Saturday, April 29, 2017

Comics of the Week #387

Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below as well as any related stories of your own…

Mixed emotions

Trust issues

 

The irony

Can you relate to these situations? Please share your funny stories and comments below…

Feather Toolkit: 250+ Hi-Res Feather-Themed Photos, Backgrounds, Templates – only $10!

Source
This content was first posted here:
Comics of the Week #387

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Designer’s 4 Step Guide to Securing WordPress

WordPress has become the world’s most popular CMS. Because it is so popular, this is even more of a reason to enhance WordPress security if you are using it for your website. Most people understand how to make their page itself secure, but if you are not focusing on the the security of your WordPress site by limiting access to important files and folders, then you are still at risk. To do this you will not be making any changes to WordPress itself, but rather altering how WordPress runs on a server and how much access users have to its files.

Step 1: Limiting access to wp-includes folder

WordPress sites are comprised of a series of files and folders, each with their own unique URLs, which means if someone were to type in the correct URL they could access or alter sensitive files that run your site. One of the most common targets for this kind of hacking is the wp-includes folder, so we are going to add some additional code to the server configuration file to beef up security and prevent these kinds of threats. When we are done with this, anyone attempting to access these files gets redirected back out.

To start you will want to open up the .htaccess file for your site. You can do this through any text editor, doesn’t matter which because all we are doing is adding a little snippet of code to the file. You will notice that the file already has code in it, generated by WordPress. In one of the early lines of code, you will find a line that says # BEGIN WordPress. Directly above this code, we are going to add the additional lines of code, which will fortify the site’s defenses by restricting access to the wp-includes folder.

# Blocking web access to the wp-includes folder
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^wp-admin/includes/ - [F,L]
RewriteRule !^wp-includes/ - [S=3]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/[^/]+\.php$ - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/js/tinymce/langs/.+\.php - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/theme-compat/ - [F,L]
</IfModule>

Afterward, you simply need to re-upload the file to the server and you’re done. While the changes here seem minor it can have a large impact on your site’s defenses. Because many of the advanced functions of WordPress are located within the wp-includes folder, they are a major target for hackers to go after. With these changes implemented, when users attempt to access this folder, they will instead be automatically redirected to the front page of your site.

Step 2: Protecting wp-config.php

Our next step to fortify WordPress security is to limit access to the wp-config.php file. When you first created your WordPress site, you had to create a database name, username, password, and table prefix, which is contained in the wp-config.php file. The reason you want to protect this file is because it contains the information WordPress needs to talk to the database, and in the long run, control your site.

To protect your wp-config.php file, you will just need to do a few simple steps. First, we will want to open up the .htaccess file again. Next, we will want to copy the snippet of code below and paste it into our .htaccess file just like we did with step 1.

# Blocking web access to the wp-config.php file
<files wp-config.php>
order allow,deny
deny from all
</files>

Finally, save and re-upload the file.

Step 3: Defending the .htaccess file itself

As you can see with steps 1 and 2, the .htaccess file can be intrinsic to defending your WordPress site from malicious external threats. That is why in this step we are going to protect the .htaccess file itself, preventing hackers from removing the protections we’ve already put in place.

To do this we will again open up the .htaccess file. Next, insert the code below in to the existing code.

# Securing .htaccess file
<files ~ "^.*\.([Hh][Tt][Aa])">
order allow,deny
deny from all
satisfy all
</files>

And with this simple addition, your .htaccess file is protected from outside threats.

Step 4: Removing file editor access

For the final step we are going to be denying hackers access to one of the most destructive tools they could get their hands on: the Editor inside the WordPress dashboard. It allows you to edit your theme files, which is helpful but can be dangerous. If a person, other than yourself would get access to this, then they could change your code and break your site.

With this project, we will be removing the  Editor from the WordPress dashboard. Rather than accessing the file through WordPress, I recommend that you access it through an ftp client such as FileZilla, which is better for site integrity.

So to do this project we will first want to open up the wp-config.php file. Once we have that open, we are going to go to the end of the code, here you will find the text “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.”. Right before this text we are going to add the code below to remove file editing entirely from WordPress.

define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true);

Once you have added the code, save the file and re-upload it to the server. Now your WordPress site is safe from anyone gaining access to your site and trying to manipulate the code.

Know that your site is safe

If you follow all of these steps, your site should be much safer. By reducing the amount of access hackers have to the files important to running your site, you have increased your WordPress site’s overall security.

Create Mockups and Wireframes in Minutes with NinjaMock – only $29!

