Archive for September, 2018

Our Top 4 Favorite Slideshow Makers of 2018

September 30th, 2018 No comments
Slideshow Makers

We all love making a good slideshow, right? There’s nothing better than being able to sit back, relax, and enjoy your favorite photos, one after the other, without having to go through physical photos or a camera roll. But, making the slideshow is the tricky part. Before you’re even able to enjoy the cinematic version of your life captured by photograph, you have to first make the slideshow. So, for that reason, we’ve compiled a short list of our favorite slideshow makers of 2018.

Slideshow Makers

1. Fotophire Slideshow Maker

Fotophire is no stranger to making killer photo editing software, but how does their slideshow maker hold up? Well, to put it briefly, it’s the best. The whole package is designed around making your slideshow as personal and easy as possible, not to mention that it’s a killer deal at only $19.99. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Tons of custom templates

The template section of the software is constantly being updated. There are custom templates in there that range anywhere from Christmas to birthdays.

  • Audio downloads

If you can’t seem to find the right tune from the 75 tracks they already have for you, you can easily download and edit your own.

  • Network sharing

What’s the point in making a slideshow if everyone can’t enjoy it? With the quick share button, you can upload your new slideshow to any network like Facebook or Youtube.

Fotophire doesn’t stop there. There are tons of unique and helpful features to help you make your creation one of a kind. But, don’t let us spoil it for you, go check them out!

Slideshow Makers

2. Icecream Slideshow Maker

Who doesn’t love icecream? Aside from it’s delicious name, Icecream slideshow maker is definitely a great software. You can add images one at a time, or upload entire folders. It’s simple and easy to use. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Audio uploads

You can add any of your favorite tunes.

  • Add texts

Add custom texts to any of your slides. Set font, size, and color all with the click of your mouse.

  • Slideshow sharing

You can upload any of your slideshows to most major networks.

There are a few other simple features Icecream has to offer. You can even create slideshows up to 3840×2160 resolution.

Slideshow Makers

3. Proshow Gold

The reason Proshow Gold made it to this list is because it makes short work of those long lost phone clips and Instagram videos. You can easily import images and videos from all over the web. Here are a few features you get with Proshow:

  • Drag and drop

Adding an image is as simple as clicking, dragging, and dropping it into place.

  • Custom captions

Add titles to any slide for your show. You can choose your own font, size, and color.

  • Music and Voiceovers

No slideshow is complete without some tunes or commentary. Proshow allows you to import audio files and edit them to your liking.

  • Easy sharing

In addition to being able to upload it to any major network, you can also burn the slideshow to a DVD or drop it into a USB.

One thing that Proshow offers that a lot of other Slideshow makers don’t is the ability to edit your photos in the software. Just like Fotophire, you can add just about any filter or effect you can imagine.

Slideshow Makers

4. Animoto

Animoto is an online slideshow maker that is quite powerful. The best thing about it is that it’s complete cloud based, so it’s always easy to access. This is what else you’ll get:

  • Custom templates

They have a very wide variety of custom made templates for your show.

  • Music library

You have access to a huge selection of pre-licensed audio.

  • On-the-go

Because it’s an online tool and cloud based, you can use it anywhere at anytime. That includes from phones and tablets.

Unfortunately, there are still quite a few features that are lacking. It’s powerful for what it is, but it’s not always the best option.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick list of our top 4 favorite slideshow makers for 2018. All of these softwares are amazing in their own way, but if you’re looking for a powerful software that does it all, Fotophire Slideshow Maker takes the cake.

Read More at Our Top 4 Favorite Slideshow Makers of 2018

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Popular Design News of the Week: September 24, 2018 – September 30, 2018

September 30th, 2018 No comments

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

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

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

16 CSS Border Animations

DebugBear – Front-end Code Monitoring

Scheme Color – The Quick, Simple and Easiest Way to Browse Color Schemes

Framer X is Awesome, but it’s not Ready

Stop Using Select Menus for Known User Input

Reviewed: New Name and Logo for Dunkin’

New Ghostery Browser for Android

Preparing for Better Typography in Augmented Reality

A Lightbulb is not an Idea!

7 Bad Graphic Design Habits to Lose

Design Thinking is Fundamentally Conservative and Preserves the Status Quo

Stress Testing your Designs so that They are Flexible

Torch: The Design Platform for Augmented Reality

Manyverse – A Social Network Off the Grid

Infographic: How to Prioritize Projects so You Meet Every Deadline

How to Use Instagram Stories for Marketing (And Why You Should)

Linux Developers Threaten to Pull “kill Switch”

Pride and Prejudice and Personas

10 Inspiring Cities for Designers

8 Foolproof Font Combinations for Non-Designers

The Future of Design

Re-Approaching Color

Vivaldi Browser V2.0 Released

ColorBox by Lyft Design Reset

Case Study: Louis Ansa Portfolio 2018

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

Add Realistic Chalk and Sketch Lettering Effects with Sketch’it – only $5!


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October Magic For Your Desktop (2018 Edition)

September 30th, 2018 No comments

October Magic For Your Desktop (2018 Edition)

October Magic For Your Desktop (2018 Edition)

Cosima Mielke


The leaves are shining in the most beautiful colors and pumpkins are taking over the front porches. Time to welcome the spookiest of all months: October! To get your desktop ready for fall and the upcoming Halloween season, artists and designers from across the globe once again challenged their creative skills and designed inspiring desktop wallpapers for you to indulge in.

As usual, the wallpapers come in versions with and without a calendar for October 2018 and can be downloaded for free. And since so many inspiring, beautiful, and unique artworks evolve around our little wallpapers challenge every month, we once again dived into our archives to find some timeless October classics from past years to add to this collection. Because, well, some things are just too good to be forgotten, right? Enjoy!

Please note that:

  • All images can be clicked on and lead to the preview of the wallpaper,
  • You can feature your work in our magazine by taking part in our Desktop Wallpaper Calendar series. We are regularly looking for creative designers and artists to be featured on Smashing Magazine. Are you one of them?

Further Reading on SmashingMag:

Shades Of Gold

“We are about to experience the magical imagery of nature, with all the yellows, ochers, oranges, and reds coming our way this fall. With all the subtle sunrises and the burning sunsets before us, we feel so joyful that we are going to shout it out to the world from the top of the mountains.” — Designed by PopArt Studio from Serbia.

Flying Home For Halloween

“You can only fully master the sky wearing an aviator hat and goggles. Like this little bat, flying home to celebrate Halloween with his family and friends.” — Designed by Franke Margrete from the Netherlands.

Flying Home For Halloween

Strange October Journey

“October makes the leaves fall to cover the land with lovely auburn colors and brings out all types of weird with them.” — Designed by Mi Ni Studio from Serbia.

Strange October Journey


Designed by Ricardo Gimenes from Sweden.


Trick Or Treat

Designed by Mad Fish Digital from the USA.

Trick Or Treat

Hello Fall

“Leaves are falling from the trees in all kinds of beautiful colors.” — Designed by Melissa Bogemans from Belgium.

Hello Fall

Halloween Candy

Designed by Ilse van den Boogaart from the Netherlands.

Halloween Candy

The Pleasure In Travelling

“Travel makes you humble by letting you see the tiny place you occupy in the world. An individual with ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he or she travels or not; but a person with superior talent will go to pieces if they remain forever in the same place.” — Designed by Mindster from India.

