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Advertising knows you better than your friends, better than your family, perhaps even better than your partner.
Look up pizza recipes, and advertising will show you promotions for pizza ovens. Download a marathon training plan, and advertising will show you the latest running shoes. Buy a car, and advertising will show you adverts for other cars because no system’s perfect.
Advertising does this with a simple trick: it watches you constantly. It’s watching you right now. The web is one giant machine for making money, and you’re the fuel.
On the one hand, advertising’s insidious invasion of our privacy is enough to make you paranoid; on the other hand, I really love my pizza oven.
The largest facilitator of advertising on the web is Google Ads — reportedly worth $134.8 billion per annum; it’s Alphabet Inc’s primary source of revenue.
Last year, Google Ads announced that it would be ending its reliance on third-party cookies for delivering targeted advertising as part of a wider industry trend towards greater privacy protection for individuals. This week, we received more details confirming that Google Ads will not replace third-party cookies with comparable tracking technology.
Google Ads intends to maintain relevant advertising, without user tracking, by anonymizing your identity within a crowd. The technical term is a Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), essentially Asimov’s Psychohistory, in capitalist form, some 45,000 years before Hari Seldon is due to be born.
In simplistic terms, someone who buys a pair of running shoes can reasonably be expected to be interested in GPS watches. The complexity arises when grouping becomes more complex: people who watch Netflix on a Tuesday evening purchase a particular soup brand and read the Washington Post, for example. The system requires billions of groupings that are too complex to express in English. And yet Google claims to already be making some progress.
As with any fledgling technology, the implications of its widespread adoption are unclear. FLoC is Chrome-based, so there’s the looming specter of a monopoly. Then there’s the issue of how groups are built; does Google need individual tracking to generate crowds of individuals? It’s unclear, but what is clear is that if Google succeeds — and it’s likely that it will — other networks will have no choice but to follow suit. It seems inevitable that there will be a wide-ranging impact across not just advertising but analytics and marketing as a whole.
The back door that’s being held open is one-to-one relationships. If you visit a site, that site can attempt to entice you back with targeted advertising. This means the next few years will see a growth in the number of companies developing ongoing relationships in the form of newsletters and memberships.
How ever it plays out, a fundamental change to the system that funds most of the web is certain to have a long-term impact on day-to-day user experience.
Featured image via Pexels.Source
Stock images are an essential tool for anyone working with clients who can’t afford to hire a photographer for a bespoke shoot, and with the cost of photography shoots running into thousands of dollars, that’s most clients.
Last month we looked at the 10 Best Free Stock Image Sites for 2021, and this month we’re focusing on the premium end of the market.
Paying for stock doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting a higher quality product than the free alternative, but the higher quality product is rarely free.
Ultimately, the right image is the right image, regardless of price. These are the best places to start your search in 2021.
Stocksy is a tremendous site with a slight edge to its imagery. There’s a certain cool vibe to the images featured on Stocksy. If you’re looking for a stock image that doesn’t look like a stock image, this is a great place to begin. Its prices range from around $15 for a small web image to $1000s for the image’s exclusive use.
EyeEm is a great source of editorial-style images. It has some excellent categories that are geared towards finding images instead of categorizing the collection. Pricing starts at $35 per image, with discounts for image packs. EyeEm has recently introduced the option to book a photoshoot — for clients ready to pay for custom images.
It’s impossible to make a list of stock image sites without including Getty Images. The stock behemoth not only has one of the largest collections of stock images but owns several subsidiaries. Loved by news media for its comprehensive coverage, if you’re looking for a particular stock image, try Getty. Getty’s a mid-price supplier with prices for small images starting at around $75.
Death to Stock is all about leveraging the stock industry to fund photographers. These are photographs that photography professionals admire; there’s no filler whatsoever. Subscriptions for creative professionals start from $33/month. There are 100+ new images added to the collection monthly, meaning it’s still small, but if you want something truly authentic, consider Death to Stock.
Cavan’s focus is on building a broad range of photographers, which has produced an outstanding set of diverse images. The curated collections, which are more editorial than commercial, are powerful. Cavan also offers a great support service in case you need help tracking down a particular image. Prices vary but start from $50.
Shutterstock is one of the best-known stock collections on the web, with over 300 million images. Offset is a subsidiary of the much larger Shutterstock; it’s a high-end version of Shutterstock, with slightly elevated prices to reflect the higher quality. Shutterstock prices start around $2.50/image, Offset’s start around $300; that’s the price you pay for having someone pre-vet your options.
