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August 21 2018

19:22
Do People Still Love Helvetica?
19:22

CSS Logical Properties

A property like margin-left seems fairly logical, but as Manuel Rego Casasnovas says:

Imagine that you have some right-to-left (RTL) content on your website your left might be probably the physical right, so if you are usually setting margin-left: 100px for some elements, you might want to replace that with margin-right: 100px.

Direction, writing mode, and even flexbox all have the power to flip things around and make properties less logical and more difficult to maintain than you'd hope. Now we'll have margin-inline-start for that. The full list is:

  • margin-{block,inline}-{start,end}
  • padding-{block,inline}-{start,end}
  • border-{block,inline}-{start,end}-{width,style,color}

Manuel gets into all the browser support details.

Rachel Andrew also explains the logic:

... these values have moved away from the underlying assumption that content on the web maps to the physical dimensions of the screen, with the first word of a sentence being top left of the box it is in. The order of lines in grid-area makes complete sense if you had never encountered the existing way that we set these values in a shorthand.

Here's the logical properties and how they map to existing properties in a default left to right nothing-else-happening sort of way.

Property Logical Property margin-top margin-block-start margin-left margin-inline-start margin-right margin-inline-end margin-bottom margin-block-end Property Logical Property padding-top padding-block-start padding-left padding-inline-start padding-right padding-inline-end padding-bottom padding-block-end Property Logical Property border-top{-size|style|color} border-block-start{-size|style|color} border-left{-size|style|color} border-inline-start{-size|style|color} border-right{-size|style|color} border-inline-end{-size|style|color} border-bottom{-size|style|color} border-block-end{-size|style|color} Property Logical Property top offset-block-start left offset-inline-start right offset-inline-end bottom offset-block-end

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14:00

20+ Best Fonts for Flyers

When it comes to flyer design, choosing the right font can make a big difference. This collection of the best fonts for flyers can help you find a unique typeface for your next design project.

Whether you’re working on a flyer design for a business event, a party, a music festival, or a club event, it’s important to pick a font that matches the overall theme of the flyer and the business. You need to find a font that suits the design of the flyer, the message of the event, and the target audience.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend hours searching for that perfect font. We’ve done the heavy work for you and handpicked the fonts in this collection to match all those types of flyer designs (and more!)

Stay High – Poster Font

Stay High is a stylishly modern poster font with a hipster vibe. It features an attractive design that grabs anyone’s attention. The font comes with 200 glyphs, ligatures, and swashes. It’s perfect for designing a creative flyer for entertainment-related events such as music festivals and DJ events.

Sevastian – Sans Serif Font

This font comes with a retro-themed design that’ll remind you of the Victorian era. According to the creator of this font, it’s crafted to let designers “create 3D lettering without special effects.” The font will fit in nicely with most business and professional flyer designs.

The Salvador – Font Trio

Salvador is a yet another vintage-themed font that comes in 3 combinations: Serif, Script, and Condensed. The font includes 4 layers: Base, Shadow, and Inline and Dotted Inline. It’s ideal for designing retro-themed flyers, such as for bars, restaurants, and wineries.

Bassline – Modern Poster Font

Bassline is a minimalist and modern poster font that features a bold design. The font comes in 4 different styles: Regular, Inline, Italic & Inline Italic. You can use this typeface to design almost any kind of a modern flyer for businesses, agencies, and events.

Midnight Rider – Handwritten Marker Font

Midnight Rider is a creative handwritten font that features a dry marker design. The font includes more than 300 glyphs, stylish alternates, international characters, and ligatures. It’s most suitable for crafting flyers for a club or party event.

Wonderfont – Brush Typeface

This font comes with a unique design that makes it ideal for designing outdoor activity flyers. The brush font features a handcrafted design and includes all uppercase letters and numbers. It also includes a web font version as well.

Lovile – Handcrafted Typeface

Lovile is a creative and a fun hand lettering typeface that you can use to create attractive flyer designs. The font comes in 3 different styles: Bold, Condensed, and Script. You can use it to design flyers related to fun activities, children, schools, and much more.

Hitchcut – Quirky Display Font

Hitchcut is a quirky display font that features a unique design. The font design is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and the poster for his movie Vertigo. You can use this font to design different types of flyers for both casual and holiday-themed events.

Siggy – Font Family

Siggy is another creative font that comes in 4 different styles to match all kinds of fun and entertaining flyer designs, especially for flyers related to kids and fun activities. The font also includes lots of ligatures and alternates as well.

Tuck Shop – Handmade Chalk Font

Tuck Shop font comes with a unique handcrafted chalk design. The font comes in 3 styles: regular, outline and decoration. It also features 77 ornaments, glyphs, punctuations, alternates, symbols, international characters, and much more.

Sovereign – Bold Typeface

This modern and bold font is ideal for designing professional and business related flyers and brochures. The font features an elegant and accurate design that will help you show off professionalism through your designs.

Frank – Fonts Collection

Frank is a family of fonts that come in 5 different weights and 4 styles, making a total of 20 typefaces. The font also includes oblique and rough styles as well as over 300 glyphs. You can use this typeface to design modern and professional flyers.

Marsek – A Solid Display Font

Marsek is a modern display font that features a bold design that instantly attracts attention. The font comes in 3 different styles: bold, semi, and light. The sans-serif font will fit in well with almost any kind of business and creative flyer design.

Arkibal Sans – Font Family

Arkibal Sans is a sans-serif font family that comes with 12 different weights, including heavy, bold, thin, and light. It also includes a set of 6 unique stencil fonts as well. You can use a combination of these fonts to create unique flyers for various purposes.

Riotiks – Brush Font

Riotiks is a stylish brush font that’s perfect for creating flyers and brochures for music events and festivals, especially related to rock and punk music. The font is also great for designing website headers and T-shirt designs.

Grandesa – Retro Typeface

Grandesa is a creative font that features a mix of retro and vintage elements. It’s perfect for designing badges and titles for flyers. The font also includes stylistic and contextual alternates and comes with a hand-drawn version of the font as well.

Robofor – Mechanical Engineering Font

If you’re working on a flyer design for a technology-related event, conference, or a business, then this font will come in handy. This unique font features a creative design filled with mechanical and engineering elements.

Traveller – Brush Typeface

Traveller is a bold brush font that you can use to make attractive headlines and titles in your flyer designs. It comes with a rough design that makes your design stands out and includes lots of ligatures as well.

Burford Extrude A Bold Font

Burford is a family of fonts that come in various styles and designs. This particular font features a unique shadow and embossed design that will give a stylish look to your flyer designs.

Facile Pro – Modern Font

Facile is a creative font featuring a bold and modern design. This font comes with a design that’s been inspired by 1920-30s art and decorations. You can use this font to design attractive flyers and brochures for events and businesses.

Jordan – Display Font

This font is perfect for designing flyers for entertainment and creative events. The font comes in 6 different styles, including a grunge version of each typeface. It’s ideal for crafting modern and creative flyer designs.

Furiosa – Geometric Brush Font

Inspired by the new Mad Max movie, Furiosa is a bold brush typeface that comes in 2 styles: Park and Drive. It also includes 300 glyphs. You can design flyers and brochures for entertainment events, parties, and DJ events using this font.

13:58

ABeamer: a frame-by-frame animation framework

In a recent post, Zach Saucier demonstrated the awesome things that the DOM allows us to do, thanks to the <canvas> element. Taking a snapshot of an element and manipulating it to create an exploding animation is pretty slick and a perfect example of how far complex animations have come in the last few years.

ABeamer is a new animation ecosystem that takes advantage of these new concepts. At the core of the ecosystem is the web browser animation library. But, it's not just another animation engine. ABeamer is designed to build frame-by-frame animations in the web browser and use a render server to generate a PNG file sequence, which can ultimately be used to create an animated GIF or imported into a video editor.

First, a little about what ABeamer can do

A key feature is its ability to hook into remote sources. This allows us to build an animation by using the web browser and "beam" it to the cloud to be remotely rendered—hence the name "ABeamer."

ABeamer doesn't only distinguish itself from other animation frameworks by its capacity to render elements in a file sequence, but it also includes a rich and extensible toolset that is still growing, avoiding the need to constantly rewrite common animations.

ABeamer’s frame-by-frame design allows it to create overlays without dropping frames. (Demo)

The purpose isn't to be another Velocity or similar real-time web browser animation library, but to use the web technologies that have become mainstream and allow us to create pure animations, image overlays and video edits from the browser.

I have plans to create an interface for ABeamer that acts as an animation editor. This will abstract the need to write code, making the technology accessible to folks at places like ad networks and e-commerce companies who might want to provide their customers a simple tool to build rich, animated content instead of static images for ad placements. It can create titles, filter effects, transitions, and ultimately build videos directly from image slideshows without having to install any software.

In other words, taking advantage of all these effects and features will require no coding skills whatsoever, which opens this up to new use cases and a wider audience.

Create animated GIFs like this out of images. (Demo)

But if JavaScript is used, what about security? ABeamer has two modes of server rendering: one for trusted environments such as company intranets that renders the HTML/CSS/JavaScript as it was built by sending the files; and another for untrusted environments such as cloud render servers that renders teleported stories by sending them by AJAX along with the assets. Teleportation sanitizes the content both on the client side and the server side. The JavaScript that is used during interpolation process is not allowed, nor is any plug-in that isn't on an authorization list. ABeamer supports expressions, which are safe, teleportable, and in many cases, it can replace the need of JavaScript code.

Example of an advertisement made with ABeamer (Demo)

The last key feature is decoupling. ABeamer doesn't operate directly with the document DOM, but instead uses adapters as a middleman, allowing us to animate SVG, canvas, WebGL, or any other virtual element.

Several examples of the chart animations built into ABeamer. (Demo)

Getting started with ABeamer

Now that we’ve covered a lot of ground for what ABeamer is capable of doing, let’s dive into what it takes to get up and running with it.

Installation

The ABeamer animation library can be downloaded or cloned on GitHub, but in order to generate animated GIFs, movies, or simplify the process of getting started, you’ll want to install it with npm:

# 1. install nodejs: https://www.nodejs.org

# 2. install abeamer
$ npm install -g abeamer

# 2. learn how to configure puppeteer to use chrome instead of chromium
$ abeamer check

# 3. install a render server (requires chrome web browser) 
$ npm install -g puppeteer

# 4. install imagemagick: https://www.imagemagick.org

# 5. install ffmpeg: https://www.ffmpeg.org/

Puppeteer is installed separately, since other server renders are also supported, like PhantomJS. Still, Puppeteer running on Chrome will produce the best results.

Spinning up a new project

The best way to get started it's to use the ABeamer CLI to create a new project:

abeamer create my-project --width 640 --height 480

This will create a project with the following files:

  • abeamer.ini - Change this file to modify the frame dimensions and recompile main.scss. This file will be used by the server render and main.scss.
$abeamer-width: 640;
$abeamer-height: 480;
  • css/main.scss - CSS can also be used instead of SCSS, but it requires to change the dimensions in two places.
@import "./../abeamer.ini";

body,
html,
.abeamer-story,
.abeamer-scene {
  width: $abeamer-width + px;
  height: $abeamer-height + px;
}

#hello {
  position: absolute;
  color: red;
  left: 50px;
  top: 40px;
}

ABeamer content is defined inside a story, much like a theater play. Each story can have multiple scenes.

