Thursday, August 17, 2017

4 Ways To Design a Perfect Split Screen Homepage

One screen divided in two.

The split screen technique has long been known in the film industry, with early examples dating back to the silent movies days of the early 20th century, and it is still a popular device in by film and tv today.

A split-screen layout is in use when full-screen elements are divided into two or more vertical parts. A scene from the film “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”

However, this is a relatively new technique for the web design industry. Split screens only became popular around mid-2016 and now we have more and more websites which use this design pattern. There are a few reasons why this design pattern became so popular:

  • It has a nice aesthetic quality. When executed correctly it can offer users a wonderful viewing experience.
  • It’s a good choice for responsive frameworks. Split-screen design can be adapted for a variety of screens, even small ones. When it comes to smaller screens, such as mobile displays, the panels can be stacked.
  • It helps guide navigation. Using simple design techniques, you can draw the user’s attention to a specific part of the screen or encourage them to click.

When Split Screen Works The Best

Split-screen is especially good when you have two things to promote. For example, when a site offers two entirely opposite variations. This approach allows designers to give prominence to both things and allow the user to quickly select between them.

One screen, two messages in Dropbox Guides

When You Should Avoid Split Screen

Split-screen designs don’t expand well as the content grows, therefore it is not recommended to apply them to content-heavy layouts. It’s important to keep the screens simple because complex split screens make the UI look overloaded with information. That’s why split-screen layout would be a perfect fit for minimalist website designs.

How to Decide if Split Screen is Good For You

If you’re considering a split-screen technique for your website, I advise you to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is it suitable for your content?
  • Will there be enough negative space to make the layout work?
  • Will your users appreciate the layout or it will confuse them?
  • Will it be OK to split your users’ attention in half?

The most important thing to keep in mind that content is king and split-screen should be a simple way to deliver your message to people.

Design Techniques For Split Screens

1. Pair Vibrant Color and Dramatic Typography

Thanks to Flat and Material Design, vibrant colors and dramatic typography are big trends now. Vibrant colors are visually stimulating and dramatic typography enhances the text content. Simply combine the two and you will create a visually interesting design. Baesman has done this masterfully. They gave equal importance to both elements while, at the same time, allowing the user to choose between them quickly.

Bright colors and interesting typography pairs can add interest

2. Draw User Attention to the CTA Button

Much more than a simple graphic trend, splitting the screen into two distinct parts provides an original way to guide the user through your site. It’s a great option when you want to create a bigger focal point for calls to action. In the example below, you can see how negative space creates a vertical divide to give equal weighting to two different options.

Vertical divide allows emphasis on two different CTAs without favoring either

3. Create Visual Flow Between “Screens”

When split screen represents a single object, it’s important to establish a connection between content containers. One possible way to do that is by using a color. Simply duplicate a distinct color to establish visual flow between two screens. This works particularly well with a brand color or hue with a lot of contrast. Using color it’s possible to communicate a stronger connection between two pieces of content.

Another possible way to create a strong connection is layering a single element such as text copy across screens:

Overlapping text connects two screens

Last but not least you can use a colored overlay for this purpose:

Consider the left part of the screen

4. Use Animation To Encourage Users To Act

Fine animation and interactive effects encourage users to click. Look at the design used for the “Chekhov is Alive” site below. The design begs you to click to find your character.


It takes approximately three seconds for a visitor to make a decision regarding your website. Consequently, your layouts should always be visitor-friendly if you want to reduce bounce rates. Split-screen technique can help you with that. Split-screen designs are a fun, functional, and responsive way to create an engaging design.

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4 Ways To Design a Perfect Split Screen Homepage

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Transform Photos into Art with Deep Learning

Life is like a camera. If things don’t work out, you can take another shot. But if you get that perfect picture, you will want to capture the moment and, perhaps, transform it into a work of art.

