Archive for September, 2020

Achieving Vertical Alignment (Thanks, Subgrid!)

September 30th, 2020 No comments
Two groups of two bright pink buttons set on a dark background.

Our tools for vertical alignment have gotten a lot better as of late. My early days as a website designer involved laying out 960px wide homepage designs and aligning things horizontally across a page using a 12-column grid. Media queries came along which required a serious mental shift. It solved some big problems, of course, but introduced new ones, like dealing with alignment when elements wrap or are otherwise moved around in the layout.

Let’s take a look at just one particular scenario: a “bar” with some buttons in it. There are two groups of these buttons, each contained within a

with a


On a large screen, we’re all set:

And here’s a very basic CSS method that accomplishes that layout, and also breaks down onto two “rows” at a mobile breakpoint:

.accessibility-tools fieldset {
  width: 48%;
  float: left;
  margin-right: 1%;

/* Mobile */
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px) {
  .accessibility-tools fieldset {
    width: 100%;

On a small screen, we end up with this:

The same two groups of two pink buttons, with one group of buttons stacked on top of the other, showing the buttons are uneven in width.

This is the problem: lack of vertical alignment. Let’s say we want to align those buttons into a more pleasing arrangement where the button edges align with each other nicely.

To begin, we could go for fixed-width, pixel-based CSS solutions to force elements to line up nicely at various breakpoints, using magic numbers like this:

/* Mobile */
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px) {
  legend {
    width: 160px;
  button {
    width: 130px;
the same two groups of pink buttons but where the buttons all have the same consistent width and line up evenly.

That does the trick.

But… this is not exactly a flexible solution to the problem. Aside from the magic numbers (fixed-pixel values based on specific content), it also relied on the use of media queries which I am trying to move away from when I can. I discussed this in a post called “Stepping away from Sass” on my blog.

As I moved towards some of the more modern features of CSS the need to target specific screen sizes with unique code was removed.

What I need is each button and label to respond to:

  1. the space available
  2. their content


  1. Other elements around them

Available space

The problem with using media queries is that they don’t take into account the space around the elements that are being realigned — a point perfectly demonstrated in this image from “The Flexbox holy albatross” by Heydon Pickering:

Three browsers side-by-side. The first shows three black rectangles in a single row, the second shows three black rectangles stacked vertically, and the third shows three black rectangles set to the right hand of the screen.

What I really want is for the second

to wrap under the first only when they can no longer fit neatly on one row.

Can we get this done with flexbox?

A key selling point for flexbox is its ability to create elements that respond to the space around them. Components can “flex” to fill additional space and shrink to fit into smaller spaces.

For this situation, the flex-wrap property is set to wrap. This means as soon as both

elements no longer fit on one line, they will wrap onto a second line.

.wrapper--accessibility-tools {
  display: flex;
  flex-wrap: wrap;
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The flex-wrap property has three available values. The default value is nowrap, leaving items on one line. The wrap value allows elements to flow onto multiple lines. Then there’s wrap-reverse, which allows items to wrap but — wait for it — in reverse (it is weird to see: when elements wrap, they go above the previous row in left-to-right situations).

Using flexbox stops the layout from being quite as rigid, but a min-width value is still needed to remove the vertical alignment problem. So: close but no cigar.

Can grid help us?

CSS Grid is the very first CSS module created specifically to solve the ongoing layout problems faced by web designers and developers. It is not a direct replacement for flexbox; rather the two modules usually work pretty well together.

Like flexbox, grid can be used to allow each

to occupy as much or as little space as they need. Getting right to it, we can leverage the auto-fill and auto-fit keywords (within a repeat() function) to allow grid items to flow onto multiple lines without the need for media queries. The difference is a bit subtle, but well-explained in “Auto-Sizing Columns in CSS Grid: auto-fill vs auto-fit” by Sara Soueidan. Let’s use auto-fit:

.wrapper--accessibility-tools {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, 450px);
  grid-gap: 10px;
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Like the flexbox example, I still need to set an absolute value for the width of the label to align the

elements as they stack.

Another approach with grid

CSS Grid also allows elements to respond based on their content using flexible grid tracks. In addition to other length values like percentages, relative units, or pixels, CSS Grid accepts a Fractional Unit (fr), where 1fr will take up one part of the available space, 2fr will take up two parts of the available space, and so on. Let’s set up two equal columns here:

.wrapper--accessibility-tools {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: 1fr 1fr;
  grid-gap: 10px;
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There’s also a minmax() function which creates grid tracks that flex to the available space, but also don’t shrink narrower than a specified size.

.wrapper--accessibility-tools {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: minmax(auto, max-content) minmax(auto, max-content);
  grid-gap: 10px;
CodePen Embed Fallback

Both of these demos work, and are free from any absolute values or device specific CSS. The results are far from ideal though, each grid now responds at different points. Maybe not a huge problem, but certainly not great.