Westend61 has a smaller collection, but its images are all consistently high quality. Westend61 is particularly useful for designing banner images because the images are very commercial, with authentic-looking people and lots of eye contact. Prices per image start at approximately $25.
iStock was originally independent but was bought by Getty. iStock offers both credit, and subscription options starting around $2.50/image. Although you won’t find everything you’ll find on the larger Getty site, it’s worth checking to see if the image you want is here.Source
Proxima Vara, a variable font version of the enormously popular Proxima Nova type family, has just been released.
Designers love Proxima Nova for the simplicity of its letterforms, its wonderful rhythm, and its generous x-height that all combine to produce a highly legible, modern typeface — that also happens to be cheaper to deploy than many similar designs.
The variable version allows designers to tweak the weight from 100–900, the width from a condensed 50% to a wide 100%, and the slant from 0–12.5 degrees. In total, there are 5,000,000 styles available.
Because it’s a variable font, Proxima Vara delivers all of those styles in a single file that is only moderately larger than a single Proxima Nova style.
Proxima Nova has been a go-to font for designers for over a decade. Commonality had stripped away some of its shine, but the addition of a new variable edition promises to re-popularise its use.
D&AD Shift is a free design school program for creatives over the age of 18, who do not already have a degree-level qualification. It’s been running since 2016 and is a 12-week program led by successful industry professionals.
Until now, D&AD Shift has been running courses in New York and London, but it has announced that thanks to a partnership with Google, it will be rolling out the program to cities worldwide; the expansion also means the courses will cover a broader set of skills.
If you’re an aspiring creative hoping to make it as a professional, the Shift program is a fantastic, free opportunity to develop skills, build confidence, and grow your portfolio.
Applications for the London program are open now and must be submitted by 26 April. The New York-based program will run from October to February 2022. For news on when the design courses are coming to a city near you, sign up for the newsletter.Source
The post D&AD Partners With Google To Expand Design Education first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.
March is that time of year where the feeling of newness starts, from the first Spring days to fresh design projects. These trends are no exception, with fun new takes on some classic concepts.
Circles are always popular, but the top trend is an animated take on the traditional element; plus, fun pink and purple color palettes and a few faux split screen designs round out trending styles.
Here’s what’s trending in design this month.
Circles are one of those shapes that never leave the design sphere. They have a lot of classical meaning and are flexible in terms of design options.
Designers are having a lot of fun with this shape right now. From animations to text circles to image frames, they seem to be all over the place.
More recently trending is more circle-shaped animations. This trend maintains a circle’s properties as a unified and harmonious element with movement to create more engagement and make you look at the design just a little bit more.
Each of these examples uses circles in a different but equally interesting – and animated – way.
Universal Favourite uses a circular blob. It’s almost like a giant bubble. It wiggles and flows, and stretches within the space without any help from the user. It has a smoothly quality that makes you want to stare at it. The color here helps, with the circle and background not having an immense amount of contrast. Also, note the cute little circle button in the bottom corner.
Kenta Toshikura put most of the subtle animation for this design inside the circle. With a hover state, the entire circle moves on the screen with a second layer of animation, and the cursor is also a circle that hops around the black background.
Kffein takes a totally different approach with a circle made from the primary test elements. Identifying website information rotates in a circle around another geo shape on the main plane. Not only is there a circular animation, but an almost three-dimensional effect that happens due to the way elements are layered here.
The prevalent pink and purple color combination isn’t for everyone – although you wouldn’t know it from the number of designs using similar colors.
This bright combination almost screams “spring” and has a lightness to it that almost seems to lift the mood of any project. (Maybe color selection is a reflection of how we all want to feel.)
What’s nice about these colors is that they flow into one another nicely. They can also be expanded to fall into neighboring hues on the color wheel, such as red from pink and blue from purple.
Maybe the most popular use of this color pair is as a gradient. You can find pink to purple everywhere, from background gradients to image overlays to buttons and user interface elements. There’s no lack of use here.
Each of these examples shows opportunities with this color combination.
SMU uses bright pink, blue, and purple to create a giant “road sign” in the design that jumps out from the rest of the project. The sign almost seems out of place and doesn’t fit as part of the normal color palette. This is what draw you right to it.
USA Volleyball uses the popular gradient option and extends the pink to the purple palette to hints of blue and red. What’s great about this design is that it uses a super trend element and color option and makes it work with their current color palette. You can almost imagine the design conversation when someone wanted to use a pink to purple gradient for a brand that features red, white, and blue. The gamble paid off, and it works beautifully without being off-brand.
