Friday, January 19, 2018

How to Build an Interactive HTML5 Ad in 10 Minutes

Today we’d like to demonstrate how to build an interactive HTML5 banner ad.

This was a project we did for Carlsberg a while back, which we think can be useful for designers and programmers interested in front-end design work.

Carlsberg is a multi-billion dollar, global beer brand that employs over 40,000 people around the world. Besides the household Carlsberg brand, they also house other brands such as Tuborg, Somersby (cider), Kronenbourg, and Dali Beer (a fast growing brand in Asia).

What Is An Interactive Ad?

Let’s do a quick recap. In the old days, we had text ads, which are basically a short text blurb with a link to the advertiser’s page, product or service.

Next came static banner ads. These are typically static images. They’re more compelling that text ads, because images are worth a thousand words. The main formats come in a 300×250 pixels (box), 728×90 (wide) or 90×728 (skyscraper).

Then, Flash technology game along on the desktop browser. Flash was revolutionary, because it enabled a wave of animated banner ads, as well as interactive ones. Animated ads captivate user attention resulting in higher click through rates (CTR). Players could even play a micro-game such shooting something, or throwing a ball into the hoop.

In 2010, Apple convinced the world of the virtues of switching to HTML5, and with giants including Google following suit, Flash technology quickly declined.

Ad technology companies see the huge growth potential in mobile, and hence started implementing HTML5 into a new, cross-platform ad unit. This unit is called the HTML5 interactive ad, supported by new industry standards such as MRAID, MRAID2, and such.

Long story short, an interactive HTML5 ad, is an ad that now works on smartphones, tablets and desktop browsers.

So What’s This Carlsberg Ad About?

Here’s a link to video, showing the interactive ad running on an iPhone:

The goal of this interactive ad is to drive awareness of the World Rugby Sevens Tournament, an annual rugby event that happens in Hong Kong. The best of the best teams from all around the world compete annually to win the top prize. Carlsberg is one of the main sponsors.

The ad experience is simple. Users see a glowing Carlsberg beer bottle. A message is asking the user to tap on the glowing bottle.

Upon tapping on it, a short animation plays of a rugby player carrying a cold, iced bucket of Carlsberg beers.

A fun brand slogan appears: “Are you beer ready”?

Users can then tap on the ‘Find us on Facebook’ link to visit the advertiser’s page for more information.

Back To Our Regular Programming

An interactive HTML5 ad consists of 5 main elements:

  1. index.html (main entry point)
  2. main.js (the javascript that contains the logic)
  3. main.css (the CSS stylesheet)
  4. assets (visual assets)
  5. the outbound link (where the ad should take users to)

Let’s start building the ad…

Part 1: index.html

The index.html consists of standard HTML declarations.

See the Pen Carlsberg Interactive Ad Demo – index.html by Ben Chong (@marketjs) on CodePen.

What matters here are the meta viewport, and the linking to main.css and main.js

As you can see, it’s fairly simple. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Part 2: main.js (The Meat And Bones )

The main.js is a Javascript file that drives all the interaction with the ad.

See the Pen Carlsberg Interactive Ad Demo – main.js by Ben Chong (@marketjs) on CodePen.

At the top, we insert jQuery’s entire minified JS. Note that you can use the latest version of jQuery from http://jquery.com/

jQuery will be helpful for most of the DOM manipulation techniques we use.

Next, we create a simple image based preload function.

We preload a bunch of graphical assets related to the ad.

Now, on to the logic. When the ad loads, you’ll notice we create 2 divs, called scene1 and scene2.

scene1 contains the div of the glowing bottle. When it’s clicked on, it transitions to scene2, via the gotoScene2 function

scene2 itself contains the tagline div, which redirects to the Facebook page of Carlsberg, when tapped.

That’s basically it. Very simple logic is needed.

Part 3: main.css (The Stylesheet)

The main.css file contains all CSS-related styles.

See the Pen Carlsberg Interactive Ad Demo – main.css by Ben Chong (@marketjs) on CodePen.

In this example, we did some of the cool animations you see via CSS

For instance, the glowing beer bottle uses the blinker value from the -webkit-animation property

We also add a few standard algorithms that users tend to love, such as bounceIn and bounceOut

Part 4: Visual Assets

Interactive ads require fun visuals that are brand-related. Hence, it’s advisable to work with a designer on interactive HTML5 ads.

In our case we used: The blank green background; The bottle; The background with the rugby man holding a cold ice bucket of beers; The call to action graphics.

