6 Essential Questions on the Way to Your Website

February 24th, 2017 No comments

Eager to create your first website? Are you sure that you need one? If your answer is yes, don’t spontaneously go with WebCheap Supplier Ltd. with a full hosting for 0.99 bucks a month, but instead, read the following article first.

What do You Want to Accomplish?

Why do you want to create a website? Because everyone has one? Because you can? All of these would be pretty weak reasons, and I’m going to assume that you have a better motivation.

Do you want to run a blog that is supposed to cover a certain niche, or do you plan on selling your products over the internet? Whatever it may be, define it clearly, and focus on that goal. Don’t try to cover a little bit of everything just because there’s enough space on the internet and an added function more or less doesn’t cost more money.

No matter what your aim is, the website is the communication means to reach that goal. You know this from the archetype of all communication, the dialogue. It needs a clear structure as well, shouldn’t drift off to the left or right, and it is the most successful when it strictly follows the golden thread laid out by the goal of the dialogue.

You should build your website like this as well. Don’t let it fray out, get out of hand, or drift off into vagueness. Don’t use more words than needed, and place clear calls to action (CTA).

Who do You Want to Reach?

Who’s your target group? You probably thought you had already answered this question inside the reply to the previous question. But that would be too simplistic. When it comes to the question who you want to reach, you should take smaller steps, and not just define a more or less vague group such as teenagers between 16 and 19.

I can almost guarantee that your target group can not be defined solely by their age (or other obvious factors). Further aspects will be substantial. Work them out precisely.

Is the offer directed more towards male or female clients? Are pupils, apprentices, or students more attractive? Does your target customer need a certain amount of free income? There are lots of factors like these. The more precisely you define your target group, the more accurately will you be able to address them.

Speaking of addressing; use the language of your target audience to meet them at eye level. If this includes not sticking to all dictionary rules, then do that.

By Which Search Terms do You Want to be Found?

You actually have to ask this question before registering your internet address (URL, domain). In the best case, the most relevant search term that you wish to be found by should be part of your domain name. This way, Google thinks that your website is exceptionally relevant to this keyword, as it even appears in the URL.

Every single page of your website gets a title, a meta description, as well as an individual URL which comes as an extension of the domain name. Within these three elements is where you cover your search terms, the so-called keywords. This can definitely be a different one for each page. Then, you make sure that the corresponding keyword appears in headings, captions, and file names on the according page. This way, you have pretty much covered the area of so-called on-page SEO, the search engine optimization on the page itself.

How to Structure the Information on Your Website?

The information architecture of your site, meaning the way you make your content available regarding structure, is just as essential for the success as architecture is when building a house. For example, it would be suboptimal if the only way to reach the kitchen was through the bedroom.

In general, the navigation menu of your website should have as few items as possible. Of course, not so few that the essential areas of your site can’t be accessed. Also, I wouldn’t recommend nesting the navigation too deeply. Your visitor will get lost very quickly.

Provide clear access to the individual topics, and, when in doubt, reduce or focus your content, rather than opening the 100th menu item.

Do You Want to Build Your Site Yourself or Will You Hire a Professional?

You won’t be surprised to hear that I generally recommend to always hire a professional when it comes to creating your website, especially when it has to be built from scratch. Depending on your knowledge, or level of motivation, you can learn how to take care of the website later on. But you should leave the cornerstone to an expert, to make sure that the foundation doesn’t break. Websites are more than a few pages with pictures.

However, if your project is very small, or if you simply don’t have the financial option to hire an expert, that doesn’t mean that you should forgo a website. In that case, you’ll have to get to work yourself. Prepare for a training period, and grab the simplest tool you can find.

A while ago, we published an article that shows some beautiful stuff that can be done with a homepage builder. Recently, Wix.com has seen a massive presence on the market. We have already taken a look at this product several times. You won’t go wrong with that.

To take care of your pages, you need other tools, like Canva for the image creation, or Unsplash as a source for free images.

Other useful tools for web design and work related to your website can be found in this overview on DIY web design.

Who do You Entrust With the Hosting?

If you followed my advice to hire a professional to create your website, he should help you to elegantly avoid the cliff that is selecting the appropriate web host. If you went off on your own, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that you might not fully understand yet.

The most valuable insight on this topic is the following: changing the selected web host is not easy. Thus, you shouldn’t choose a very cheap solution first, and see what happens. When in doubt, just move on.

