

Building trust with a client is always necessary, but especially helpful when communication is difficult to begin with. When they trust you to do good work for them, they’re less likely to interfere with the smooth running of the project, and provide more constructive feedback.

A number thinker might appreciate hearing some metrics from a previous project. Give them those sweet, sweet percentage values. A verbal thinker is likely going to appreciate written success stories. Throw some number-based metrics into the story for good measure, and you can see why a lot of websites already use this technique.

For the more emotion-thinking clients, however, the best way to build trust is probably just to befriend them as best you can in the limited time you have available. To do this, you might need to make a special effort to listen a lot more closely to the tone of what they say, rather than their actual words. Emotional thinkers often have trouble communicating effectively with pretty much everyone, so making that effort will go a long way toward building trust.

3. Use High-Definition Mockups

Remember back in the day when it was more or less expected that every mockup would be a high-definition mockup? At least, that’s how it felt to me when starting out. I didn’t even know what wireframes were when I started.

Well, for some clients, you may need to go back to the old ways, as it was when web designers roamed the plains, searching for stray DHTML they could copy. Most people, even if not visual thinkers, can sort of visualize things when they put their minds to it. Others have little to no capacity to imagine things visually whatsoever.

For these people, you might have to show them old-fashioned PSD-style high-definition mockups before you’ll get any useful feedback. And they might ask for more than one concept. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend either charging more, or using UI kits to speed up production.

4. Use Flow Charts

Flow charts are useful ways to organize information (such as site maps) in any case; but can be an especially useful way to convey concepts to spatial thinkers. After all, the whole format is about using spacing for organizational purposes.

That’s really all I’ve got, here; the flow chart is a fairly simple concept.

5. Present Your Work

Don’t wait for your clients to ask you why you made individual design decisions. When you have something to show them, find the time to talk them through everything you’ve done and/or changed, or write it down. Sometimes, just knowing that you have a coherent reason for the things you do is enough to get sign-off.

Even if there are changes to be made, hearing you express your reasoning may give them the information they need to communicate their priorities properly. Basically, the more both parties know, the better.

That last bit right there…that’s the point.

Featured image via DepositPhotos.

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5 Tips for Better Website Navigation

November 15th, 2018 No comments
Website Navigation

As a business, your website should be informative, and the key to a seamless user experience lies in the navigation. Any time a user visits a website, they want and expect all content to be clear and concise. Your navigation is the map—and therefore digital portal—between the visitor and what you have to offer.
According to Silverback Strategies, a DC web design agency, “A key step to staying ahead of competitors is ensuring that your company makes a great first impression, and your website is often the first encounter consumers have with your brand.” Unfortunately, not everyone puts the right amount of time and effort into crafting a navigation that works. With that in mind, these seven tips will help you create a better website navigation that users will appreciate and understand.

Website Navigation

1) Plan Your Navigation Early

It’s not uncommon to be eager when creating a website and to simply start adding pages in your website host dashboard. However, this can easily lead to an ill-planned navigation menu, and you can do much better by prepping your pages ahead of time. When you prepare your
navigation menu ahead of time, this is called a “sitemap”—and just as it sounds, it’s a map of your website. There are several ways you can do this. Start off by drafting a map via pen and paper to help get your ideas out. Then, begin creating it in something as simple as a Google
Doc. Use an outline format to create your page setup. For example:

1. About
a. Our Team
b. Company Mission
c. Brand History

There are also dozens of sitemap creation tools to streamline the process for you. Keep in mind that early on, you want to focus on creating visual sitemaps, purely for planning purposes. Take a look at some visual sitemap creator tools here. And for some inspiration, check out these websites with great navigation.

Website Navigation
2) Use Language People Can Understand

Your navigation uses language to communicate with visitors, and the language you use should be user-friendly. In fact, you might even consider getting creative with your copy, depending on your brand and the industry you’re in. Additionally, certain terms are more applicable across different industries than others.
For instance, if you were a professional scientific publication, it would be acceptable to use the word “Articles” to refer to your content, but if you were an e-commerce company, “Blog” would be the appropriate language to use. Similarly, as an e-commerce shop, you wouldn’t want to call your store “Marketplace” but would choose “Shop” instead.

