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15 Best Tools & Resources for Designers in 2019

You learned long ago that you need to keep a watch on digital design trends and technologies. You need to understand how they influence and impact your work and your profession. Keeping up with trends isn’t always easy. Nor is keeping up with all the tools that follow the latest trends and technologies. You really don’t have the time to do a deep dive to find out what tools you need to keep. Which to replace, and which new ones you can use to your advantage? You don’t have the luxury of just going with the flow either; you have to be proactive. We’ve assembled a nice selection of top tools, apps, and resources to help you streamline your work. They will help you to keep up to date and show off your skills. Starting with: Elementor It wasn’t all that difficult to decide what to lead off with. Elementor is by most accounts the world’s top website builder. A summary of its features makes it easy to see why most users believe that to be the case. Start with Elementor’s powerful drag and drop feature coupled with tons of templates and content-building widgets. Take into account Elementor’s ability to integrate with any WordPress theme or plugin and the added design flexibility that provides. Add in the fact that Elementor has none of the constraints or limitations many themes impose on web designers. Put it all together, and you have a genuine blue-ribbon website building powerhouse. The UI is intuitive and easy to work with; an important factor when workflow time is an issue. To top things off, several exciting new features have been added including Advanced Forms, a Pop Up builder, and scroll and hover animation capabilities. AND CO from Fiverr There is one good thing about invoicing: you get to see when your money will be coming in. But outside of that, invoicing is generally a time-consuming, boring, and, when done manually, error-prone process. AND CO takes the load off your shoulders. The automated software solution makes invoicing a much simpler and faster process. With in-built time tracking and contracts features, AND CO automatically generates invoices when projects are completed or designated milestones are reached. AND CO notifies you when an invoice has been sent, when it has been viewed by the recipient, and when payment is deposited into your bank account. You can even set up recurring invoices to automatically send regular invoices...

How to Create Identity Guidelines That Empower Your Clients

I’ve never really enjoyed writing brand guidelines, I always felt it got in the way of the “real” design work i wanted to be doing. But I also really don’t enjoy designing a carefully thought out, beautifully executed logo only to see it used and abused by a poorly informed client. To work on creating a visual identity and then to send it out into the world with the equivalent of a hastily scrawled map on the back of a cigarette packet is woefully inadequate. Through research and conversations with some world class identity designers I’ve found a solution to helping clients use their new visual identity to their absolute – a pattern library. We’ve all seen the beautiful digital UI kits, pattern libraries and style guides created by the likes of Mailchimp for their digital products, well its time to start creating similar for identity guidelines. I’ve found the easiest solution is to establish and understand all the ways the identity is going to be used during the discovery stage. A real deep dive into what the client has in mind for the logo and second guessing uses they might not have thought of means there are no surprises and it can also really help inform the final design. Here are some guidelines I’ve been using recently – these will all be included in the final identity pattern library. For Use on Digital A logo has to be responsive these days, it needs to work on all screen sizes so undoubtedly there will be several different versions of the logo — a desktop version, a different more simplified version for small screen sizes, possibly one for tablets. You may need an even more simplified version for use on the favicon in different sizes and and in different colors for various browsers. For Use on Social Media When using the identity in social media remember one size does not fit all on the various platforms — find out which platforms your client uses or may use. have test accounts set up on all the major platforms so you can test the usage as you are designing it. Some platforms use square images some use round. Nobody wants those black edges when the wrong shaped jpg has been used in a profile pic. Mock up each social media platform page to demonstrate how to use the logo and on twitter include a suggested theme color. Also suggest image styles to use in the profile header. For Use in Emails What about emails, do they need a file...