This happens because when adding display: grid to a container, only the direct children of that container become grid items. This means the intrinsic sizing units we used only relate to elements in the same grid.

Using subgrid

To really achieve my goal, I need the buttons and labels to react to elements in sibling grid containers. CSS Grid Level 2 includes the subgrid feature. Although we have always been able to nest grids, the elements within each grid container have been independent. With subgrid, we get to set up nested (child) grids that use parent grids tracks.

This makes a number patterns that were previously difficult much easier, in particular the “card” pattern which seems to be the most popular example to show the benefits of subgrid. Without subgrid, each card is defined as an independent grid, meaning track sizing in the first card cannot respond to a change of height in the second. Pulling from an example Rachel Andrew used, here’s a simple group of cards:

Showing three columns of cards where each card has a headers with a dark blue background and white text, content with a white background, and a footer with a dark blue background. The cards are uneven because some of them have more content that others.
Credit: Rachel Andrew

Subgrid allows the cards to use the rows defined in the parent grid, meaning they can react to content in surrounding cards.

The same three columns of cards, but with each card perfectly aligned with the others.
Credit: Rachel Andrew

Each card in this example still spans three row tracks, but those rows are now defined on the parent grid, allowing each card to occupy the same amount of vertical space.

For the example we’ve been working with, we do not need to use rows. Instead, we need to size columns based on content from sibling grids. First, let’s set the parent grid to contain the two

elements. This is similar to the code we previously look at in the auto-fit demo.

.wrapper--accessibility-tools {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, minmax(150px, 1fr));
  grid-gap: 10px;

Then we position each subgrid onto the parent grid.

.sub-grid {
  display: grid;
  grid-column: span 3;
  grid-template-columns: subgrid;
  align-items: center;
Showing the two groups of bright pink buttons with both groups on the same row and all the buttons have a consistent width.

All of the labels and buttons are now aligned to the tracks of their parent grid, keeping them consistent. They will each have an equal width based on the space that is available. If there is not enough space for each nested grid on one line, the second will wrap onto a new line.

The two groups of buttons vertically stacked and the buttons are all consistently aligned with the same width.

This time, the two nested grid items align perfectly. The grid is also flexible if we introduce a longer title on a one of the buttons, the other elements will respond accordingly.

CodePen Embed Fallback

Browser compatibility

Support for subgrid is not great at the time of writing. It is only supported in Firefox 71+, although there are positive signals from other browsers. CSS feature queries can be used to provide alternative styling to Chrome and Edge.

This browser support data is from Caniuse, which has more detail. A number indicates that browser supports the feature at that version and up.


Chrome Firefox IE Edge Safari
No 71 No No No

Mobile / Tablet

Android Chrome Android Firefox Android iOS Safari
No 79 No No

Note that I am using an extra wrapper around the fieldsets in these demos. This is to combat a bug with form elements and grid and flexbox.

<fieldset class="accessibility-tools__colour-theme">
  <div class="wrapper"></div>

The layout CSS is applied to the wrapper with the fieldset being set to display: contents.

.accessibility-tools fieldset {
  display: contents;
  border: 0;

Other writing on the subject

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September 30th, 2020 No comments

As a connoisseur of web trickery, this is a must share:

POW stands for Packaged Offline/online Webpage. It turns out the png format includes ways to save metadata alongside the image file. A powfile has a metadata entry that contains a zip file that contains a full website.

So a PNG file can contain and entire website with multiple resources. Wild. The concept is open-source.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

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How to become a freelance Instagram marketer? The Ultimate Guide

September 30th, 2020 No comments

Looking for a way to work on your mobile phone while scrolling Instagram? Well, why don’t you try to become an Instagram freelance marketer? All you need is a mobile phone, the Instagram app, and some skills which I’ll explore in the following article.

Having more than 500 million active users per day, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media websites all over the globe and is not just a place to share cool images anymore. Right now, most of the brands and agencies have an Instagram account, engaging with their customers, and promoting their products and services using the amazing features of this platform.

Being an Instagram marketer, you’ll become a social media expert with digital marketing skills. This way, you must help brands and companies attract a target audience without using Instagram follower apps and boost their Instagram engagement rate. So, you need to acquire professional marketing skills and broaden your knowledge to become a professional freelance marketer.

In the following article, I’ll teach you the steps of becoming a freelance Instagram marketer. But first, let’s know more about the required skills.