The Pleasure In Travelling

Love And Life

“Mahatma Gandhi is remembered for all his great deeds and words of wisdom. Though he never lived his life peacefully, he always remained proactive in removing the social evils of our society. So let’s devote this month in the memory of this great man and recall all his good deeds as well as learning which he left behind for the world to follow.” — Designed by Aufait Technologies from India.

Love And Life

Exclusively Fall

“When I think of October the real beginning of the fall season comes to mind. It was difficult to narrow down what symbols I wanted to use to represent the season and how to sort out which ones would work into a collective theme. I decided using textures and objects found in nature itself would make the most sense for my theme. By ‘carving’ symbols into the natural texture of wood and showing the change of season with the coloured leaves I hope I was able to capture the essence of fall.” — Designed by Sarah Stevens from Canada.

Exclusively Fall

Oldies But Goodies

Creepy Halloween fellows, a nice cup of tea on a rainy day, and the magic of the fall forest — October has its very own charm. And, well, the treasures we rediscovered in our Wallpapers archives pay tribute to all those big and small October moments. Please note that these wallpapers don’t come with a calendar.

Haunted House

“Love all the Halloween costumes and decorations!” — Designed by Tazi from Australia.

Haunted House

A Very Pug-o-ween

“The best part of October is undoubtedly Halloween. And the best part of Halloween is dog owners who never pass up an o-paw-tunity to dress up their pups as something a-dog-able. Why design pugs specifically in costumes? Because no matter how you look at it, pugs are cute in whatever costume you put them in for trick or treating. There’s something about their wrinkly snorting snoots that makes us giggle, and we hope our backgrounds make you smile all month. Happy Pug-o-ween from the punsters at Trillion!” — Designed by Trillion from Summit, NJ.

A Very Pug-o-ween

Tea And Cookies

“As it gets colder outside, all I want to do is stay inside with a big pot of tea, eat cookies and read or watch a movie, wrapped in a blanket. Is it just me?” — Designed by Miruna Sfia from Romania.

Tea And Cookies

Hello, Autumn, I’m Glad to See You Again

Designed by Lívi from Hungary.

Hello, Autumn, I'm Glad to See You Again


“I’m just a sucker for Halloween, candy, tiny witches and giant kittens. And you can’t tell me that October is not Halloween, because I’ve waited the whole year for this. I thought that I would make illustration central to this calendar so I started with the idea of a tiny witch who’s stolen a ton of candy along with her cat — who’s gotten herself in trouble and can’t unstick the bubble gum from her giant teeth. A typical Halloween scene, right?” — Designed by Kalashniköv from Spain.


Dope Code

“October is the month, when the weather in Poland starts to get colder, and it gets very rainy, too. You can’t always spend your free time outside, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get some hot coffee and work on your next cool web project!” — Designed by Robert Brodziak from Poland.

Dope Code

Summer, Don’t Go!

“It would be nice if we could bring summer back, wouldn’t it?” — Designed by Terezija Katona from Serbia.

Summer, don't go!


“This wallpaper was inspired by the creepy crawlies of Halloween, animation concept art, and hand-drawn type.” — Designed by Todd Marcinkiewicz from the United States.


My Spooky Love

“Halloween can be a season of love too. This undead bunny is a combination of different inspiration from sugar skulls, cute characters and patterns that I have been drawing in my “Year of Creative Habit” project.” — Designed by Morningmobi from Brunei.

My Spooky Love

A Positive Fall

“October is the month when fall truly begins, and many people feel tired and depressed in this season. The jumping fox wants you to be happy! Also, foxes always have reminded me of fall because of their beautiful fur colors.” — Designed by Elena Sanchez from Spain.

A positive fall

Autumn In The Forest

“Autumn is a wonderful time to go for walks in the forest!” — Designed by Hilda Rytteke from Sweden.

Autumn in the forest

October Gifts

“I was inspired by autumn and those gifts it presents to us in the form of beautiful colors, unusual shapes and mysterious weather. So enjoy October!” — Designed by Juliagav from Ukraine.

October Gift

Autumn Is The New Spring

“Who says Autumn isn’t fun? It’s the new Spring, after all!” Designed by Marina Zhukov from the USA.

Desktop Wallpaper - October 2012

Watercolor Autumn

“There is nothing like being surrounded by beautiful, fiery, natural art for 2.5 months every year. This piece was inspired by the Falls I remember back in my New England hometown.” Designed by Rachel Ladew from the USA.

Desktop Wallpaper - October 2012

Autumn Deer

Designed by Amy Hamilton from Canada.

Desktop Wallpaper - October 2012

Roger That Rogue Rover

“The story is a mash-up of retro science fiction and zombie infection. What would happen if a Mars rover came into contact with an unknown Martian material and got infected with a virus? What if it reversed its intended purpose of research and exploration? Instead choosing a life of chaos and evil. What if they all ran rogue on Mars? Would humans ever dare to voyage to the red planet?” Designed by Frank Candamil from the USA.

Desktop Wallpaper - October 2012


“This is my tribute to the awesome and beautifully designed videogame ‘Limbo’. Enjoy and share if you like this drawing.” Designed by Jonas Duri.

Free Desktop Wallpaper - October 2011

Spooky Town

Designed by Xenia Latii from Germany.

Spooky Town

Halloween Cat

Designed by Mohamad Khatib from Lebanon.

Desktop Wallpaper - October 2012


Designed by Rumake Web Agency from Russia.



Designed by Ricardo Delgado from México City.

Smashing Wallpaper - October 2010

Join In Next Month!

Please note that we respect and carefully consider the ideas and motivation behind each and every artist’s work. This is why we give all artists the full freedom to explore their creativity and express emotions and experience throughout their works. This is also why the themes of the wallpapers weren’t anyhow influenced by us, but rather designed from scratch by the artists themselves.

Thank you to all designers for their participation. Join in next month!

Categories: Others Tags:

Where to Find Graphic Design Freebies

September 28th, 2018 No comments
graphic design freebies

The design industry is a tough place to start a career. The consecrate designers worked diligently to make their names known, and now they are enjoying all the benefits that come with that. But we have to admit that without help of any sort, success is almost impossible to achieve on our own. Because we understand what’s like to be a designer, especially at the beginning of your career, we’ve created a handy list of places where you can find all sorts of graphic design freebies. So let’s get started!

The main idea of this list is for you to save you some money AND time. Sometimes when you work on a big project, you don’t have any minute to spare for researching resources and tools. So we did the job for you. Scroll down and you will find a list of websites that provide you with a multitude of graphic design freebies. Just click the link in each headline and it will take you directly to the source. We hope that you’ll find it helpful and worth of sharing with other fellow beginner graphic designers.