If your website has a certain complexity, and is more than a digital business card, moving from A to B is not as simple as moving a few boxes into a new apartment. Different providers don’t only have different prices, but, above all else, entirely different performance levels.

Take a look at our article on hosting aspects.

For logical reasons, you should try to make a qualified assessment of how much traffic is to be expected at what time, and which server-side features are required. Most likely, this won’t lead to the cheapest host, and that’s a good thing.

Conclusion: Thought About Everything? Then Let’s Go!

If you went through all questions and got useful answers, you can start with the realization of your website with a clear conscience. Here at Noupe, you’ll find tons of articles to help you on your way.

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Web Development Reading List #171: Leaks, SHA-1 Collision, And Brotli

February 24th, 2017 No comments

Phew, what a week! Due to an HTML-parsing bug, Cloudflare experienced a major data leak, and the first practical collision for SHA-1 was revealed as well.

We should take these events as an occasion to reconsider if a centralized front-end load balancer that modifies your traffic is a good idea after all. And it’s definitely time to upgrade your TLS-certificate if you still serve SHA-1, too. Here’s what else happened this week.

The post Web Development Reading List #171: Leaks, SHA-1 Collision, And Brotli appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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3 ways to win customers with content

February 24th, 2017 No comments

Content marketing is a marketing technique focused on creating and distributing valuable content to attract and retain visitors, and turn these visitors into customers. It has proven very effective, at least if you know what you’re doing.

The advantages of content marketing are:

  • It’s good for SEO, especially for targeting long-tail keywords.
  • Content marketing can help attract links and improve your website’s authority in the search results.
  • The content can be used as fuel for social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), newsletters, magazines and other media.

3 types of content marketing

Content marketing can be divided into three categories:

  1. Basic blogs
  2. Creative formats
  3. Side products

These three types are based on the amount of effort they require and the potential rewards. For example: basic blogs are easy to create, while side products are much harder and more costly (more about that later). Conversely, side products can be enormously successful, while the same level of success is harder to achieve with basic blogs.

1) Basic blogs

Simple blogs are the most basic type of content marketing. Businesses often publish articles about new products, industry trends, and tips ‘n’ tricks on their website. They share this information in order to attract visitors and improve their top-of-mind awareness (TOMA).

This type of content marketing is easy to produce. Hire a copywriter to write the article or look for someone in-house, format it, add some images and you’re ready to go. The cost of these articles is low, but so is the chance of success.

2) Creative formats

The second type of content marketing is based on the first. Words are the simplest form to spread information. So why not try something a bit more creative? There are other ways to spread your ideas that help you stand out from the crowd. Some examples:

  • Infographics: Infographics might be yesterday’s news, but if executed correctly, they can be very powerful.
  • Animated infographics: Looking for something fresh? Why not try an animated infographic. Head over to Jacob O’Neal’s Animagraffs for inspiration.
  • Video: If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a thousand pictures. Attract new customers by displaying your expertise in a video. Moz uses this technique in their Whiteboard Friday.
  • Quiz: Add some interactivity to your content marketing with a quiz. There are plenty of tools that can help you create one of these.
  • Interviews: Interviewing a celebrity in your field can be a great way to get some extra visibility for your brand.

This second type of content marketing is all about the creative distribution of information. It requires a bit more work than the first type, but the rewards can be much greater.

3) Side Products

The most advanced type of content marketing are side products. As the name suggests, side products are new products or services that expand and/or are linked to the original products and services of the company.

Take Crew, for example; their goal is to attract customers who have a project that needs high-quality creative work and put them in touch with freelance designers and developers. They had trouble finding customers, no marketing budget, and were 3 months from bankruptcy. So what did they do?

They decided to give away all the extra stock photos they created for their website redesign… for free! They did this on the domain called unsplash.com. Nowadays, unsplash is one of the biggest websites for free stock photography. What’s more; this side project generates over 40 percent of Crew’s revenue.

The technique behind this content marketing technique is simple: give something valuable away in order to sell something related (a quote from Brian Clark). Stock photos is something the target audience of Crew needs. It helped them create brand awareness and attract new customers.

There are plenty of other businesses that are using the content marketing strategy. For example: dmlights, a webshop for lighting, created a 3D Homeplanner where visitors can design their dream home (of course with light fixtures from their webshop). Or what about Buffer, who created a tool called Pablo that automatically generates images for social media?

Value creation is at the core of side projects. As Crew’s founder Mikael says:

It’s more likely you’ll use a good product many times than read a good blog post many times. This repeated usefulness is what makes side products so valuable.