Skills to Gain as a Freelance Instagram Marketer

It is true that being a freelance Instagram marketer you can work from wherever you are, without following a specific working hour. However, this career is tasked with a high amount of research and needs you to care about different aspects of an Instagram-based business such as:

  • Creating eye-catching posts to attract a target audience
  • Search and use relative hashtags for each post
  • Engage with followers by liking their posts, responding to DMs, comments, and tagged photos
  • Gain information about your clients’ businesses to better manage their accounts

And lots of other tasks.

So, you have to keep yourself updated about different Instagram marketing strategies. This way you will build an online presence of your business and can perfectly attract clients to start your home-based business. So, let’s jump into the job requirements and see how they will help you with your career.

1. Learn about Instagram SEO Hacks to Gain Followers

Well, the very first thing you must do is to leverage your knowledge about Instagram SEO hacks and learn how to grow followers on Instagram. This not only helps you become a successful Instagram marketer who knows how to get thousands of followers for every niche but also lets you start your own business because you definitely need to prove that you are capable of getting followers and your Instagram account can be a compelling example of this ability.

In the following infographic, I mentioned the top 8 Instagram SEO hacks you need to know as an Instagram freelance influencer:

Credit: Original

2. Try Being a Researcher & a Copywriter

Undoubtedly, as a professional Instagram marketer, you will be needing to come up with perfect content marketing plans and engaging captions for your clients’ posts. So, you have to be able to do in-depth research to find amazing ideas for the Instagram marketing plan, what to share on Instagram, and what strategies to follow in order to get the best possible result.

Also, as you may already know, Instagram is not just a visual platform and you should be able to write accompanying captions for the shared visuals in order to give exact descriptions of what has been shared, and also make people engage with your posts and become your customer.

Here’s a good example to illustrate the importance of writing the right caption:


In the left one, people were asked to tag their friends in the comments sections and hence, the post has 25 comments. But the right one, the post caption just contains some hashtags related to the photo and the number of comments is half of the other one.

So, follow the ultimate guide to copywriting and write captivating captions to turn your viewers into followers, and followers into customers.

3. Go for a Perfect Strategy

When running an Instagram account, you need to be strategic and care about every single aspect of a perfect Instagram account to attract target audiences. Actually, this may take a great deal of time because depending on the type of your client’s business, you have to share different types of posts and you may take some time to find out which strategy works better for each business category.

So, keep on learning and try to follow many brands and businesses on Instagram and monitor their strategies to see how many posts to share per day, what types of content people are willing to engage in each category, and when is the best time to post on Instagram.

4. Analyze Your Performance

A key part of being a successful freelance Instagram marketer is to be capable of analyzing your results to measure the success rate of applied strategies. This way, you will have the opportunity to improve your strategies and employ new methods and techniques to win the marketplace.

Luckily, Instagram has a great feature to help you with this skill. Monitoring your Instagram demographics and analyzing the reports, you will get valuable information about the age, gender, and also the location of your followers. Hence, you can customize your strategies in order to turn them into customers.

To access your Instagram analytics, just follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your Instagram profile and tap on the three-lines icon on the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap and insights.

Now, you’ll see the following demographics in which you can analyze your audience and use the analytics to improve your performance.


3 Essential Steps to Become a Freelance Instagram Marketer

Now that you know what skills you need to become a freelance Instagram marketer, it’s time to level-up your abilities and use all the mentioned tips to start your own business on Instagram. Actually, after improving your marketing skills, you are just 3 steps behind your goal. In the following sections, I’ll describe these 3 simple steps. So, stay tuned and start your dream job.

Step 1: Set Your Goal and Decide What to Charge

To be honest, this might be the hardest step in starting your career as a freelance Instagram marketer. You have to define your goal and see where you want to be after 6 months or even a year. You must calculate all your expenses and set a goal for your income to prevent huge financial losses.

Then, you have to set a price for the services you are going to offer. Undoubtedly, as a newbie Instagram marketer, you have to charge a bit lower than professional and experienced marketers to be able to offer something valuable to your potential customers. By trying this trick, your services outweigh your competitors’ and hence, you can boost your business in a short period of time.

To have an idea about the prices, take a look at Fiverr, and know the best freelance Instagram marketers and their services.

Step 2: Build Your Personal Website & Brand

Unquestionably, having a personal website to promote all your services, share case studies, and write about the techniques and methods you use to grow Instagram accounts is really important for your business. This way, you can professionally introduce yourself to your clients and drive traffic to your Instagram account.

Additionally, this increases the number of clients because a website can be found by a simple search on Google, and even if someone has not created an Instagram yet, by finding your website they’ll be intrigued to start an Instagram business and come to ask for your professional help.

Moreover, if you are not able to make a website, you can join platforms like Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer, and Truelancer to promote your services and share your portfolio.