  • index.html - This is inside a scene where the animation happens:
<div class="abeamer-story" id=story>
  <div class="abeamer-scene" id=scene1>
    <div id=hello>Hello
      <span id=world>World</span>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>
$(window).on("load", () => {
  const story: ABeamer.Story = ABeamer.createStory(/*FPS:*/25);
  const scene1 = story.scenes[0];
  scene1.addAnimations([{
    selector: '#hello',
    duration: '2s',
    props: [{
      // pixel property animation.
      // uses CSS property `left` to determine the start value.
      prop: 'left',
      // this is the end value. it must be numeric.
      value: 100,
    },
    {
      // formatted numerical property animation.
      prop: 'transform',
      valueFormat: 'rotate(%fdeg)',
      // this is the start value,
      // it must be always defined for the property `transform`.
      valueStart: 10,
      // this is the end value. it must be numeric.
      value: 100,
    }],
  }, {
    selector: '#world',
    duration: '2s',
    props: [{
      // textual property animation.
      prop: 'text',
      valueText: ['World', 'Mars', 'Jupiter'],
    }],
  }]);
  story.render(story.bestPlaySpeed());
});

Live Demo

You may notice some differences between ABeamer and other web animation libraries:

  • ABeamer uses load instead of a ready event. This is due the fact that the app was designed to generate frame files, and unlike real-time animation, it requires all assets to be loaded before the process begins.
  • It sets FPS. Every state change in the CSS or DOM will fall into a specific frame. Think of it the way movie editors operate on a frame-by-frame basis. This way, when it renders to a file sequence, it guarantees that each file will represent a frame and that it is independent from the time it takes to render.
  • addAnimations doesn’t trigger an animation like other web animation libraries. Instead it builds the animation pipeline for each frame. This method is more verbose than other libraries but it benefits from allowing the same infrastructure to animate CSS/DOM elements, SVG, canvas and WebGL.
  • addAnimations can also animate text, colors and images — not only position, but rotation and scale as well.
  • render will start the rendering process. In case there is client rendering, it will simulate run-time. But if it’s server rendering, ABeamer will render at full-speed.

To test this animation, go ahead and open the index.html in your web browser.

Server Rendering

Now that we have an animation project created, we want to generate PNG file sequences, animated GIFs, and movies without frame drops. The process couldn’t be more simpler:

# 1. generate PNG file sequence
# assuming that you are in the parent directory
$ abeamer render my-project

# 2. generate animated gif (requires the PNG file sequence)
$ abeamer gif my-project

# 3. generate movie (requires the PNG file sequence)
$ abeamer movie my-project

The previous commands will place the resulting files in the project/story-frames.

Handling CORS

In the previous example, the project didn’t require loading any JSON, so it can be executed as a local file. But due CORS, if it required to load a JSON, it needs a live server.

To solve this, ABeamer has included a live server. Spin it up with this:

# 1. runs a live server on port 9000
$ abeamer serve

This will assign your project to: http://localhost:9000/my-project/

The render command then becomes:

$ abeamer render my-project --url http://localhost:9000/my-project/

Cloud Rendering

At the moment, there is no third-party cloud rendering. But as the project gains traction, I’m hoping that cloud companies see the potential and provide it as a service in the same manner as Google provides computation of Big Data that server farms can use as cloud render servers.

The benefits of cloud rendering would be huge:

  • It wouldn’t require any software installation on the client machine. Instead, it can all be done on the web browser. While there is currently no ABeamer UI, online code editors can be used, like CodePen.
  • Heavy render processes could be designed in a client machine and then sent to be rendered in the cloud.
  • Hybrid apps would be able to use ABeamer to build animations and then send them to the cloud to generate movies or animated GIFs on demand.

That said, cloud rendering is more restrictive than the server render since it doesn’t send the files, but rather a sanitized version of the story:

  • Interactive JavaScript code isn’t allowed, so case expressions are required
  • All animations are sanitized.
  • The animation can only use plugins that are allowed by the cloud server provider.

Setting up a cloud render server

If you are working in an environment where installing software locally isn’t allowed, or you have multiple users building animations, then it might be worth setting your own cloud render server.

Due to CORS, an animation must either be in a remote URL or have a live server in order to be sent to the cloud server.

The process of preparing, sending, and rebuilding on remote server side it is called teleportation. Animations requires changes to be teleported:

$(window).on("load", () => {
  const story: ABeamer.Story = ABeamer.createStory(/*FPS:*/25, { toTeleport: true });
  // the rest of the animation code
  // ....

  const storyToTeleport = story.getStoryToTeleportAsConfig();
  
  // render is no longer needed
  // story.render(story.bestPlaySpeed());
});

By setting toTeleport=true, ABeamer starts recording every animation in a way that it can be sent to the server. The storyToTeleport method will hold an object containing the animations, CSS, HTML and metadata. You need to send this by AJAX along with the required assets to the cloud.

On the server side, a web server will receive the data and the assets and it will execute ABeamer to generate the resulting files.

To prepare the server:

  • Create a simple project named remote-server using the command abeamer create remote-server.
  • Download the latest remote server code, extract the files, and override them with the ones existing in remote-server.
  • Save the received object from AJAX as remote-server/story.json and save all assets in the project.
  • Start a live server as you normally would using the abeamer serve command.
  • Render the teleported story:
abeamer render \
--url http://localhost:9000/remote-server/ \
--allowed-plugins remote-server/.allowed-plugins.json \
--inject-page remote-server/index.html \
--config remote-server/story.json

This will generate the PNG file sequence of the teleported story. For GIFs and movies you can run the same commands as before:

$ abeamer gif remote-server
$ abeamer movie remote-server

For more details, here’s the full documentation for the ABeamer teleporter.

Happy animating!

Hopefully this post gives you a good understanding of ABeamer, what it can do, and how to use it. The ability to use new animation techniques and render the results as images opens up a lot of possibilities, from commercial uses to making your own GIF generator and lots of things in between.

If you have any questions at all or have trouble setting up, leave a comment. In the meantime, enjoy exploring! I’d love to see how you put ABeamer to use.

The post ABeamer: a frame-by-frame animation framework appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

13:57

“Old Guard”

Someone asked Chris Ferdinandi what his biggest challenge is as a web developer:

... the thing I struggle the most with right now is determining when something new is going to change the way our industry works for the better, and when it’s just a fad that will fade away in a year or three.

I try to avoid jumping from fad to fad, but I also don’t want to be that old guy who misses out on something that’s an important leap forward for us.

He goes on explain a situation where, as a young buck developer, he was very progressive and even turned down a job where they weren't hip to responsive design. But now worries that might happen to him:

I’ll never forget that moment, though. Because it was obvious to me that there was an old guard of developers who didn’t get it and couldn’t see the big shift that was coming in our industry.

Now that I’m part of the older guard, and I’ve been doing this a while, I’m always afraid that will happen to me.

I feel that.

I try to lean as new-fancy-progressive as I can to kinda compensate for old-guard-syndrome. I have over a decade of experience building websites professionally, which isn't going to evaporate (although some people feel otherwise). I'm hoping those things balance me out.

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12:22
Introducing YOOtheme Pro – The New Theme and Page Builder for WordPress
12:20

Onboarding Users Of Your Product: From Trial To Payment

Onboarding Users Of Your Product: From Trial To Payment

Onboarding Users Of Your Product: From Trial To Payment

Joe Leech
2018-08-21T14:20:21+02:002018-08-21T13:33:03+00:00

(This is a sponsored article.) In part one of this series, we looked at the Attraction phase of the customer lifecycle. This three-part series outlines the three phases of the product lifecycle, the future for UX, and the skills and approach you’ll need to design modern digital products.

  • Part 1: Attraction
    Going out there to get users to evaluate your product.
  • Part 2: Activation
    Signing up, onboarding users, asking for payment.
  • Part 3: Retention
    Encouraging users to come back and keep using and paying for your product.

Part Two: Activation

Plotting Out The Journey

When we talk about the Attraction phase, we’re talking about users discovering they have a need, discovering our product and visiting our website to see if our product meets their needs.

Within the lifecycle, we can split the larger three phases into smaller phases to help us plan our approach. In this case, we can use Philip Kotler's model (expanded to 6 steps by Bryony Thomas).

  • Awareness
    Realizing they have a need.
  • Interest
    Looking for something to help with that need.
  • Evaluation
    Looking at products that help with their need.
  • Trial
    Trying the product to see if it meets their need.
  • Adoption
    Choosing a product and using it for a while.
  • Loyalty
    Deciding to stay using the product or switch to a different one.
(Large preview)

We’re interested in the middle two parts that fall under the Acquisition phase.

In part one, we looked at the Evaluation phase. The user is now ready to sign up and get going with our product; we used the example of the money management app:

Homepage showing what our app does. Homepage showing what our app does. (Large preview)

Let’s take that app forward into the Acquisition phase of the lifecycle.

A. Trial/Onboarding

In the Trial phase, our user is going to sign up and see if it is the product for them.

The first challenge is to onboard the user. Onboarding is a real challenge as it can be complex, involving the user entering personal information as well as getting to grips with what the product does. There is a huge potential for users to drop out and leave.

Joshua Porter sums it up:

“Onboarding should not be a separate function/consideration/afterthought. It should be an initial (and primary) focus of design.”

Joshua Porter

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at onboarding.

Onboarding: Steady Progress Showing Value

For our money management app to work well we need for our user we need to accomplish three goals:

  1. Collect some personal data from our users.
    Who they are (including email, mobile phone number, etc.).
  2. Bank account access, to auto pull in transactions.
    As we’re in the EU, open banking regulations mean that all banks have to provide API access to transaction data.
  3. Familiarize them with the product.

That’s a big ask. Let’s think about how we can soften that. We need a simple hook to get started. We use a concept in psychology called ‘incremental commitment.’ We ask for a low commitment to the product and then when the user gets something in return was ask for more.

We ask the simple question, “How much do you think you spend on coffee a month?”

A simple question to get started A simple question to get started. (Large preview)

This can be done along with a hook to encourage people to compare their spend to others. There’s now a quick, easy win for the user.

We give something back, in this case comparing to the average. Then, we ask the next question.

incremental commitment in action. We ask a follow-up. Incremental commitment in action. We ask a follow-up. (Large preview)

It allows us to build trust, and for the user to get value from our product early.

Next, the big ask. We want bank account access. If we’d asked for this early, we’d see a larger dropout. But we now have built some trust, and our user is invested in the product.

(Large preview)

We then go for the big ask, granting bank access. As you can see, we are gently guiding our user through the onboarding, showing useful content at each step, trying to make it feel natural.

Asking for what could be challenging data like the mobile phone number is much easier if we offer context and say what benefit there is to the user. We could include the following on the sign-up page asking for the mobile number.

showing how giving us your mobile number adds value Showing how giving us your mobile number adds value. (Large preview)

We can then ask further questions, like email and for a password which will have less impact being asked later after we’ve shown value.

Interaction by interaction we’re asking a question, gathering some data and showing how the product works.

Things To Avoid During Onboarding

There are other pitfalls to designing a product onboarding flow.

  • Avoid the term registration, Registration is a meaningless concept, offer a reason for why you are asking for a pieces of information.
  • Similarly don’t ask too many questions, that might sound obvious, but the more you ask the more likely it is for users to drop out.
  • Answer these three simple questions when it comes to form fields:
    • Why are you asking the question?
    • What will you use the data for?
    • What value does the user get from giving us this data?
  • Avoid Captcha; it is a big cause of dropouts as captchas can harm conversion rates. Plus, they aren’t very friendly.
  • And, of course, if your users are located in the EU, you need to wrangle with GDPR.

B. Adoption

Onboarding doesn’t end when the user has signed up. This is a common mistake made by organizations big and small. “Great, our new registrations are up month on month. But our retention rate is really poor” is a common problem.

We need to support our users through the first few weeks and months of using our app. We need to give them a reason to come back to us.

In part one, we talked about SEO and Marketing skills and tools we can use to improve the experience.

We’ll be expanding our skill set to look at email, and how we can improve the email experience. To encourage product adoption, we need to understand and map the email user journey.

Any modern UX or product designer needs to know how to design multi-channel experiences, and after the product itself email is the most important.

Planning And Encouraging The Second Visit

For our money management app we have access to the users' bank transaction data. Rather than hoping they return to our app, we need to reach out and give them a reason to come back.