Most of these side projects require quite a bit of time and money. Nevertheless, they can achieve amazing results when it comes to brand awareness and customer acquisition.

Conclusion

  • Content marketing is much more than simply publishing articles.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket – mix different types of content marketing.
  • For side products: try to find a link between your core product/service and other unfulfilled needs of your target audience.
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An Animated Intro to RxJS

February 24th, 2017 No comments

You might have heard of RxJS, or ReactiveX, or reactive programming, or even just functional programming before. These are terms that are becoming more and more prominent when talking about the latest-and-greatest front-end technologies. And if you’re anything like me, you were completely bewildered when you first tried learning about it.

According to ReactiveX.io:

ReactiveX is a library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences.

That’s a lot to digest in a single sentence. In this article, we’re going to take a different approach to learning about RxJS (the JavaScript implementation of ReactiveX) and Observables, by creating reactive animations.

Understanding Observables

An array is a collection of elements, such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. You get all the elements immediately, and you can do things like map, filter and map them. This allows you to transform the collection of elements any way you’d like.

Now suppose that each element in the array occurred over time; that is, you don’t get all elements immediately, but rather one at a time. You might get the first element at 1 second, the next at 3 seconds, and so on. Here’s how that might be represented:

This can be described as a stream of values, or a sequence of events, or more relevantly, an observable.

An observable is a collection of values over time.

Just like with an array, you can map, filter, and more over these values to create and compose new observables. Finally, you can subscribe to these observables and do whatever you want with the final stream of values. This is where RxJS comes in.

Getting Started with RxJS

The easiest way to start using RxJS is to use a CDN, although there are many ways to install it depending on your project’s needs.

<!-- the latest, minified version of RxJS -->
<script src="https://unpkg.com/@reactivex/rxjs@latest/dist/global/Rx.min.js"></script>

Once you have RxJS in your project, you can create an observable from just about anything:

const aboutAnything = 42;

// From just about anything (single value).
// The observable emits that value, then completes.
const meaningOfLife$ = Rx.Observable.just(aboutAnything);

// From an array or iterable.
// The observable emits each item from the array, then completes.
const myNumber$ = Rx.Observable.from([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]);

// From a promise.
// The observable emits the result eventually, then completes (or errors).
const myData$ = Rx.Observable.fromPromise(fetch('http://example.com/users'));

// From an event.
// The observable continuously emits events from the event listener.
const mouseMove$ = Rx.Observable
  .fromEvent(document.documentElement, 'mousemove');

Note: the dollar sign ($) at the end of the variable is just a convention to indicate that the variable is an observable. Observables can be used to model anything that can be represented as a stream of values over time, such as events, Promises, timers, intervals, and animations.

As is, these observables don’t do much of anything, at least until you actually observe them. A subscription will do just that, which is created using .subscribe():

// Whenever we receive a number from the observable,
// log it to the console.
myNumber$.subscribe(number => console.log(number));

// Result:
// > 1
// > 2
// > 3
// > 4
// > 5

Let’s see this in practice:

See the Pen

const docElm = document.documentElement;
const cardElm = document.querySelector('#card');
const titleElm = document.querySelector('#title');

const mouseMove$ = Rx.Observable
  .fromEvent(docElm, 'mousemove');

mouseMove$.subscribe(event => {
  titleElm.innerHTML = `${event.clientX}, ${event.clientY}`
});

From the mouseMove$ observable, every time a mousemove event occurs, the subscription changes the .innerHTML of the titleElm to the position of the mouse. The .map operator (which works similar to the Array.prototype.map method) can help simplify things:

// Produces e.g., {x: 42, y: 100} instead of the entire event
const mouseMove$ = Rx.Observable
  .fromEvent(docElm, 'mousemove')
  .map(event => ({ x: event.clientX, y: event.clientY }));

With a little math and inline styles, you can make the card rotate towards the mouse. Both pos.y / clientHeight and pos.x / clientWidth evaluate to values between 0 and 1, so multiplying that by 50 and subtracting half (25) produces values from -25 to 25, which is just what we need for our rotation values:

See the Pen

const docElm = document.documentElement;
const cardElm = document.querySelector('#card');
const titleElm = document.querySelector('#title');

const { clientWidth, clientHeight } = docElm;

const mouseMove$ = Rx.Observable
  .fromEvent(docElm, 'mousemove')
  .map(event => ({ x: event.clientX, y: event.clientY }))

mouseMove$.subscribe(pos => {
  const rotX = (pos.y / clientHeight * -50) - 25;
  const rotY = (pos.x / clientWidth * 50) - 25;

  cardElm.style = `
    transform: rotateX(${rotX}deg) rotateY(${rotY}deg);
  `;
});

Combining with .merge

Now let’s say you wanted this to respond to either mouse moves or touch moves, on touch devices. Without any callback mess, you can use RxJS to combine observables in many ways. In this example, the .merge operator can be used. Just like multiple lanes of traffic merging into a single lane, this returns a single observable containing all of the data merged from multiple observables.