1. The Noun Project | Icons for everything

graphic design freebies

2. Dribbble | Show and Tell for Designers

graphic design freebies

3. Behance | Show and Discover Creative Works

graphic design freebies

4. Reddit | Free Graphic & Web Design Resources

graphic design freebies

5. Free Minimal Logos | Logos For Your Personal or Commercial Projects

graphic design freebies

6. FlyPixel | 828 Design Freebies and Counting

graphic design freebies

7. Hey Design | Design Freebies

graphic design freebies

8. Logo Dust | Logo Designs for Your Startup

graphic design freebies

9. Epic Pxls | Free and Premium Resources For Your Next Project

graphic design freebies

10. FreeDesignResources | Daily Freebies for Creatives

graphic design freebies

11. MediaLoot | Graphic Design Resources for Everyone

graphic design freebies

12. Sketch App Sources | Free Design Resources

graphic design freebies

13. Design Cuts | Design Freebies Archive

graphic design freebies

14. PSD Repo | Free quality PSDs Available For Downloadgraphic design freebies

15. DesignerMill | Collection of Best Free Design Resources

graphic design freebies

16. Fribiesbug | Free Web Design Resources

graphic design freebies

17. Vera Block | Level-Up Your Design Workflow Right Now

graphic design freebies

18. DBF | Dribbble & Behance Best Design Freebies

graphic design freebies

Read More at Where to Find Graphic Design Freebies

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Developing With Automad

September 28th, 2018 No comments

Selecting the right CMS for a blog or website can be difficult. Every web project has its own needs and requirements, meaning one CMS may be a better fit for one site but not so much for a different site. Simple solutions might be lacking some essential features, while more complex systems can create easily overhead for a given task.

I want to cover Automad, a CMS that is less-known than, say, a behemoth like WordPress, but still offers some powerful features like it while maintaining the nimbleness of smaller, simpler solutions, like static site generators.

Specifically, Automad fills a gap between larger and smaller offerings in a few key ways:

  • It is file-based, but does not require a database. This ensures quick setup, portability, security, speed, and easy deployment.
  • Even without a database, it offers database features like searching, tagging, filtering, and sorting.
  • A multi-layer caching engine caches content stored in the file system efficiently.
  • The browser-based dashboard and the in-page (“live”) edit mode allows for intuitive content management.

But what makes Automad really different, is its integrated template engine. Templating is a core requirement for may CMSs because it creates and sets the base for a site’s visual display. Since Automad’s template engine is so close to the core, it allows you to create templates with complex navigations and to batch process images using a clean and short syntax. You’ll feel the difference once you get your hands on it, and we’ll walk through an example together in just a bit.

But first, a quick overview of templating

As a designer or a developer, you’re probably curious about how to develop themes and templates for Automad. I mean, it’s the crux for why any of us really use a CMS in the first place. If you’ve done any level of theming with WordPress, then working with Automad will feel vaguely familiar, and perhaps even easier.

The minimal requirement for creating an Automad theme is a single .php file and a theme.json file bundled together in a subdirectory you create inside the top-level /packages directory in a default Automad installation:


The tutorial package shipped with Automad provides a good starting point for understanding the basic concepts of themes.

A look at the syntax used in Automad templates

While it is possible to write templates in plain PHP, it is not required and actually not recommended. The reason is that Automad’s own template syntax is shorter, more readable, and integrates well with the user interface by automatically listing all of the used variables in the dashboard. It can be seamlessly mixed into HTML markup.

Basically, the syntax can be split into two groups:

  1. Echoing content: @{ variable }
  2. Statements, like functions, loops and conditionals: or

Echo content

Let’s say we want to pull the body content for a post into a template and we have a variable set up for that called text. In WordPress, this would be a global variable (the_content) that is called in PHP:

<?php the_content(); ?>

In Automad, we can do the same without PHP:

<p>@{ text }</p>

It is possible to manipulate the output of variables by passing the value to a function using the pipe (|) operator. The following example shows how to shorten a given text to a maximum of 100 characters without cutting words:

@{ text | shorten (100) }

This would be the same of thing you might do to define the excerpt of a post in WordPress using a function:

/* Limit excerpt to 20 words */
function my_custom_excerpt_length( $length ) {
    return 20;
add_filter( 'excerpt_length', 'wpdocs_custom_excerpt_length', 999 )

One of the key benefits of some CMS solutions, like Jeykll, is that using Markdown to create site content is a native feature. Automad can do the same. Let’s say we want to convert Markdown text to HTML. It’s pretty darn simple (and efficient) using the pipe operator:

@{ text | markdown }

Using statements

Statements are a handy way to define content and display it conditionally. Unlike variables, statements are wrapped in delimiters. The following example can be used to create a simple top level menu by using the nav function:

<@ nav { context: "/", class: "nav" } @>

Let’s say you want to display your post content by default but display a fallback if that content does not exist for some reason. That’s where we can put conditional statements and control structures to use:

<# If the post content exists then display... #>
<@ if @{ text } @>

<# Otherwise, display this... #>
<@ else @>
  <p>Sorry, no content here!</p>

<# OK, no more conditions. #>
<@ end @>

Want to create a loop? This is where display a list of posts or any repeatable content that matches a condition is super useful. We can do that in Automad by providing one or more glob patterns in a foreach loop.

For example, let’s display all JPG and PNG images for a post cropped at 400x300 with their captions:

<@ foreach in "*.jpg, *.png" { width: 400, height: 300, crop: true } @>
  <img src="@{:fileResized}" width="@{:widthResized}" height="@{:heightResized}">
<@ end @>

Did you catch that?! As shown by this example, a remarkable Automad feature is the ability to embed resizing options for each matching file inside the loop statement. No more complicated functions to register sizes that then need to be called in the template!

It’s worth noting that foreach loops can also be used to iterate over objects. Automad knows multiple types of objects. One of the most important objects is pagelist because of its ability to output all of the pages on the site, like you might want to do when building navigation. When iterating a pagelist, the context changes with every iteration to the current page in the loop. That way, it is possible to use page variables within the loop’s code block.

To configure the pagelist, we can use the newPagelist function like this:

<@ newPagelist { context: "/", type: "children" } @>
  <@ foreach in pagelist @>
    <li><a href="@{ url }">@{ title }</a></li>
  <@ end @>

A sneak peek behind the scenes for you super geeks ?

Automad’s template interpreter is written in pure PHP and it processes templates on the fly. Therefore, no extra build process is required at all. The list of system requirements is also rather short. A web server (Apache or Nginx) and PHP 5.4+ is already enough to run a site. Pages are only rendered when content has changed or after system updates.

Automad’s multi-layer caching engine stores the rendered pages in separate .html files as well as all crawled data in the file system as a kind of content object. That object is also used to speed up page searching and filtering.

Due to that mechanism, it is possible to either edit the content of a site directly in production online using the browser-based dashboard or edit a site locally and deploy it via Git or plain rsync.

Let’s write some code!

The best way to get acquainted with anything on the web is to just build websites. Here are some examples of how we’d get started with that using Automad.

Example 1: Recursive navigation

Creating a site-tree navigation is a good example for using recursion in templates. Conceptually, creating such a recursive navigation can be split into three steps:

  1. Defining a reusable snippet of code to create a single branch of the site-tree which calls itself conditionally
  2. Configuring a dynamic pagelist which automatically only contains children of its current context
  3. Defining the root page of the site-tree (for instance the homepage) and call the recursive snippet initially

Let’s break those steps down into greater detail…

Defining a reusable snippet of code

In Automad, blocks of code can be defined to be reused at a later point by using the snippet keyword. Regarding this example, the following snippet will call itself conditionally when looping through a pagelist and the active page of the current iteration itself has children pages:

<@ snippet navigation @>  
  <ul class="menu-list">       
    <@ foreach in pagelist @>
        <a href="@{ url }">@{ title }</a>
        <# Call snippet recursively. #>
        <@ navigation @>
    <@ end @>
<@ end @>
Configuring a dynamic pagelist

The pagelist has to be configured a children type. The context (or parent page) will always change recursively within the snippet defined above in that way. The pagelist will automatically only contain children pages of the currently processed page.