Source
This content was first posted here:
The Designer’s 4 Step Guide to Securing WordPress

Huffpost Unveils New Design

The Huffington Post, now officially referred to as “Huffpost” has a completely new site design to go with its name and logo change. It has added a fair splash of black to go along with the white and green. Gone are the classic heading styles as Proxima Nova takes their place in the headlines, and in the body text. They’re really only using one typeface for the whole thing.

If you’ll recall, Huffpost used to have a distinctively newspaper-style feel to it. This is because it launched back in the days when larger, more mainstream media outlets still held sway. You know, before they started freaking out about Youtubers. Back then, making your website look like a newspaper was almost the only way to get taken seriously.

Heck, the Drudge Report did it. And for some reason, the rather small hero image and red headlines of Huffpost’s old hero elements always reminded me of their competitor across the political aisle.

The Old Huffington Post

All of that is gone now, replaced by a design that, when I first saw it, made me think of tabloids first and foremost. Upon further reflection, it feels like a cross between the tech blog and tabloid aesthetic, but with a super serious color scheme. It’s an odd duck.

Let’s be clear: I don’t think it’s a bad design. I even kinda like it. But is it the right design, and is this the right time for it?

The New Huffpost

Reportedly it’s their attempt to appeal to a more working-class demographic, while they bank on their name brand to keep existing readers on board. Huffpost’s own post on the subject doesn’t do much to confirm or deny this theory.

I can’t help but recognize the influence of sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. I’d say that it’s more likely that Huffpost wants a piece of the “viral content” crowd. That crowd does include working-class people, but it includes pretty much every other class too. Most importantly, it includes a younger class of readers.

it’s more likely that Huffpost wants a piece of the “viral content” crowd

However, they don’t want to go full tabloid to do it, as evidenced by the more serious, almost Silicon Valley tone of their UI. Now, is this going to work out for them? That’s the big question, isn’t it. The demographic they are targeting is just old enough to have read real newspapers, but young enough to wholeheartedly embrace new media. Moreover, they’re likely to have read the Huffington Post on and off for a while, and so have a vested interest in the brand. The general impression? That the new design feels “cheap” like the budget wasn’t there this time.

Knowing what we know about web design, they probably spent a lot more money on this redesign than people think. But this new design may make long-time readers worry about the future of the site. Meanwhile, readers who maybe never have touched a real newspaper themselves might feel right at home. It’s one of those instances where only time will tell.

Create Mockups and Wireframes in Minutes with NinjaMock – only $29!

Source
This content was first posted here:
Huffpost Unveils New Design

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Deal: Lifetime Access to DesignBold’s Huge Library

Every designer needs a kickass toolbox to fall back on. Whether you’re an accomplished designer who’s looking to save time, or a newbie still honing their skills, a great big pile of design assets will bail you out of many a tight corner.

That’s why we’re delighted that our sister-site, MightyDeals.com, has arranged an incredible value deal with DesignBold. DesignBold is an amazing service offering high-definition templates for all kinds of design projects.

With access to DesignBold’s library of goodies, you can whip up graphics for social media accounts, blog posts, banners, adverts, fliers, whatever you need, in mere minutes.

DesignBold’s library includes 6,000 design templates, and over 200k high-quality stock photos. The simple drag and drop production process includes a magic resize feature that switches your design to different formats—Facebook post to Instagram image, for example.

The new share feature means you can collaborate on design by inviting clients, or colleagues to view your project.

This sensational MightyDeal would normally cost $1140, but for an extremely limited time you can get lifetime access to this essential design library, for just $37. That’s an incredible 97% saving off the regular price! Head over to MightyDeals.com to grab this offer today.

LAST DAY: Massive Discounts on Stock Photos – 67% off!

Source
This content was first posted here:
Deal: Lifetime Access to DesignBold’s Huge Library

Microinteractions: Designing with Details

“The best products do two things well: features and details. Features are what draw people to your product; details are what keep them there” says Dan Saffer. The importance of details can’t be over-emphasized. Details make users love or hate an app or website. Microinteractions are those details. They might be easily overlooked in the global design scheme, but they actually hold the entire experience together.

In this article, I’ll explain what is a microinteraction, why they are important and provide some great examples.

What is a Microinteraction

Microinteractions are subtle moments centered around accomplishing a single task. Almost all applications around us are filled in with microinteractions.

The most well-known example of a microinteraction has existed long before computers were ever invented. The on/off switch is often the first microinteraction people encounter with a product.

Some other examples of specific microinteractions include:

  • The vibration notification together with silent mode icon on display when you switch an iPhone to mute.
  • The pull-to-refresh UI pattern. By connecting the user’s desire of finding more content with the action of refreshing, the experience becomes more seamless.