Have you ever seen art so beautiful and resonating that you wish you could transform your favorite photos into that style? Or perhaps you are a frontend developer or designer seeking an easier way to turn your images into something that’s more appealing, or fits the theme for a special occasion or unique scenario? Maybe you have been tasked to come up with a fun photo booth for a birthday party that enables attendees to transform their photos into a style of art they like? Check out the before and after of the photos below as an example:

Before (left) and after (right)

Before (left) and after (right)

Existing platforms like Instagram and Prisma enable users to upload images, apply different  filters and effects, then produce an image with a very unique style and artistic look. However, you may want to build a similar application that provides more flexibility for the type of art, as well as the kinds of images users can upload.

With Cloudinary, developing a platform that enables you turn photos into art is a breeze. All you need to do is add the style_transfer effect to any delivered image while specifying the image ID of the source artwork as its overlay and activating the Neural Artworks addon.

Source artwork (left), target photo (center), and style transfer result (right)

A Closer Look at Style Transfer with Cloudinary

Cloudinary is a cloud-based image and video management service that includes server or client-side upload, on-the-fly manipulations, quick content delivery network (CDN) delivery and a variety of asset management options.

The style transfer effect applies a complex deep learning algorithm—based on the VGG 16 neural network—that extracts artistic styles from a source image and applies them to the content of a target photograph.

Cloudinary’s algorithm takes advantage of Xun Huange and Serge Belongie’s enhancement on the Gatys algorithm, which make it possible to use any image for both source and target, and still deliver a good quality style transfer in real time, using a single feed-forward neural network.

Cloudinary’s implementation is much faster than other available services, not limited to pre-learned images, and even supports high-resolution outputs that are out of scope for similar services.

How to Implement Style Transfer

To apply this effect, simply specify the public ID of the source artwork as an image overlay (l_ in URLs) and style_transfer as the overlay effect (e_style_transfer in URLs). The target photograph is the public ID of the image to deliver. For example:

Source Artwork (left), target photo (center), and result of the style transfer effect (right)

But wait, there’s more!

You can include the Boolean preserve_color option or adjust the style_strength of the effect like so:

Artwork (left), target photo (center), default style transfer (right)

Preserve Original colors in Style transfer (left), adjust Style Strength to 60 in Style transfer (right)

Give Style Transfer a Try

Back to the task you’ve been assigned—creating a photo booth with effects for a birthday party. Here’s a cool, simple app that demonstrates how style transfer works.

See the Pen Style Transfer Demo by Cloudinary (@Cloudinary) on CodePen.

You can start making yours by signing up for a free Cloudinary account and activating the Neural Artworks add-on. There is comprehensive documentation available to show how you can take advantage of style transfer in your applications.

You no doubt have a lot of ideas about how to turn your photos into art. With Cloudinary, it’s easy to make your vision a reality.


[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cloudinary –]

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Transform Photos into Art with Deep Learning

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why CEOs Don’t Care About UX and How to Change Their Minds

“UX design doesn’t work…And it won’t make us money.”

Business executives aren’t all that fond of UX design, or even design in general. It’s an incredibly common problem.

Too many executives see good design as an inconvenient expense. At a certain point, executives see UX design as an unnecessary cross to bear. A burden they’re expected to tolerate. If another department needs more money in their budget, design departments are hit first.

You know the value of good UX design, they don’t and that’s the problem.

This Isn’t a Problem for Design Driven Companies

What do Apple, Coca-Cola, Herman Miller, Disney, and Target all have in common? They’re all design driven companies.

The bad news?

Out of the pool of publicly traded companies evaluated by Motive, only 15 companies met the criteria of a design driven company. Others have found the same. So what does this tell us? Most companies aren’t all that interested in good design. UX design and design in general just isn’t a priority.

But you know good UX matters. You see the difference good design can make. It’s obvious, anyone can see it if they’re paying attention, so why can’t they?

Executives can’t see it because they don’t care. Not even a little bit.

They aren’t interested in design as a whole. In fact, most are looking to spend as little on design as they can. Because in their minds it’s just not worth their time.

But why?

We need to get inside their heads if we want to know the answer.