Credit: – @vasily17

Step 3: Find Your Clients

Finally, you can start finding clients for your business. Absolutely, the best place to start advertising and promoting your services is Instagram itself. All you have to do is to try the SEO hacks mentioned in the past paragraphs and optimize your Instagram account for searches

Also, if you have created your own website, optimize it for Google search engines and keep keywords like business coaches, entrepreneurs, digital marketing, social media, and thousands of other related keywords in mind to drive traffic to your business and turn your viewers into clients.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, if you are seeking a career that doesn’t need you to work for 8 hours and can be done from wherever you are, a freelance Instagram marketer is a great choice for you. All you need is a mobile phone and the knowledge of getting followers by trying the best Instagram marketing practices. So, read the article meticulously and start your business right now.

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Powerful Additions to Your Brand’s Marketing Strategy for Higher ROI

September 30th, 2020 No comments

A common goal for a lot of brands is to reach as many people as possible with their marketing messages while keeping their budget low. The more return you can get on each dollar you spend, the more your business will be able to grow.

Therefore, your goal is to find those marketing strategies you can implement that will not only bring in customers but do so without spending a lot. Below are some powerful additions you can make to practically any marketing strategy that will provide you with a higher ROI.

High-Quality Blog Posts

A great place to start is with high-quality blog posts. Informative blog posts on your website are relatively affordable to produce but can give your brand some great benefits in the long run. The best way to demonstrate how blog posts can benefit your brand is through an example.

Let’s say your brand sells beauty products. On your blog, you could write about makeup tips, skincare routines, makeup tutorials, and much more. You could then share these blog posts on your social media channels, where they would reach a wider audience. Through social media and internet searches, more people would find your website because of your blog posts. They would then learn about your products when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

If your blogs are particularly helpful, you’ll even get other websites linking to them as a resource. This will not only help direct traffic from those websites to your own but will help you in search engine rankings.

Having a high-quality blog on your website is a strategy that takes some time to implement. But the more content you create, the bigger the snowball effect you’ll generate. All it takes is the time to write the posts yourself, or the cost to hire someone to write them for you.

Video Production

The next great addition to your marketing strategy to consider is video production. While many people prefer to learn things by reading, others will prefer to watch the information in a video. Not only can you then retain more visitors to your site, but you can generate brand awareness by sharing these videos on popular sites like YouTube.

Think about the information that you want to convey to your customers. Maybe you want to talk about the benefits of your product or how it works. If this information is primarily in text form on your website, consider turning it into a helpful video. There are many services that can produce high-quality videos for you, then it’s just a matter of finding a good video hosting provider.

According to these video marketing statistics, 54 percent of consumers want brands they support to produce more video content. Don’t miss out on this opportunity and start exploring video production for yourself.

Social Media Integration

Of course, no marketing strategy these days would be complete without a social media integration. It’s so popular that in 2019, social media ad spending was around $89 billion and it’s expected to reach $102 billion by the end of 2020. However, there’s a lot more you can do than simply posting on your Twitter account every once in a while or running a few ads. The more you can integrate your social media channels into your brand, the more effective they will be.

For example, you could set it up so that every time you publish a new blog post, it automatically gets shared across your social channels. You can also integrate your social channels into your website, displaying your latest tweets or a link to your Facebook page directly on your website. Finally, after someone completes a purchase, they should be encouraged to share this on their own social channels.

Another option to consider is having social features directly on your website. If you can give your customers a place to interact with your brand and with one another on your site, it will help to develop a sense of community. It’s not as hard as you think to create social media site elements on your website, so explore this option and see if it works for your brand.

Influencer Marketing

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Another great way to make use of social media is through influencer marketing. With influencer marketing, you hire someone to promote your products or services through their social channels. By hiring people who appeal to your target audience, you can quickly spread brand awareness for only a small investment.

If you decide to try influencer marketing, there are two main strategies to consider. You can either work with the largest influencers, who will spread your brand further and faster, or you can work with smaller influencers who have a more targeted audience, improving your conversion rates. To learn more about getting started with influencer marketing, you can check out this guide.

List Building

If your business isn’t already collecting customer information and building a list, you’ll want to start as soon as you can. When you compile a list of contacts that are highly interested in your brand, you have a resource that you can turn to over and over again. With this list, you then have a better chance of bringing back customers who were on the fence and generating more return customers.

A common form of list building is asking your site visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or for product updates. The visitor enters their email address and you add it to your list. You then use some email marketing software to regularly contact the people on this list and turn them into customers.

Pop-up Shops

Finally, if you want to take things offline, consider running a pop-up shop. A pop-up shop is a temporary store where you can sell your products, interact with customers, and gain valuable insights. A common form of a pop-up store is the kiosks you see at your local mall, but there are many other examples.