<@ newPagelist { 
  type: 'children'
} @>
Defining the root page

In the last step, the root context of the navigation tree has to be defined and the snippet has to be called once to initiate the recursion. The with statement is used here to change the context to the homepage.

<div class="menu">
  <@ with '/' @>
    <@ navigation @>
  <@ end @>

A complete working tutorial template is already included in Automad.

Example 2: Working with files

Since images are super important for content management, working with them should be as easy and intuitive as possible. Automad’s template language provides handy methods for basic image processing, like resizing and cropping. When using a single image or iterating a set of images, resizing options can be passed to a with statement or foreach loop. Check out the tutorial that ships with Automad to get started quickly.

<@ foreach in '*.jpg, *.png' { width: 400, height: 300, crop: true } @>
  <# Code to be used for each image in the filelist. #>
  src="@{ :fileResized }" 
  alt="@{ :basename }"
  title="@{ :file }"
  width="@{ :widthResized }"
  height="@{ :heightResized }"
  <p>@{ :caption | markdown }</p>
<@ else @>
  <# Code to be used when the list of images is empty. #>
<@ end @>

Instead of using a glob pattern in the foreach loop, it is also possible to use the filelist object.

If you look at the example code above, you will notice the use of certain runtime variables to access image properties within a code block. While the :file variable represents the original file, :fileResized refers to path of the resized and cached version. The :caption variable enables you to get the caption text stored along with the file.

What will you build?

We merely scratched the surface of Automad here, but hopefully everything we covered gives you a good idea of the possibilities it provides for content management. While there is no one-size-fits-all mold in the CMS world, there will likely be scenarios where a CMS that sits somewhere between the robust and slimmed-down options will come in handy.

Additional Resources

The post Developing With Automad appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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The Freelancer’s Guide to Paying Tax

September 28th, 2018 No comments

When you take the leap into freelancing and self-employment, it’s really exciting at the start. Eventually, the honeymoon phase wears off and you comfortably adjust to life as a freelancer, which, in all honesty, is a really great deal.

You get to run your design business the way you want. Work with clients you like. Make as much money as your schedule allows for. Live and work from anywhere in the world (and move as frequently as you want!) This business is yours to shape and mold into whatever you want it to be and to support whatever sort of lifestyle you want to lead outside of it.

That said, while the structure of the business may fully be under your control, the income you make from it is not.

Every country holds its residents accountable for paying taxes. When you have an employer, they typically handle this for you. However, since you’re self-employed, the responsibility lies solely with you—which is no easy feat. In the following post, I’d like to first take a look at freelancer’s biggest concerns when it comes to taxation. Then, we can dig into best practices for managing and paying your taxes on time.

Biggest Concerns About Wages & Taxes

In a survey provided by QuickBooks Self-Employed, I discovered some frightening statistics regarding freelancers and taxation. The survey was conducted earlier this year and focused on the experiences of self-employed individuals in the U.S. Since tax code differs from country to country, I’m going to focus on the points most relevant to freelancers everywhere:

Top Tax-Related Challenges for Freelancers

  • 30%: preparing tax forms correctly;
  • 30%: keeping track of tax-related information;
  • 23%: estimating tax payments;
  • 20%: saving money to pay taxes;
  • 17%: knowing what to deduct to reduce overall tax burden.

Most Common Reasons Freelancers Miss Tax Payments

  • 42%: incorrectly estimated tax payments due and came up short at the deadline;
  • 30%: didn’t make enough to pay off taxes in full;
  • 16%: were unaware they had to pay taxes;
  • 16%: forgot to pay their taxes;
  • 10%: were unaware of how to pay for their taxes.

Reasons Why 36% of Freelancers Don’t Pay Their Taxes

  • 9%: there was no reason for the failure to pay, they just didn’t do it;
  • 17%: didn’t make enough to owe anything;
  • 10%: business losses exceeded profits and so they didn’t owe taxes.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. Many freelancers worry about preparing tax payments correctly (which is a valid concern) while others simply don’t know they have to make them. Then there are the 32% of freelancers who choose not to report all of their income to the government.

Rather than be confused or misinformed about what taxes mean for your business, or improperly handle your taxes and put your business in danger as a result, let’s talk best practices.

Best Practices for Managing Your Taxes Throughout the Year

If you want to enjoy the rewards of running your own business and making money from said business, then you need to reduce any concerns or confusion you have around taxes. You can do that by becoming more mindful of these best practices when managing taxes:

1. Figure Out Who You Owe Taxes To

This will be different based on where you live as well as where your home country is (if different). Here are some things to consider:

  • In some countries, you have to pay a federal (national) tax as well as a state (regional) tax;
  • Goods and services taxes (also referred to as GST and VAT) come into play in some countries;
  • Different business structures are taxed at different rates as well;
  • If you work abroad, be sure to brush up on the rules for taxation. You can usually find these under a “taxes for expats” search. (This is especially important so that you don’t get doubly taxed by your home country and country of residence.)

2. Watch Your Income and Expenses

One of the reasons freelancers struggled to make tax payments on time, according to the QuickBooks survey, was because they hadn’t calculated estimates correctly. Now, that’s likely to happen anyway, but it usually works in favor of the freelancer… unless the error is because you made more money than expected.

To avoid this problem, pay closer attention to your income. Download reports every month that provide data on how much money you made (and by “made”, I mean actually collected from clients) compared to how much went out the door in expenses. By staying on top of your changing revenue stream, you can more accurately estimate how much you owe in taxes. You can also adjust your rates if you find that you’re not making enough to stay up on payments.

3. Mark Your Calendar

In some countries, taxes are owed to the government quarterly. In others, you only have to pay once a year. In my opinion, neither option is ideal as it can lead to a more lax attitude about saving up enough money to make payments on time.

Instead, I would suggest you mark your calendar once a month. Even if you don’t want to go through the hassle of submitting payments to the government every 30 days, you can at least do your calculations and put that money aside in a dedicated account. The dedicated account is crucial as it keeps that taxed income safe from other expenses and ensures you don’t have to face any late payment penalties later on.

4. Use Accounting Software to Automate

Hiring an accountant can be quite expensive, even if you only retain their services during tax season. Thankfully, accounting software can automate a lot of the work an accountant would otherwise do for you. It will also spare you the trouble of having to manually keep track of your finances on a regular basis.

Of course, you’ll still have to file your own taxes, but accounting software will:

  • Pull in data about business-related transactions (income and expenses);
  • Categorize those transactions for easier filing of taxes;
  • Estimate tax payments based on your earnings/losses for the month/quarter/year;
  • Alert you to upcoming tax deadlines.

Some accounting software may even integrate with your tax software, so the uploading of the year’s financial information can be streamlined as well.

Wrapping Up

It doesn’t matter if you’re working full-time or part-time as a web designer. If you’ve earned revenue for your business, and it exceeds the minimum taxable amount defined by your government, then you have to pay taxes. The matter of taxes can get complicated, though, if you wait too long to handle them, so have a plan in place that allows you to prepare for tax payments all year long.