How architecture inspired Yokaona’s hand drawn style

When Yolka Juzyk (aka Yokaona) graduated university with an architecture degree, she knew she didn’t want to jump straight into an office job. She began searching for remote freelance work that would give her more freedom and flexibility—and that’s when she stumbled upon 99designs. After quickly winning her first contest, Yokaona realized the freehand drawing skills she’d developed during her studies translated beautifully into illustrative brand identities, packaging and labels. Since then, she’s built a graphic design career focused around detailed, technical drawings and vintage typography that clients adore. These days, she’s selective with the projects she takes on and only chooses work where her signature cross-hatching style will thrive—vintage styles, boutique shops and vineyard labels are just some of the areas she specializes in. We spoke with Yokaona about how architecture influences her work, how she developed her noteworthy style and her tips for finding success in the graphic design industry. Tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from I’m Yolka Juzyk (aka Yokaona). I was born in Poland in the ’80s and I have lived in Spain for 12 years now. A peek into Yokaona’s sketchbookI’m an architect and I graduated from the School of Architecture at the Technical University of Valencia, although I began my architecture studies at the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin, Poland. How did you build your design skills? I’ve been interested in art and drawing since I was just a child. I have been fascinated by the Rembrandt etchings ever since my grandfather gave me a large album with Rembrandt’s artwork when I was just a girl. However, my focus on cross-hatching was a kind of accident. I failed a drawing course at Uni and in order to start the next course, I had to make around 40 art pieces in different techniques during the summer holidays. It was then that I discovered “pen & ink” and cross-hatching. Parrot illustration Don’t be afraid to value your effort and skills. You are the one who decides how much is your work worth. - Yokaona Did you study design or were you self-taught? I have not received a specialized college education in graphic design but, undoubtedly, I have built important design skills while I was studying and working in architecture. My relationship to...

5 Web Design Turn-Offs To Avoid

The Internet of today is a highly competitive place. With so many individuals and businesses spending money and time on digital marketing and SEO — trying to outperform their rivals and sit at the top of the Google heap — it’s harder than ever to get users to visit any given website over another. Given the difficulty of acquiring new visitors, you might think that all the webmasters of the world would do everything in their power to provide a delightful user experience and ultimately retain each hard-won customer, but we all know that there are a number of unpleasant and off-putting bad habits that seem to crop up time and time again. Let’s take a look at some of the most common offenders making users leave in frustration… 1. The Site is Too Slow In a world where almost everybody has a super-powered smartphone in their pocket, the Internet has become synonymous with instant gratification. A user who might be idly wondering about some half-remembered trivia can have the answer delivered to them via Google within a few seconds, and if they want to contact a friend in another country thousands of miles away, they can do so basically as quickly as they can type the Facebook or Whatsapp message. If the original click was motivated by nothing more than frivolous curiosity, the user is very likely to think, “ugh, never mind” and try somewhere else We’ve all become spoiled by the speed and responsiveness of our hyper-connected world, and so when we click on a search result and sit on a blank loading page for three seconds or more it can seem like an eternity. If the original click was motivated by nothing more than frivolous curiosity, the user is very likely to think, “ugh, never mind” and try somewhere else. The BBC reported in 2018 that they’d found that every additional second spent loading pages tended to cost them around 10% of their users, which in Internet terms is huge (by this measure, the passing of ten seconds can mean that your traffic is all but gone). Google have also stated that according to their research, more than half (53%) of mobile users will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. After six seconds, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll look elsewhere. 

Of course, the functional needs of the majority of websites are not very complicated — the average e-commerce store or blog site really has no excuse for taking longer...

The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data

It’s been a few years now that SEO experts have started sharing knowledge about structured data. Additionally, popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex have collaborated to create a list of standard elements known as Schema markup for indexing websites in their search results. Majority of the people are not yet clear about what structured data is and how to use it for better Search Engine Optimization of their website. We have compiled a brief guide on structured data and how it can be used to provide better search engine optimization and search engine result appearance to your website. What is Structured Data? Structured data is any form of data organized and arranged in a specific set of manner on a webpage. It can be used in various ways like stipulating a Facebook title and description with the use of Open Graph Markup. In the context of SEO, structured data means adding markup or information to provide extra details about the content of the page to the search engines. Using this kind of markups, you can help the search engines to understand the content better. Subsequently, this extra content will add more relevance to search results. It also enhances your website’s ranking on SERP (Search Engine Results Page). You need to make sure that search engines are able to analyze and understand these mark-ups. There are three types of specific syntaxes and classifications of concepts, linking, and vocabularies. Search Engines only supports these three syntaxes, which are Microdata, JSON-LD, and Microformats. In addition to these syntaxes, there are two vocabularies,, and that can be used to share information about the content of your web page. When it comes to SEO, vocabulary is most used for structured data markup. People also use vocabulary for product reviews or sharing location. If you use vocabulary then, Microdata format and JSON – LD are the best options to add markup to the content of your website. How structured data works with SEO? Structured data allows the search engines to understand the website and its content better. Google and other search engines continue to optimize the algorithms they use to index and display search results in an effort to provide more value to their users. This is where structured data comes in. It provides information to search...