The pull: using email to get users to come back to our app

Let’s look at an email we can send them the next day. But before we do that, let’s look back at one question we asked users:

Notice that the ‘on coffee’ can be changed for other spending items. (Large preview)

The user could have changed ‘on coffee’ to be ‘at Restaurants’ or ‘at Amazon’ or another discretionary purchase option.

This is a tiny piece of personalization, and the best follow-up emails are personalized.

When designing an email the most important element is the subject line. A good subject line encourages the user to open it.

Let’s look at the most common email provider of them all, Gmail. Like we did in part one when designing Facebook ads, we’ll design in context, in this case the crowded inbox. Actually, the promotions inbox on Gmail.

There’s one email in there that stands out, yes it’s us! (Large preview)

By referencing the Frotos we identified in part one (Frotos: are the current bad state the user has and their wish for a new state. The From and the To, Froto) we should get a better open rate.

And yes, that is an emoji you see. Two in fact. 😜

This article is great at helping you decide if emojis are right for you: Emojis in email subject lines: smiley face, or smiley poop? as it has a lot of data.

TLDR, emojis can help boost open rates, and well...

What an emoji (in a subject line) does is one of two things:

  1. It makes a bad subject line worse;
  2. Or it makes a good subject line better.

We also need to think about other email design considerations:

Don’t forget to test your emails to make sure they look as designed — Litmus is great at this.

User Research And Email

It’s a good idea to user research your emails, you’ll be surprised at what useful ideas you’ll get back. Using the emails as prompt material will encourage users to answer the question “What could you offer me that would make me come back to the app?”

Drip, Drip, Drip That Email

That’s email one done, great job! But now we need to think about an ongoing programme of emails. It takes a while to form a habit, and that’s what we’re after. Getting our users to keep coming back. It can take from 18 to 254 days so we need to keep sending those emails.

These emails should offer value to our users. The key insights our product offers should be easy to deliver by email, SMS, or indeed any digital channel.

Our product promises a “Personalised Savings Plan” that’s what we need to deliver.

The best performing products work seamlessly across digital channels.

To encourage product adoption and to help our user save we could offer SMS messages.

(Large preview)

SMS is a neglected message format. Yes, it can be annoying if done badly, but it can equally be effective for our users.

Some SMS stats:

  • 98% of text messages are read within 2 minutes;
  • Open rates are around 99% for text messages compared to 20% for email;
  • Click through rates are around 30% for SMS and less than 5% for email.

That makes a compelling case for the effectiveness of SMS. Look at the success of startup Shine and learn more about how they use SMS.

We can encourage our user to save money by using SMS, sending an email once a day. A daily, personalized, money coach is a huge benefit to our user.

(Large preview)

This article is a great for planning your messaging approach: Level-Up Email Campaigns With Customer Journey Mapping — Smashing Magazine.

Here’s some more great advice on planning email drip programmes:

User Research And Email/SMS

Researching the effectiveness of email and SMS is best done through AB testing. Testing different variants to see which performs better.

User research can help understand what content users will find useful and by what channel.

The Secret To Onboarding And Adoption: It Takes Time

Onboarding should be done gently, in short chunks offering value immediately. When it comes to asking for precious information like mobile phone number, bank account or email we need to demonstrate how we will deliver value.

To get a user to adopt our service takes time. We need to be able to deliver useful content over a long period of time to encourage them to keep using the product.

Next Up, Retention

In the first part we talked about the beginnings of the customer journey how to attract or users.

Coming up next, we’ll talk about how to retain users and get them to pay for our product — that holy grail of our user taking out a monthly subscription. Stay tuned!

The parts of the user journey The parts of the user journey. (Large preview)

This article is part of the UX design series sponsored by Adobe. Adobe XD tool is made for a fast and fluid UX design process, as it lets you go from idea to prototype faster. Design, prototype, and share — all in one app. You can check out more inspiring projects created with Adobe XD on Behance, and also sign up for the Adobe experience design newsletter to stay updated and informed on the latest trends and insights for UX/UI design.

Smashing Editorial(ra, yk, il)
06:07
Steps to Get ISC CISSP Certification and Become a Cyber Security Professional

August 20 2018

18:01
Get to Know Knoed Creative(AOTW#9)
15:37

25 Free Classic Fonts That Will Never Get Old

Looking for some beautiful free classic fonts that can be used for your traditional designs? Here are some of our top picks! We selected some of the best fonts you can use for both headings and paragraphs. All of these fonts are highly legible and professionally designed. Check them out in the roundup below.

Butler

Butler is a free classic font that was inspired by Dala Floda font family and the Bodoni font family. This serif typeface is a modernized serif font perfect for both print and digital projects. 

1 Butler Free Classic Fonts

Fakedes

Fakedes is a classic font designed by typographer Cyril Mikhailov. This is a rounded serif font with double lines. It looks perfect for headings and logos. 

2 Fakedes Free Classic Fonts

Forum

Forum is a classic font that was inspired by classic Roman fonts. It is the perfect font for titles and headings and was carefully designed by typographer Denis Masharov.

3 Forum Free Classic Fonts

Muchacho

Muchacho is an all-caps font with a classic yet quirky design. This beautiful typeface was designed by typographer Jeff Schreiber. Use it for headings.

4 Muchacho Free Classic Fonts

Poly

Poly is a classic web font with ink straps and glyphs. It has a vertical emphasis and it was designed by typographer Nicolás Silva.

5 Poly Free Classic Fonts

Barbaro

Barbaro is another beautiful font with a classical touch. This typeface was created by typographer Iván Núñez. It has a vintage look, with a 60’s vibe and can be used for both print and digital projects, for headings and logos. 

6 Barbaro

Le Super Serif

Le Super Serif is a gorgeous font with a vintage & classic style. It contains over 80 ligatures and special alternate characters. This font was designed by SuperBruut Free Classic Font

  Free Classic Fonts

Firefly

Firefly is a vintage hand drawn serif font with a classical vibe. It was designed by typographer Sean Coady. Use it for print designs, especially on posters. 

7 Firefly Free Classic Font

Pelmeshka

Pelmehka is a fun font that was inspired by the Bodoni typeface family. It can be used for headings, logos and even for children’s books! This inspired font was created by typographer Cyril Mikhailov.

8 Pelmeshka Free Classic Font

Fénix

Fénix is another beautiful classic font designed by Fernando Díaz and TipoType Foundry. This typeface has strong serifs, rough strokes and an overall elegant design. It is perfect for both headings and other page texts, as it is highly legible and versatile. 

9 Fénix Free Classic Font

Akura Popo

Akura Popo is a classic font with a vintage touch, designed by the Twicolabs Design team. This is a condensed serif font with a rough look, perfect for catching the readers’ attention. 

10 Akura Popo Free Classic Font

Molesk

Molesk is an amazing, eye-catching font designed by typographer Pedro Lobo. This slab serif font was inspired by old, classic typefaces. It contains subtle shadows for each letter. The detailing is pretty amazing, which makes it perfect for headings, logos and print projects.

11 Molesk Free Classic Font

Rancho

Rancho is another classic font that seems to be inspired by the Wild West. It was designed by Nach Oh!. Use it for any kind of projects, be it digital or print. 

12 Rancho Free Classic Font

Bariol Serif

Bariol Serif is a gorgeous, classic serif font designed by Atipo. Bariol Serif font is a clean font with clear lines and a legible design. Can be used for both headings and paragraphs, in any kind of design. 

13 Bariol Serif Free Classic Font

Lovato Light

Lovato Light is another beautiful and highly legible font with a classic touch. It has a more geometrical design, with inscription lettering. This beautiful typeface which is available in Light, Regular, Demi, Bold and Black, was designed by Philatype.

14 Lovato Light Free Classic Font

Yeseva One

Yeseva One is a classic font with a rounded design. It looks elegant and feminine. This beautiful font was created by The TypeType.

15 Yeseva One Free Classic Font

Luthier

Luthier is a free classic font with a sharp design. This serif font has high contrasts and was designed by typographer Adrià Gómez. Comes with 4 different styles so you can use it for any kind of project. 

16 Luthier Free Classic Font Free Classic Font

Cormorant

This beautiful font is inspired by the popular Garamond font family. It is a display font with a classic style, created by Christian Thalmann and optimized for high resolution and large screen sizes.

17 Cormorant Free Classic Fonts

Valkyrie

Valyrie is a gorgeous font designed by typographer Hendrick Rolandez. This fashionable font can be used for headings, logos, branding, and print projects. 

18 Valkyrie Free Classic Font

Marta

Marta is a beautiful serif font with wedge-shaped serifs. It is a classic font with an eclectic style. It was created by the talented Daniel Johnson and it is available in regular, bold and italic. 

19 Jura Free Classic Font

Palacio Font

Palacio font is a classic font that was inspired by Homestead and Museo font families. Palacio is a clean, simple font with a thin lettering design. It was created by typographer Nathan Thomson.

20 Palacio Font Free Classic Font

Tryst

Tryst is a highly legible, classic font that was designed by Philatype. This stunning font can be used for both headings and paragraphs, especially for book designs or blogs with a lot of text content. 

21 Tryst Free Classic Font

Blnc

Blnc is a gorgeous font with a classic touch. It has a Wild West-inspired design and can be used for logos, branding projects, headlines, posters, and pretty much anything else.

22 Blnc Free Classic Font

Rachel

The Rachel typeface is a serif font designed by Danilo De Marco in 2015. It was inspired by the Bodoniano and Lapidale fonts. It would look impeccable on both headings and paragraphs, due to its elegant details. 

23 Rachel Free Classic Font

Hagin

Hagin is a geometric font with an old school style. Use this free classic font for branding projects, headings and logos. This typeface was designed by Miroslav Bekyarov for Font Fabric.

24 Hagin Free Classic Font

Brela

Brela is a great editorial font that’s very easy to read. It was created by Makarska Estudio and can be used for any kind of projects, in both headings and paragraphs. 

25 Brela Free Classic Font

The post 25 Free Classic Fonts That Will Never Get Old appeared first on Line25.

14:05

What I learned by building my own VS Code extension

VS Code is slowly closing the gap between a text editor and an interactive development environment (IDE). At the core of this extremely versatile and flexible tool lies a wonderful API that provides an extensible plugin model that is relatively easy for JavaScript developers to build on. With my first extension, VS Code All Autocomplete, reaching 25K downloads, I wanted to share what I learned from the development and maintenance of it with all of you.

Trivia! Visual Studio Code does not share any lineage with the Visual Studio IDE. Microsoft used the VS brand for their enterprise audience which has led to a lot of confusion. The application is just Code in the command line and does not work at all like Visual Studio. It takes more inspiration from TextMate and Sublime Text than Visual Studio. It shares the snippet format of TextMate (Mac only) and forgoes the XML based format used in Visual Studio.

Why you should create an extension

On the surface, VS Code does not seem to provide many reasons for why anyone would create extensions for it. The platform has most of the same features that other editors have. The snippet format is powerful, and with extensions like Settings Sync, it is easy to share them over a Gist. Code (pun intended) is open source and the team is fairly responsive to requests. Basic support can be provided without a plugin by creating a "typings" file in the npm module.

Still, creating extensions for VS Code is something all web developers should try for the following reasons:

  • Playing with TypeScript: Many developers are still on the edge with TypeScript. Writing an extension in VS Code gives you a chance to witness how TypeScript works in action and how much its type safety and autocomplete features can help with your next JavaScript project.
  • Learning: The web gets a lot of slack for its performance. VS Code demonstrates how you can develop a performance-sensitive applications in Electron and some of the techniques — the multi-process and cluster-oriented architecture is so good that all Electron apps should just steal it for their own use.
  • Fun: Most important, it is a lot of fun developing VS Code extensions. You can scratch an itch and end up giving back to the community and saving time for so many developers.

Trivia! Even though TypeScript is an independent programming language with many popular uses including the Angular (2+) framework, VS Code is the sister project with the most impact on the language. Being developed in TypeScript as a TypeScript editor, VS Code has a strong symbiotic relationship with TypeScript. The best way to learn the language is by looking at the source code of Visual Studio Code.