Featured image via Depositphotos.

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5 Best Online Tools to Extract Images from PDF Files

September 28th, 2018 No comments

Ever read through a document and found an image that you wanted to download and use (with permission, of course)? Were you vexed after realizing that the document was a PDF file and thinking that there may be no way to get the image you want?

We know your pain, and we’re here to help.

We found a few websites that could help you on your next search and, in some cases, cost you nothing at all. Need some help with creating or editing PDF files? We’ve got you covered with our handy PDF editing guide.

This useful website extracts images from PDF files and allows you to convert a PDF to other formats, such as TIFF, DOC, and JPG files.


The website also allows you to convert certain files, including those with Microsoft Word and XPS extensions, to a PDF format.

1. To get started, select “Extract Images” from the list of menu options.PDFaid extract images from PDF2. Next, click “Select PDF File.”

3. Choose the desired extension for your extracted image from the list of available options.

4. Click “Extract Images” once you’ve set your preferences.

5. Complete the extraction process by clicking on either of the links provided in the next window that appears. The image will be downloaded or saved to your computer.

This website allows you to extract images from a PDF for free in just two easy steps.

1. Click “Choose File” and either select a PDF that you would like to upload from your computer.

2. Once the PDF file has been uploaded, click “Start.”

3. In the next window that opens up, you can either download all images as a .zip file, or select individual images to download.

Much like, this website allows you to extract images from PDFs, as well as convert files with varying formats into PDFs. Image extraction services are free for the first five downloads. Users must create an account and buy a premium plan, at $4.99 a month, for additional image extraction services and downloads.

1. First, select the “PDF to JPG” menu option on the website’s homepage.

2. Choose a PDF file for image extraction by clicking on “Select PDF file.” You also may drag an image from your desktop or folders and drop it onto the web page.

3. Once you’ve chosen a PDF file, select the “Extract Images” option that appears in a new web page before clicking on the “Convert To JPG” button at the bottom of the screen.

4. To complete the process, click “Download JPG images” to transfer the image files onto your computer.

This free, no-frills website allows you to extract images from PDF files, as well as convert images into PDF files. With this tool, PDF files can be converted to any image format, including those with GIF, TIFF, and JPEG extensions. You also can extract images from any PDF and download it using either JPEG or TIFF file extensions.

1. Click “PDF Extract Tool” on the homepage.

2. In the new web page that appears, click on “Choose File” in the top box to select a PDF file for image extraction and then click the “load PDF” button to the right of the box.

3. In the middle box, select the “images” tab and choose the file format for the image that you’d like to extract.

4. After making your selections, click “Apply..” button on the right hand side of the middle box.

5. Images extracted from the PDF file will appear in the bottom box for you to download individually. Start the download process automatically by clicking on the images.


With dozens of different options available on its homepage, this free website is a one-stop shop for PDF files. Name a task that you’d like to complete, and there’s a good chance that PDFCandy can make it happen, whether it’s adding a watermark to a PDF or converting a PDF to an RTF (rich text format) file.

1. Select “Extract images” from the list of options available on the homepage.

2. In the next web page that appears, click on the “+ Add file(s)” button to upload a PDF file for image extraction. You also may drag an image from your desktop or a folder and drop it onto the web page to start the upload process.

3. The extraction process should begin automatically and be complete within a minute or two.

4. Once the extraction process is done, click “Download file” to access your extracted image.

If you tried any of these tools and found it to be useful, please let us know in the comments!

Originally published at

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Privacy By Design: How To Sell Privacy And Make Change

September 28th, 2018 No comments

Privacy By Design: How To Sell Privacy And Make Change

Privacy By Design: How To Sell Privacy And Make Change

Joe Toscano


Privacy is a fundamental human right that allows us to be our true selves. It’s what allows us to be weirdos without shame. It allows us to have dissenting opinions without consequence. And, ultimately, it’s what allows us to be free. This is why many nations have strict laws concerning privacy. However, in spite of this common understanding, privacy on the Internet is one of the least understood and poorly defined topics to date because it spans a vast array of issues, taking shape in many different forms, which makes it incredibly difficult to identify and discuss. However, I’d like to try to resolve this ambiguity.

In the United States, it is a federal offense to open someone’s mail. This is considered a criminal breach of privacy that could land someone in prison for up to five years. Metaphorically speaking, each piece of data we create on the Internet — whether photo, video, text, or something else — can be thought of as parcel of mail. However, unlike opening our mail in real life, Internet companies can legally open every piece of mail that gets delivered through their system without legal consequence. Moreover, they can make copies of it as well. What these companies are doing would be comparable to someone opening our mail, copying it at Kinkos, then storing it in a file cabinet with our name on it and sharing it with anyone willing to pay for it. Want to open that file cabinet or delete some of the copies? Too bad. Our mail is currently considered their property, and we have almost no control over how it gets used.

Could you imagine the outrage the public would experience if they found out that the postal service was holding their mail hostage and selling it to whoever was willing to pay? What’s happening with data on the Internet is no different, and it’s time this changes.

It’s more than just a matter of ethics that this happens, it’s a matter of basic human rights.

The problem with making the changes that need to be made (without changes being forced into place by regulation) is putting dollar signs to the issues. What is the financial return on a 20,000-hour engineering investment to improve consumer privacy standards? Are consumers demanding these changes? Because if it doesn’t make a fiscal return and consumers aren’t demanding it, then why should change be made? And even if they are and there is a return, what does 20,000 hours of investment even look like? What is going to be put on the product roadmap and when? These are all valid concerns that need to be addressed in order to help us move forward effectively. So, let’s discuss.

Recommended reading: Using Ethics In Web Design

Do Consumers Want It?

The answer to this question is a hard yes. Findings by Pew Research Center show that 90 percent of adults in the United States believe it is important that they have control over what information is collected about them, 93 percent believe it’s important they can control who has access to this information, and 86 percent have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints. Similar numbers were discovered about Europeans in doteveryone’s 2018 Digital Attitudes report. Despite these numbers, 59 percent still feel like it is impossible to remain anonymous online, 68 percent believe current laws do not do enough to protect their privacy, and only 6 percent are “very confident” that government agencies can keep them secure.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is consumer demand, and until those consumers start leaving old products behind, there’s no fiscal reason to make any change. And (although I don’t agree with your logic) you’re right. Right now there is little fiscal reason to make any change. However, when consumer demand reaches a critical mass, things always change. And the businesses that lead the way before the change is demanded always win in the long run. Those who refuse to make a change until they’re forced to always feel the most pain. History shows this to be the truth. But what’s going to happen in legislation that will change business so much? Great question.

What’s about to happen to data protection and privacy standards across the world, through regulation, will not be so different than what occurred less than a decade ago when consumers demanded protection from spam emails, which resulted in the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States — but on a much greater scale, and with exponentially greater impact. This legislation, which was created because consumers were sick of getting spam emails, set the rules for commercial email, established requirements for commercial messages, gave recipients the right to have individuals and companies stop emailing them, and spelt out tough penalties for violations. As we enter a period where consumers are beginning to understand just how badly they’ve been deceived (for years, giving people intimate control of their data will undoubtedly be the future of data collection) — whether that be through free will or legislation. And those who choose to move first will win. Don’t believe me?