An Interview with One of the Best Selling WordPress Theme Authors

We recently had the opportunity to interview Ivan Paunovic, the founder of Qode Interactive. Qode is the team behind Bridge, one of the best-selling WordPress themes. Can you tell us a bit about how Qode started and the team behind it? Qode started out as two people with a shared goal – to create quality digital products, but with a focus on beauty and aesthetics. In our early stages, we provided custom web development services. But we soon noticed the rising popularity of WordPress themes and saw an opportunity there, even though the marketplace was already fairly saturated. Our team was still small, but we were all oriented toward UX and aesthetics. That was our main advantage. We made a decision back then that has become the cornerstone of our company: never to compromise our creative vision, even if it meant reaching fewer people. Instead of going down the commercial path and making the types of themes everyone was churning out, we primarily focused on great design. And I think that’s what distinguishes us from the rest of the market. Your Bridge theme is one of the most popular WordPress themes on ThemeForest with over 100,000 sales — an incredible achievement. What do you believe sets Bridge apart from other WordPress themes? When it came out, Bridge was just another theme by Qode. The thing is, we approach each new theme as a success, even in the earliest stages of design. I think that’s evident in all our themes, from the very beginning. With Bridge, it turned out people were drawn to its clean and simple style, which was popular at the time. It got that initial boost straight out of the gate and gained enough visibility on the market. So, we adapted and started developing it in that direction. We wanted to offer Bridge to as many people as we could, while still sticking to our principles and making as few compromises as possible. That’s how the Bridge demos came to be. Bridge currently has nearly 380 distinct demos, and we’re always adding more. It was the first bestseller on the market with so many and might have even set the standard in terms of the number and the quality of demos a WordPress theme can have. With the huge success of Bridge and your other WordPress products, what are some challenges you’ve faced with that type of growth? Bridge served as proof that we were doing something right and it motivated us to keep moving in that...

4 Times When it’s OK to Trick Users

Tricking people can be… well… tricky. The problem, at its most fundamental level, is that people only like to be tricked when they expect to be tricked. Obviously, if you trick them and take money they never intended to give away, well that’s theft. They rightfully get angry. If you say, “Hey, wanna see a trick? Give me a dollar.”; well then they expect some David Copperfield-level magic, don’t they? In fact, they demand it. And that’s the thing about designing interfaces and websites, isn’t it? People want a certain amount of information provided to them, and then they want everything else to happen where they can’t see it. The amount of information they want to see will vary based on the skills of the user, but ultimately, they want to be “tricked”, at least a little bit. These are the best, and maybe the only reasons you should ever be allowed to “trick” your users: 1. To Make Waiting Less Tedious Waiting can be frustrating, and waiting for computers to do, “whatever they’re doing now, Gaaawwd!”, can be extra infuriating at times. That’s why God invented the loading icon. distract the eyes with a spinny-thing, while reassuring the brain that something is happening behind the scenes Loading and waiting icons, particularly the ones that don’t function as actual progress bars, are perhaps the oldest example of distraction-to-improve-the-UX. They distract the eyes with a spinny-thing, while reassuring the brain that something is happening behind the scenes… probably. Of course, with time, we’ve developed all sorts of ways to make waiting seem like less of a chore. Simple transitional animations can give the browser a few extra milliseconds to load content from the next page or screen. Some more graphically heavy sites are (and I hate that this is still a thing), using animated splash screens as pre-loaders. Chrome gives you a game to play while you wait for your Internet to come back. Pretty much all solutions involve some sort of animation, if I’m honest. Moving things around on the screen is probably the most effective distraction there is, outside of auto-playing audio. And well… don’t do that. 2. To Give New Context to Old Actions I featured Kutia, a web development agency, in the May 2019 edition of our monthly portfolio showcase for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the way they “trick” the users into going to the contact page. Basically...