3) Link Your Logo

Today, the majority of people expect certain experiences out of their website visits. And one of their expectations is that the logo always links back to the homepage. Typically, you will find the logo at the top left corner of the website. It’s not always bad to reinvent the wheel, but it’s important to understand that doing so can result in some confusion, and confusion can lose potential conversions. To ensure you’re creating the best experience for your users, you should A/B test your website to see which efforts are faring best with those visitors.

Website Navigation
4) Implement a Responsive Navigation

Without a doubt, you need a responsive navigation. A responsive navigation allows any user to seamlessly view your content and design from any device, whether it’s desktop, phone, or tablet. Today, this is extremely important. There are many reasons for this. First and foremost, in 2015, Google announced that, for the first time, searches across mobile devices surpassed searches on desktop devices in at least 10 countries, including the United States. Another study revealed that between December 2013 and December 2015, tablet Internet consumption grew by 30%, while mobile smartphone consumption increased to 78%. If a user visits your website through their mobile device and has difficulty with your menu, they’ll simply move on to the next best thing.

5) Pay Attention to Your Footers

Your footer is the area where you put some of the items that are not so much fun—this includes your privacy policy and other legal terms. However, it’s an important area to pay attention to, as many people scroll directly to the footer to locate important information (or information they can’t find in the header navigation), such as where a business is located, how to find job opportunities, and where to get press and media information.

Many businesses, especially storefront companies, even put a visual map here to show visitors exactly where the business is located. And lastly, many businesses also include social media icons in the footer.

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CSS Animations and Transitions in Email

November 15th, 2018 No comments

We don’t generally think of CSS animations or transitions inside of email, or really any movement at all outside of an awkward occasional GIF. But there is really no reason you can’t use them inside HTML emails, particularly if you do it in a progressive enhancement-friendly way. Like, you could style a link with a hover state and a shaking animation, but if the animation (or even the hover) doesn’t work, it’s still a functional link. Heck, you can use CSS grid in email, believe it or not.

Jason Rodriguez just wrote Understanding CSS Animations in Email: Transitions and Keyframe Animations that covers some of the possibilities. On the supported list of email clients that support CSS transitions and keyframe animations is Apple Mail, Outlook, and AOL mail, among others.

Other things to look at:

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Scaling CSS: Two Sides of a Spectrum

November 15th, 2018 No comments

The subject of scaling CSS came up a lot in a recent ShopTalk Show with Ben Frain. Ben has put a lot of thought into the subject, even writing a complete book on it, Enduring CSS, which is centered around a whole ECSS methodology.

He talked about how there are essentially two solutions for styling at scale:

  1. Total isolation
  2. Total abstraction

Total isolation is some version of writing styles scoped to some boundary that you’ve set up (like a component) in which those styles don’t leak in or out.

Total abstraction is some version of writing styles that are global, yet so generic and re-usable, that they have no unintended side effects.

Total isolation might come from in a .vue file, CSS modules in which CSS class selectors and HTML class attributes are dynamically generated gibberish, or a CSS-in-JS project, like glamerous. Even strictly-followed naming conventions like BEM can be a form of total isolation.

Total abstraction might come from a project, like Tachyons, that gives you a fixed set of class names to use for styling (Tailwind is like a configurable version of that), or a programmatic tool (like Atomizer) that turns specially named HTML class attributes into a stylesheet with exactly what it needs.

It’s the middle ground that has problems. It’s using a naming methodology, but not holding strictly to it. It’s using some styles in components, but also having a global stylesheet that does random other things. Or, it’s having lots of developers contributing to a styling system that has no strict rules and mixes global and scoped styles. Any stylesheet that grows and grows and grows. Fighting it by removing some unused styles isn’t a real solution (and here’s why).