Source: http://rxmarbles.com/#merge
const touchMove$ = Rx.Observable
  .fromEvent(docElm, 'touchmove')
  .map(event => ({
    x: event.touches[0].clientX,
    y: event.touches[0].clientY
  }));

const move$ = Rx.Observable.merge(mouseMove$, touchMove$);

move$.subscribe(pos => {
  // ...
});

Go ahead, try panning around on a touch device:

See the Pen

There are other useful operators for combining observables, such as .switch(), .combineLatest(), and .withLatestFrom(), which we’ll be looking at next.

Adding Smooth Motion

As neat as the rotating card is, the motion a bit too rigid. Whenever the mouse (or finger) stops, the rotation instantly stops. To remedy this, linear interpolation (LERP) can be used. The general technique is described in this great tutorial by Rachel Smith. Essentially, instead of jumping from point A to B, LERP will go a fraction of the way on every animation tick. This produces a smooth transition, even when mouse/touch motion has stopped.

Let’s create a function that has one job: to calculate the next value given a start value and an end value, using LERP:

function lerp(start, end) {
  const dx = end.x - start.x;
  const dy = end.y - start.y;

  return {
    x: start.x + dx * 0.1,
    y: start.y + dy * 0.1,
  };
}

Short and sweet. We have a pure function that returns a new, linearly interpolated position value every time, by moving a current (start) position 10% closer to the next (end) position on each animation frame.

Schedulers and .interval

The question is, how do we represent animation frames in RxJS? Turns out, RxJS has something called Schedulers which control when data is emitted from an observable, among other things like when subscriptions should start receiving values.

Using Rx.Observable.interval(), you can create an observable that emits values on a regularly scheduled interval, such as every one second (Rx.Observable.interval(1000)). If you create a tiny interval, such as Rx.Observable.interval(0) and schedule it to emit values only on every animation frame using Rx.Scheduler.animationFrame, a value will be emitted about every 16 to 17ms, within the animation frame, as expected:

const animationFrame$ = Rx.Observable.interval(0, Rx.Scheduler.animationFrame);

Combining with .withLatestFrom

To create a smooth linear interpolation, you just need to care about the latest mouse/touch position on every animation tick. To do that, there is an operator called .withLatestFrom():

const smoothMove$ = animationFrame$
  .withLatestFrom(move$, (frame, move) => move);

Now, smoothMove$ is a new observable that emits the latest values from move$ only whenever animationFrame$ emits a value. This is desired — you don’t want values emitted outside animation frames (unless you really like jank). The second argument is a function that describes what to do when combining the latest values from each observable. In this case, the only important value is the move value, which is all that’s returned.


Source: http://rxmarbles.com/#withLatestFrom

Transitioning with .scan

Now that you have an observable emitting the latest values from move$ on every animation frame, it’s time to add linear interpolation. The .scan() operator “accumulates” the current value and next value from an observable, given a function that takes those values.


Source: http://rxmarbles.com/#scan

This is perfect for our linear interpolation use-case. Remember that our lerp(start, end) function takes two arguments: the start (current) value and the end (next) value.

const smoothMove$ = animationFrame$
  .withLatestFrom(move$, (frame, move) => move)
  .scan((current, next) => lerp(current, next));
  // or simplified: .scan(lerp)

Now, you can subscribe to smoothMove$ instead of move$ to see the linear interpolation in action:

See the Pen

Conclusion

RxJS is not an animation library, of course, but handling values over time in a composable, declarative way is such a core concept to ReactiveX that animation serves as a great way to demonstrate the technology. Reactive Programming is a different way of thinking about programming, with many advantages:

  • It is declarative, composable, and immutable, which avoids callback hell and makes your code more terse, reusable, and modular.
  • It is very useful in dealing with all types of async data, whether it’s fetching data, communicating via WebSockets, listening to external events from multiple sources, or even animations
  • “Separation of concerns” – you declaratively represent the data that you expect using Observables and operators, and then deal with side effects in a single .subscribe() instead of sprinkling them around your code base.
  • There are implementations in so many languages – Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, Swift, and others you might not have even heard of.
  • It is not a framework, and many popular frameworks (such as React, Angular, and Vue) work very well with RxJS.
  • You can get hipster points if you want, but ReactiveX was first implemented nearly a decade ago (2009), stemming from ideas by Conal Elliott and Paul Hudak two decades ago (1997), in describing functional reactive animations (surprise surprise). Needless to say, it’s battle-tested.

This article explored a number of useful parts and concepts of RxJS – creating Observables with .fromEvent() and .interval(), operating on observables with .map() and .scan(), combining multiple observables with .merge() and .withLatestFrom(), and introducing Schedulers with Rx.Scheduler.animationFrame. There are many other useful resources for learning RxJS:

If you want to dive further into animating with RxJS (and getting even more declarative with CSS variables), check out my slides from CSS Dev Conf 2016 and my talk from JSConf Iceland 2016 on Reactive Animations with CSS Variables. For inspiration, here’s some Pens that use RxJS for animation:


An Animated Intro to RxJS is a post from CSS-Tricks

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Deep dive CSS: font metrics, line-height and vertical-align

February 24th, 2017 No comments

Vincent De Oliveira has written an epic post that details pretty much everything you might ever want to know about the line-height and vertical-align properties. If you’ve ever had trouble aligning things next to text or wondered why two fonts look so wildly different from one another then this post is certainly for you.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink


Deep dive CSS: font metrics, line-height and vertical-align is a post from CSS-Tricks

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WordPress: Which Search Feature is Better? Google’s or Native?

February 24th, 2017 No comments
The Search Results of the Google Search

More and more websites choose to use Google’s search engine instead of the native WordPress search. The Google search is supposed to be much better, as well as deliver more precise results. But is this really the case? Is the WordPress search function really so bad that it should be replaced? Here’s my report.

Google Custom Search is considered to be a great alternative to the native WordPress Search, as it’s said to simply deliver better results. On top of that, the displayed ads even allow you to make money off of it.

This is the advertising promise made by Google. But what does the reality look like? Are the results actually more precise, and is it really possible to make money off of the ads?

Making Money Via Google Search

I’m sure there are websites that earn one or two bucks off the ad blocks. But this won’t make you rich. I know lots of websites with a rather good amount of traffic that have barely earned a penny off these ads.

If you happen to be the owner of a website like the Smashing Magazine, it may be different for you.

But even with 300,000 unique visitors a month, you’ll struggle to get a penny from the ads. It’s just not worth it. Dr. Web, and Noupe have used the Google’s Custom Search for years. There was no notable revenue. By now, they have switched back to native WordPress Search on both websites.

Setting Up Custom Search for Your Website

You can easily set up Custom Search for your blog, and quickly change back to the regular search if you just want to try it. A test doesn’t hurt.

I have written a tutorial on setting up the Google custom search engine. Simply follow the guide, the setup only takes a few minutes.

Here’s a Video to Give You an Impression:

The Search Results: Google vs. WordPress

As you can easily switch between the two engines, I have put in the effort to compare the two with one search term. Under optimal circumstances, there is no difference at all.

Screenshot of Custom Search:

Screenshot of the WordPress Search:

WordPress Search

I could use a different search term, and there wouldn’t be much of a difference in the results. The WordPress search is certainly better than its reputation. And the Google search doesn’t always deliver optimal results.

Relevance is Crucial. Does Google Have the Edge Here?

I have tested the two engines in-depth on my own website. To me, the relevance of the search results that my visitors get to see is important. I want every person that is looking for something on my website to find the desired information.

That’s the only way a random visitor could turn into a regular user of my blog.

Up to this point, it’s clear that both searches deliver good results. To test which of the two has the better ones, I have entered a search term that was supposed to lead to a single result.

The Result:

Google Screenshot:

Google Search in the Relevance Test

WordPress Screenshot:

The WordPress Search in the Relevance Test

Both search engines have delivered the optimal result, followed by a couple completely useless results.

The Final Result of the Comparison

I consider both search variants to be suitable. Both searches have delivered top results for the tested keywords. When looking for terms with lots of search results, both engines will deliver good and relevant ones.