For instance, that beauty products company could set up a small shop inside a local spa or salon, allowing them to get great foot traffic from their targeted demographics. If you’d like to learn more about how to run your own pop-up store, this guide can help you out.

You Don’t Have to Spend a Fortune to Create a Fortune

For many marketing strategies, a little bit of investment goes a long way. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a television ad, you could spend a fraction of that on list building and get even better results. Take the time to explore each of the strategies listed above and see what it would cost you to try out this strategy on your brand. You’ll likely find that for a small investment you can get a big return.

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Why AI & Automation Are Actually Friends to Design

September 30th, 2020 No comments

Artificial intelligence. Just hearing the phrase has been a trigger for many in the technology world since that creepy Haley Joel Osment film circa 2001. But more recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning strike fear into the hearts of skilled workers for an entirely different reason: job security, or lack thereof.

Smart-home devices, streaming services, self-checkouts, even Google searches are ways that artificial intelligence has seeped into everyday life, exemplifying the abilities of computers and machines to master both simple and complex tasks. In some instances, these technological advancements make our lives easier, but for some people, their proliferation has meant job loss and skill replacement. There’s no wonder that when artificial intelligence starts being mentioned along with web design and site creation, the spidey senses of designers all over the world start tingling.

designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do

But let’s get real about what AI and automation really mean for designers for a second. Talented designers with busy schedules should view these advancements as virtual assistants. For some small businesses on a limited budget, the websites that artificial intelligence can pump out might be fine…for a while. However, as businesses grow, change, require updating and customization to adapt to their customer base, the expertise of creative and talented designers will always be needed. Even the best AI that we see today is limited by evaluating, replicating, and revising what already exists. It may be able to mix 1,000 different color schemes into 10 million potential combinations, but great designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do.

In fact, rather than being scared of automation, designers ought to embrace automation and artificial intelligence as a way to unleash their creative thinking. Delegate repetitive, straightforward tasks to the right software, and suddenly you have time to bring your best ideas to the table and push the boundaries of your own innovation.

Where AI has Failed in Design

The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence and automation in design work is a grand vision that has yet to be realised.

Consider the case of The Grid, which began as a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. The “revolutionary” product posed itself as an artificial intelligence solution for building thoughtfully, yet automatically, designed websites in five minutes. Research “Reviews of the Grid” in any search engine and you’ll be met with scathing criticism with only some small praise sprinkled in. Most of the initial users cite underwhelming results, the feeling of being duped by the Grid’s marketing tactics, nonsensical placement of text, and ultimately, the Grid being a complete waste of money for the resulting product. Even at the low cost of $100, compared to hiring a talented designer, most users felt their investment was wasted.

For the AI capabilities that exist now, most small business owners, or those looking to put together a simple website, are better off using drag and drop site builders (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc) that have been around for ages. Even so, there are plenty of businesses still willing to hire designers to take this simple task off their plate due to a lack of technical expertise or lack of time. And let’s be honest, are there even enough talented (keyword here!) designers out there to keep up with the millions of websites created every year, without each one working themselves to death?

Where Automation Shines for Designers

Fortunately for good designers, it appears for now that the days of artificial intelligence completely taking over their jobs is a fantasy. However, what AI and automation do offer designers is a solid starting point for success, eliminating much of the lower-level grunt work that most designers would rather skip anyway.

Even well-received AI website builders like Firedrop still require a basic eye for design and specialised knowledge to produce truly unique, high-converting, and user-friendly websites. Tools and practices that designers should adopt are the artificial intelligence and automation resources that will help them do their jobs better, faster, and leave them with more time to focus on project elements that AI cannot accomplish on its own.

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers

Well-established brands are likely to already have design systems in place that guide the creation of new elements across their digital profiles whether on social media, various mobile apps, or different sections of a website. But even in large corporations — excepting those who have perfected the process — there’s often a breakdown between a designer’s vision and resulting product from the developers. It stems from the basic difference in how they each approach their work and the limitations of the systems they use.

While component libraries — or even full design systems for that matter — won’t reconcile every question, they provide both developers and designers a source of truth to work from that both parties can understand. Design collaboration tools like Invision and Visme, specifically, keep designers and developers on the same page with automated version saving and code-friendly workflows.

Understanding the Consumer

I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site

Digging into and understanding the behaviours and habits of site users is a relatively new component of site design, but offers invaluable insights. Tools like HotJar, Mouseflow, or Smartlook make it simple to see holes or leaks in your conversion funnels, detect which page elements users are interacting with, and which they’re not interested in to refine the look and feel of a page for maximum conversions. Even though these tools provide the data, it still takes a keen eye and understanding of design to implement the right changes to improve site performance.