Part 5: Call To Action (CTA)

This is the most important parts to any interactive ad. The call to action has to be designed to well, that users actually want to click through to find out more.

It has to be a compelling message that ties to user’s curiosity.

For emphasis, here’s the final CTA look:

Summary

We hope this article is useful for the community. As you can see, this interactive ad is really easy to build and takes not more than 10 minutes to assemble yourself.

Click here to download the project files and source code.

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How to Build an Interactive HTML5 Ad in 10 Minutes

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Freelancer’s Guide to Success and Happiness

In 2016, 34% of the US workforce worked as freelancers, and by 2020, it’s estimated that number will rise to 43%. Freelance opportunities aren’t going anywhere, and more professionals are swapping in their office key cards for a home office.

While the idea of sitting around in sweatpants or relaxing on a beach while working sounds like perfection, freelancing isn’t always a walk in the park. From juggling business responsibilities and invoices to finding your next gig, freelancing comes with its issues. Despite these challenges, a few tips can help you find success and happiness in your career.

1. Believe in Your Worth

Particularly when you’re new to freelancing, it can be intimidating to set your fee. While some projects or jobs may entail negotiation, it’s best to set your rates and stick to them. Depending on your niche, you may work on an hourly rate or quote per project. Set a rate that’s on trend with your industry rather than settle. While you may find more gigs when charging less than the industry average, you’ll experience more stress trying to juggle enough projects to meet your income goals.

2. Network Even When You’re Not Seeking Work

Networking is the lifeblood of freelancing; it’s necessary to keep your business alive. Even when you have contracts, freelancing jobs can be unpredictable. You may have ten small projects one month and three ongoing projects another month.

Finding yourself low on projects can be stressful to your mental health and your wallet. Keep networking with other professionals, freelancers, and potential employers even with plenty of projects on your plate. This effort makes it easier to find a job when you’re looking for your next gig.

3. Hire an Accountant

If you make a single business investment, hire an accountant. Unlike W-2 employees, who have a portion of taxes paid by their employers, freelancers have to cover all of their own taxes and manage their own expenses.

During tax season, it can be confusing and overwhelming to determine the tax credits for which you qualify and what taxes you owe. Working with an accountant not only makes it easier to track expenses and save on taxes but also gives you clearer insight into how much you’re earning after taxes.

4. Set a Schedule and Stick to It

Working the standard nine-to-five Monday through Friday can feel restrictive, but businesses are onto something when they adhere to a consistent schedule. Whether you prefer to work late at night or early in the morning, set a regular schedule for your work week, including the days and hours you’ll work. Aim to schedule four days of work and one day for handling administrative tasks, such as following up on emails, taking care of bills and invoices, and networking. A regular schedule helps you get into a work mindset each time you start your day.

5. Don’t Skimp on Business Necessities

Working as a freelancer means wearing a business-owner hat too. While it’s tempting to cut back on costs wherever you can, it’s worth investing in the tools you need to do your work efficiently. One service you should never skimp on is a reliable high-speed internet connection for communicating with employers and completing projects. Take the time to find the fastest internet in your area and calculate your bandwidth needs based on the type of work you do. With a fast connection, you can complete your work faster and avoid the frustrations of lag.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

When you determine your income, it’s easy to make the mistake of taking on too much work. If you’re tempted to take on another project for the additional income, consider the cons: additional stress and less time to decompress. Don’t risk your mental health for a bump in pay. Before agreeing to any new project, look to see if it will realistically fit into your schedule. If it won’t, turn it down or explain what deadline would work for you.

Working as a freelancer is an exciting career move, offering independence and opportunities to challenge yourself and enhance your skills. While freelancing isn’t the easiest gig, following these helpful tips can help you find happiness and success in your career.

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The Freelancer’s Guide to Success and Happiness

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

8 Sites That Work Just Fine Without JS, Thank You

Gather ’round, ladies, gents, and children. Lo, before your very eyes, we shall reveal several freaks of the Internet! Behold! Websites that don’t need JavaScript to display their god-given content!

Oh, you think I’m kidding? Websites that are presented by plain old HTML and CSS are becoming increasingly rare. At this juncture, I don’t know who to blame, and is it really worth blaming anybody? I could point finger at whomever or whatever I think is to blame, or I could point fingers at creative and sometimes large websites that do it right!

Now, what do I mean about “doing it right”? Some of these sites, you might notice, do implement some things with JavaScript. But here’s the secret: if you turn JavaScript off, these sites still work just fine. The content doesn’t just disappear. The JavaScript effects and features have fallbacks! Sites are progressively enhanced, or they degrade gracefully.