When searching for terms where only one result is possible, both functions give you the correct result, followed by useless entries.

To me, WordPress Search is the winner nonetheless, as the results simply look better, and are optimally integrated into the theme’s design.

Improving WordPress Search

The result of the WordPress Search can be improved visually. When the keyword is highlighted in the search result, users will be able to know that the result is what they are looking for right away.

The Visitor Can See the Desired Result Right Away.
Due to the Highlighting, The Visitor Can See the Desired Result Right Away.

Since we have to edit a template file to make changes to WordPress Search, you should create a child theme. Then, the changes will remain even after a theme update.

Important: Always make a backup of the theme files before working on them. Additionally, you should never work with the WordPress editor, but always directly alter the files via FTP. This lets you replace flawed files with the originals quicker.

How to: Noupe’s Guide to WordPress Child Themes

Highlighting WordPress Search Results: How to

Depending on the theme, one or two files need to be adjusted. To figure this out, download the search.php to your desktop via FTP. Open it with an HTML editor. If you don’t have one, pick one from our lists.

The search.php tells you if you have to edit a second file, as well as what it’s called. I have to alter two files.

You have to add a element to the heading of the search.php.

Editing the search.php

For me, the second file is the listed-search.php. It can definitely be a different one for you, and there may be only one file responsible for the display of the search results.

Copy the following code into the very top of the file:

View the code on Gist.

Now, replace with in the heading. Replace the tag with .

Replacing the Two WordPress Tags.
Replacing the Two WordPress Tags.

Now load the file or files into your (child-) theme folder via FTP, and you’re done. Now try your search. If it is highlighted in color, everything’s fine. If not, your theme CSS is missing the designation for the element.

Add the following CSS to your style.css, if it’s missing:

View the code on Gist.

Now, the search results should be highlighted.

Conclusion

Google Custom Search is pretty good, while the WordPress Search is better than its reputation. With a small modification, it’s even better, as the user is able to see the relevance of the results right off the bat. I have already made the switch to the native WordPress Search.

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How To Use Color Contrast To Get The Maximum Impact

February 23rd, 2017 No comments

Colors influence our whole life from the very beginning. They could attract or distract attention, set a mood, or even influence our emotions and perceptions. As we know, “an image worth more than 1000 words”. Therefore, the professionals involved in the communication area use the colors to send, support or to highlight a message.

However, sometimes it could be hard to know where to start when choosing the color palette for your design projects. Which could be the best option? Using the pairing colors or the contrast ones?

Well, there is not just one right answer or a magic formula for this. You should try different color schemes and combinations to see which of them appeal you the most and transmit the right message. But before doing this, you should know the basics of the colors and their combination. In this post, we will focus on the contrast (or complementary) colors and their usage, with some case studies.

So, let’s start with the basics.

Contrast is more than opposites like black and white or large and small. Contrast is a design principle that should be a part of every design project. Why? Because it helps you organize the design and establish a hierarchy, showing the viewers which parts of your design are more important and help them focus on those. On the other hand, the contrast adds to visual more interest, regardless if we are talking about the logo design, print or online ads, website design, indoor or outdoor signage.

In the color theory, the contrasting (or complementary) colors are directly or almost directly positioned across one from another on the color wheel. For example, purple and yellow, red and green, or blue and orange. As you can see below, the complementary colors provide the maximum contrast.

In terms of contrasting colors, we can also talk about Hue, Saturation and Color’s temperature.

Hue

Hue is a specific term for colors, traditionally one of the 12 found on the color wheel. But the color theory also can provide some handy information for graphic and web designers. Besides the traditional complementary colors, some other options include

  • Split-Complementary: any color on the color wheel plus the two that flank its complement; this scheme still has strong visual contrast, but is less dramatic than a complementary color combination.
  • Triadic: any three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

Saturation

The saturation of colors refers to the color intensity, comparing to the black – white spectrum (the complete absence of a hue). A color in its purest and brightness form is 100% saturated. The more you desaturate a color, the closer you are to gray (or black, or white, depending also on the brightness of the color). Therefore, using bright and saturated colors can be a strategic plan to highlight the important parts of a design project.

Temperature

As we know, based on their temperature, all colors can be categorized into groups, based on their temperature: cool, worm and neutral. Reds, yellow and oranges are considered warm colors; blues, and greens are cool; black, white and gray shades are neutral. Depending on how they are used, the beiges and browns can be considered neutrals. You can get a high contrast by mixing the color temperatures in a design, especially warm and cool colors.