Blobmixer uses purple, pink, and a few other bright colors – note the animated circles, too – to draw users into the design. The entire project is a fun, customizable experience that you can play with, and the color choices are what make you interested enough to try. This design also offers a great example of tactile animation and elements that feel real even when you interact with them using a mouse on the screen.
Split-screen designs were a huge trend for about two years. The aesthetic was also functional for content that required a this or that choice on the part of users.
Now, we see the design elements but without the function. (Maybe because it just looks nice and creates a sense of balance without a symmetrical design.)
These projects look like they might offer multiple gateways to content, but there is only one call to action on the dual-screen aside from navigation elements.
What this design option does is help draw the eyes across the screen. One side will immediately appeal to you, and when done well, you’ll feel a subtle push of pull from the color, text, and images to look at the other side as well.
Renaissance TV does it with heavy animation with “dancing dots” from an old TV that doesn’t work. But then you need to look at the green text to understand what is happening.
Yacht uses text weight and space to push the eyes across the screen. Almost everyone will go to the heavier areas first and then gaze across the screen through blocks of space to the final small text on the right side. And it all happens in a fraction of seconds.
Bonjour Paris pairs bold color with black and white images. You may look at either side first, depending on personal preference, but the other half of the screen is necessary for a complete understanding of the website.
While all of these design trends are evident in new and recent projects, the use of pink and purple color palettes – particularly with a gradient – seems to be everywhere you look. These color choices are popular and come in a lot of forms.
Maybe the most obvious is with brighter pink and purple gradients, but other variations are also trending. It’s definitely one to watch in the longer term.Source
Everyday design fans submit incredible industry stories to our sister-site, Webdesigner News. Our colleagues sift through it, selecting the very best stories from the design, UX, tech, and development worlds and posting them live on the site.
The best way to keep up with the most important stories for web professionals is to subscribe to Webdesigner News or check out the site regularly. However, in case you missed a day this week, here’s a handy compilation of the top curated stories from the last seven days. Enjoy!Source
The post Popular Design News of the Week: February 22, 2021 – February 28, 2021 first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.
Design is on a loop; it goes round and round, repeating the same ideas, and revisiting the same problems. If you want to know what will happen in design tomorrow, take a look at yesterday.
This week’s quiz is a jaunt through the history of design. Do you know which typeface was chosen for the American Declaration of Independence? How about the location of the first design museum? Can you attach the design motto to the designer? Take the quiz and find out…
There are many reasons you might be wanting to improve your design skills this year. Perhaps you have extra time on your hands and want to put it to good use. Or maybe you’re new to web design and finding that there’s a lot you still don’t know how to do. It could also be that you recognize that the web is changing, and your skills could use some refreshing to keep up.
Whatever the reason, there are many ways to level up your web design skills in 2021. Here are 12 ideas to get you started:
Jack-of-all-trades designers might be able to say “yes” to everyone. However, they’re going to be stretched very thin as they attempt to strengthen every skill needed to keep up with demand.
It’s much easier to become a trusted designer and to improve your skills if you have a smaller and more specific skill set to develop.
Just keep in mind that niching down doesn’t necessarily mean focusing on a particular industry. For instance, you might choose to be a UX designer instead of a web designer. Or you might specialize in designing ecommerce websites instead of monetized blogs. Just find something that you’re passionate about and will be good at doing, and zero-in on the skills needed for it.
Local development environments are useful for staging websites, doing redesigns, and testing updates safely away from live sites. But you can also use them for experimenting with new design techniques, trends, templates, plugins, and more.
Local by Flywheel is the one I prefer to use:
Here’s a good exercise to start with:
Take a website you like — something you’ve looked at in awe and couldn’t imagine ever building on your own. Then, put yourself to the test. See if you can recreate it in your sandbox.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t figure it out right away. Consult your resources and give yourself time to make sense of what’s going on and implement it with the available skills and tools.
There’s always a clear evolution in a designer’s skill set, from the day they begin designing to the present day. And that’s a good thing. If your work doesn’t improve or change with time, then you’re going to have a lot of catching up to do when the stagnation begins to hurt your business.
Want to see how much progress you’ve made so far? Revisit one of your first projects and look at it with fresh eyes. I bet you’ll see a big change in how you design today from how you designed that site then.
Now, ask yourself what you would do differently. And then, go to your sandbox and do the redesign.
A friend of mine is taking a UX design course and needed some users to run through a prototype he created for the class. He could create anything he wanted, so he designed an app related to his other love: Music.
While he could’ve easily thrown together some carbon copy of Spotify or SoundCloud, he came up with a completely new concept. And it was really impressive, to the point where I urged him to put it into production and see if he could list it in the app stores.