Note that the web is a big place and not all projects need a scaling solution. A huge codebase with hundreds of developers that needs to be maintained for decades absolutely does. My personal site does not. I’ve had my fair share of styling problems, but I’ve never been so crippled by them that I’ve needed to implement something as strict as Atomic CSS (et al.) to get work done. Nor at at any job I’ve had so far. I see the benefits though.

Imagine the scale of Twitter.com over a decade! Nicolas has a great thread where he compares Twitter’s PWA against Twitter’s legacy desktop website.

The legacy site’s CSS is what happens when hundreds of people directly write CSS over many years. Specificity wars, redundancy, a house of cards that can’t be fixed. The result is extremely inefficient and error-prone styling that punishes users and developers alike.

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Why monday.com is the Universal Team Management Tool for Your Team

November 15th, 2018 No comments

This platform is perfect for teams sized at 2-to-200 — and gives every employee the same level of transparency.

Every project management tool seeks to do the same instrumental thing: keep teams connected, on task and on deadline to get major initiatives done. But the market is getting pretty crowded, and for good reason — no platform seems to have gotten the right feel for what people need to see, and how that information should be displayed so that it’s both actionable/relevant and contextualized.

That’s why monday.com is worth a shot. The platform is based off a simple, but powerful idea: that as humans, we like to feel like we’re contributing to part of a greater/effort good — an idea that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle as we focus on the details of getting stuff done. So projects are put onto a task board (think of it like a digital whiteboard), where everyone can have the same level of visibility into anyone else who’s contributing a set of tasks. That transparency breaks down the silos between teams that cause communication errors and costly project mistakes — and it’s a beautiful, simple way to connect people to the processes that drive forward big business initiatives.

Whether you’re part of a tech-forward team or not, monday.com is a welcome relief to cumbersome Excel files, messy (physical) whiteboards, or meetings that waste time when actual work could be completed. The scalable, intuitive structure can effectively work for a team of two, or an international team of 2,000+ — and a beautiful, color-coded board lays out tasks you can cleanly see and tag for various stages of completion. That way, employees can see exactly what needs to be done (and who needs to do it), while managers can optimize their time re-allocating resources as necessary to optimize processes. It’s a win-win.

monday.com also allows teams to communicate within the platform, cutting down on the amount of laborious sifting through various email threads to figure out a workflow. Messages can be sent inside of tasks — so all the communication is contextualized before meeting resolution or seeking it. The platform also supports uploads, so documents and videos can be added to facilitate more collaboration, and integration with other productivity apps. So if your team is already using tools like Slack, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Microsoft Excel, Trello, and Jira, there’s specific, clean shortcuts to integrate the information from those platforms into monday.com. And even beyond team communication and management, you can use monday.com for client-facing exchanges, so all your messages are consolidated into a single place.

The platform recently raised $50M in funding, and received nods from the likes of Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and more for its ability to empower international teams to do better work together. Best of all, unlike other team management software, which can be pricey and time-intensive to scope, test and run, you can try monday.com today — for free.

What can this app do?

  • Creating and managing a project’s milestones
  • Creating and assigning tasks
  • Attaching files to any project’s table projects on the go.
  • Using mobile applications to manage projects
  • Communicating with your team members
  • Updating team using the news feed
  • Keeping clients in the loop
  • Organizing the organization into teams
  • Creating detailed project charts and reports
  • Tracking the time your team members spend on tasks
  • Managing a project’s financials
  • Website as well as a desktop app for Mac and Windows

monday.com to make every user feel empowered and part of something bigger than their own individual tasks, and as a result, to boost collective productivity and transparency.

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Inclusive Design For Accessible Presentations

November 15th, 2018 No comments
Small text in the middle of a large slide

Inclusive Design For Accessible Presentations

Inclusive Design For Accessible Presentations

Allison Ravenhall

2018-11-15T13:45:14+01:002018-11-15T12:55:23+00:00

To all the presenters of conferences, workshops, and meetups: I truly enjoy hearing your anecdotes and learning things from you. I like laughing at your jokes, especially the puns. Unfortunately, some people in your audience aren’t getting as much out of your session as me. They may not be able to see your slides, or hear you speak, or make out the details on the screen.