20 game and gaming logos that will gain you XP

Great games connect with players. So do great gaming logos. In 2018, the gaming industry generated close to $135 billion, a 10.9% increase over 2017 with 47% of the industry’s revenue coming from mobile accounts. That’s a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of competition. Your logo is your company’s face. It’s what easily lets players scanning the shelves of a store or scrolling through an app store know if the game is something they might want to slow down and check out. If done well, your logo will be recognized as a symbol of quality, and can help quickly build a relationship fans. What makes a good gaming logo?
— When it comes to logo design, the gaming industry is a bit on the complicated side. Companies have logos, and often times so do the individual games they make. (In the world of mobile games, individual game logos are starting to be replaced with app icons.) That’s an important distinction for indie game creators to keep in mind. What does your brand stand for as a whole? What is the flavor of this game (which is, in essence, a sub-brand)? And how do they relate to each other? As a whole, both the video and board game industries tend to favor bright, primary colors in their logos. They are also predominantly wordmarks While bold palettes have been the popular choice, your game can stand out if you choose something unconventional, just make sure if you choose pastel orange that this reflects your brand identity. Is it set in a particular period of time? What are the qualities of the persona of your player? Are children, teenagers or older players your target customers and community? All of these things can help you select the right font and shape for your logo. You want your logo style to make it clear what type of game the player is getting, but also be distinctive enough to remember. Amazing ideas for game and gaming logos
— Now, let’s break down how to visually define yourself through different types of logos. Fun and comical gaming logos If you’re drawn to goofy characters, want to elicit a carefree atmosphere, or play around with brighter color tones and palettes, finding a more upbeat and comical logo design might be right up your alley. Story-driven game logos Conceptualize your fantasy world through the most vivid features in your logo, whether you imagine that be simplistic or complex. Let your audience know how otherworldly...

20 Freshest Web Designs, May 2019

Welcome to our monthly roundup of the freshest web designs, released (or rereleased with significant updates) in the last four weeks. This month’s selection eschews popular trends in favor of intelligent design that supports brand identity. As always, scrolling plays a big role, but parallax is less dominant than it normally is. Across the board, designers are opting for the less obvious choice, which gives us a rich variety to indulge in. Enjoy! Playdate The gaming world is awash with excitement over Playdate, a handheld gaming system due to launch in early 2020. This site does a wonderful job of focusing on the single CTA, and the copy does an awesome job of being exited about the product. Studio Brave It’s always a brave decision to open your site with fullscreen video, but in this case it works well—mainly because the work on show is of such a high caliber. Normally custom cursors are a turn off, but this one is fabulous. 40075 40075 is an interactive experience designed to help you discover exciting musical artists from around the globe. Artists profiled include Songhoy Blues, and Gily Yalo. It’s a great way to uncover music you might not have heard yet. Plein The site for Plein exudes simplicity, cleanliness, and wellbeing. Selling an innovative range of vitamin films that offer everything from alertness, to an improved immune system, the site is an excellent way to sell an intangible product. Under I’ve always been a sucker for a clever logotype, and the mark for Under, the Norwegian underwater restaurant, is one of the best. The site itself exudes the quality of Scandinavian design, proving that it’s simplicity that sells luxury. Oas The website for self-proclaimed “Swedish Resort Brand” Oas, does an incredible job of telling the brand’s story, helping it to stand out in a saturated market as one of the labels to watch. Nothing says vacation like palm tree print flip-flops. Contrast Visuals Contrast Visuals’ site takes a minimal approach to presenting its portfolio. There’s the simple menu toggling between “work” and “info”, and a native scroll through a very impressive client list of video and film work. Plus I love the animated logo. Usual Remember when we all laughed at the idea of brutalism being a thing? Welcome to Usual, a new approach to drinking wine that allows you to purchase single-glass sized bottles via an unusually modernist...

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Jun 24 2019