Site content is another way that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve our understanding of customer behaviour and improve site performance for individual users. I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site, no matter how much the results have improved. However, static landing pages or a single set of further reading recommendations are unlikely to appeal to the majority of site visitors. Artificial intelligence tools like CliClap and Personyze instantly collect and analyse consumer data to provide dynamic, personalised experiences that drive more leads and encourage conversions. Creative designers will also learn from this data to improve customer experience with other pages or elements throughout the site.

Removing Distracting, Time-Sucking Administrative Tasks

Because “artificial intelligence” has become a term with such negative connotations, we often overlook the simple way that AI actually makes our work lives better and easier. Machine learning in email filtering is a great example of this. Consider a simple interface like a Gmail inbox. We have the option to mark certain senders as spam or as important, and our inbox learns that type of communication is and isn’t useful to the user. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and more all take cues from the user behaviour of liking a certain song, artists, or genre of music to build customised playlists. There are a myriad of ways that artificial intelligence and its branches of disciplines merge with our everyday lives.

Some of the most useful automations for business, and especially for designers, are related to the administrative tasks that frequently take time away or distract from more pressing projects. A perfect example of automation that can relieve stress and cut down on mindless work is an email autoresponder. I’ve always found that having time blocked off in my calendar to tackle complex or important projects helps me to focus on the task at hand and be more efficient. In order to more effectively block out my time, closing my email and setting an autoresponder to reply to all incoming emails serves two purposes:

  1. Lets those trying to get in touch with me know that I only check my email at certain times of the day and that my response may not be immediate — tempering their expectations of when they might hear from me.
  2. Relieves my personal stress of being tethered to my inbox, splitting my focus, and also saves the time of having to initially respond to each email individually.

This is just one simple way to use automation in your email, although there are many others to explore.

While Zapier isn’t the only workflow automation service on the market, it’s probably the most well known. Workflow automation reduces time spent on mind-numbing, repetitive tasks and helps designers connect apps that might not natively work together. Do you keep a task list in Todoist? Set up a Zap, then create a task in Todoist anytime someone mentions you on Asana or assigns you a task in Trello.

This is especially helpful for freelance designers who work with multiple clients across various project management platforms. The potential for automation to relieve unnecessary mental overhead for designers is nearly limitless.

Don’t be Afraid of AI, Embrace It

The bottom line of this brief overview of artificial intelligence and automation in design is that this emerging technology isn’t something designers should be scared of. In fact, it’s something to welcome with open arms because ultimately it can make our jobs, and our lives, better. Leave the monotonous tasks of collecting and analysing huge amounts of data or administrative minutiae to the machines; they can handle it.

Save the interesting, creative, abstract work for the talented designers who can turn AI recommendations into unique and intuitive digital experiences. Making the relationship between artificial intelligence and design symbiotic will yield the best results for every entity involved: the business, the AI, and yes, even the designer.

Featured image via Unsplash.


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7 Graphic Design Trends of 2021 Every Designer Should Know – [Infographic]

September 30th, 2020 No comments

There was a time when bright colors and bold typography dominated the design world.

But graphic design as we know it is ever-evolving. What worked a year ago may no longer be as effective today, making it important for designers to keep up with the latest trends.

What does 2021 have in store for graphic design, you ask?

To make it easier for you, the team at Venngage has compiled an infographic on some of the biggest graphic design trends that will dominate the coming year.

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Muted Color Palettes
  2. Simple Data Visualizations
  3. Geometric Shapes
  4. Flat Icons & Illustrations
  5. Classic Serif Fonts
  6. Social Slide Decks
  7. Text Heavy Videos

You can take a look at the detailed infographic here.

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Keyword Research Trends in 2020 Your Team Should Follow

September 30th, 2020 No comments

For every content marketing strategy, keyword research is crucial for the success of the site. Without a good keyword research strategy, you won’t get traffic, conversions, and sales.

Marketers will need to employ strategies to make their content and businesses found on voice search too. Voice search is unique and uses language just like humans to interpret user intent.

Anchor text distribution is being intelligently made by link building agencies. Here, you’ll be able to make your anchor text relevant to the content of your website.

Keyword research always starts with what your customer wants, the demand, and their end goal.

  • Are they searching because they want to buy something?
  • Are they searching because they have a question and are looking for the answer?
  • Are they looking for more information about a place?

The purpose of doing keyword research is to lead customers from the search results to your website. With Google’s frequent update to its algorithm, you should always remain update-to-date with the current trends.

You can know what customers search online with the help of tools and non-tools.

1. Using tools

Answer The Public

Answer The Public gives you the option to select the country and language to research the keyword you want. The results are then categorized into questions, prepositions, comparisons, and alphabetical. It will appear in the form of a visual chart or listicle data according to your choice.

Google Trends

Google Trends help you find the trends for a particular keyword. This information will help you determine whether to write content for the keyword you choose or not.