Either way: they work. And they’re kind of hard to find, these days.

1. Amazon

You might expect a site with as much information present on any given page as Amazon has to use a mountain of JavaScript to, in some way, organize it more efficiently. Not so. Turn off the JS, and you can buy stuff just fine.

2. The Warren Trust

The Warren Trust is another one that degrades quite gracefully. With JS on, the site uses AJAX techniques to load content from other pages without technically leaving the home page. Turn off the JS, and it won’t work quite like it does with the JS on, but it does work. You can still see every page, but, you know, on its own page.

3. Stuff & Nonsense

Stuff & Nonsense was created by known and self-admitted web designer Andy Clarke. So yeah, it work with and without JS just fine. It’s a lovely example of a site that (mostly) works perfectly fine either way.

The only thing that doesn’t work when JS is turned off is the audio player. That is kind of to be expected, really. I can’t take many points away for that.

4. Mike Mai

Mike Mai’s site is proof enough that your site can be plenty creative—if a little odd in this case—with or without scripting. And I do mean “odd”, and I really do mean “little”.

It may not be the poster-site for visual accessibility, but it does show what kind of things can be accomplished in plain old HTML and CSS by those just crazy enough to try it.

5. Solace House

Solace House is a sobering example of a site that absolutely needs to work any time, under any circumstance, no matter which technologies are or aren’t working. It’s a suicide prevention center, after all.

You might be able to argue that your target demographic should just have JavaScript enabled at all times in some circumstances, but there are some services that are just too vital to ever leave to chance.

6. Twitter

Yeah, that Twitter. It was while researching this article that I found out Twitter works well enough without JavaScript. Well, their solution is a bit convoluted, perhaps, but it’s effective.

In short, Twitter will actually redirect you to a pared-down, mobile version of Twitter. It’s fully functional, except for features like feeds that update live, and so on. Who says social media needs JavaScript?

Truth be told, Twitter never felt faster.

7. Slack

You might need JavaScript to actually run a Slack chatroom, but the rest of the client-facing site looks and works just fine. It even has a condition in the URL for no JavaScript. And when you need to enable JS to make things run, they tell you! They actually tell you!

No seriously, it’s a thing that lots of sites would rather let you stare at a blank page than even say, “Woops! Looks like the JS broke, or you need to enable it.” I dislike this thing.

8. WebdesignerDepot

No, seriously, try it out. You’ll see a few visual downgrades, but everything essential looks fine, and works well. This is what it’s all about, people!

I’d love to take some credit for that, but I just write here on occasion. I guess this is my official letter of congratulations to the designer!

In Conclusion

I just wanted to show people what could be done. That’s it. I’m not saying you should ditch JS entirely, but I do believe that we should be a lot more considered about what we do and don’t implement in JavaScript.

Look at the sites I’ve listed here. Look at your own. For every thing you implement with a script, ask yourself if you really, really need to make it a script. For that matter, do you really need HTML?

Okay, okay. That’s going way too far.

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8 Sites That Work Just Fine Without JS, Thank You

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Should the Web Have a Universal Design System?

Unlike mobile applications, the web has no set design guidelines to which a designer can refer. Instead, each web project tends to be a blank canvas. There are frameworks like Material, Bootstrap, and others which provide a base, but no set guidelines which span the web as a whole.

The result is a wide-ranging and diverse web, but one with a lack of cohesiveness, particularly in terms of user experience. Navigations differ in placement, structure, and overall design. Layouts alternate in width. Text sizes and typographic scales vary wildly. And a wide range of differing components, interactions, and user interface elements are used.

Design systems ensure consistency between apps, resulting in a more cohesive product

The lack of a set design system for the web is due to its open source nature, and lack of ownership. No company or organization has the power to enforce guidelines or standards. The closest anything or anyone comes to impacting the way we design is Google, who can affect your search rankings based on factors such as user experience, responsiveness, and code structure. On the other hand, mobile operating systems like iOS and Android have the power to enforce certain application structures, user experience practices, and standards. Design systems ensure consistency between apps, resulting in a more cohesive product, and one that is easier to use and understand for the end user. It also enhances performance and optimization, as well as accessibility.

Despite such a defined set of guidelines in both cases of iOS and Android, designers still find ways to differentiate through aspects like color, layout, and design details. In these circumstances it’s still entirely possible to achieve outstanding  and unique designs which still fall within the guidelines.