Image credit: Ramotion

  • The ’like’ button on social networks which highlights changes by using interactive animations. Such feedback informs users that they are in the list of those who liked the post.


Image credit: Dribbble

Why They Work

In short, microinteractions improve the UX by making the user interface less machine and more human. A lot of times we think about look & feel and how it relates to design. When we think about microinteractions, they pretty much make up a balance how users feel about the product, service or brand. Microinteractions fine-tune human-centered design by:

  • Providing immediate feedback —  Visual feedback appeal to the user’s natural desire for acknowledgement. The user instantly knows their action was accepted, and they want to be delighted by a visual reward.
  • Acting as facilitators for interaction — Microinteractions have the power to encourage users to actually interact. They can guide users in how to work with the app.
  • Bringing delight — Microinteractions are the perfect chance for a little extra delight in the design without detracting from main experience.

Additional benefits

Because microinteractions are brief in nature, they must be designed for repeated use. Well-designed microinteractions are able to create:

Habit loop

Microinteractions are the key components of habit loops. Habits are formed when people perform the same actions repeatedly. Typical habit loop consists of three elements:

  1. Cue — Trigger that initiates action
  2. Routine — In response to the cue, you perform an action
  3. Reward — A benefit you get from completing the routine, reason for completing action

The stronger the reward, the more stronger the habit becomes.

Facebook’s notification about new friend request is a good example of habit loop: red badge and whitened icon (cue) indicate there’s a new request, which makes the user click the icon (routine) to see information about the person (reward). After a while, users automatically click on icon when they see the red badge.

Signature moments

If done well, microinteractions can be signature moments that increase customer loyalty. Signature moments are microinteractions that have been elevated to be part of the brand. Think about Facebook’s Like button. It becomes natural part of Facebook interface. If Facebook suddenly remove this feature, users will notice it and will think that the app is broken.

Identifying Opportunities

Part of the beauty of microinteractions is that they can be inserted in a variety of places, around any potential action. Microinteractions are good for:

Highlighting changes

Microinteractions can direct user attention. In many cases animations are used for attracting user’s attention to important details (i.e. notifications).


Image credits: Dribbble

Minimizing user effort

Autocomplete is a great example of microinteraction. Typing has high interaction cost; it’s error prone and time consuming even with a full keyboard (and even more so on a touch screen). Autocomplete helps the user to provide the right answer faster and without typographical errors. As you type each letter, the system will make its best guesses as to the words you’re trying to find.


Image credits: fancy.surge.sh

Providing feedback to show what’s been accomplished

Microinteractions can reinforce the actions a user is performing. By following the principle “show, don’t tell”, you can use animated feedback to show what’s been accomplished. In Stripe’s example, when the user clicks “Pay”, a spinner briefly appears before the app shows the success state. Checkmark animation makes user feel like they easily did the payment and users do appreciate such important details.

Provide status information

The first usability heuristic principle by Jakob Nielsen states: the system should always keep users informed about what is going on. Typing indicator in chat is a great example of microinteractions that provides status information. It appears on your buddy’s screen while you’re composing a message in chat.


Image credits: Dribbble

Validate user data

One of the most important, and often overlooked aspect parts of form design is error handling. It’s human nature to make mistakes though, and your form probably isn’t exempt to human error. Users dislike when they go through the process of filling out a form only to find out at submission, that they’ve made an error. This is where validation microinteraction plays it’s part in a user-friendly form. Real-time inline validation immediately informs users about the correctness of provided data. This approach allows users to correct the errors they make faster without having to wait until they press the submit button to see the errors. When done right, it can turn an ambiguous interaction into a clear one.

Credits: Dribbble

Conclusion

Design is in the details. Even minor details deserve close attention, because all these little moments make up the feel, they come together to form a beautiful holistic product.

“The difference between products we love and those we simply tolerate are often the microinteractions we have with them.” — Dan Saffer

If you care about user experience, you must care about microinteractions. Because your product is only as good as the least microinteraction that people have with it. 

LAST DAY: Massive Discounts on Stock Photos – 67% off!

Source
This content was first posted here:
Microinteractions: Designing with Details

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

7 Steps to a Flawless Design Review

The design review can be one of the most stressful milestones in any website project. While feedback is a valuable part of the overall process, sometimes the process of getting there is complicated and unwieldy.

Facilitating a flawless design review takes commitment on the part of the primary designer and team participating in the review. You, the designer, can help establish a set of ground rules and process to help make each design review more valuable for everyone at the table, resulting in a better design project.

1. Figure Out the Logistics

There’s a time and place for design reviews. Some teams plan them on a schedule with the rest of the project to catch up on milestones, while others meet every month like clockwork. While the timing of your reviews may vary, it is a good idea to build them into the project timeline.