A few tweaks will make your presentation more inclusive. Here are some tips so next time you’re on stage, everyone in the crowd can laugh at your bad jokes.

1. Create Accessible Slides

Make Your Text Big. No, Bigger.

The back row of your presentation room is a long way from the projector screen. It’s much further than the distance between you and your laptop screen as you create your slides.


Small text in the middle of a large slide

Small text in the middle of a large slide. (Large preview)

People up the back will appreciate every extra pixel you add to your font size. People with vision impairments will appreciate the larger text too — they’ve got a better chance of being able to read it.

Go big or go home. This goes for all text, even “less important” stuff like data labels, graph axes and legends, image captions, footnotes, URLs, and references.

Is Your Slide Font Readable?

I love fonts; they can really set the tone of a talk. However, before you jump into the craziest corners of Google Fonts, think of your audience members with reading difficulties. Using handwriting or script fonts, particularly ones whose letters link together, makes text much harder to read. Using uppercase reduces scannability by removing ascenders and descenders, as well as being shouty.

There’s more scope to experiment with fonts on slides than web pages due to the larger text size, but here are some best practices:

  • Sans serif is typically the most readable.
  • Be generous with spacing (between letters, words, and lines).
  • Use bold for emphasis — underline and italic change the letter shapes, making them less identifiable.
  • Use mixed case, not all caps.

(Reference: British Dyslexia Association Style Guide 2018)

Does It Make Sense In Greyscale?

Do a print preview of your slides in black and white. Does it all still make sense without the color? If you send out your slides post-talk, some people may not have access to a color printer.

There’s also a good chance that someone at your talk is color-blind. If you’ve used red text for negative items and green text for positive items mixed together in a single list, they may not be able to tell them apart. If the datasets in your graphs only use color to differentiate, think about using patterns or labels to tell each bar, line or pie segment apart.

Don’t rely on color only to tell your story — enhance color with labels, icons, or other visual markers.

Recommended reading: Getting Started In Public Speaking

It’s A Slide, Not A Novel

Every time a new slide goes up, you lose the crowd while they scan the new content. If the slide is full of text, it’s going to take a long time for their attention to come back to what you’re saying.

People with attention deficiencies will struggle to read your slides and listen to what you’re saying at the same time. Audience members with reading difficulties may not finish reading text-heavy slides before you move on, and never mind what you said while they were concentrating on the screen.

Slides aren’t speaker notes. If you need prompts, write up some cards or use your slide program’s notes function. Use keywords and short phrases in your slides, not whole sentences or paragraphs, to share the essential ideas of your talk. Write and refer to a long-form companion piece if you want to share loads of detail that doesn’t translate well to slides.

Animated Slide Transitions? Really?

My high-school self-loved slide transitions — the zanier, the better. Look, my slide is swirling down a plughole! It’s swinging back and forth like a leaf on the breeze! Fades, swipes, shutters, I was all for it.


Microsoft PowerPoint contains 48 (!) animated slide transition options

Microsoft PowerPoint contains 48 (!) animated slide transition options. (Large preview)

I have since discovered that slide transitions are overrated. More seriously, they can make the audience feel sick. Slide transitions and other animation such as parallax scrolling can trigger nausea, headaches and dizziness in people with vestibular (inner ear) disorders.

Make your audience groan with your punny jokes, not because they feel ill.

Readability Applies To Slide Text, Too

If you’re presenting, you probably know a decent amount about your topic. You likely use specialist words and phrases and assume a minimum level of audience knowledge.

Be mindful of using jargon and acronyms, even if you think they’re well-known. Explain them, don’t assume everyone knows them. Better still, use plain language for everything.

Don’t mistake using simpler words and shorter phrases for “dumbing it down”. Slides are for clear and concise ideas, not showing off your vocabulary. Save your fancy words for your next crossword puzzle.