As Designers, We Speak a Weird Foreign Language

We use words like opacity and kerning and descender as a normal part of our everyday conversations. We argue about design trends, which ones are worth embracing, which ones to avoid. We obsess over tiny, seemingly insignificant details, because we understand the importance small details make.

We’re critical of ourselves and other designers in general because we understand the consequences of poor design on a deep and intimate level.

It’s intense.

And none of that matters. Not a single shred of our world matters to the vast majority of executives. That’s a very big problem.

When it’s time to teach executives about the value of good UX design, we choose the wrong approach. We use the wrong vocabulary. Instead of speaking their language, we speak our language.

Almost immediately, executives glaze over and tune out.

This inevitably leads to:

  • Your ideas being ignored or rejected;
  • A loss of income for you, the company, your customers or all of the above;
  • Dwindling budgets as other departments fight for more money from your department’s budget which means department layoffs;
  • A terrible experience for customers, who spend less money or shop elsewhere, making it harder for your organization to survive.

This wouldn’t be happening if executives understood the value of good design, but most aren’t even willing to hear us out. How on earth are we supposed to change their mind?

Grocery Stores Show us How to Win Hearts and Minds

The competition in your local grocery store is fierce. The shelves are lined with thousands of competing products, all focused on one thing: Getting customers to buy their product instead of a competitor’s.

The grocery stores themselves are competing for your attention and your money. It’s a cutthroat environment that only a few stores and some products can survive in.

Their secret? Design.

Your local grocery store is filled with lots of subtle design elements, these elements are used to get you to buy:

  • Customers bought more bananas if their peels were Pantone color 12-0752 (Buttercup) vs the slightly brighter Pantone color (13-0858 (Vibrant Yellow). Growers altered the color of their bananas to produce the desired color.
  • Store layouts are designed around the user experience. It’s a common strategy for grocery stores to show you the produce section first. The bright colors, fresh produce and pleasant aromas lead you to conclude the store is an inviting and ideal place to buy food.
  • Product designers mark up prices strategically on products with strong brand loyalty. Remember the Pepsi Challenge? Pepsi conducted a blind taste test, asking consumers whether they preferred the taste of Pepsi or Coca-Cola. Pepsi won, but consumers continued to buy Coca-Cola. This happens all the time. It’s why people consistently choose the $90 bottle of wine over a $10 bottle, even if the only difference is price.
  • Grocery stores are designed to be traps. A well known study found that people spent 34 percent more time shopping in stores that played music. These stores hide time cues to keep you inside. No clocks, windows or skylights. The rationale goes like this: The longer you stay the more you’ll buy.
  • Product placement on shelves. This study found kid friendly foods are placed at kids’ eye-level. The characters on cereal boxes make eye contact with kids, a clever way to increase influence and sales. Expensive items are placed higher while inexpensive items are placed near the bottom shelves.

There are thousands of examples like these. The process, environment, imagery, ambiance and displays in grocery stores are all designed.

And here’s the interesting part.

Grocery store executives support these design conventions wholeheartedly. Their executives have fully embraced UX design.

Can you see why?

Designers and executives spoke the same language. Executives don’t care about design for design’s sake. Rather, they view design as a means to an end. A way to attract more customers and sales. A way to grow their business.

But the examples above are manipulative and sleazy!

I completely agree. Does that mean you need to approach things the same way they did? Of course not. It goes without saying, you should be honest and above-board with everything you do. But to change an executive’s mind you’ll need to think and talk like an executive.

What Exactly Are Executives Thinking About?

They’re thinking about results. They have a very specific set of problems they’re required to solve on behalf of the company. An executive’s thought process basically boils down to three basic problems.

  1. Will this save money?
  2. Will this make money?
  3. Will this cut costs?

The vast majority of their desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems tie back to these three problems in some way. Getting customers, selling more product, making more money, it’s all part of it.

An executive’s language is based almost entirely around one of these three core problems.

What does that mean for you?