Consider the fact that engineers can get in legal trouble for the code they write. Apple Watch, Alexa, and FitBit data, among others have been used as evidence in court, changing consumer perception of their data. Microsoft and the Supreme Court of the United States went to court earlier this year to define where physical borders extend in cloud-based criminal activity, the beginning of what will be a long fight. These examples are just a peek into what’s coming. The people are demanding more, and we’re reaching the tipping point.

The first to take steps to respond to this demand is the EU, which established the GDPR, and now policymakers in other countries are beginning to follow suit, working on laws in their country to define our cyber future. For example, United States Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman, Mark Warner recently laid out some of ideas in a summary report just a couple months ago, demonstrating where legislation may soon be headed in the States. But it’s not just the progressives who believe this to be the future; even right-wing influencers like Steve Bannon think we need regulation.

What we’re seeing is a human reaction to incredible manipulation. No matter how domesticated we may be compared to previous generations, people will always push back when they feel they’re being threatened. It’s a natural reaction that has allowed us to survive for millennia. Today, tech has become more than just a consumer-facing industry. It is now also becoming a matter of national security. And for this reason, there will be a reaction whether we like it or not. And it will be better if we come out with a strategy to prepare instead of getting swept under the rug. So, what’s the financial return you ask? Well, how much is your business worth? That’s how much.

Recommended reading: How GDPR Will Change The Way You Develop

For a simple framework of what exactly needs to be addressed and why, we can hold several truths to be foundational in the creation of digital systems:

  1. Privacy must be proactive, not reactive, and must anticipate privacy issues before they reach the user.
    These issues are not issues that we want to deal with after a problem has come to life but are instead issues we want to prevent entirely, if possible.?
  2. Privacy must be the default setting.
    There is no “best for business” option in regards to privacy; this is an issue that is about what’s best for the consumer, which, in the long run, will be better for the business. We can see what happens when coercive flaws are exposed to the public through what happened to Paypal and Venmo in August 2018 when Public by Default was released to the public, bringing a smattering of bad press to the brand. More of this is sure to come to the businesses that wait for something bad to happen before making a change.?
  3. Privacy must be positive sum and should avoid dichotomies.
    There is no binary relationship to be had with privacy; it is a forever malleable issue that needs constant oversight and perpetual iteration. Our work doesn’t end at the terms and service agreement, it lasts forever, and should be considered a foundational element of your product that evolves with the product and enables consumers to protect themselves — not one that takes advantage of their lack of understanding.?
  4. Privacy standards must be visible, transparent, open, documented and independently verifiable.
    There’s no great way to define a litmus test for your privacy standards, but a couple of questions we should all ask ourselves as business people are: First, if the press published your privacy agreement, would it be understandable? Second, if it were understandable, would consumers enjoy what they read? And last but not least, if not, what do you need to change??

These principles will be highly valuable foundations to keep in mind as products are built and evolve. They represent quick and easy questions to ask yourself and your team that will allow you to have a good baseline of ethics, but for a lengthier piece on legal foundations you can read more from Heather Burns, who outlined several additional principles last year on Smashing. And for a full list of things to inspect during a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), you can also check out how assessments are done according to:

But before rushing off to make changes in your product, first let’s point out some of the current flaws out in the wild and talk about what change might look like once they are implemented properly.

How To Make Change

One of the biggest problems with US privacy practices is how hard it is to understand terms and service agreements (T&S), which play a major role in defining privacy but tend to do so very poorly. Currently, users are forced to read long documents full of legal language and technical jargon if they hope to understand what they’re agreeing to. One study actually demonstrated that it would take approximately 201 hours (nearly ten days) per year for the average person to read every privacy policy they encounter on an annual basis. The researchers estimated that the value of this lost time would amount to nearly $781 billion per year, which is beyond unacceptable considering these are the rules that are supposed to protect consumers — rules that are touted to be easy and digestible. This puts consumers in a position where they’re forced to opt-in without truly understanding what they’re getting into. And in many cases it’s not even the legal language that’s coercive, it’s the way options are given, in general, as clearly proven across various experiences:

This image shows what many sites currently do to collect consent in a way that assumes consent and gets the consumer to agree in a way that is dangerous.
When consent is collected this way, it is assumed. (Large preview)

The example given above is generic wireframe, but I chose to do this because we’ve all seen patterns like this and others like it that are related to collecting more specific types of data. I could list specific examples, but the list would go on forever and there’s no reason to list off specific companies demonstrating manipulative patterns because these patterns (and other, very similar patterns) can be found on nearly every single website or app on the Internet. There’s one major problem with asking for consent this way: Consumers aren’t allowed to not accept terms and services without several extra steps, lots of reading, and often much more. This is a fundamental flaw that needs to be addressed because asking for consent means there needs to be an option to say no, and in order to know whether “no” is the best option, consumers need to understand what they’re consenting to. However, products aren’t built that way. Why? Well, it’s best for business.

If we really sit and think about this, what’s easy to see but let go unrecognized is that companies spend more time creating splash pages to explain how to use the app than we do to explain what data is being collected and why. Why? Simple changes to the way T&S agreements are made would not only make consumers more aware of what they’re signing up for, but also allow them to be more responsible consumers. We can see some of these changes already being made due to the impact the GDPR has been having across the world. In many European nations, it is not uncommon for consent to be asked through modals like these:

In this image, the benefits of giving consent have been recognized, but there is still room for improvement.
In this image, the benefits of giving consent have been recognized. (Large preview)

This first example is a good step forward. It tells the consumer what their data will be used for, but it’s still lacking transparency about where the data will be going and giving priority to the agreement without an option to decline. It also jams everything into a single body of text, which makes the information much less digestible.

A better example of how this might be designed is something like the modal below, which is now common among many European sites:

This image shows how consent is asked across many sites in Europe, in order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and give consumers better options. It's still not what they need though.
After GDPR compliance became an issue, many more options were given but improvements could still be made. (Large preview)

This gives consumers a comprehensive understanding of what their data will be used for and does it in a digestible manner. However, it still lacks any significant information about where the data will be going after they consent. There’s not a single clue as to where their data will be shared, who it will be shared with, and what limitations exist within those agreements. While this is much better than the majority of options on the web, there are still improvements to be made.

Third-Party Login Prompt

For example, when using a third-party service to log into your platform, consumers should be made well aware of the following:

  1. What data is going to be taken from the third-party;
  2. What it’s being used for and how it might affect their experience if you don’t have access to it;
  3. Who else has or might have access to it.

To implement this in a way that gives the consumer control, this experience should also allow consumers to opt-in to individual parts of the collection, not be forced to agree to everything or nothing at all.

This mock-up shows a generic version of how a site might ask for consent when using a 3rd party login on their site. It demonstrates how listing a bunch of variables is no good and why we need to ask for consent on each point individually.
By forcing consumers to check off at each point, it adds friction to the process, yes, but also makes sure the content is digestible. (Large preview)

This would make the T&S digestible and allow consumers to opt into what they truly agree to, not what the company wants them to agree to. And to make sure it’s truly opt-in, the default should be set to opt-out. This would be a small change that would make a dramatic difference in the way consent is asked for. Today, most companies blanket this content in legal jargon to hide what they’re really interested in, but the days of asking for consent in this way are quickly coming to an end.