Conversely, the web is an absolute blank canvas. There is the ability to take a design and user experience in any direction desired. On one hand, it’s what makes the web so attractive, diverse, and abundant. On the other hand, it can lead to a confusing experience for many people: one that is highly inaccessible, inconsistent, and uses a variety of sub-optimal and dark user experience practices.

The case of iOS and Android show just how rich and diverse a digital product or ecosystem can be, even under such regulation and moderately-strict guidelines.

This poses the question of whether a set of open source guidelines should be introduced for the entire web. Whether it comes from W3C, is a unified effort between major browsers, or is devised by a group of designers, it could improve the web for all. There would still be great scope for producing unique designs, while ensuring the web reaches much more acceptable levels of accessibility and usability as a whole. Designers and user experience professionals could contribute to this as an open source project, pushing forward the progress of the entire web.

It’s not just web applications this system should apply to. Whether it’s a blog, portfolio, landing page, or wiki, they are all still usable products. They still require important user experience considerations such as accessibility, navigation, color practices, and typography scales. Many companies consider such aspects, while many ignore them either through choice, misjudgement, or lack of consideration. It’s an area which is so fragmented under the current system, and does not work appropriately for everyone. That includes those with a disability, visual impairment, or lack of familiarity with computers and the web. These users should be designed for first.

As it stands, the primary consideration is often the design visuals: making something impressive, unique, and eye-catching. Often this desire to differentiate can lead to oversights with user experience, and design choices like unique navigation solutions which are confusing and unfamiliar to most.

Google is a prime example of a company who have developed a set of guidelines and applied them with absolute consistency across mobile and web. Whether you switch from Google Keep on iPhone, to Google Drive on the web, the user experience and design elements remain consistent. Then when switching between products on the web like Play Store or YouTube, it again remains consistent.

This ease of use and transition from one product or site to another should be a model to follow for others. It puts the user first, making for an entirely accessible and understandable experience. Google is beginning to take this even a step further, as they introduce Android apps and web-based equivalents that work at desktop size. With products like Chromebooks, it makes the transition between devices even more seamless.

The closer we can get to a cohesive design system across the web…the better it will be…for all parties involved

The closer we can get to a cohesive design system across the web as a whole, the better it will be in the long run, for all parties involved. This means having systems span much further than just one company.

IBM or Airbnb may perfect their design systems to the nth degree and apply them with excellent consistency. However, as soon as a user switches to another product or service, their design system is likely to be wholly different, from typography and layout, to navigational practices. That’s why it needs to be looked at as an issue from further afar. And apps are the closest example we have to how successful this can be as a means to improve the everyday lives of users.

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Should the Web Have a Universal Design System?

Monday, January 15, 2018

What’s New for Designers, January 2018

Start 2018 by deleting some of those old tools from your computer that you never use in favor of some fresh, new options. While old favorites can be great for a while, there are so many great new elements out there that can streamline your workflow, or help add more creative spark to projects.

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!

Let’s Enhance

Do you ever have an image that is just too small for what you need? Let’s Enhance is here to solve that problem. The free tool allows you to upload an image—just drag and drop—and it will remove JPEG artifacts and upscale by up to four times the original size without losing any quality. (And it actually works!) State of the art neural networks are used to help removed image noise and imagines missing details for images that look totally natural.

Design Principles

The open-source Design Principles project is a collection of resources that are the basis for good projects. According to the curator, “Design Principles help teams with decision making. A few simple principles or constructive questions will guide your team towards making appropriate decisions.” You can browse more than 1,000 principles and examples already in the database or submit your own.

Hexi-Flexi

Hexi-Flexi is an SCSS component built on the CSS grid layout that creates a lattice of hexagons. Without JavaScript, you can customize the number of shapes, cells and rows to fit your design or content. It also supports auto-populating backgrounds.

Snippetnote

Snippetnote is a note-taking app that allows you to copy snippets for later. You can copy private snippets and change the layout as needed. Notes are available offline and in a drag and drop interface that’s easy to use. The interface is streamlined and simple without ads or social prompts.

Manta

Manta is a simple invoice-building app for Mac, with sleek design and customizable templates. Users can drag and drop items in invoice fields, include an SVG logo for better printing, and export invoices to a PDF or email format. (Plus, it’s a totally free-to-use invoice tool if you are looking for a simple product to streamline billing, which can be great for freelancers.)