Using the contrast colors

In logo design:

The companies use many times contrasting colors in order to underline and emphasize their branding messages. But before choosing your color palette, you should start with the following elements: your brand persona, your brand message, the color psychology and meaning. Let’s take a look, for example, to the following logo designs:

Mountain Dew uses green and red. Right away, a name like “Mountain Dew” evokes images of the great outdoors. Green works for the Mountain Dew’s logo because it nods to the brand’s connection to nature. But the red brings the kick that’s so central to the brand persona.

Visa uses yellow-orange and blue. They are definitely complementary colors. But besides the positions of the colors on the color wheel, let’s have a closer look to the meaning of the colors. Blue is a color often associated with trust, loyalty, royalty, friendliness, wisdom and peace. Yellow evokes positivity. So, the general message is trust, loyalty, positivity and wisdom. What else can we ask from a company at whom we throw wads of cash?

In web design:

On the web, color contrast is about finding colors that not only provide maximum contrast, but also provide enough contrast between content and the background for anyone. This doesn’t mean you have to limit your colors to complementary colors, but the contrast should be kept in mind all the same. You can combine different saturated and desaturated colors, to enhance the drama.

For example, the primary objective for this website is to reflect the adventure and wildness through the design, by combining different colors, textures and layering. In order to do this, the designer not just used the vibrant orange-red letter on the forest green, but also used contrasting levels of the saturation.

Using contrasting colors in web design helps you not just add more appeals to your design, but also organize your message and highlight the important parts of the design.

For example, the Mint website. The designer used one of the powerful combinations of contrasting colors. The white text, the orange color used for the call-to-action buttons and the bright green logo contrast with the dark background and stand out. Again, the designer used not just complementary colors, but also played with the dark and bright colors in order to highlight different elements of the website page.

In print design

For print design, the principles of the contrast are the same as for the web design. Whether you are working on a flyer, a brochure, a poster or have to publish an ad into a magazine, establishing the contrast is one of the most important things to consider. If it’s done properly, the contrast should be really noticed. It helps you separate the things, but it’s also the bond that puts the things together. Not only that a page is more attractive when contrasting colors are used, but the purpose and organization of the document are much clearer.

For example, the Hilton/F&B Brochure.

They use contrasting colors in their brochure design in order to highlight not just the pictures, but also the copy. Both of them are important, so the designer created the contrast playing with the colors.

On the other hand, let’s take a look to the Relic’s ad. They used tonnes of complementary and pairing colors in order not to just organize their design, but also highlight the message and create a summer feeling.

As in the web design, using the contrasting colors in print design helps you create a focus. For example, the adverts from the iPod used contrasting colors to focus the viewer’s attention on the music player. The ad featured a black silhouette character on a brightly green background. The iPod and the earphones appear in white and stands out from the black silhouette and the bright background.

In indoor and outdoor signage

Because business signage is the first visible advertisement for any company’s services or products, you should give a special attention to the colors used for them. It’s true that the colors used have to match to your brand colors in order to provide a unified image of your company, but there are also other things you should take into consideration. One of them is the level of the visibility that will be created. By contrasting a light color on a dark background or a dark font or graphic on a light background, the viewers will be more drawn to your signage.

For example, Starbucks uses white text on dark green background; and the signage can be viewed during the days and nights. Staples uses white text on the dark red. Although the white is a neutral color, combined with the dark red, it pops up!

With LEDs signs, it’s important to use contrasting colors. Contrasting colors do not only make colors eye-catching and more vibrant, it forces eyes to gaze at it. This is the key to getting the most marketing power out of your color choices – add some contrasting colors in the message that you’re trying to send.

Bottom line

As we said in the beginning, there is no magic formula for using the contrasting colors. You have to try and experiment by mixing different colors, using not just the primary colors, but also tones, shades and tints, because each concept and color combination can drastically change what you are trying to say with your project design.

Read More at How To Use Color Contrast To Get The Maximum Impact

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Individual CSS Transform Functions

February 23rd, 2017 No comments

Dan Wilson documents a classic annoyance with transforms:

button {
  transform: translateY(-150%);
}
button:hover {
  /* will (perhaps unintentionally) override the original translate */
  transform: scale(.8);
}

The native (and WET) solution is list the original transform again:

button:hover {
  transform: translateY(-150%) scale(.8);
}

Dan’s trick is to use custom properties instead. Set them all on the element right up front, then re-set them the :hover state:

:root {
  --tx: 150%;
  --scale: 1;
}
button {
  transform: 
    translateY(var(--tx))
    scale(var(--scale));
}
button:hover {
  --scale: 0.8;
}

Cascading custom properties FTW.