If you’re providing consumers with a meaningful service, and doing so ethically, these changes shouldn’t be an issue. If there is a true value to the service, consumers are not going to resist your ask. They just want to know who they can and cannot trust, and this is one simple step that can help your business prove its trustworthiness.

Single- And Multi-Point Data Collection Requests

Next, when it comes to creating understandable T&S agreements for your platform, we have to consider how this might play out more contextually — within the application experience. Keep in mind that if it’s all given up front, that’s not digestible. For this reason, data collection request should happen contextually, when the consumer is about to use part of your service that requires an extra layer of data to be collected.

To demonstrate how this ask may occur, here are a couple of examples of what a single- and multi-point data collection request might look like:

These mockups show what it might look like when asking for permission to use specific points of data. This includes showing people what their data is being used for, why it's important to that process, and allowing them to opt-in or -out of each individual point, without having to read through a long list of legal jargon in the terms and service agreement.
Single- and multi-point data requests can be designed to reduce the complexity of current terms of service agreements. (Large preview)

Breaking the T&S down into digestible interaction points within the experience instead of asking the user for everything up front allows them to get a better understanding of what’s going on and why. If you don’t need the data to improve the experience, why is it being collected? And if it’s being collected for frivolous reasons that only benefit the company, then be honest. That’s just basic honesty, which unfortunately is considered revolutionary, progressive customer service in the modern world.

The biggest key to these initial asks is that none of this should be opt-in by default. All initial triggers should give the people using the tool to opt-in if they choose and use it without opting in if they choose. The days of forced opt-in (or, worse yet, coercive opt-in) are coming to an abrupt halt, and those who lead the way will stay ahead of the pack for a long time to come.

Data Control Center

Beyond asking for consent in a meaningful way, it will also be important that we give consumers the ability to control their data post-hoc. Consumers’ access to control their data should not end at the terms and service agreement. Somewhere in their account controls, there should also be a place (or places) where consumers can control their data on the platform after they’ve invested time with the service. This area should show them what data is being collected, who it’s being shared with, how they can remove it, and much more.

This mockup displays the way to create data controls that inform the consumer not only of what data is being used, but where it's going, and it allows consumers to intimately control those flows of data in a way they feel safe with.
While we can often download our data now, we generally have no, or very little, control over it. This needs to change. (Large preview)

The idea of full data control may seem incredibly liberal, but it is no doubt the future. And as the property of the consumer creating the data, it should be considered a basic human right. There’s no reason why this should be a debate at this point in history. Data represents the story of our lives — collectively — and combined it creates vast amounts of power against those who create it, especially if we allow the systems to remain black boxes. So, beyond giving consumers access to their data, as we’ve discussed in the previous sections, we’ll also need to make the experience more understandable so that consumers can defend themselves.

Create Explainable AI

While it is incredible to get a suggested result that shows us things we want before we even knew we wanted them, this also puts machines in a powerful position they are not yet ready to uphold alone. When machines are positioned as experts and perform at a level that is intelligent enough to pass as such, the public will generally trust them until they fail. However, if machines fail in ways the public is incapable of understanding, they will remain expert despite their failure, which is one of the greatest threats to humanity.

For example, if someone were to use a visual search tool to identify the difference between an edible mushroom and a poisonous mushroom, and they didn’t know that the machine told them a poisonous mushroom was safe, that person could die. Or what happens when a machine determines the outcome of a court case and isn’t required to provide an explanation for its decision? Or worse yet, what about when these technologies are used for military purposes and are given the right to use lethal force? That last situation might sound extreme, but it is an issue that is currently being debated within the United Nations.

To ensure the public is capable of understanding what’s happening behind the scenes we need to create what DARPA calls explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) — tools that explain how machines make their decisions and the accuracy with which these tasks have been achieved. This isn’t about giving trade secrets away but allowing consumers to feel like they can trust these machines and defend themselves if an error were to occur.

Although it is not based in artificial intelligence, a good example of what this might look like is CreditKarma, which allows people to have a better understanding of their credit score — a system that used to be hidden just like algorithms are today. This tool allows consumers to have a better understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes and debate the legitimacy of their results if they believe the system has failed. Similar tools are being created with systems like Google’s Match score on Maps and Netflix Percent Match on shows but these systems are just beginning to scratch the surface of explainable AI.

The image includes screenshots from Google Maps and Netflix to demonstrate how it might look to make a system that explains its decisions. Both are good first steps, but there is much improvement to be made.
Here we see systems that attempt to explain the machine’s decision on a very superficial level. This is a good start, but we need better. (Large preview)

Despite these efforts, most algorithms today dictate our experience based on what a company thinks we want. But consumers should no longer be invisibly controlled by large, publicly traded corporations. Consumers should have the right to control their own algorithm. This could be something as simple as letting them know what variables are used for what parts of the experience and how changing the weights of each variable will impact their experience, then giving them the ability to tweak that until it fits their needs — including turning the algorithm off completely, if that’s what they prefer. Whether this would be a paid feature or a free feature is still up for debate, but what is not debatable is whether this freedom should be offered.

The mockup shows how we might make artificial intelligence that explains itself in a way that consumers are capable of using and controlling themselves, instead of the control being left to the hands of privately held or publicly traded corporations.
Algorithm controls will be the future of business. Could this be a way to generate service revenue instead of relying solely on ads? Should it be free? (Large preview)

While the example above is a generic proposal, it begins to imagine how we might make the experience in more specific situations. By giving consumers the ability to understand their data, the way it’s being used, and how that affects their lives, we will have designed a system that puts consumers in control of their own freedom.

However, no matter how well these changes are made, we must also realize that giving people better control of their privacy does not automatically imply a safer environment for consumers. In fact, it may make things worse. Studies have shown that giving people better control of their data actually makes it more likely that they’ll provide more sensitive information. And if the consumer is unaware of how that data may be used (even if they know where it’s being shared), this puts them in harm’s way. In this sense, giving consumers better control of their data and expecting it to make the Internet safer is like putting a nutrition label on a Snickers and expecting it to make the candy bar less fattening. It won’t, and people are still going to eat it.

While I do believe that consumers have a fundamental right to better privacy controls and greater transparency, I also believe it is our job, as data-literate technologists to not only build better systems but also to help the public understand Internet safety. So, the last step in bringing this together is to bring awareness to the fact that control isn’t all consumers need. They also need to understand what is happening on the backend — and why. This doesn’t necessarily mean providing them with source code or giving away their IPs, but at least providing them with enough information to understand what’s going on at a base level, as a matter of safety. And in order to achieve this, we’ll need to push beyond our screens. We’ll need to extend our work into our communities and help create that future.

Recommended reading: Designing Ethics: Shifting Ethical Understanding In Design

Incentivize Change

Giving up privacy is something the population has been corralled into due to the monopolies that exist in the tech world, consumers’ misunderstanding of why this is so dangerous within, and a lack of tactical solutions associated with fiscal returns. However, this is a problem that needs to be solved. As Barack Obama noted in his administration’s summary of concerns about internet privacy:

“One thing should be clear: Even though we live in a world in which we share personal information more freely than in the past, we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value. It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

Creating trustworthy and secure data-sharing experiences will be one of the biggest challenges our world will face in the coming decades.