What an extension can do

VS Code exposes multiple areas where an extension can create an impact. The exposed touch points could easily fill a book. But there’s unlikely a situation where you need all of them, so I’ve put together a listing here.

These outline the various places that can be extended as of version 1.25:

Area Description Language grammar Variables, expressions, reserved words, etc. for highlighting Code Snippets Items in autocomplete with tab-based navigation to replace certain items Language configuration Auto-close and indent items like quotes, brackets, etc. Hover action item Documentation tooltip on hover Code Completion Autocomplete items when typing Error Diagnostics Squiggly red underlines to indicate potential errors Signature Helper Method signature tooltip while typing Symbol Definition Location of the code where the symbol is defined in the inline editor and go to the definition (including a ⌘+Hover tooltip) Reference For the inline editor with links, all files, and places associated with the symbol Document Highlighter List of all positions where the selected symbol exists for highlighting Symbol List of symbols navigable from the Command menu with an @ modifier Workspace Symbol Symbol provider for an entire workspace Code Action Squiggly green underline to indicate fixable errors with a fix action on click Code Lens Always present inline metadata with clickable action items Rename Support for renaming symbols used in multiple places Document Formatting Fix indentation and formatting for the entire document Document Range Formatting Fix indentation and formatting for selected text On Type Formatting Fix formatting and indentation in real time Color Provider Color popup menu alternative Configuration Defaults Override settings and save as a new set of defaults Command Commands in the ⌘+P menu Menu Menu items in the top level menu, any menus alongside the document tab bar, and context menus Key bindings Keyboard shortcuts Debugger Debugger settings for debugging a new or existing language Source Control Overrides to support a custom source control system Theme Color theme Snippet Same as code snippets above View A new section in one of the docked panels on the left View Containers A new docked panel on the left bar TypeScript server plugins Overrides for the built-in TypeScript language server Webview Alternative page in parallel to a document to show a custom rendering of a document or any custom HTML (unlike a View Container that is docked to a side) Text Decoration Decoration on the gutter of the text area Messages Popups for error, warning and informational messages on the bottom-right Quick Pick Multi-select option selector menu Input Box Text box for the user to input values Status Bar Item Icon, button, or text in the status bar Progress Show a progress indicator in the UI Tree View Create a tree like the one used to define the workspace (which can be put inside a View or a View Container) Folding Range Custom code folding into the plus button on the gutter Implementation The implementation provider (languages like and TypeScript can have declaration and implementation as separate) Diff Provider Diff view in source control mode Commit Template For commits in source control mode

Apart from this, you can invoke any functionality that the user can invoke in any of the menus with whatever parameters the user can pass. There are events on almost every functionality as well as a lot of file systems and text file-related utility methods.

Let’s start building

Alright, enough with the preamble — let’s start putting an extension together with what we’ve just learned.

Creating the extension

To build an extension, start with the VS Code extension generator.

npm install -g yo generator-code
yo code

Next up, configure the options. Here’s how I set things up:

Extension Generator for VS Code

TypeScript is optional, but highly recommended. Just another way to remind you that VS Code works really well with TypeScript.

Now, you can open the folder in VS Code. I would recommend checking the initial commit. You can look at the quick start guide that gets generated in the project to understand the file structure. Take a quick stab at seeing it live. Go to the debug panel and launch the extension in debug mode. Place a breakpoint inside the activate method in extension.ts to walk through this in action. The “Hello world" application already registers a command that can launch an informational message in the footer. Go to the commands menu with ⌘+⇧+P (Ctrl+Shift+P on Windows) and select hello world.

Hitting the debugger

You can put another breakpoint in the registerCommand callback to get the command event.

Open package.json for a description of the plugin’s configuration. Change activationEvents to a more specific one based on what type of language or file protocol you want to support. All Autocomplete supports all file formats, indicated by an *. You should also look at the contributes section if you want to contribute to things like settings, commands, menu items, snippets, etc.

All Autocomplete in the contributes section with contribution points

Many of these contributions have additional JSON in the same package.json file with all the information. Some APIs require code that has to be used in the activate call like vscode.commands.registerCommand for creating a command. For an autocomplete extension, the contributes section is not required and can be removed.

To use the same All Autocomplete options in extension.ts, replace the activate function with the following:

export function activate(context: vscode.ExtensionContext) {
context.subscriptions.push(vscode.languages.registerCompletionItemProvider('*', {
    provideCompletionItems(document: vscode.TextDocument, position: vscode.Position, token: vscode.CancellationToken) {
        return [new vscode.CompletionItem("Hello")];
    }
    }));
}

You can specify further details about the completion item, like attached documentation using more options in the object. Now, if you debug this and type H you should see Hello in the completion menu. The code to register most of the language-based providers is nearly the same.

The All Autocomplete menu

You can see the All Autocomplete menu in vscode.languages, which provides options to register providers. Each provider has its own set of parameters that we can fill up similar to the completion item provider.

All Autocomplete with the list of language-specific providers

The document object provides access to the document with utility methods to access text at specific positions and ranges. It is strongly encouraged to use the APIs to access all documents instead of the raw Node.js APIs.

You can parse the document on demand or keep a data structure (like the trie used in All Autocomplete) optimized to search for inputs as the user is typing.

Tip: If you are looking for some text selection/manipulation APIs, there will most likely be an API already available. No need to reinvent the wheel. You can precisely get text with document.getText(document.getWordRangeAtPosition(position)). Alt+Click on any VS Code object to get to the class structure and JSDoc documentation.

Publishing the extension

Once the extension is complete, it is time to publish it to the marketplace. VS Code has a command line tool (vsce) for publishing but it does require creating an account.

Here’s how to prep the extension for submission:

  • Clean up the package: The package.json and README.md files provide the description and details about your extension that get displayed in the marketplace. It is essential to spruce up those files and fill all missing information so that the documentation comes out clean. Good to add some badges and a self-describing GIF to the repo.
  • Create an account: You need to create a Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) account. This is the only place where VS Code ties up with Visual Studio. You need to sign up and get an access token. The VSTS interface is slightly confusing, but you don’t need to learn a new code management tool to publish. Go to the security section to get the access token. (Don’t make the same mistake as me and confuse the gear icon in the menu with security.)
  • Install: Use the vsce command line tool to publish extensions. It is available in npm and is extremely easy to use.
Security Settings in VSTS

Tip: The access token for VSTS expires every year and therefore the account information is extremely important. It is also required to reply to the comments on the marketplace, though most users are active on GitHub and that is where you are more likely to get bugs and feature requests.

npm install -g vsce # One time installation
vsce create-publisher <name> # One time create publisher
vsce login # One time login. Asks for access token.
vsce publish <version> # Publish or update the extension

VS Code does not compile extensions on the server. Make sure the output folder created by compiling your extension is up to date. Also be sure to check case sensitivity of your file names because incorrect file paths will break in Linux. Native modules in Node are a huge pain and should not be used. It is impossible to compile and provide all platform variants for specific Electron versions. (Someone needs to create a PhoneGap build for npm!) This will get better over time with WebAssembly and N-API.

Support and Maintenance

The VS Code team is super active on GitHub and StackOverflow. GitHub is the right place to file bugs that you might discover in the API. The team is fairly responsive though you need to make the context extremely clear as you would with any helpful bug report.

You should have a GitHub repository for your extension and expect users to file issues directly on GitHub. Expect VS Code users to be proficient with tools and technology (some of them may have a lot more knowledge that you). Even though it’s a free endeavor, keeping humility and treating issue reporters as customers is the right behavior.

Tips on performance

VS Code has good performance because it is built with an architecture that isolates things like extensions that can cause slowness. If your extension does not return in time, your output might be ignored.

A few things that can help maintaining the performance of the editor include:

  • Using the official APIs: It is easy to ignore them and build your own. The "typings" file is wonderful and has documentation for all of the available APIs. A five minute search there can save a lot of time. If you need some files, it is better in most cases to request VS Code to open it in an editor than it is to read it from a disk (unless you are reading thousands of files and not leaving them open).
  • Expose options: Ensure there is a way for users to turn off capabilities that rely on heavy events, like every keystroke. It may not seem noticeable on your machines, but this is not the place for that. Developers maintain their dot files forever and they spend time going through options if there is an issue they to work around. There is no harm in exposing a way to gracefully degrade in case every keystroke is not possible.
  • Child process: Developer tools — especially on the command line — are extremely fast and well optimized. If you need something that involves a lot of files that could choke the JavaScript thread, call into a native tool and politely ask the users to install the dependency. Electron has limitations and we should accept them.

Wrapping up

VS Code is a very flexible application and provides almost all of its guts to extension developers. The workflow to develop and debug extensions is easy and every JavaScript developer should feel at home trying them out. The biggest advantage of developing extensions outside of improving our own lives is the possibility to see a huge TypeScript project in action. For that alone, I would recommend all users to definitely give it a go and share your extensions in the comments.

My extension is live on the VS Code marketplace and I would love to get your feedback on that as well. 🙂

The post What I learned by building my own VS Code extension appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

14:00

The Best CSS Gradient Generators for Designers

We’re taking a look at ten of the best CSS gradient generators that you can use to create a variety of gradient styles (and have the CSS output directly!). Coding a gradient by hand is no fun (especially once you get past a simple two-color gradient), so these tools are a must-have in your bookmark folder.

One of the trendiest elements in website design is using a gradient background or color overlay. A two-color linear gradient is the most popular variation of this trend. And while gradients might look fancy and complicated, they are actually quite easy to create and deploy… if you are using the right tool!

CoolHue

css gradient

CoolHue is an impressive collection of pre-made gradient combinations. From pinks and oranges to blues and greens, there’s everything from gradients with striking contrast to soft changes.

While you don’t have a lot of control over customizing the options with CoolHue, you’ll know right away if one of the color combos works for you because all of the options are right on the screen.

And with one click you can copy the CSS. (That’s it. Seriously!) If you want a download, each file is also available as a PNG.

CSS Gradient

css gradient

CSS Gradient has plenty of toggles and numerical options so that you can pick up to three colors and create a custom CSS gradient.

The toggles are easy to use and even someone with very little color experience can figure out how to create a usable gradient. Plus, there are some starter gradients in several different styles for inspiration.

One of the best features of this tool might be the high-level of control you have over every detail of the gradient you create. The code generates below on screen so you can see it all as you work.

UI Gradients

css gradient
Each gradient includes one-click to copy CSS or a downloadable jpg.

UI Gradients is a full-screen gradient generator. The benefit to seeing the color variations at full size is you can really visualize how they will look with your actual design projects.

UI Gradients includes plenty of pre-made gradient options. Browse the collection or search by color. Choice range from two to three colors with linear patterns.

Don’t like what you see? Users can also add gradient details to the gradients.json file in the project’s repo and submit a pull request.

CSSmatic

css gradient

CSSmatic is a simple gradient generator with easy-click buttons to help you customize color choices, stops, and rotation. Users can create linear or radial gradients.

Start with one of the simple presets – there are some nice monochromatic options here – and tweak until you get just the right gradient. Then copy the code and you are ready to go.

Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator

css gradient

Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator looks a lot like CSSmatic, and on-screen functions are similar, but it has some other functionality as well.

The tool includes a browser compatibility chart, multiple color formats, ability to import a gradient image and includes more than 135 custom presets. Users can also import gradients from existing CSS and make adjustments. (This can be a great option for tweaking a gradient on your site that just doesn’t quite look the way you want.)

ColorSpace

css gradient
Eeach CSS gradient comes with a unique URL that you can share with team members as you are working through color options.

ColorSpace is another full-screen gradient tool with a highly visual website.

It’s easy to use. Pick an orientation (linear or radial) for your gradient, add two colors using the buttons and color picker, then click generate.