A request that’s focused on “What’s best for users” is far less likely to work. A request that’s positioned and presented properly is far more likely to succeed.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • “We’ll be able to blow past Q3 projections if we make these four UX changes.”
  • “We’re losing $467,891 a month. We have some UX problems here, here and here that would stop the financial bleeding.”
  • “We can get a 1/3 increase in revenue overnight with these UX design ideas.”
  • “Right now, we’re losing 8 out of 10 customers on our site. With the right UX design, I can get that down to 4 out of 10.”
  • “We can get 1/4 of our customers to spend $250 more per order, per month if we make these UX changes.”

See what I did there?

I know, I know it’s loathsome. The last thing many of us want to do as designers is talk business, sales or marketing. Anything but that. I get it.

Here’s the thing. When you speak the same language as executives you communicate value in a way they can understand. They aren’t as worried about looking stupid, protecting their egos or acting as if they understand the finer points of your job.

They’re focused squarely on the things that matter to them. Get these details right and they look like the hero.

Do this consistently, and they’ll slowly begin to understand

They’ll begin to see why good UX design matters. Why design, as a concept matters far more than they think. And more importantly, they’ll understand why design can help them hit the goals they’re desperate to achieve.

Pitch your ideas the right way, get inside the mind of your executives and you still may fail. That’s part of the risk. That risk drops dramatically however, if you’re focused on them.

Pursuing things this way sends an important message. It shows executives that you understand them. That you’re willing to take their concerns seriously and you’re willing to invest in them.

This is huge because it shows you have potential, that you’re someone they can count on for the future. All because you decided to speak their language.

Executives Think UX Design Doesn’t Work

They’re wrong, but they don’t know it. Their subconscious impression is, UX design doesn’t work and it won’t make us money.

Business executives aren’t all that fond of UX design, or design in general. It’s viewed as fluff, an unnecessary cross to bear.

It’s up to you.

You know the value of good UX design. You can change their perceptions, but only if you can speak their language. Start small, showing executives you can make a difference. With consistent effort and lots of patience, your company can become a design driven company.

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Why CEOs Don’t Care About UX and How to Change Their Minds

Monday, August 14, 2017

Stockio Free Assets Site Unveiled

Design assets are the lifeblood of any creative process. Images inspire, typefaces communicate, icons clarify. Whatever the scope of your project, assets are the building blocks of your design.

Any fresh source of stock assets is a boon to the design community, and the latest treasure trove of resources is Stockio is a collection of photos, videos, vectors, icons, and even fonts, designed to inspire and stock the toolboxes of the web design industry.

Free Downloads

Stockio resources are absolutely free to download, and can be used for both personal and commercial projects. Sourced from some of the most popular asset producers, Stockio’s assets have been handpicked to be useful to designers.

Intuitive Search Options

There are a number of fantastic features on the site. For example, when browsing images, similar photos are displayed on the download page; some of the best discoveries come by simply clicking on the next thumbnail and seeing where it takes you.

Another incredibly helpful feature for designers is the color search. Just click through to a download page, and you’ll see a bar of colors, click one and the site will find photos, or vectors, containing the same color; it’s a great option when you’re working with a brand-specific palette and need assets to match.

Tons of Choice

Stockio includes enough assets to pack your toolbox until next year. There are over 4,500 icons and the collection is growing.

When it comes to free fonts, you’re spoiled for choice. There are over 11,000 free fonts on Stockio, more than you can use in a lifetime of design. And they aren’t the usual low quality fonts you often find for free, whether you’re looking for a typeface for a logo, or something readable for body text, there are some real gems here.

53 Utterly Luxurious Fonts from 21 Unique Typefaces – only $17!

This content was first posted here:
Stockio Free Assets Site Unveiled

What’s New for Designers, August 2017

Sometimes the summer months can feel like a dead time for new design tools, but not this year. There are plenty of new elements out there to make your life (and projects) that much easier. Plus, almost everything on the list this month is free, except for a couple of tools. They’re sure to be useful to designers and developers, from beginners to experts.

If we’ve missed something that you think should have been on the list, let us know in the comments. And if you know of a new app or resource that should be featured next month, tweet it to @carriecousins to be considered!