The designer always needs to be at the design review (if there are multiple designers working on the project, the lead designer should be there at a minimum). The lead designer should be the point person for the review and run the meeting. The group should not be too large; think five to eight people to keep the conversation manageable. Everyone involved in the discussion should have some understanding of the project, but should be somewhat independent as well to provide the most broad spectrum of understanding.

Participants may include the developer, client, sales team member, company president or CEO, marketing or branding team member, designers not working on the project or anyone else who might touch the project or company in any way.

Make sure to find a space that’s comfortable for everyone and provide a place to go over the visuals. You’ll probably need a room with a large screen and internet connection. Set a time for the meeting and create an agenda in advance so that everyone stays on task.

2. Send Invitations and Set Ground Rules

Try to remind reviewers about the meeting well in advance. Even if the dates and times are outlined in the project file, send a reminder at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Make sure to include everything a reviewer would need to come to the meeting ready to talk.

  • Time and location (or call in number if the meeting is virtual)
  • Outline of project goals and constraints
  • Specific goal of this review meeting
  • Project timeline (and where you are in the process)
  • Materials to bring (such as phones or tablets to view the design)

3. Prepare for the Meeting

The lead designer or art director should be running the design review. Prepare accordingly, especially if this kind of event is intimidating. (The more you go through this exercise, the easier it gets.)

Be ready to facilitate the conversation. Plan to ask questions that help get targeted results:

  • Do the color and typography palette reflect the tone of the content?
  • Are there missing elements in the design?
  • Does it work as anticipated?
  • Did you stumble on any parts of the design?
  • What things did you like?
  • What things did you not like?

Anticipate questions and concerns that might come up so that the discussion can keep moving forward. Know that reviewers might be thinking ahead of where the design is in its current iteration and try to keep the discussion focused.

Be prepared to stop the meeting if the group isn’t ready to discuss the design. Sadly, this happens all too much and just holding a meeting because it is on the calendar doesn’t benefit anyone.

4. Check Your Feelings at the Door

This might be the most important – and most difficult – step: You have to check your feelings at the door. Designers tend to be passionate about projects, but this is not the time or place for it. You need to step back and listen to feedback.

Not every bit of feedback will be useful. There’s probably a lot of it that actually won’t be useful at all. It’s ok to disregard some ideas from the design review. What you really want to look for are recurring themes in the feedback that might indicate a potential stumbling point in the design.

Remember: You are not the design. A design that is not liked is not a personal attack or reflection.

5. Start the Review with a Recap

Breathe. Walk in the room (or start the video chat) with confidence.

Start the design review with a recap:

  • Outline design goals
  • Explain the problems that needed to be solved
  • Describe the timeline and made milestones
  • Explain what happens next
  • Walk through the design and explain how it meets goals and solves problems

Once you break the ice, open the floor for feedback. Try not to let any one person dominate the conversation and have a process for allowing everyone to speak if necessary. Allow the conversation to continue until there’s about 10 minutes left for the meeting or comments come to a natural conclusion. 

6. Speak Honestly and Respectfully

Reviewers will speak open and honestly if you do the same thing. The way you act will set the tone for the entire review.

Make a point to take notes and ask questions as well. This shows that group that you care what they think. Pay particular attention to areas where there is a lot of people who not the same issue or areas where there’s a lot of discussion. There are places design flaws often lurk.

As the meeting winds down, recap the feedback you found most useful and invite the team to provide further feedback or ask questions within a certain time frame. Don’t commit to changes during the design review; you never know what will and won’t work until you get back to working on the project.

7. Follow Up After the Review

When you have a quiet minute, collect notes from the design review and follow up with a thank you to the team and next steps. Remind the team when the next milestone will hit and what they should expect to see at that time.

Conclusion

The design review process does not have to be painful. Practice will make these meetings more useful and effective, so don’t keep pushing them off.

Start with a plan of action and goals. Explain them clearly and respect and respond to feedback. You’ll become a better designer for it.

Creative Commons images are used in this article. You can find them at Unsplash.

Create Animated Videos and Whiteboard Animations with Animatron – 87% off!

Source
This content was first posted here:
7 Steps to a Flawless Design Review

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Browser Watch, April 2017

Every month, we scour the Internet far and wide to bring web designers the latest and most relevant news stories about browsers. Here’s another edition of Browser Watch, running down everything from the interesting to the surprising in the world of browsers and everything related to it.