While this tool is still in beta, it works well. And the code is right on the screen for you to copy into projects. Everything you need from the gradient visual to the CSS is right on the screen. And if you don’t like your color choices it’s easy to change and click generate again.

CSS Gradient Generator

css gradient

CSS Gradient Generator produces code using a simple graphical user interface. The CSS will work in all browsers that support CSS3.

The generator allows you to create linear and radial gradients, plus has the ability to import existing CSS gradient code to edit. It also comes with a few presets to jumpstart your gradient visualizations.

CSS3 Factory

css gradient

CSS3 Factory is a simple tool that works best if you know what colors you want to use for a CSS gradient.

This no bells-and-whistles option allows you to input color choices, set a direction for the colors and copy code. There’s a small preview window to see how gradients will look, but this tool doesn’t include any presets.

CSS-Gradient

css gradient

CSS-Gradient is a generator plus gradient tutorial all-in-one.

The tool includes boxes to pick two color choices in Hex or RGB, directional and linear or radial options. (So this tool is probably best if you have an idea of what colors you want to use.)

Copy the code and apply it to your design.

But what’s nifty about this tool is that there’s a ton of useful info below the scroll for users about gradients, how CSS gradients work and differences between linear and radial options. All of these resources are particularly nice for beginners.

GradientGenerator

css gradient

GradientGenerator is a great tool for sparking a little gradient inspiration. Start with one of the presets – there are plenty of varying options to choose from – and then add your own customizations for a unique gradient.

This tool is packed with customizations and even includes simple, advanced and expert settings to choose based on your skill level and color matching ability.

You can click to copy the CSS, download a PNG, snag a QR Code to test on your mobile device or generate a share link. This tool also has other pretty advanced configuration options that you can play with, including the type of code generated.

Conclusion

One of the biggest advantages to using a CSS gradient generator is that most of these tools show you what the gradient will look like on the screen while generating the corresponding code. You can visually tweak colors, overlaps, direction, opacity and more right on the screen.

Then all you have to do is copy the code and paste it into your CSS file to get started. A CSS gradient generator is a quick and easy way to create a website gradient that you’ll love and that’s easy to use. We hope one of the options in this list works great for you.

11:45

UX And HTML5: Let’s Help Users Fill In Your Mobile Form (Part 1)

UX And HTML5: Let’s Help Users Fill In Your Mobile Form (Part 1)

UX And HTML5: Let’s Help Users Fill In Your Mobile Form (Part 1)

Stéphanie Walter
2018-08-20T13:45:31+02:002018-08-20T18:56:09+00:00

Forms are one of the most basic primary interactions users will have with your websites (and mobile apps). They link people together and let them communicate. They let them comment on articles and explain to the author how they strongly disagree with what they’ve written. They let people chat directly on a dating app to meet “the one”. Whether for forums, product orders, online communities, account creation or online payment, forms are a big part of users’ online life.

It’s 2018, and we have more mobile than desktop users around the globe. Yet, we still treat those users as second-class citizens of the web. Everybody writes and speaks about user experience all the time. So, why, why, why are so many websites and products still doing it wrong. Why is their mobile user experience damaged for half of the world? Why is it still a pain, why is it still super-hard to book a flight and register an account in a mobile form today? Users expect better!

Recommended reading: World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web

This is the first part of a series of two articles. In this one, I will sum up some essential best practices to improve your mobile forms, including scannability and readability. I will guide you through label and input placement, size and optimization. We will see how to choose the right form element to reduce interaction costs. Finally, you will learn how to prevent and deal with errors on mobile forms.

In the second part, I will take a closer look at specific mobile capabilities and HTML5 form elements, and we will go beyond classic form elements to make unique and enjoyable web applications and websites.

Note: While most of the code enhancement in this article are web-related (because I don’t know Swift or Java), the usability best practices hold true for mobile applications.

Nope, we can't do any magic tricks, but we have articles, books and webinars featuring techniques we all can use to improve our work. Smashing Members get a seasoned selection of magic front-end tricks — e.g. live designing sessions and perf audits, too. Just sayin'! ;-)

Explore Smashing Wizardry →

Form Design 101: Prioritizing Scannability And Readability

“A form is the name, value, pairs, in a structure for storing data on a computer barfed out as labels and input fields to human being.” This is a direct quote from Luke Wroblewski at a conference. Like him, I believe that most form usability issues come from this tendency to serve the structure of the database to users.

Strong Information Architecture

To build better forms, you first need to take a few steps away from your database’s structure. Try to understand how users want to fill in forms. This is where doing some usability testing and user research on your forms becomes handy. User mental models is a UX concept that can help you with that. Nielsen Norman Group describes it as “what the user believes about the system at hand”. Ask your tester to think aloud and tell you how they would fill the form. Which steps do they expect? What come first? What comes next? This will give you a better idea of how to structure your form in a more user-friendly way.

Visually grouping fields that belong together will also help users fill a form. In the code, use the fieldset tag to group them programmatically. It will also help screen readers understand the hierarchy.

example of visually grouped forms Chunking information and grouping related pieces of information helps the human brain process this information in an easy, more readable way (Large preview)

If the form is long, don’t expose everything by default. Be smart about what you display. Use branching wisely to display only the fields that people need. In a checkout form, for example, don’t display all of the detailed fields for all of the shipment options. This will overwhelm the user. Display enough information to help them choose the right shipment option. Then, display only the details and fields related to that choice.

User attention spans get shorter with time: Ask for optional things at the end of the form. For instance, if your form is a customer-satisfaction survey, ask for demographic information at the end. Better yet, auto-fill them, if possible. Ask users only for what’s necessary.

Finally, plan ahead for localization: What will happen when your form gets translated? What will happen, say, for German? Will your design still work?

Label Placement And Input Optimization

Single-Column Layout Works Best

Due to the lack of space, you don’t get endless options for placing labels and fields on mobile screens:

  • Present fields in a single-column layout. There’s no room on mobile for multiple columns. Multi-columns forms are not a great idea on desktop either anyway.
  • In portrait mode, it’s better to place the label on top of the field so that users can see what’s in the field when they type.
portrait mode In portrait mode, it’s better to put the label on top of the field. (Large preview)
  • In landscape mode, the screen’s height is reduced. You might want to put labels on the left and inputs on the right. But test it to make sure it works.
landscape mode In landscape mode, you want to put labels on the left and inputs on the right. (Large preview)

For more on label placement, see Baymard Institute’s “Mobile Form Usability: Place Labels Above the Field”.

Labels Should Be Clear And Visible And Work Without Context

Remember that as soon as a field gets focus, the keyboard opens and will take at least one third of the screen’s area. On small mobile screens, users will also have to scroll to fill the form. This means that they will lose part of the context while filling the form. Plan accordingly:

  • Your labels should be clear, visible text that can be read and understood without context. User should be able to complete each label and field pair as a separate task, even if they lose context.
labels should be clear Just “Address” without context is more complicated to process that “Shipping Address”. (Large preview)
  • Avoid jargon, abbreviations and industry-specific language whenever you can.
  • Be consistent. If you use “customer” in a label once, stick with that word. Avoid using “clients” later because it might confuse users.
  • The font size should be big enough. Test your form on real devices as soon as possible, and adjust the size accordingly.
  • All-caps text can be hard to read for some users. You might want to avoid using all-caps text on labels.
  • The label copy should be short and scannable. If a field needs clarification, don’t put it in the label. Use a field description instead.
Avoid full caps, jargon and very long labels. Avoid full caps, jargon and very long labels. (Large preview)
Input Size Best Practice

If possible, the size of the input element should match the size of the expected content. This will help users quickly fill in the form and understand what’s expected.

Properly sized inputs help the user scan the form and understand what is expected in the fields. Properly sized inputs help the user scan the form and understand what is expected in the fields. (Large preview)

Using Masks To Avoid Splitting Inputs On Mobile

Don’t split inputs just for the sake of formatting. It’s especially annoying on mobile, where users can’t use the keyboard to navigate between fields. It requires extra taps just to go to the next field to fill in the form. You might be thinking, “But I’ll automagically put the focus on the next field when I get the required number of characters in that field”. That could work. But you will have taken control of the UI, which becomes unpredictable for the user. Also, it would be a pain if you automagically sent them to the next field and they needed to correct something in the last field. Finally, it’s more complicated to guess what’s mandatory with split inputs. So, let’s stop playing the “But what if” game and simply not split inputs.

Don’t split the phone number into many little inputs. Don’t split the phone number into many little inputs. (Large preview)

I get it: You still want to be able to format your user’s data in small pieces to help them fill in your fields. And you are perfectly right about that. To do so, you could use masks. Instead of splitting an input, just put a mask on top of it, to visually help the user fill it. Here is a video example of what a mask would look like to help users fill in a credit-card field:

Masks help to prevent errors by guiding users to the correct format. Avoid gradually revealing them — show the format directly. Also, avoid putting fake values in the mask. Users might think it’s already filled. That’s why I’ve replaced the numbers with a little “X” in my demo. Find what works best for your type of input.

Finally, remember that some data can vary between countries, and sometimes the format changes, too (phone numbers, for example). Plan accordingly.

Efficient Fields Descriptions

Displaying efficient field descriptions can make the difference between a seamless and a painful form experience.

What Can Descriptions Be Used For?

Descriptions can help users in so many ways. Here are a few examples.

  • What Exactly Are You Asking For?

    For whatever database-related reason, some shipment companies ask for "Address 1" and “Address 2” fields. This is highly confusing for users, but you might not have a choice here. Add description fields to help users understand what they need to put in each field.

    Inline descriptions help users understand why you need this information. Inline descriptions help users understand why you need this information. (Large preview)

    The same goes for acronyms and abbreviations. I know I said that you should avoid them, but sometimes you can’t. If you work on complex forms for a particular industry, for instance, they might have their own set of abbreviations. Any new user who needs to fill in the form might not be familiar (yet) with those abbreviations. Having a description available somewhere will help them.

  • Why Do You Need This Information?
    Users might be reluctant to give you personal information if they don’t understand why you need it and what you will do with it. But sometimes you still need to ask for such information for legal reasons (like date of birth for a website that sells alcohol). Using field descriptions here will help users understand why this kind of information is needed.

    On e-commerce websites, you might want to ask for the user’s phone number in case the delivery person needs to contact them. This is a legitimate reason. So, again, use descriptions to explain to e-commerce users why you need their phone number.

    Sometimes you need information for legal or practical reasons. Again, tell the user why. Sometimes you need information for legal or practical reasons. Again, tell the user why. (Large preview)
  • “Where Do I Find the Information?”
    If your users need to find certain information somewhere else in order to fill a form, tell them where to find it. I worked on a mobile app that lets user track their house. Users needed to pair the app to the monitoring device using a serial number. It’s not very easy to find this serial number on the device; it requires some instruction. We added a little ? button next to the serial number field. The button opens a modal that shows a picture and some indication to help the user understand where to find the serial number on the monitoring device. E-commerce websites do the same with promo codes: They give indicators that tell users where to find the codes. Users can tap to open a pop-up in which they can find extra information to help them fill in the field Users can tap on the link (left) or the question mark (right) to open a popup where they can find extra information to help them fill in the field. (Large preview)
  • “How Should I Format The Information?”
    Some fields need a particular format. In this case, use descriptions to let users know the formatting rules up front. Here are a few examples:
    • Phone number: do I need to put the international dialing code (+xx) in front of the field?
    • Is there a maximum length? Twitter on mobile does a good job with that one.
    • When dealing with monetary amounts, is the format with comma (like 10,000) or a space (like 10 000)?
    • What format do you expect for dates? I’ll let you check on Wikipedia what a nightmare that is. The difference between DD MM YY and MM DD YY can cause a *lot* of trouble to users when booking online.
    Note that a lot of those formatting issues can be solved by input masks. We will come to that later in the article (or you can jump right in if you are impatient). In the old 180-character days, Twitter used to tell you exactly how many characters you had left. Also, the date format varies from one country to another, so you might want to explain what to expect. In the old 180-character days, Twitter used to tell you exactly how many characters you had left. Also, the date format varies from one country to another, so you might want to explain what to expect. (Large preview)
How To Display Descriptions

In the examples, above, we saw a few ways to display field descriptions. Here is a summary of what to do:

  • Inline descriptions should be directly visible and displayed next to the field.
  • If you need more in-depth descriptions with heavy content, you can use tooltips or modals. Tooltips are generally triggered on hover on desktop and on tap on mobile. The same goes for the modals: Open it when the user taps the help icon or “see more” link, for instance.