GIFs Aren’t Always Funny

Animated GIFs are used in lots of presentations — usually as a killer quip or a laugh out loud punchline. They’re an easy way to add fun to dry tech talks but use with care — and I’m not talking about your bad sense of humor.

If the GIF content strobes or flashes rapidly, it may trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. It’s happened: in 2016, disgruntled Trump supporters caused a Newsweek writer with epilepsy to have a seizure by deliberately tweeting flashing images to him.

While a GIF is looping on the screen, I’m half-listening to the presenter at best. It’s so distracting. If there’s an animation on screen while you relate an anecdote, I’m going to miss the story.

When you create an animated GIF, you can configure the number of times it loops. This is a good compromise — have some fun with your audience, then they can focus on what you’re saying without distraction.

How Good Is Your Color Contrast?


The word 'Binary' on the bottom-left of this slide is presented in a large, readable font, but the color contrast is very poor.

The word ‘Binary’ on the bottom-left of this slide is presented in a large, readable font, but the color contrast is very poor. (Large preview)

There are recommended color contrast values for text on the web. The idea is to ensure text is visible even if you have a vision impairment or color-blindness.

Color contrast is important for slide content too. You probably won’t have much control over the environment, so it’s a good idea to use color combinations that go beyond recommended contrast ratios. I guarantee it won’t look as clear on the projector as it does on your computer.

Don’t be subtle with your color palette. Use bold colors that make your text stand out clearly from the background. Be careful about laying text over images — do it, just make sure the contrast is good. Use a color contrast checker and aim for a ratio of at least 4.5 : 1.

(Before you flame me about the big text minimum ratio being 3 : 1 for WCAG 2.0 AA, I figure it’s big up close, but it’s smaller from the audience’s perspective. They’re not likely to complain that it’s too high contrast, are they?)

If you know the setup in advance, light-colored text on a dark background is more audience-friendly in a darkened room; a white background can be dazzling. Some people have even resorted to wearing sunglasses when they were blinded by too much glare!

Enable Your Audience To Follow Along

If you plan to share your slides or you have complementary materials, include links to these on your first slide, and mention it in your intro. This enables your audience to follow along or adapt the presentation on their own devices. People with low vision can zoom in on visual content, and blind audience members can follow along on Braille displays or with a screen reader and earbuds.

Keep Your Links Short

If there’s a web link in your slide, there are two reasons to keep it as short as possible:

  • Readability: Long URLs will wrap onto multiple lines, which is hard to read.
  • Say-ability: You should say your URL out loud for people who can’t see the screen. A long URL is very hard to say correctly, particularly if it contains strings of random characters. It’s also very hard for listeners to understand and record in real time.

Use a URL shortener to create short links that point to the destination. If you can, maximize readability by customizing the short link to contain related word or two rather than a random string.

Does Your Presentation Contain Multimedia?

Video and audio clips are a great way of presenting events, interviews, and edited content that doesn’t work in real time.

If you’re playing video, think about audience members who can’t see the screen — is the audio descriptive enough by itself? Can a blind or low-vision person get a sense of what’s going on, or who’s speaking, purely from the soundtrack? You may need to introduce or summarise the vision yourself to add context.

If your video has an audio track or you’re playing a separate sound clip, are the visuals enough for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing? You should provide captions of decent size and contrast. Given an audio clip doesn’t have a visual component, you could display equivalent text or graphics while the audio is playing.

Don’t Put The Punchline At The Bottom Of Your Slide

This is more of a general usability tip. Don’t bottom-align slide text unless you know that the bottom of the screen is located well above the audience, or the audience seating is tiered. If the bottom of the projector screen is at or below the audiences’ head-height, and the floor is flat, people seated beyond the first few rows will likely not see what you wrote at the bottom of the slide.

Recommended reading: How To Transform Your Next Conference Takeaways Into Real-Life Results

2. Presenting Tips

Have A Clear Beginning, Middle, And End

It can be tempting to structure your talk towards a big reveal. This is a great device for building interest, but you run the risk of losing people with attention deficit disorders. More generally, if you find yourself running out of time, you may have to rush or cut short your final grand flourish!