You can use Google trends to discover the popularity of a keyword for a specific time. You can determine this by region if you like.

Also, Google Trends generates user queries and related topics that might give you ideas for content. is different from other tools because it gives you information for how many people search for a specific keyword or keyword phrase on other search engines, stores, and social media platforms.

You will get a clear idea of the questions users frequently ask for and the prepositions they use. It also provides a filter that you can use to look for a specific keyword phrase.


WebFX is a simple tool that will help you find what your customers are looking for. It will show you a list of keyword phrases they type in search engines and their modifiers. You will also see questions that you might answer.

Infinite Suggest

Infinite Suggest is a great app for keyword suggestions. It will generate over a hundred keyword phrases that come from their root term. You can select any keyword phrase you like to get more ideas.

AlsoAsked is a unique tool for keyword research. This tool generates questions from a keyword you searched for. It expands these questions three times from general to specific. You can click one of these questions to create more.

Play Stores and Product Stores

One tool you can use to know what your users want is the Play Stores. Google Play Store and the iOS App Store are the most common play stores available. For this example, we choose Google Play Store.

If you have a product such as an app, a book, and a movie, the Google Play Store is a great place to upload it.

When users see your product, they will download it for free or buy. After using the product, they can write about their experiences with it.

Marketers can take advantage of the reviews feature to see what users liked and disliked about the product. This information will help them create recommendation content for apps, books, and movies for the customer.

Another tool you can use is the product stores. These include eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, Alibaba, and so much more. For this example, we choose Amazon.

Sellers write descriptions of their product, provide a price, and then post them on these platforms.

You can use product stores to find the popular products the customers are searching for by looking at the product categories, customer reviews, brands, and price range.

These will determine what kind of content they might be interested in.

Another feature you might want to look at is the customer questions and answers section. This is an area where customers will go to find more information about the product they’re interested in. You can use the information here to get ideas for your site.

Extract comments and create a word cloud

Commenters email

If you have a website, having an email list is essential. It helps you connect with your customers more efficiently as opposed to social media. Here is a list of some popular email marketing services.

  • ConvertKit
  • Mailchimp
  • AWeber
  • Constant Connect

Comments from blogs will help you improve your blog post because readers know what they’re looking for. By reading a customer’s feedback, you can get a clue of what their interests are, what problems they want to solve, the information they want to know more.

Here’s how to extract comments using a word cloud.

  • Step 1: Copy the text from the email you want to create a word cloud
  • Step 2: Go to WordItOut website and paste in the text box. Select generate.

You’ll see an attractive arrangement of randomly positioned words, where the important words are bigger than the others.


A forum is a place where people share ideas and on a particular subject. Customers go to forums to look for answers to their questions, learn new things, seek advice, and more. Here are examples of popular internet forums.

  • XDA Developers Android Forums
  • Craigslist
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Stack Overflow
  • Steam community
  • Tumblr

First things first, you should find a forum that is in your niche. Then spend some time reading the forum to get a sense of the community norms. Find out who the influencers are and note their topics. By doing this, you can understand your audience better.

Social media comments and discussion

More people than ever are actively searching on social media using hashtags and trending topics. When they use social media, they’re not only looking for answers to their problems, but they also want a conversation.

Through social media, you can learn about your customers through their experiences. This means that you’ll have a lot of information to collect, and you’ll be able to produce valuable content.

3. Ask questions in interviews/ podcast

Asking questions in interviews and podcasts is an opportunity for you to learn about your audience. You’ll be able to get a clear picture of the kind of keyword related answers you’ll likely hear in these discussions.

For example, by attending a content marketing interview, you can ask experts about:

  • the trends in SEO,
  • how content marketing works,
  • how content marketing can address our target audiences and more.

By doing this, you’ll learn new information about content marketing and also gather new keyword phrases.

4. Reverse engineer your competition

  • Step 1: Select the best performing article of your competitor that you’re targeting to beat.
  • Step 2: Input the URL in the “Keyword density checker tools.” An example of a keyword density checker tool is SmallSEOTools Keyword Density Checker. This is how you’ll get results.
  • Step 3: Use the result to improve your content or write new content

Extra Tip: Why Brands Need a Voice Search Strategy

According to Google, 27% of the global online population is using voice search. This is a tremendous development impacting digital marketing. The reason for this growth was the invention of smart speakers and personal assistants.

2.8 million smart speakers were sold in the first quarter of 2020. This means that many homes today at least own a smart speaker. People use smart speakers to ask for information, entertainment, and perform simple tasks.