Be Careful With Placeholders

I get it: it’s tempting to remove fields on mobile to gain space and use placeholders instead. We’ve all gone down that road. But please don’t. The HML5 specification is clear about this: “The placeholder attribute represents a short hint (a word or short phrase) intended to aid the user with data entry”. And here is why:

  • The placeholder disappears when the user starts typing. The user must then rely on short-term memory to remember what they are supposed to put in the field. If they can’t, they will need to empty the field to see the indication.
  • It’s hard for users to double-check fields before submitting because the fields no longer have any label indications.
  • It’s hard to recover from errors once a field has been submitted because, again, there’s no label to help the user.
Placeholders rely on short-term memory Placeholders rely on short-term memory. They make forms hard to check before submission. And recovering from errors is hard, especially when error messages don’t help much. (Large preview)

Even if you use placeholders with labels, you might still have some issues. It’s hard to tell the difference between a filled field and a field with a placeholder. I’m a UX designer who writes about mobile form design and even I got tricked last week by one of those. If it happens to me, it will happen to your users — trust me on that one. Finally, most placeholders have light-gray text, so you might have some contrast issues as well.

It’s easy to mistake some form fields for being filled in It’s easy to mistake some of these fields for being filled in. The right screenshot is something I’ve seen online. I’ll let you guess what is filled in and what is not. (Large preview)

If you want to go deeper in this topic, there’s a great article named “Placeholder Attribute Is Not A Label, and also Joshua Winn and FeedbackGuru go into detail on why this is a bad idea. Nielsen Norman Group also wrote a piece on the topic, named “Placeholders in Form Fields Are Harmful.”

Placeholders are not mandatory in HTML5. From a usability point of view, you most certainly don’t need a placeholder in every field of your form. But with the massive adoption of Bootstrap and other frameworks, it looks like a lot of people just copy and paste components. Those components have placeholders, so I guess people feel kind of obligated to add something to the placeholder in the code? If your form’s placeholders look like “Please fill your — label — here”, you’re doing it wrong.

form example I’m not joking: I’ve actually seen forms with 12 fields, with each placeholder less useful than the last. (Large preview)

Labels inside fields could, nevertheless, work well for short forms in which fields are predictable. Login forms are a good candidate for this. But please don’t use the HTML5 placeholder to code this. Use a real label in the code and move it around with CSS and JavaScript.

Labels inside fields can work on really short forms, like login forms, where users don’t have a lot of information to remember. Labels inside fields can work on really short forms, like login forms, where users don’t have a lot of information to remember. (Large preview)

Since the success of Android’s material design, a pattern has started to emerge: the floating label. This label is inside the field when the field is not filled in, so it takes a bit less vertical space on mobile. When users start interacting with the field, the label moves above the field.

This looks like an interesting way to gain some space, without running into the “placeholders in place of labels” issues cited above. Nevertheless, it does not solve the problem of users possibly mistaking a placeholder for filled-in content.

The floating label, even if not perfect, is an interesting alternative to gaining vertical space on the screen. The floating label, even if not perfect, is an interesting alternative to gaining vertical space on the screen. (Large preview)

Interaction Cost Reduction For Successful Forms

Reducing the interaction cost (i.e. the number of taps, swipes, etc.) of users achieving their task will help you build a seamless form experience. There are different techniques to achieve that. Let’s look at a few of them in detail.

A Magic Study On The Internet Told Me To Reduce The Number Of Fields

More fields mean fewer conversions, right? You might have encountered the “we reduced our subscription form from 11 to 4 fields, and it drove up conversions by 160%” study. It’s a classic. And if you look at their contact form, it kind of makes sense. Why would users want to fill in 11 fields just to contact the company? You can’t ask such a big commitment of people who barely know you, right?

Start by asking only for useful information. Why do you need a person’s gender to create an account for them? Why do you have two lines for the address if your subscription form is for an online service?

Ask only for the information you need. And then ask for the information in context. If you have an e-commerce website, users might be more inclined to give you their address in the shipping section of the checkout process than when they register. It will make your e-commerce registration form so much easier to fill on mobile!

Ask only for the information you need Ask for the user’s address in the shipping section of the checkout, not when they register. (Large preview)

Also, don’t blindly trust every statistic and study you find on the Internet. Remember the 11-fields-to-4 study? Well another more recent study showed that by reducing fields from 9 to 6, conversions dropped by 14%. Shocking, isn’t it? Why? Well, they removed the most engaging fields. Long story short, they then went back to 9 fields, put the most important on the top, and voilà, conversions increased by 19.21%.

The bottom line is that while these studies are interesting, those websites are not your website. Don’t blindly trust the first study you find on the Internet.

So, what can you do? Test. Test. And test!

  • Do some user testing to see the time to completion of your mobile form.
  • Measure drop outs.
  • Measure problems with certain fields.
  • Measure the frustration associated with certain fields. How willing are users to give that information? How personal is that information?

Optimizing Touch Interactions

Making Controls Touch-Friendly

If your fields are too small or hard to reach, users will make errors and will need extra interactions to achieve their goals. Remember Fitt’s law? You could apply it to mobile design as well: Make your labels, fields and form controls easy to tap by increasing the touch target size. For labels on the web, a little more padding can increase the touchable area. Sometimes you will also need to add some margins between elements to avoid missed taps.

Also, don’t forget to link labels with their components by pairing for and ID values. That way, if the user misses a tap on the label, the corresponding field will still get focus.

On mobile, respect mobile touch-optimized best practices, and make sure inputs are big enough to be easily tappable. On mobile, respect mobile touch-optimized best practices, and make sure inputs are big enough to be easily tappable. (Large preview)

Steven Hoober conducted some user research on touch areas. You’ll find a summary in “Designing for Touch”. Based on what he discovered, he built a little plastic ruler tool: the mobile touch template. The tool could help you make sure your touch areas are big enough for mobile forms and more generally for mobile design.

Image from Steven Hoober Image from Steven Hoober’s mobile touch template. (Large preview)

To learn more about designing for touch you can read the following:

Providing Feedback

Mobile users don’t have a mouse (no kidding), so they don’t get the “click” feedback that desktop users get when hitting a button. Mobile form users need clear feedback when interacting with elements:

  • Provide a focus state for the form field that the user is interacting with.
  • Provide visual feedback when the user interacts with a button.

I’m not a big fan of material design’s ripple effect on buttons. But I must admit that the animations on Android provide clear feedback when the user interacts with a button.

Honor The Next And Previous Button Order

Finally, honor the next and previous buttons on mobile keyboards. Users can use them to quickly navigate fields. The tabindex order should match the visual order of fields and components.

iOS has small arrows on the keyboard to go from one field to another. iOS has small arrows on the keyboard to go from one field to another. (Large preview)

Avoid Dropdowns On Mobile If Possible

Dropdowns (the HTML select element) on the web require a lot of tabs and interactions. Therefore, as Luke Wroblewski said, they should be the UI of last resort. Many other UI components work better than dropdowns in many situations.

Segment controls and radio buttons are good alternatives to dropdowns if you have between two and four options. Why hide the options under a dropdown when you can show them all directly on one screen? Note that, like radio buttons, segment controls are mutually exclusive.

Example of segment controls in the iOnic library. Example of segment controls in the iOnic library. (Large preview)

A country list is a good candidate for a component. A dropdown of over a hundred countries is an interaction nightmare on mobile. It’s OK if you are looking for Afghanistan (at the beginning of the list) or Zimbabwe (the end of the list). If you’re looking for Luxembourg, you will end up in a game of scrolling to reach the middle of the list, going too far to the letter M, trying to come back to L, and so on.

Long dropdowns can be replaced by predictive text input fields. When the user starts typing L, the interface would propose nine countries. If they add a U — voilà! — Luxembourg it is. Four interactions instead of two, versus as many as six or seven scrolling interactions with the dropdown.

Long dropdowns are a nightmare when you’re searching for France. Predictive fields work better. Long dropdowns are a nightmare when you’re searching for France. Predictive fields work better. (Large preview)

If you need users to pick a date, forget about splitting it into a day, month and year dropdown like people are used to doing on paper forms. Replace multiple date dropdowns with a date picker. The HTML5 input type=date works in most cases. But you might have some special needs and end up building your own date picker in JavaScript, especially if you are in the booking business (hotels, cars, flights).

A double date-picker built in JavaScript makes it easy to pick arrival and departure dates with a minimum of interaction A double date-picker built in JavaScript makes it easy to pick arrival and departure dates with a minimum of interaction (Large preview)

In his article “Mobile DropDowns Revisited”, Klaus Schaefers explains how using a date-picker for arrival and departure dates made interactions 60% faster.

A date-picker, using HTML5 or JavaScript, instead of dropdowns, via Mobile DropDowns Revisited A date-picker, using HTML5 or JavaScript, instead of dropdowns, via Mobile DropDowns Revisited. (Large preview)

Let’s stick with the booking business. Suppose the user needs to add multiple travellers to their itinerary. You can **replace the dropdown *with a* stepper** to select the number of passengers. A stepper is a control that allows the user to increase and decrease values simply by tapping on + and - buttons. That tends to be faster when fewer than six persons have to be added. It’s also more intuitive. Below is an example of a stepper used in the Android-native Airbnb app to select guests, and on the mobile-optimized website of Kayak to add passengers.

A stepper is used in the Android-native Airbnb app to select guests and on the mobile-optimized website of Kayak to add passengers. A stepper is used in the Android-native Airbnb app to select guests and on the mobile-optimized website of Kayak to add passengers. (Large preview)

A final alternative to dropdowns is the list view. The options would be listed in a specific subview, as radio buttons, for instance. This is mostly how Android settings work.

In our monitoring app, when the user clicks on “notification type 1”, it opens a list view with the options. In our monitoring app, when the user clicks on “notification type 1”, it opens a list view with the options. (Large preview)

Getting Smart With Auto-Completion

If you want to decrease the interaction cost of your form, be smart. Don’t ask for information that you can auto-detect or guess based on other information users have given you. Autocomplete and prefill as much as you can.

Places and Addresses

If the user searches for a place or needs to enter an address, you can offer auto-completion to help them. As they type, an API would fill in the rest of the address for them. This also reduces errors.

You could use:

In the Algolia Place demo, as the user types, it offers suggestions and can autocomplete the field.

In France and many other countries, you can guess the city based on the area code. So, if a French user enters an area code, you could automatically auto-complete or at least propose the city. My country, Luxembourg, is small (don’t make fun of me). My area code is linked to my street. So, if I enter my area code, the form should even be able to suggest my street.

Credit Cards

Another area where auto-detection is easy is credit cards. You don’t need to ask the user what type of credit card they have. You can auto-detect this based on the initial numbers they enter. There’s even a library that can do the job for you.


A demo of the payment script that detects credit card type.
Using HTML5 Autocompletion (Autofill)

The HTML autocomplete attribute can prefill fields based on the user’s earlier inputs. This attribute has an on and off state. Some smart people have started working on a specification to make this more powerful and to extend the autocomplete attribute for form fields. The WHATWG also has an interesting list.

Chrome and other mobile browsers already support some of the extended values for credit cards and names. This means that users can prefill forms with their name and credit card data that they use on other websites.

Helping users check out faster with AutofillHelp users check out faster with Autofill (Source: Google Developers) (Large preview)

In short, when you must choose between different systems, count the number of interactions each is going to require.