Set expectations upfront. Start with a quick “Today I’ll be covering…” statement. You don’t have to give the whole game away, just tantalize the crowd with an outline. They can then decide if they want to commit their brain power to focus on your talk. Let the audience know that it’s OK for them to go if they wish.

Don’t be offended if someone chooses not to stay. They may have a limited capacity for focused thought each day, so a conference of back-to-back presentations and loud breakout spaces is challenging. They must pick and choose what is most useful to them. Hopefully, they’ll come back to your talk if it’s shared later.

Give The Audience Time To Read Your Slides

Complex content like graphs with multiple datasets take time to read and understand. If your slide is a slab of text, your audience will get annoyed if you summarise it and skip onto the next topic before they’ve finished reading.

Consider how much time your audience needs to read and understand each slide, based on the amount and complexity of the content. Remember, they’re seeing it for the first time, and they don’t know as much about the topic as you. Structure your talk so complex slides stay up on the screen long enough to be read completely.

You worked hard on those slides, it’d be a shame if they weren’t appreciated!

Provide Captions And Foreign Language Translation

I’ve attended events that have provided sign language interpreters or live captions to translate or transcribe what the speakers say in real time. They’re invaluable for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. International events may also provide foreign-language translation.

If you present at an event that provides these services, send your slides or speaker notes to the interpreters and captioners in advance. They can then research and practice unfamiliar terms before the day.

Many events don’t provide captioning or translation. They’re beyond the budget of most conferences, being both specialized and labor-intensive. In this case, you can potentially provide your own captions.

MS PowerPoint has a free Presentation Translator plug-in to add real-time captions and foreign language translation. I saw a demo at A11y Camp Sydney last year:

A live demo of @Microsoft Translate as transcript by @mastersofdavid at #A11yCampSyd pic.twitter.com/DW3K4J7wfH

— Allison Ravenhall (@RavenAlly) September 13, 2017

Google recently added real-time captioning to its Slides product, too.

Mind Your Language

Your choice of words may be offending or excluding some of your audience, and you may not even know you’re doing it.

Not all people that work in technology are “guys.” When a speaker says “I talked to the guys about it,” I imagine a group of men. If they’d said “I talked to the developers about it,” then my imaginary group also contains women.

There’s also ableist language. Using words like retarded, insane, lame, and crazy incorrectly is degrading to those with mental and physical disorders. What’s a normal user? Are you making assumptions about gender, sexual orientation, race, family unit, technical knowledge, physical or mental abilities, or level of education?

Then there’s swearing, commonly used to get attention or add some spice. Be careful about deploying this weapon. If you’ve misjudged the room, you could put people offside. If you’re traveling, that fairly tame curse word you use at home could be deeply offensive elsewhere.

Stories Aren’t Universal

When I discussed color contrast at A11y Bytes 2017, I moaned about not being able to see my phone screen in bright sunlight. Attempting to relate, I asked “we’ve all been there, right?”, expecting a few nods and smiles.

The retort was lightning-fast: “Can’t say I’ve found it a problem!” Laughter rippled through the crowd as I realized I’d just been heckled by a blind woman. She graciously laughed off my hasty apology.

I still tell my sunlight story, but now I’m mindful that not everyone can relate to it directly. Learn from my mistake, don’t assume your audience has the same abilities and experiences as you.

Interests And Pop Culture References Aren’t Universal Either

My most recent presentations have been about WCAG 2.1, including the need to provide alternatives to motion-based inputs. I use three Nintendo Switch games as examples.

I don’t assume that the audience has used a Switch. I briefly explain the premise of each game and the motion input it uses before I move on to how it relates to the new success criteria. It’s a courtesy to those people who don’t share my interest in the Switch.