I think it’s when we’re really passionate about something that we’re willing to push past our limits. So, carve out some time to tackle that passion project you’ve been toying around with and see where it takes you.
One of the reasons UX designers do user testing is how valuable users’ raw input is. While it would be nice to think that design is a completely subjective matter, that isn’t really the case when usability becomes compromised due to design choices.
Understanding what users like and dislike is an important part of taking your design skills to the next level. And a good way to do that is to share your designs on Dribbble.
Here’s an example of UI8 asking for feedback:
I’m a huge fan of automation and shortcuts powering things behind the scenes in business.
After all, one of the reasons you become a web designer is so you can design, right? When you’re bogged down with administrative and logistical tasks, that’s time spent away from doing what you enjoy.
One way in which you can streamline your backend processes is by putting together a design toolbox. Your preferred CMS. Flexible templates or apps you use from project to project. Website testing tools. And so on.
As you do this, it’ll force you to examine how you build websites. Are you really working as efficiently as possible? Are there newer apps or systems that’ll help you design better sites? And as you improve your design toolbox, you’ll improve your design skills.
I have a hard time recommending this one, only because I’m reluctant to sign up for yet another newsletter. That said, I do see the value in subscribing to some blog newsletters as I don’t always remember to revisit their websites and check out the latest content.
What I’d suggest you do is pick one or two design blogs that have a good variety of content and publish regularly. And then pick one small business or freelance blog.
WebdesignerDepot, of course, is a good one to start with as it comes at a good frequency, recommends great reads from all around the web, and is fluff-free:
I’d also recommend signing up for one that’s focused on your niche as well as one for business.
As a freelancer, I’d vote for the Freelancers’ Union newsletter. There’s always something timely and useful in there.
I just adopted a second dog, so I’ve spent a lot more time on walks while house-training her. At first, I was stressed about it because it was time spent away from work. However, I started to fill that time with podcasts and found that it helped me work better for the rest of the day.
One reason is that I’ve been listening to work-related podcasts, which are always chock full of helpful tips. Another reason is that it gives my eyes a rest from looking at the screen so that when I come back 15 or so minutes later, I feel refreshed and ready to go.
Rebekah Carter has a good set of web design podcast recommendations to get you started.
There’s an overabundance of information online. If you want to brush up on CSS, there are hundreds of YouTube courses that cover it. If you want to learn how to use a new WordPress plugin, you’ll find dozens of great tutorials across various online course platforms, YouTube channels, and even people’s blogs.
There’s no need to go back to school to become a better designer. Here are five places where you’re bound to find free courses for web designers.
It’s easy to lose sight of design principles when your clients are clamoring for a website that will make them a lot of money, get them a lot of readers, and so on. Sure, you can design a UI and UX that works, but do you remember why the design choices you made are effective?
Choose a book — just one to start — that’ll help you reconnect with the roots of good web design. Not only will you get a good refresher on web design principles or design theory, but you might learn something brand new.
Here are some of my favorite books for web designers:
Now more than ever, finding a community of like-minded web designers, developers, or freelancers is important. It’s not just about having a group of people to vent to when clients drive you nuts (though that’s great, too).
It’s about finding a group that brings something new to the table and enriches your understanding of web design and what it means to be a web designer.
If you’re on Facebook or LinkedIn, start there. There are tons of web design and freelance groups that have productive discussions every day. If you prefer to meet up with local designers and developers, check out Meetup.
You may be surprised by how many groups there are and the kinds of meetups they have planned.
I scheduled my assignments around the sessions I wanted to attend and didn’t have to pick one over the other (i.e., “Do I make money or do I learn something new?”).
Some of the sessions showed us how to do more with Adobe’s tools, while some of them featured design and business leaders who shared personal insights on how to work more effectively. It was a great way to shake up my normal routine and to get a ton of information about the future of web design in a short period of time.
Like I said before, there’s a lot you can do to improve your design skills. Just be careful not to overdo it.
Pick one or two things on this list to start with. If you have more time in your schedule and you’re excited about what you’ve learned so far, add a couple more.
Just take it slowly. Your brain will only be able to absorb so much at once. Plus, the last thing you want is to burn yourself out on skills training and not have the energy to complete your work.
Featured image via Unsplash.Source
If you like to build websites with WordPress, then you’re in for a treat.
Now, for the first time, you don’t need to know how to code to use Google’s popular Material Design system on your WordPress website; the web giant has released a WordPress plugin and theme to import its colors, icons, UI elements, and typography straight into your CMS.