Google Chrome Is The Most Hacker-Proof Browser Available

In addition to speed and performance, Google Chrome has also developed a reputation for security. That’s now being confirmed after the 10th edition of Pwn2Own, which is a computer-hacking contest held annually. The aim of this contest is for hackers to aggressively attack hardware and software to discover and exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities. Chrome came out as the most impregnable—only being attacked once, but not within the allotted time limit. The worst performing browser? Microsoft’s Edge browser, which was successfully attacked five times.

Chrome 57 Marks Beginning of More Efficient Power Usage

In another boon for Chrome, its latest update will finally take it easier on your computer’s CPU. According to BGR, Chrome 57 will now extend battery life by minimizing the power impact from factors that users can’t even see. This is a reference to Chrome’s background tabs. Users are familiar with the browser’s tendency to eat up resources when they have many tabs open in the background. Now, thanks to 57’s individual background tab throttling feature, there’ll be 25% fewer busy tabs that are going to be running the background.

Google and Symantec May Go to War

Everyone has probably seen security-software company Symantec’s certifications on various websites, which many users take as the gospel truth of a site’s security. However, Google has begun taking Symantec to task for its alleged failure to properly investigate whether a domain is safe for browsing before it issues its web certificates of security. According to Android Headlines, Google might soon penalize Symantec by drastically reducing the level of trust that its Chrome browser attributes by default to Symantec certificates.

Safari Technology Preview 27 Release Features New Reload Page

Apple released the 27th Safari Technology Preview update, the highlight of which is a new Reload Page From Origin feature, according to MacRumors. This option allows users to reload a page without having to rely on cached resources. Another big browser change is the elimination of the Disable Caches option from the browser’s Development menu. Rounding out the update is a whole series of fixes and improvements to Web API, JavaScript, Web Inspector, CSS, WebCrypto, Accessibility and Rendering. Safari Technology Preview is Apple’s experimental browser that tests new features that might one day make it into Safari’s future release updates.

Apple Shows off Demos of its Proposed WebGPU Browser Engine

Earlier in the year, Apple talked about a new GPU that would strive toward more powerful Internet graphics. Now, Apple has released a few demos to show developers what its new standard can do, according to 9 to 5 Mac. Developers have the opportunity to play around with Apple’s new WebGPU demos by going to Apple’s WebKit webpage. Once there, they’ll have the chance to see four new demos in total, but they’ll have to use Safari Technology Preview, as well as activate WebGPU from the Developer menu.

New Firefox User Interface Called Photon in the Works

For Firefox’s upcoming 57 release, there’s a new user interface that the company’s working on. Named Photon, its mockup designs feature rectangular tabs that will take the place of the current round ones. But that’s not all. Users can also expect a new tab page and a new and centered address bar. Overall, this is the first major overhaul of Firefox’s UI in a number of years, since 2014, to be exact.

Firefox 52 Adds a Whole Roster of New Features

Recently, Firefox debuted Firefox 52, and it was a mega update that included a huge collection of new additions, according to TechSpot. The biggest change in the pack is WebAssembly, which allows almost native performance in apps and games, something that should be welcome for gamers on any browser. Another big improvement is the automatic identification and activation of public, Wi-Fi login services at airports and hotels. Finally, Netscape Plugin API plugins have been disabled while security also gets a big boost with a warning to users who are on webpages that are not using HTTPS during sign-in.

Downloads of Opera More Than Double After Congressional Internet Privacy Vote, Allegedly

When the House of Representatives joined the Senate to reverse privacy rules the Federal Communications Commission passed last year (but hadn’t yet taken effect), the Opera browser seems to have been the biggest winner. The company reported that, in the immediate aftermath of the vote, new U.S. users of the VPN-equipped browser more than doubled as a reflex action to privacy fears, according to Computerworld. However, statistically, third-party metrics, such as those provided by analytics company StatCounter, do not verify Opera’s claim of more users flocking to its browser.

Microsoft Edge Actually Records an Uptick in its Users

In something of a surprise, Microsoft Edge, the company’s latest browser, saw a bit of an uptick in its user share. After the browser’s user numbers fell to humiliating lows last year, the browser rebounded slightly with 0.06% more users this year, according to figures provided by NetMarketShare, a statistics company. As a result, currently 5.61% of all browser users depend on Edge to access the Internet. Still, this is far cry from the high of 16% of all worldwide browser activity Edge accounted for when Windows 10 recently rolled out since the browser was the default in that release.

There you have it! Now you know all you need to know about the latest and most important developments in browser news over the past month. Join us again next month for another roundup of the most relevant browser stories for designers and developers alike.

Reclaim Your Productivity with Focus for Mac – only $9.99!

Source
This content was first posted here:
Browser Watch, April 2017