Sketch Elements

This free iOS user interface elements kit has everything you need for your next app project. The kit includes 35 screen designs, 45 icons and 175 symbols. Plus, every element can be further customized so that your project feels unique. The kit is made for Sketch 48 or later.

Minimalist Icons

Themeisle has a set of free, minimalist vector icons that you can download and use in a number of projects. Each icon comes in a line-drawn, colorless style with a variety of options. The pack includes more than 100 icons.

StatusTicker

Keep up with the status of critical services in one location. Get real-time notifications that you can see on screen or have them emailed or messaged to you. The ticker supports more than 145 services.

Instagram.css

Looking for Instagram-style images for your projects? Instagram.css is a complete set of Instagram filters in pure CSS.

Epic Spinners

These simple CSS-only loading animations are fun and functional. Just grab the code and you are ready to use them.

Buy Me a Coffee

It’s like Kickstarter for creatives. Buy Me a Coffee allows you to showcase work and ask supporters for a small donation to fund the project.

Keepflow

Keepflow is a team-based project management tool for design freelancers and agencies. Currently in pre-launch beta, the software is designed to help you onboard clients and then manage a project – from an information-gathering questionnaire to the final product.

Tutorial: Using SVG to Create a Duotone Effect

CSS-Tricks has an excellent new tutorial that helps you navigate the world of SVG and create a trendy design element at the same time. The tutorial breaks down how to create a duotone effect in both the traditional manner using Adobe Photoshop and with SVG filter effects.

Product Manual

Product Manual is a collection of resources that help you build and understand the process of creating great products. The website is packed with resources by category—you can also add your own—so that every project can start here.

One Year of Design

Pixels collected a pretty cool collection of great website designs from 2017 all in one place. The retrospective is a nice bit of design inspiration.

CopyChar

Need a special character? Rather than digging through typefaces or struggling to remember keyboard shortcuts, use CopyChar to click and add a special character right to your clipboard. Special character options include everything from letters and punctuation to math and numbers to symbols, arrows and emoji.

Dulcelin

Dulcelin is a simple script that’s available free for personal use. It has a nice structure that’s readable and comes with a set of 177 characters.

Kabrio

Kabrio is a fun sans serif with the added bonus of having multiple corner options for typeface styles. The alternate variant features slightly rounded corners, that become even more round in the soft variant. Abarth features cut corner for a more mechanical, cold look. Each variant has seven weights and italics.

Promova

Promova is a blocky sans serif that would make a nice display option for website projects. The typeface includes regular and italic styles with wide character sets. The type family includes upper-and lowercase letters and is highly readable.

Studio Gothic

Studio Gothic is a nice sans serif with a rounded feel. The free version includes Extra Bold Italic and the Alternative Regular variations. The pair have an extensive character set and would work nicely for a variety of project types.

Sunshine Reggae

Sunshine Reggae is a lowercase typeface with a brush-stroke handwriting style. The limited font includes just 26 lowercase characters without any extras or frills, but it can make a fun display option.

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What’s New for Designers, January 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Popular Design News of the Week: January 8, 2018 – January 14, 2018

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Best WordPress Design Trends for 2018

 

5 Typography Trends for 2018

 

Coke’s New Font is Design at its Worst

 

Company Tricks People into Swiping Instagram Ad with Fake Strand of Hair

 

Golden Ratio. Bring Balance in UI Design

 

Gradient Cards – A Simple and Beautiful List of Editable Gradients

 

The 7 Best Design Case Studies of 2017

 

Goodbye IPod, and Thanks for all the Tunes

 

I’m Harvesting Credit Card Numbers and Passwords from your Site. Here’s How.

 

Inboxer – A Clean, Open-source Desktop Client for Google Inbox

 

Spotify for Developers

 

So your Website is Slow? Let’s Fix That.

 

Building Our Sketch Library

 

Low Poly Art – A Free Collection

 

Beginner’s COurse: JavaScript for the Web

 

Designers, Here is Why You Want to Limit You Tools

 

Simple Mockups – Minimalistic Devices Mockup Pack for Sketch & Photoshop

 

Workplace Hygiene in Sketch

 

How to Fix Facebook – Before it Fixes Us

 

5 UX Books that’ll Change How You Think About Design

 

How to Use Variable Fonts on the Web

 

Inspiration Feed: The New Designspiration

 

Challenge: To Create an Illustration Style

 

The 8 Greatest Ideas of CES 2018

 

A UX Career is a Business Career

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Popular Design News of the Week: January 8, 2018 – January 14, 2018