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Individual CSS Transform Functions is a post from CSS-Tricks

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Designing With Real Data In Sketch Using The Craft Plugin

February 23rd, 2017 No comments

Besides the user’s needs, what’s another vital aspect of an app? Your first thought might be its design. That’s important, correct, but before you can even think about the design, you need to get something else right: the data.

Data should be the cornerstone of everything you create. Not only does it help you to make more informed decisions, but it also makes it easier to account for edge cases, or things you might not have thought of otherwise.

The post Designing With Real Data In Sketch Using The Craft Plugin appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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How to design the perfect infographic

February 23rd, 2017 No comments

Thanks largely due to the fact that more information is at our fingertips now than at any point in human history, we’ve entered into an age where both of the following statements are true: People are consuming more content online than ever before; Fewer and fewer people are actually willing to spend time reading that content.

According to a study reported on by Slate, roughly 38% of people who click on an article or blog post online don’t actually make it past the headline. Of those that remain, a further 5% only ever read the first paragraph—if they don’t have to scroll, that is. If they do have to scroll, they don’t even make it that far.

A study from The Washington Post confirms this—only 41% of people in the United States said that they invested the time in consuming any in-depth content in the last week, even if that content was on a subject they were actively interested in pursuing.

As marketers, this presents something of a challenge to say the least. Quality content is more important than ever, as marketers all over the Web strive to “one up” each other in terms of the value they’re able to provide; both in terms of what users are looking for and to satisfy the needs of entities like Google.

So how do you check off both of these boxes at the same time, so to speak? Thankfully, the solution is simple—you lean heavily on the principles of visual communication and data visualization to repackage your marketing message in the form of stunning presentations and infographics, the likes of which people can’t seem to get enough of.

The most important thing to keep in mind in that regard, however, is that the chasm between an infographic and a quality, successful infographic is a deep one indeed. It you truly want to design the perfect Infographic that will capture the attention of your target audience, you’ll need to keep a few key things in mind.

Perfect infographics start with a thesis

The number one thing to understand about designing successful infographics is that it cannot just be “a bunch of stats or other figures arranged visually on a page.” Infographics, like any other marketing collateral, are used best when they’re telling a story.

In this particular case, that story just happens to be told primarily with figures and data as opposed to good, old-fashioned text.

Because of this, before you even get into the visual element of your Infographics you’ll need to settle on a thesis statement: What exactly are you trying to say? What impression do you want the reader to take away when they finally get to the end?

The answer to this question will dictate every choice you make moving forward, so it’s an important one to settle on as quickly as possible.

Structuring your infographic

Once you’ve settled on the story you’re trying to tell, the next thing to do is to nail down your structure.

Think of it a bit like telling a joke: First you introduce the setup, meaning the context that people need to understand what is to come; then, you expand on that setup and offer the hook (the thing that keeps people interested); finally, you hit them with the punch line (the surprise at the end of the joke that generates the laugh).

If you don’t have these core elements, or if they’re not in the appropriate order, your joke (or in this case, your infographic) won’t be nearly as successful as you need.

In terms of infographics, the ideal structure is as follows:

  • Introduce your topic, either by way of a short block of text or by a bold opening fact or figure.
  • Introduce a complication. This is a problem that you’re offering a solution to, or an idea that you’re going to be expanding on.
  • Expand on that complication. Your reader should learn why this topic is important and should slowly be able to get an idea of what you’re trying to say about it.
  • Finally, the conclusion. This is the period on the end of your sentence that sums up what someone has learned, what they can do with this information and where they can find more if they so choose.

All of the data that you collect for your infographic should be neatly placed within this framework, allowing you to see exactly where a particular point needs to go for maximum effect.

If something doesn’t fall in line with these core areas, it probably has no business being on your infographic at all.

Don’t forget about design

Just because you can make an infographic without a graphic design degree, doesn’t mean you can throw out all the tried-but-true rules of visual communication.

The data you arrange should naturally flow from top to bottom. These elements should be presented in a way that guides the reader from one point to the next, often without them even realizing you’re in control in the first place.

Each data point should build and expand on the one that came before it, eventually leading the reader directly to the beautiful climax (or punch line) that they were after in the first place.

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