Chain is a Sketch plugin that will help you maintain dynamic color relations. Just select layers to chain, the color referenced, and transformations you want to apply. There are plenty of combinations to choose from and the project is completely open source.


Still in beta, Abstract is a platform to help teams collaborate with a secure, version-controlled environment for design files. It builds on and extends the stable technology of Git to host and manage work.

React Simple Chatbot

This simple component for chatbots comes packed with examples to help you envision how your chatbot might work and has a clean, easy to use design.


Muskicube is a fully-functional terminal-based music player, library, and streaming server that runs natively on Windows, MacOS and Linux. There’s also a native Android app version and cross-platform C++ library that drives things.


Make sure users know about new features, latest releases and relevant news with this easy changelog tool.

Random Material Palette Generator

This game-style tool automatically generates a palette of three-color Material Design-inspired color schemes with a click. It’s a fun twist on creating color combinations.


Mailit is a tiny drop-in microservice for sending emails over a REST API. It just requires a tiny bit of code and you are ready to go.

Chrome Platform Status

What new features are coming in Chrome? When will the release happen? All of the upcoming features and more are listed in this new schedule page with updates on the stable version and next two releases.

SEO Audit

SEO Audit takes some of the manual labor out of conducting a search engine optimization audit for your website. The tool will check the site against an agenda and give a recommendation of what needs to be fixed.


GridBugs is a curated list of Grid interop issues, incomplete implementations and CSS grid layout bugs. The concept is based on the Flexbox Bugs list and you can add your gridbugs as well.

Vue SVG Maker

This tool shows you how to form bindings in Vue and pair them with generative SVG for fun effects that you can download and use in projects.

Build a Tiny Blockchain

Blockchain is a public database where data is stored in a container (block) and additional bits are added (chain). It’s the basis for Bitcoin and creating a stir in technology circles. Here’s how you can create a simple blockchain with less than 50 lines of code in Python 2.

45 Geometric Vector Shapes

Geometric shapes are one of the big design trends of the year and this freebie contains plenty of fun options to work with in vector format. Each of the mandala-inspired shapes can be used in a variety of ways.


Fitty scales text up or down so that it perfectly fits its parent container. It is an ideal solution for flexible and responsive websites with no dependencies and an easy setup.

Split iOS UI Kit

This starter user interface elements kit includes elegant details that match the iOS design. Use symbols, layer and text styles and the flexible parts in Sketch to jumpstart design projects.

Rounded Mobile UI Kit

Maybe a more rounded style appeals to you. Then the Rounded Mobile UI Kit might be the preferred option with lots of parts to start a mobile interface, such as screen templates for a menu, chat, a cart, camera and more. All the elements are packed in a Sketch file.


Grabient is a fun gradient grabber tool that’s packed with modern color combinations that you can as is or add options, such as additional color or adjust the angle of the fade. Gradient color files are available as a Sketch download.


STYLY is a platform that helps you create virtual reality spaces without code. The drag and drop interface also allows you to import assets from other platforms and you can edit and view in a snap. The app, which is still in beta, is available for multiple devices.


With just one line of code, you can add fun Snapchat-style face filters to your mobile app. This is a paid tool, starting at $5 per month. It is available for iOS with an Android version on the way.

Street Life Social Media Templates

Figuring out the right sizes for social media posts can be a hassle, but this little kit contains 15 flexible templates for Instagram and Facebook to make creating posts easier. The templates are fully customizable as well in Sketch, Illustrator or Photoshop.


Supernova turns Sketch designs into native mobile apps in minutes. The tool automates tedious tasks and exports resources, writes navigation, connects components, applies styles and maintains information for you, no hand-coding required. Plus, you can preview it right away in an interactive format.


Coco is a free experimental display typeface inspired by classic styles.


Vhiena is a layered, vintage-style typeface that is inspired by old serifs. It comes with several layers to create impactful display type options.

Zin Sans

Zin Sans is a contemporary san serif typeface for display use. It has a large x-height and dynamic open forms.

53 Utterly Luxurious Fonts from 21 Unique Typefaces – only $17!

This content was first posted here:
What’s New for Designers, August 2017