Google already provided a set of tools for generating Material Design themes, but until now you needed to know how to copy that code across to your site files. With this latest plugin and theme, all you need to do is click and go.
You need to install both the plugin and theme to take advantage of Material Design for WordPress. Using the add-ons, you can tweak your typography via Google Fonts, add-in MD color, and even choose your own icons. If even that’s too much, pick one of the pre-built themes. One of the best features is that the plugin warns you if your customizations break accessibility guidelines, saving you a do-over when you discover it later on.
Google calls it “an experimental plugin and theme,” which means it’s subject to change. And Google has been quick to emphasize that the plugin is very much a work in progress, asking for feedback to help them direct future development efforts.
It’s a really great option for anyone who’s starting on the web, building their first site, or who really wants a nice reliable design system that they can build on in the future.
It’s yet another automation tool that has driven WordPress to the top of the technology pile and made it the CMS of choice for 40% of the web. As tech hots up and AI continues to develop, it’s hard to dismiss the idea that one day soon, our only contribution to websites will be paying the hosting bill!Source
The post Try the New Material Design Capabilities for WordPress first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.
It’s February, and the spring sun is finally starting to peep through the winter clouds. While many of us are still largely restricted to our homes, the web has kept on growing.
We see a shift in attitude towards natural health, wellbeing, and sustainability, and these are now being branded less often as outliers and increasingly mainstream. We’re also seeing more and more color all the time, ranging from an emotional signifier in the background to being a functional element in its own right.
Gorgeous color in the background image and the scrolling narrative pull the user in on this site for lab ‘grown’ meat.
This page celebrating 100 years of outdoor footwear company Hanweg uses a mix of illustrations and photographs to create a timeline marking the company’s highlights alongside what else was happening at the time. Any excuse to get Yoda in.
Gaffer describes itself as bridging the gap between football, music, fashion, and culture. The site has a glossy feel, with strong art direction and an easily navigable architecture.
This rather beautifully made tribute to Martin Luther King uses some great typographic effects, and the variations, in contrast, create a layering of the different content elements.
The home page for design agency Bonjour Paris uses sideways scrolling to give an overview of the whole site. There is a lot of content, but it doesn’t feel like waffle, and exploring the site is a pleasant experience in itself.
Wild Souls is a Greek company that principally makes nut butters, tahini, and halva. The site is very colorful but warm, and the display type — Canela — has a slight softness to it that is appealing.
This is a strong portfolio site for interactive and graphic designer Nicolas Loureiro. The work is front and center, and the navigation is pleasing.
Studio Nanna Lagermann is a small interior design studio that works on private homes, public spaces, and set design. The site creates a feeling of space and calm. Colors are soft and neutral, and the type, although massive in places, is clean and sophisticated.
Illustrator Aurelia Durand created her own typeface that she uses in her work, and it is used as the main display font here too. This site has a sense of joy about it that is hard to resist.
This site documents the life and work of 20th-century Italian artist Mario Russo. The layout is thoughtful, and the text, while informative, doesn’t detract from the work being shown.
Gigantic Candy makes vegan chocolate candy bars. The site is big, bold and lo-fi, and has a sense of fun to it.
dBodhi sells handcrafted furniture from Java, made from reclaimed teak and locally grown plant materials. The clean layout combined with a slight sepia tone on all the photography creates a feeling of quietness and nature.
Menu Durable is a guide to creating healthier, sustainable food menus in Canadian healthcare facilities. There is a lot of information here, and it is well written and attractively presented with clear color coding.
This is a lovely, simple portfolio site for photographer Virgile Guinard. By using blocks of color pulled from each photograph’s predominant color and only revealing each photograph on rollover, each image is allowed to stand out.
This site for The Bold Type Hotel in Patra, Greece, is a boutique hotel website archetype, but it is done well. The pinky sand background color is a good choice, and the photographs are excellent.
Nor Norm provide an office furniture subscription service. The site is clean with a feeling of light and space. There is a good balance between an overview of the process and details of the individual items available.
At first glance, Ask Us For Ideas looks like a creative agency, but it is actually a creative broker, matching clients with agencies.
Prinoth has been making snow groomers since the 1960s, and this microsite is to mark the launch of their new hydrogen and electric versions. It is as slick and glossy as any luxury car website. And now I know what a snow groomer is.
Design agency Pschhh has embraced the use of circles, reflecting the sound of bubbles their name suggests.
CōLab is a design and marketing firm. There is a great use of color and movement here, and you don’t really notice initially that there is no actual work on show.Source