Similarly, much as I’d love to do a Star Wars-themed accessibility talk, I won’t because I’d be putting my own amusement ahead of informing my audience. Some people aren’t into Star Wars, just as I’m not a Trekkie or a Whovian. It’d be a shame for them to misunderstand me because they can’t translate my tenuous Star Wars associations — or worse — if they saw the themed talk title and skipped my session altogether.

Have some fun, by all means, include a pop culture reference or two, but don’t structure your entire talk around it. Make it work for someone who hasn’t watched that movie, or heard that band, or read that book, or seen that meme.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand (Spoken) Words

Photos, graphics and drawings all add interest to your slides. You may have screenshots of a website you’ve built, or photos of people or places you’re talking about.

When your slide imagery is part of the story, remember to describe the pictures for those in the audience that can’t see it. Try not to say “As you can see here…” because someone may not be able to see there.

If you think it’s awkward to quickly rehash a sight gag, think how awkward you’d feel if you were in a room full of people that suddenly all laughed and you didn’t know why.

Slow Down, Breathe.

You’re nervous. You’ve never presented before. You’ve got a time limit and lots to share. You haven’t practiced. Your parents, friends, children, workmates, industry idols, and managers are all in the room.

Whatever the reason, you probably talk faster than usual when you present. This puts pressure on interpreters and captioners, particularly if your talk contains tech-speak. Your audience may struggle to keep up too. Note-takers mash their laptops in vain, live-tweeters’ thumbs cramp up, and sketchnoters leave a trail of half-drawn doodles in their wake. International visitors may get lost figuring out your accent. Cognitively, everyone is thinking furiously to keep up, and it’s hard work!

Practice. Slow down. No one knows your stuff as well as you; give everyone else time to take it in.

Respect The Code Of Conduct And Your Audience

Codes of conduct are found at most public speaking events, such as this one by UX Gatherings. They set the minimum behavior standard for speakers and attendees.

Read the code of conduct for every event you attend — they can differ broadly. Know the no-go zones and don’t go there.

If you are talking about sensitive topics that may upset some of your audience, give them plenty of notice so they can prepare or remove themselves from the discussion. A note in the event program, if possible. A mention on your lead slide, and during your opening remarks. Include contact details of support services if appropriate.

Make Your Code Demonstrations Accessible, Too

Well done if you have mastered the art of the live code demonstration. Few presenters can show off something meaningful that also works while providing a clear commentary.

You know what would take your code demo to the next level? Jacking up the font size. Your usual code editor font size is perfect when you’re sitting at your desk, but it’s not big enough for those sitting in the back row of your presentation.

Check your editor’s color settings too. A pure white background might be startlingly bright in a darkened room. Make sure your editor text colors have good contrast as well.

Don’t Drop The Mic

If there’s a microphone on offer, use it, even if it’s a small space.

Many public conference spaces have an audio induction (hearing) loop connected to their AV systems. The loop transmits the AV output directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants. People who are hard of hearing receive the target audio without background noise.

Recommended reading: Getting The Most Out Of Your Web Conference Experience

3. After The Presentation

Congratulations! You’ve done your talk. There are just a couple more things that’ll round this thing out nicely.

Distribute Accessible Slides

Lots of presenters publish their slides after the talk is done. If this is you, make them accessible! Correct semantics, meaningful read order, ALT text on images, enough color contrast, video captions, limited animation looping, reasonable slide transitions, all the good stuff.

Fill The Gaps With Notes, A Transcript Or An Article

Help people that need more time to take in your talk and need more detail than what’s on your slides. Publish your speaker notes or a companion piece that covers your topic(s). If the event is recorded, ask the organizers to include captions or a transcript (but perhaps don’t rely on YouTube’s auto-captioning).

Conclusion

Applying these tips will make a big difference to your whole audience. Your slide content, design, and how you present can all affect how well the crowd gets your message, if at all. This is particularly true for those with physical and cognitive conditions.

Making subtle changes to what you show and your script will help all attendees, not just those with disabilities, to get the most out of your hard work.

Smashing Editorial(ra, yk, il)
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