We can look at how Facebook’s stock dropped 19 percent in one day after announcing they’re going to re-focus on privacy efforts as proof of how difficult making these changes may be. This is because investors who have recently been focused on the short-term revenue growth know how badly companies need to implement better strategies, but also realize the cost involved if the public starts to question a business — and Facebook’s public statement admitting this startled the sheep.

While the process will not be easy (and at many times may be painful), we all know that privacy is the soft underbelly of tech and it’s time to change that. The decisions being made today will pay off big in the long run; a stark difference to the short-term, quarterly mindset that has come to dominate business in the past decade or so of growth. Thus, discovering creative ways to make these issues a priority for all stakeholders should be considered essential for businesses and policymakers alike, which means our job as technologists needs to extend beyond the boardroom.

For example, a great way to incentivize these changes beyond discussing the numbers and issues brought up in this article would be through tax breaks for companies that allocate large amounts of their budget to improving their systems. Breaks could be given to companies that decide to supply regular training or workshops for their staff to help make privacy and security a priority in the company culture. They could be given to companies that hire professional hackers to find loopholes in their systems before attacks occur. They could be given to those who allocate large amounts of hours to restructuring their business practices in a way that benefits consumers. In this sense, such incentives would not be so different than tax breaks given to businesses that implement eco-friendly practices.

The idea of tax breaks may sound outrageous to some, but incentives such as these would represent a more proactive solution than the way things are handled now. While it may feel good to read a headline stating “Google fined a record $5 billion by the EU for Android antitrust violations,“ we must keep in mind that fines like this only represent a small fraction of such companies’ revenue. Combine this with the fact that most cases take several years or decades to conclude, and that percentage only gets smaller. With this for consideration, the idea of tax breaks can be approached from a different perspective, which is that they are not about rewarding previously negligent behavior but about increasing public safety in a way that is in the best interest of everyone involved. Maintaining our current system, which allows companies to string out court cases while they continue their malpractices is just as, if not more, dangerous than having no laws at all.

If you enjoyed reading this article and think others should read it as well, please help spread the word.

This article is the beginning of a series of articles I will be writing about dedicated to Internet safety, in which I will work to put fiscal numbers to ethical design patterns so that we, as technologists can change the businesses we’re building and create a better culture surrounding the development of internet-connected experiences.

Smashing Editorial(il, ra, yk)
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The Inverted Colors Challenge

September 27th, 2018 No comments
inverted color

Do you all remember those golden times when the most you could do with your 4 megapixel-photos was add a Sepia, Black and White, or Negative effect to them? Phones weren’t that advanced and nor were our expectations. Nothing was cooler than having an edited picture taken by someone else. Selfies weren’t a thing back then. Nostalgic for those good times, artists challenged each other to draw pictures based on the Negative effect, and they called it “The inverted color challenge.” Today, we are talking a look at their results and you are the judges.

Some of you might be asking what does the negative effect or inverted colors (aka. complementary colors) mean. When somebody mentions these concepts they refer to the opposite colors in the color wheel. For example, on that wheel, green is opposite to red, blue to orange, black to white, etc.. Several talented YouTubers recorded their progress as they were drawing different images using the inverted color technique, curious to see how difficult it is to find the correspondent shade and still have a good quality result.

The negative originates back in photography when a camera film would capture pictures inverted, being later transformed into colored pictures, when developed. We’ve decided to feature these works on our website, because firstly, they are a lot of fun, secondly, we wanted to shed a light on talented artists who have gained a reputation online through engaging videos. So if you’d like to see how the inverted color challenged changed the artists’ idea about drawing or painting, check these videos out.


After four hours of painting, this is what I have. I’m looking forward to see what it looks inverted. Even before inverting it I’m pretty happy with how this dude looks… I love it! It’s exactly what I was expecting I’d be wrapped with this if I painted it just like that.

inverted color


My goal is to make this look like a real actual portrait when I invert the colors back to normal again. At first, I thought, well… it can’t be that hard, I will just pick a blue and color the face. Well, it is more advanced than that!

inverted colors

Inverted Colour Drawing Challenge ????

Well, wasn’t this fun; I was having enough trouble figuring out how to use gouache for the first time.


I think the most successful part of this was the sky, which is kinda pathetic because it’s kinda easy, but even putting down the colors for everything in this image, I just felt like I have never painted in my life.
inverted colors


We hope you enjoyed this blog post! Stay tuned for more daily spinets of creativity and inspiration!

Read More at The Inverted Colors Challenge

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Mailchimp Unveils Quirky Rebrand

September 27th, 2018 No comments

If any single tech company embodies the spirit of web-savvy, then it is Mailchimp. Since its beginnings as a side-project in the early-2000s the marketing service has walked the line between creative experiences, and simple usability. Mailchimp is one of those companies that saunters onto the court, lobs a shot over its shoulder, and gets nothing but net.

Now, with their latest rebrand courtesy of brand agency Collins (as ever, alongside an in-house team) Mailchimp has got almost everything right. Almost.

Chimp lovers will be relieved to discover that Freddie has survived the rebrand, and remains as the logomark, albeit redrawn in a simpler form. He’s lost his “M”, a bit of fur’s gone, the ear’s simpler. Essentially Freddie is more usable, more translatable, more international.

The most visually arresting element of the rebrand is the new brand color. Yellow is tough to design with, but it’s by far the most satisfying color when it’s got right, which in this case it is. It is used to tie the whole identity together in a way that wouldn’t work with anything less bold.

The most interesting—not necessarily in a good way—decision has been to abandon Jessica Hische’s much-loved redrawing of the original Mailchimp script. It’s been replaced with an oddly proportioned, retro-feel sans that lacks rhythm, and the syllables of which are crowbarred apart by an obnoxious “c”; strange given that the brand is keen to deemphasise that letter—it’s “Mailchimp” now, not “MailChimp”. There’s a half-baked explanation offered about the script’s incompatibility with the Freddie logomark. Initially I hated the new logotype; a hour later, I loved it; now I’m back to hating it again. The logotype seems destined to divide opinion, but at least it isn’t a geometric sans-serif.

Coupled with this logotype Mailchimp has adopted Cooper Light as its corporate typeface, giving everything a distinctly 1970s feel.

It’s not really any surprise that Mailchimp have labored to retain their quirky edge, it is after all what made them stand out (they have “chimp” in their name!) but what might come as a surprise is just how quirky Mailchimp have gone, particularly with their illustrations, which lie somewhere between Dr Seuss, and Quentin Blake, by way of Tove Jansson. The black and white illustrations with a strategic touch of brand yellow are sourced from illustrators around the world. (Although individual illustrators haven’t been name-checked, several appear to be in the distinctive hand of Amber Vittoria.)

Mailchimp have also introduced a brand photography style, that is easy to overlook amidst the joyful illustration. The photo examples themselves are well-taken, but their inclusion feels superfluous.

The rebrand is mostly excellent. The quirkiness is courageous and fitting. The color choice is striking. The type is debatable. The photography is questionable. But the whole is nothing if not fun. The biggest success is that despite growth—over 1 billion emails per day, 14,000 new users daily, $525m annual revenue—Mailchimp hasn’t lost sight of what made it a tool we wanted to use in the first place.

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