Mistakes Happen: Handling Errors In Mobile Forms

The last step on our journey towards better mobile forms is handling errors and mistakes. We can try to reduce mistakes to ease the user’s cognitive load. We can also help them recover from errors, because no matter how great your form design is, mistakes happen.

Avoiding Errors While Filling The Forms

“Prevention is better than a cure,” my mother used to say. That’s also true of form design: Preventing errors will improve your mobile form’s experience.

Explicit Format Limitation

“Be conservative in what you do. Be liberal in what you accept from others.” This robustness principle can be applied to form fields as well. If possible, let the user enter data in any format.

If you think you need to limit what a user can enter in the field, start by asking yourself “why”. In the user experience field, we have a technique called “the three whys”. If the answer is “because blah blah database”, maybe it’s time to change things. For instance, why do you refuse special characters like é, à and ö in the user name field? I wrote an article explaining how rude forms are to me when I try to enter “Stéphanie” as a user name. I’m still trying to figure out a good reason for that (apart from database reasons).

If you have a good reason to require a specific format from users, state this up front. You can use HTML5 placeholders to give users a hint about what the data should look like, but again, be careful with those. You could also use all of the field description techniques explained at the beginning of this article. Finally, input masks can guide users towards the right format.

Marking Mandatory Fields (And Optional Ones)

Don’t wait for users to submit a half-completed form to tell them about required fields. If a field is mandatory, users should know about it. Marking mandatory fields with an asterix (*) and a legend has become a standard pattern for forms. The good part is that it does not take much space. The problem is that it has no semantic value, so it can cause accessibility issues if poorly coded and if you rely on people’s habits with form interaction.

You could instead explicitly mark both mandatory and optional fields with the words “required” (or “mandatory”) and “optional”. Both Baymard Institute and Luke Wroblewski agree on that. This avoids ambiguity with long forms on mobile, such as when using a scroller, proceeding with something else, then coming back and not remembering if mandatory fields were marked with an asterisk or something else.

A form with both mandatory and optional fields marked. A form with both mandatory and optional fields marked. (Large preview)

Eventually, the decision on how to mark those fields will depend on the design and length of the field and on the context. The best way to know whether you’ve made the right decision is, again, to test the form.

Sensible Defaults

Be careful about default selected options in forms. When I applied for my previous job, there was an information form. The marital status was optional. They made the first element in the dropdown, “divorced”, the default field. So, I could either not answer (because it was an optional field) and let the system believe that I was divorced, or correct this and disclose my actual marital status even if I did not want to.

Also, be careful about gender. Again, have an option for people who don’t want to disclose it; make clear why you’re asking for their gender; better yet, ask for pronouns, or don’t ask if you don’t really need to. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend “Designing Forms for Gender Diversity and Inclusion.” And if the gender is optional, again, don’t auto-check the first choice, otherwise people won’t be able to uncheck that radio button and choose not to answer.

Should I leave the default and lie, or put the right information even I don’t want to? Should I leave the default and lie, or put the right information even I don’t want to? (Large preview)

Smart defaults, on the other hand, can help users avoid mistakes when filling a form. Unless you’re in a Dr. Who episode, you’re not supposed to book a hotel in the past. Booking.com understands that. When you open the date-picker on the website, the default date is set to the current date and you can’t select a date in the past. When you select a return date, the default is the day after the departure date.

Booking.com’s smart defaults help users avoid mistakes. You can’t search in the past or before your arrival date. Booking.com’s smart defaults help users avoid mistakes. You can’t search in the past or before your arrival date. (Large preview)
Less Painful Password Experience

I’ve written about password-less authentication, but you can’t always use those techniques. Users will eventually have to create a password and enter it in a mobile form. And most of the time, that experience sucks. Here are a few ideas on how to make it better and help users avoid mistakes.

  • When Creating An Account
    I won’t get into the details of what kind of passwords you should require and how many characters they should be composed of — plenty of articles on that topic are on the web — just make up your mind about your password criteria. When users create an account, be proactive, not reactive. For the love of Cthulhu, don’t let people guess. Tell users your password criteria up front.

    A lot of websites now show you a gauge for password strength telling you in real time what is missing. This is an interesting and excellent pattern. KLM uses it in its sign-in form: KLM sign-in form example KLM sign-in form example (Large preview) But there are still some big problems with this design.
  1. They don’t tell users their password criteria up front. Users who want to generate a password (using a password manager, for instance) must first guess that they need to first interact with the field in other to see the password criteria.
  2. They limit the password’s length to 12 characters, but they never tell users how many characters are left. Sure, let’s add "counting the dots" to the cognitive load of building a password with so many criteria. After 12 characters, you can keep on typing on the keyboard, and nothing will happen.
  3. What happens if, like me, you reached the 12-character limit but haven’t met all of the criteria? Well, you would just have to delete the entire password and start over again.
  4. Finally, you must enter the password twice. How is a user supposed to remember and retype the password that they just created based on those criteria while counting the dots?
  5. Back to 1, generating a password with a password manager.

If KLM wanted to make this form better, it could provide a mask/unmask option for the password. Doing so, it would not need to ask for the same password twice. Users could visually check that the password they typed is the one they want.


TransferWise doesn’t solve my first problem in the list, but at least I can unmask while typing.
  • When Logging In
    In a login form, a mask/unmask password option would tremendously improve the user experience.
    A button to show and hide the password in a form.

    Amazon has an interesting history of iterating on passwords in its login form. It used to have a version in which you could not see the password. The next iteration allowed users to reveal it. Then, the password was revealed by default, and you could hide it. This is what is looked like in 2015:

    Showing Passwords on Log-In Screens by Luke Wroblewski (2015) Showing Passwords on Log-In Screens, Luke Wroblewski, 2015 (Large preview)

    Amazon tested the last version, and 60% people got suspicious. So, they replaced the “hide password” unchecked checkbox with a “show password” checked box. This would show the password in smaller characters, under the field, while the user typed. This is what it looks like at the time of writing this article:

    Amazon’s show and hide password functionality Amazon’s show and hide password functionality (Large preview)

    As you can see, there’s always room for improvement.

Inline Validation

If you are familiar with usability principles, you might know the Gestalt law of proximity. On mobile, avoid the summary of errors at the top of the page, with no contextual information, after the user has tapped the submit button.

Instead, error messages should be located close to the errors themselves.

An example of inline validation An example of inline validation (Large preview)
Real-Time Validation

You also don’t need to wait until users hit the submit button. You can validate fields and display feedback while the user is filling them in.

A few tips:

  • As mentioned earlier, password fields would benefit from real-time validation and feedback on each keystroke.
  • You might also want to validate user names in real time when accounts are being created, to make sure they’re available. Twitter does a good job of that.
  • Don’t validate every keystroke. Wait until the user has finished typing. (Use JavaScript blur for web forms, or just wait a few seconds to detect inactivity.)

Note: *Mihael Konjević has written a nice article on “Inline Validation in Forms: Designing the Experience.” He explains the concept of “reward early, punish late.”*

“If the user is entering the data in the field that was in a valid state, perform the validation after the data entry.”
“If the user is entering the data in the field that was in an invalid state, perform the validation during the data entry.”

Example from Keechma based on the article.

Color Matters

I’m not saying that color matters just because of my current ginger, pink and purple hair color. Color really matters in form design.

There are some conventions on the web that you don’t want to break. Non-colorblind users know that red is for errors, yellow is for warnings, and green is almost always for confirmation or success. It’s best to stick with these three colors. Red can make people anxious, though. The user might think they’ve made a really serious mistake. Using orange or yellow for error messages could cause less panic. The problem with yellow and orange is that it’s hard to find colorblind-friendly hues of them.

Colors have different connotations across countries and cultures. Be careful with them. Colors have different connotations across countries and cultures. Be careful with them. (Large preview)

Speaking of colorblindness: Color should not be the only way to convey an error message. This is an accessibility criterion.

In the example below on the left, the field with an error is in orange, and the field that has been corrected has turned green. I used a colorblind testing tool to take the screenshot in the middle: You can’t distinguish between the default gray border and the green one anymore. Adding some icons in the last screenshot ensures that the error messages are conveyed to colorblind people.

Color should not be the only way to convey error messages. The colorblind simulation in the middle shows that the green border cannot be seen by a colorblind person. Color should not be the only way to convey error messages. The colorblind simulation in the middle shows that the green border cannot be seen by a colorblind person. (Large preview)

Recovering From Errors: Writing User-Friendly Error Messages

At this point, we’ve done everything we can to help users fill our forms and avoid errors. But sometimes, despite our best effort, mistakes happen. It’s time to figure out how to help users recover from those mistakes.

First, remember: Don’t hijack control of the system. If a problem isn’t critical, the user should be able to continue interacting with as much of the rest of the interface as possible. Avoid those JavaScript alert error message and modals that blocks users whenever possible. Also, if your form needs some permission, request it in the flow of use. If permission is not granted, do not consider this an error because it is not. Be careful about the copy you use here.

You’re Not A Robot, And Neither Are Your Users

Robots are cool, I know. But you’re not a robot, and neither are your users. Yet so many error messages are still so poorly written. Here are a few tips when it comes to human-friendly error messages:

  • Never show a raw error message, like “An error of type 2393 has occurred. Server could not complete the operation.” Instead, explain what happened in human language and why it happened.
  • Never show a dead-end error message, like “An error has occurred.” Instead suggest ways to recover from the error. Write actionable copy.
  • Never show a vague error message, like “A server with the specified hostname could not be found”, with a “Try again” button. Instead, make error messages informative and consistent. Please don’t sound like a robot.
  • Don’t assume that people know the context of a message. Your users are not tech-savvy geeks. Instead, explain to them in plain language, without technical jargon, how to recover from this error.
Examples of non-human-friendly error messages. Eek! Examples of non-human-friendly error messages. Eek! (Large preview)
Beware The Language You Use In Messages

Whatever you write, avoid making people feel stupid about a mistake. If possible, leave out negative words; they tend to scare people and make them even more anxious. Use a courteous, positive, affirming tone instead.

Don’t blame users for mistakes; blame the system instead. The system won’t hold a grudge, I promise. Shift the user’s attention to how the system could not process the action, and explain to them how to find a solution.

A little trick is to read your own message out loud. It will help you hear whether it works or is too harsh or too casual, etc.

You could also get creative with error messages and incorporate imagery and humour to make them less threatening. This will really depend on your brand’s identity and tone, though.

To help you write better error message, I suggest you read the following:

Time To Submit The Form

The user has filled in the form, there are no more errors, and everything looks good. Finally, it’s time to submit the form!

The first rule is, don’t mask the submit button. Seriously! I wonder what twisted mind came up with this idea, but I’ve seen it in some forms. The submit button would be displayed only once all required fields were filled in without any errors. It’s disturbing for the user to wonder whether something is wrong or the form’s button has not loaded or the website is broken and so on.

If you don’t want users to be able to hit the submit button if there’s missing mandatory fields or there are validation errors, use the disabled HTML attribute on the submit input. You will need to re-enable the button using JavaScript once the form is valid and ready for submission.

Do not hide the submit button. Instead, deactivate it until users have filled in the required information. Do not hide the submit button. Instead, deactivate it until users have filled in the required information. (Large preview)

If you have a primary and secondary call to action, use color, size and styling to show the hierarchy.

Example of primary and secondary actions Example of primary and secondary actions (Large preview)

If are wondering whether the confirmation button should come before or after the cancellation button, so am I (and a lot of other people). If you are building a native app, stick to the OS guidelines. It’s become particularly fun since Android changed the button positions in its fourth version. On the web, it’s more complicated because there are no real guidelines. Regardless of the OS, here are some general guidelines for mobile-optimized submit buttons:

  • Give the call to action descriptive, actionable verbs.
  • Provide visual feedback when the user taps it.
  • If you have two buttons, make the primary action stand out.
  • Unless you’re working on a very specific back-office enterprise form (in which case, you’ll have a lot of challenges optimizing for mobile), avoid a reset button. Users might confuse it with the submit button and will lose all of their data by accident.