Keyword research is the key to a successful content marketing strategy. Knowing the current trends is a plus. If you want to optimize your site and produce valuable content for your audience, you should use both the tools and non-tools to understand your target audience.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

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Some New Icon Sets

September 29th, 2020 No comments

I’ve bookmarked some icon sets lately, partly because I can never find a nice set when I need to. I figured I’d even go the extra mile here and blog them so I can definitely find them later. Aside from being nice, cohesive, and practical sets of icons, I find it interesting that literally all of them:

  • are SVG, and thus easily resizeable
  • are built with rather efficient elements
  • are stroked instead of filled (at least optionally)
  • have a click-to-copy SVG feature on their site
  • are free and open source

Good job, all! Seems like people are coming around to the idea of an SVG icon system where you just… put the SVG in the HTML.

Tabler Icons



hola svg

This one is from Mariana Beldi who recently shared how hand-drawing SVG can be so much more efficient than using an illustration tool.

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Make Your Own Dev Tool

September 29th, 2020 No comments

Amber Wilson on making bookmarklets to help yo-self. She shows off one that injects an accessibility script — I like this approach, as it means you don’t have to maintain the bookmarklet, just the script it links to). Another example runs some code contained right in the link. The result is literally a bookmark in your browser you can click to do something that is useful to you on any site.

Well, I say “any” site, but what I mean is “sites that don’t have a Content Security Policy (CSP)” which is capable of totally blocking inline scripts (and that’s probably the best thing a CSP can do). That’s wonderful for security, but completely stops bookmarklets. The answer is browser extensions. The story with those is getting better as browsers converge on a standard format.

Browser extensions are much harder to write. Someone should make a browser extension that allows you to create arbitrary bookmarklet-ish snippets to run. I found a few attempts at this in a quick search, but nothing that looks particularly nice. Another thought: DevTools has snippets.

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Faster than Light – Neon effect in Photoshop & The Most Eye-Catching Examples

September 29th, 2020 No comments
burger in neon effect

Using the neon effect in Photoshop may sound a little too simplistic for experienced Photoshop users but the effect it can have on your design is certainly not so simple. This fun design effect turns the design process into an experimental and vibey journey.

The neon effect has a variety of different application methods and can be found in almost any type of visual. Whether it’s a website banner, printable material, or a billboard, it always manages to catch our eye and emphasize the impact of the message of the design.

Playing with electric, glowing lights while making it look realistic is tricky especially for novice designers. The great majority of designers tend to sweat when it comes to transforming texts and shapes using neon effects in Photoshop.

To give you a better perspective of the real neon effect, let’s dive into the background of neon signages for a bit.

Quite surprising but primitive examples of neon signs actually date back to the 1670s. Before the actual age of electricity, a French astronomer named Jean Picard noticed a faded glow in a glass mercury barometer tube. After Picard shook the glass tube, he observed a glow resulting from static electricity.

About two centuries later, in 1857, the German glassblower and physicist Heinrich Geissler began his experiments using sealed glass tubes with two electrodes and tried to pass an electric current through the glass to make the gas in the tube glow. The color of the electrical discharge was changing depending on the type of gas and the material of the glass tube.

With the first neon glow discovered years ago, we started to see neon effects everywhere. As the business owners and advertisers have begun to realize the immense potential of the neon effect, soon after, every kind of business including arcades, restaurants, and movie theaters has modified their signs to electric neon ones to attract the attention of passersby.

Just like the power of its usage in real-life signs, using neon effects in Photoshop is also destined to revive your designs with creative color schemes and lights.

That is why we want to showcase the most eye-catching examples of neon effects in Photoshop that will inspire your work while teaching you new techniques.

The Most Eye-Catching Neon Effects in Photoshop

burger in neon effect
by Pixelbuddha
neon effect pizza
by Parham Marandi
neon effect font
by Fonts
neon effect motel
by Jace
holo neon effect
by Raul Taciu
neon effect graphics
by BestServedBold
girl in neon effect
by Yuliia Dobrokhod
neon effect hands
by Yup Nguyen
neon signs
by Anton Borzenkov
light speed neon effect
by BestServedBold
arcade neon effect sign
by Roberto Perrino
face scanning neon effect
by Gleb Kuznetsov
bike in neon effect
by Tribhuvan Suthar
neon ball
by Lalit
Lonely robot in the city neon effect
by Pixel Point
neon effect
by Jona Dinges
neon effect font
by Viet Huynh
neon effect
by Dragonlady
eye in neon effect
by BestServedBold
Walk Cycle neon effect
by Yup Nguyen

Wrapping it up

We can’t get enough of these glowing neon effects. We hope you feel the same way and these designs give you some inspiration to get experimenting with the neon effects in Photoshop. The neon effect is one of the techniques that was designed to catch the eye of your customers. Now you have seen some of the best neon effects in action, try it out for yourself, and have fun designing!

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