Conclusion

In this first part, I’ve discussed a lot of little techniques to take your form to the next level and help users fill it in. Some of these general guidelines and mobile best practices might not work 100% of the time — that’s the catch with best practices. So, always test your forms on real users and real devices, and adapt the guidelines to your users’ specific needs and experience.

Also, do some regression and automated functional testing — again, on real devices. Chrome’s mobile emulator won’t be enough to test touch-optimized forms. I say this because I had launched an e-commerce website with a search form that didn’t work on mobile. We only did automated testing using an emulator. Here is what happened. The search form was hidden under a search icon. You could tap on the button, which opened a box with the search field. It worked by emulating a mouse hover as a touch event. We tested tapping on the button, and it opened the box. Nobody tried to launch a search. So, nobody (not even the client) saw that the search field disappeared as soon as users tried to interact with it. What happened? When the input element got focus, the button lost the hover state, so it closed the box with the field. Automated testing was not able to catch this because the input was not losing focus. So, we launched an e-commerce website without search functionality on mobile. Not a super experience.

In the second part of this series, we will see more advanced mobile-specific techniques. We will see how to use cool HTML5 features to format fields and how to use mobile capabilities to take the mobile user experience to the next level.

Smashing Editorial(lf, ra, al, il)
09:36
5 Best Men's Fashion Trends for 2018
08:00

5 Tips for Making Better Video

Everywhere you look, there’s video. From social media sites to full-scale web projects, a video can be an integral part of today’s online user experience. We have five tips to help you make any web video better, and improve the quality of what you publish.

While some projects require the time commitment of a professional production, other uses are perfectly suitable for DIY. How can you create better video to use in web projects yourself, without a full crew or large investment?

1. Invest in Your Mic

Have you ever started to watch a compelling video only to find that the sound quality was poor or difficult to hear? Audio is a key component of video. If you plan to create video for online projects, invest in a good microphone now.

The two main options for microphones include a lavaliere (clip-on style) and standard “mounted” mic.:

  • A lavaliere is ideal for videos that include one speaker that you want to feature and hear clearly.
  • ”Mounted” microphone often plug into the audio or lightning port (on iPhones) and attach to the phone with a clip. This style of microphone is best for multiple speakers or catching more natural sounds.

The nice thing is that both styles of microphone are fairly affordable with options under $200. When shopping for a microphone, look for one that works for the type of video you plan to capture. Also, check for mobile device compatibility (if that’s a thing you need), since many of the devices work based on ports for specific types of devices.

2. Simple is Key

When it comes to most online video, simple visuals are better. A common problem is that new video-makers often go a little overboard with visual effects and fancy animated graphics. Resist that temptation.

Stick to a simple video that focuses on a strong visual element and composition. Chances are that you might need some titles or transitions, opt for smooth cut-ins and outs that the user hardly notices. Use black or white text on the screen to identify subjects of the video (if necessary).

Avoid multiple transition options, animations on- and off- the screen and highly animated effects. These can all detract from the message of the video.

3. Tell a Story

You might have heard the humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Your video has to tell a story quickly so that users get hooked and stick with the content.

The best way to keep users is to tell a great story. Every good story has five essential elements:

  • Characters: Who is the story about? (This is likely the subject of the video.)
  • Setting: Where does the story take place? (Video will often show this.)
  • Plot: Get to the meat of what happened quickly.
  • Conflict: What makes this story interesting or important.
  • Resolution: How happened? How did the story end?

Now here’s the catch: You need to hook the viewer in just a couple of seconds to get them engaged and stick with the video story until the end. So you better make it interesting!

4. Use Quality Royalty Free Music

When it comes down to it, most web video needs a little audio help. From videos that have no (or unusable) sound to adding a background track, quality music can help elevate the impression users have of your video.

Just like with visual content, it is a good idea to layer audio content as well. Not only is someone speaking in a video but quality background music is often softly playing behind the speaker with a volume that increases as the speaking stops.

It works just like layering visual elements in the depth of field keeps things interesting and keeps users engaged with the content.

And just like with visual content, there’s also a place to find great high-quality “stock” music to use in video projects. Motion Array includes more than 23,000 royalty-free music clips for use in all types of projects.

Search by type of music, ability to loop sound and mood. Each of the clips features high-quality sound and musical composition that can add a little something special to video projects, separating your videos from everything else out there.

Preview any sound clip right from the website and download clips. Motion Array includes plenty of free music clips to choose from. Browse the extensive collection of high quality music and download your favorites today.

5. Always Transcribe + Use Closed Captions

Remember that not everyone can hear the content in your video. Adding a transcription or closed captioning will allow a wider audience to access the content. (Just think of how many people are watching videos on Facebook at work… sans sound.) There are other benefits as well.

Adding closed captioning helps with accessibility; video should be just as engaging for hearing-impaired users, too. Adding transcription can boost search engine optimization rankings on websites (search crawlers can’t read video yet).

And before you object, it isn’t difficult to add transcriptions and closed captioning to videos. You can do it right in YouTube with manual or automatic captioning.

Conclusion

Creating a great video for your website is more than just turning the camera on and hoping for the best. You’ll want to create a plan, take the video and then do a little fine tuning so that you have a final product that you can be proud of.

While many people think about visual composition, the audio composition is important as well. Make sure to use a good microphone to capture natural sounds and speech, keep the visuals simple, tell a great story, use quality music and use transcription and closed captioning for the best overall video user experience.

August 17 2018

20:20

Firefox Multi-Account Containers

It's an extension:

Each Container stores cookies separately, so you can log into the same site with different accounts and online trackers can’t easily connect the browsing.

A great idea for a feature if you ask me. For example, I have two Buffer accounts and my solution is to use different browsers entirely to stay logged into both of them. I know plenty of folks that prefer the browser version of apps like Notion, Front, and Twitter, and it's cool to have a way to log into the same site with multiple accounts if you need to — and without weird trickery.

This is browsers competing on UI/UX features rather than web platform features, which is a good thing. Relevant: Opera Neon and Refresh.

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The post Firefox Multi-Account Containers appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

17:00
The Fascinating History of the Apple Logo
15:34
10 WordPress tools & services you need to try (You’re welcome!)
14:42

25 Free Material Design Code Snippets

Here are 25 free Material design code snippets you can use to build fantastic Material-style websites and web apps. The items we gathered in the list below contains everything from basic color schemes and grid setups to more detailed components like responsive cards, flip cards, news and blog cards, profile cards, switches, container elements, forms, icons, buttons with animations, dropdown menus and carousels.

Check out these code snippets and start building your Material design-inspired website or web app today!

Material Design – Responsive Card

These responsive cards code snippets follow all the Google’s Material Design principles. You can interact with the hamburger menu to initiate a sleek animation where the image is shrunk and the details are displayed. Use it for the team pages or for portfolios. 

1 Material Design – Responsive Card

Google Now Inspired Flip Cards

These flip cards code snippets were inspired by the Google Now personal assistant app design. It has a long drop-shadow effect and they flip on click and touch. 

2 Google Now Inspired Flip Cards Free Material Design Code Snippets

Parallax Depth Cards

These parallax depth cards were designed by Andy Merskin. These photo cards have cool hover effects that make them change their perspective and add a parallax scrolling effect tied to the user’s cursor position. That’s when the text content is revealed. It looks amazing! 

3 Parallax Depth Cards Free Material Design Code Snippets

Product Card

Check out this product card code snippet which is perfect for listing your products in a simple, clean way. The hover action reveals sizing and color information. 

4 Product Card Free Material Design Code Snippets

Article News Card

These article news cards code snippets are perfect to be used on a magazine or news website, as well as a blog. The design is organized with a category, date/time, comments, headlines and photo. 

5 Article News Card

Blog Cards

This is another great code snippet for blog cards in a horizontal format. It was designed by Chyno Deluxe. The photos are angled, hovering reveals even more content and the design is overall pretty amazing! 

6 Blog Cards

Material Design: Profile Card

Check out this profile card that follows the design principles of Material design. It has both horizontal and vertical layouts and the design is simple, clean and straightforward. 

7 Material Design- Profile Card

News Cards – CSS only

These news cards are available in CSS only. They have a functional, beautiful design with no JavaScript required. It can be used for blog posts, portfolio items, and more. 

8 News Cards – CSS only

Flexbox Cards

Here are some flexbox cards code snippets you can use. Their layout is adaptable to headlines of different sizes. It is made with pure CSS, so it’s easy to implement on your site. 

9 Flexbox Cards

Recipe Card

If you have a food-related site or blog, this Recipe Card code snippet may be what you need. It has a simple yet effective layout with a featured image, all the needed details for a recipe card and an overall beautiful design. 

10 Recipe Card

Demo Web app UI

Check out this cute Muppets-inspired demo web app UI that follow’s the Material design trend. It contains a lot of useful code snippets.

11 Demo Web app UI

Material On/Off Switches

For a simpler code snippet to practice with have a look at these toggle switches. They also follow the material design trend with flat colors and a simple sliding animation.

12 Material On:Off Switches

Container Elements

Here are some container elements code snippets that offer a Material response. The users’ clicks are registered and recorded with a micro interaction.

13 Container Elements

Action Button Animation

This is an action button animation available as a free code snippet. It changes the dot navigation icon into a small X icon you can link to a drop-down nav or a modal window. Just note this requires a good amount of customization to get it working with other features.

14 Action Button Animation Free Material Design Code Snippets

Step-By-Step Form UI

Here is a Material form user interface that comes as a free code snippet. It has a step by step process which you can use in modern web forms.

15 Step-By-Step Form UI

Custom Tabs

If you need a custom tabs code snippet, this is it. It is basic and perfect for Material design lovers. Switch it through and experience the animations it comes with. 

16 Custom Tabs

Material Input Form

This is a Material design input form with floating input labels. Click on the link above to observe the animations. 

17 Material Input Form

Angular Material Dashboard

This Angular Material design dashboard was created by Ajay Viswanathan from scratch. Get the code snippets and learn how to implement it in your own projects. 

18 Angular Material Dashboard

Material Progress Bar

Here is a Material design progress bar with a simple design. Use the code snippets if you need to add a material-style progress loading bar into your website. 

19 Material Progress Bar

Materialize.css

Materialize.css is a free library you can use for your projects which are based on Material design. Use this as a starting point for building Material-style websites. It contains useful code snippets for everything you may think of!

20 Materialize

MUI.CSS

This is another great library to start your Material design projects with. MUI is lightweight and can be used as a CSS framework for UI designs.

21 MUI

Material Bootstrap

Material Bootstrap offers you a bunch of useful code snippets for developing Bootstrap projects based on the Material design trend. It is based on the Bootstrap v4 update.

22 Material Bootstrap

Material Foundation

Check out this useful Material design library. It comes with all the elements you may think of and a comprehensive documentation page. 

23 Material Foundation

Material-UI

Material UI framework is a set of React components you can use if you want to build Material  design web apps.

24 Material-UI

LumX

LumX is based on the Angular framework and mimics the Material design language. It gets frequent updates and contains plenty of code snippets you can use. 

25 LumX

The post 25 Free Material Design Code Snippets appeared first on Line25.

14:14

Seriously, though. What is a progressive web app?

Amberley Romo read a ton about PWAs in order to form her own solid understanding.

“Progressive web app” (PWA) is both a general term for a new philosophy toward building websites and a specific term with an established set of three explicit, testable, baseline requirements.

As a general term, the PWA approach is characterized by striving to satisfy the following set of attributes:

  1. Responsive
  2. Connectivity independent
  3. App-like-interactions
  4. Fresh
  5. Safe
  6. Discoverable
  7. Re-engageable
  8. Installable
  9. Linkable

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