Weekly News for Designers № 489

I/O 2019: Our Definitive Guide to Design – Check out coverage of Google’s annual I/O conference.
I/O 2019: Our Definitive Guide to Design

CSS can do that? – 11 cool things you can do with just a little bit of CSS.
CSS can do that?

Animated Image Columns – An experimental layout where columns are animated “out of the way” to reveal content underneath.
Animated Image Columns

How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many? – While there’s no set answer, there are a number of factors involved for each website.
How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many?

Creating an accessible language picker – Use this tutorial to build a language picker element that is accessible to all.
Creating an accessible language picker

Why I Charge the Same for Building Websites Designed by Someone Else – Building another designer’s creation has its own set of challenges.
Why I Charge the Same for Building Websites Designed by Someone Else

Gitfolio – A tool for building your own personal portfolio and blog on GitHub.

SVGMator – Load your SVG file and add powerful behaviors – right from the browser.

Contrast in Type: Mixing Solid and Hollow Fonts – Examples of how this design trend can make an impact.
Contrast in Type: Mixing Solid and Hollow Fonts

A pure CSS onclick context menu – Create a simple dropdown context menu with this tutorial.
A pure CSS onclick context menu

Animation Handbook – A guide to using animation to demonstrate abstract concepts.
Animation Handbook

Why Gutenberg Has Changed My Opinion of Page Builders – Maybe WordPress page builders aren’t so bad after all?
Why Gutenberg Has Changed My Opinion of Page Builders

Flex – Build CSS Flexbox layouts with this browser-based tool.

Icon cutter – Resize your icons for use with iOS, Android and various other devices.
Icon Cutter

6 M-Commerce Design Practices to Help Improve Your Sales in 2019 – Use these tips to increase your mobile sales.
6 M-Commerce Design Practices to Help Improve Your Sales in 2019

Unraveling the JPEG – A behind-the-scenes look at how this popular image format works.
Unraveling the JPEG

10 Usability Heuristics Applied to Video Games – Techniques for improving the UX of video games.
10 Usability Heuristics Applied to Video Games

Airline Logos – Relive the past with this look at some classic airline logos.
Airline Logos

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15+ VSCO Photoshop Actions

VSCO is one of the most popular apps for adding effects and editing photos for Instagram and social media. But what if you want to achieve a similar effect using VSCO style Photoshop actions?

We handpicked a collection of VSCO-inspired Photoshop actions you can use to easily recreate the same effects of the VSCO filters using Photoshop and make any photo look more vibrant and attractive.

We made sure to include both free and premium VSCO Photoshop actions in the list to let beginners and experts find high-quality effects that suit their design workflow.

What Is A VSCO Photoshop Action?

VSCO is a photo editing app available on iOS and Android that allows you to edit and enhance photos. It’s a great app but it requires paying for its yearly subscription in order to access its collection of filters. Not to mention that you have very limited options for customizing those filters and you get stuck with mobile photos with low resolution.

VSCO Photoshop actions are a type of actions that are designed to apply effects to photos that are similar to VSCO filters. Unlike VSCO, these Photoshop actions can be easily customized to adjust their settings to your preference and you can apply them to various types of file formats as well.

Our Favorite VSCO Actions

To help you find a great VSCO action more quickly, we picked out our top free and premium actions from the list.

Top Premium Pick

Skin Retouch Photoshop Actions

Skin Retouch Photoshop Actions

VSCO app has a built-in slider that allows you to adjust the skin tone of your portrait photos. Although, it does very little to improve the skin tone and doesn’t offer any kind of options for adjusting the effect.

However, this skin retouching Photoshop action is far more superior at what it does and lets you apply the action and adjust the opacity, blending, and strength of each effect to fit different types of photos.

Why This Is A Top Pick

While VSCO does simple adjustments to improve your skin tone, this Photoshop action

The Power of Serverless v2.0! (Now an Open-Source Gatsby Site Hosted on Netlify)

I created a website called The Power of Serverless for Front-End Developers over at thepowerofserverless.info a little while back while I was learning about that whole idea. I know a little more now but still have an endless amount to learn. Still, I felt like it was time to revamp that site a bit.

For one thing, just like our little conferences website, the new site is a subdomain of this very site:


Why? What’s this site all about?

The whole idea behind the serverless buzzword is a pretty big deal. Rather than maintaining your own servers, which you already buy from some other company, you architect your app such that everything is run on commoditized servers you access on-demand instead.

Hosting becomes static, which is rife with advantages. Just look at Netlify who offer blazing-fast static hosting and innovate around the developer experience. The bits you still need back-end services for run in cloud functions that are cheap and efficient.

This is a big deal for front-end developers. We’ve already seen a massive growth in what we are capable of doing on the front end, thanks to the expanding power of JavaScript. Now a JavaScript developer can be building entire websites from end-to-end with the JAMstack concept.

But you still need to know how to string it all together. Who do you use to process forms? Where do you store the data? What can I use for user authentication? What content management systems are available in this world? That’s what this site is all about! I’d like the site to be able to explain the concept and offer resources, but more importantly, be a directory to the slew of services out there that make up this new serverless world.

The site also features a section containing ideas that might help you figure out how you might use serverless technology. Perhaps you’ll even take a spin making a serverless site.

Design by Kylie Timpani and illustration by Geri Coady

Kylie Timpani (yes, the same Kylie who worked …

Front-End Documentation, Style Guides and the Rise of MDX

You can have the best open source project in the world but, if it doesn’t have good documentation, chances are it’ll never take off. In the office, good documentation could save you having to repeatedly answer the same questions. Documentation ensures that people can figure out how things work if key employees decide to leave the company or change roles. Well documented coding guidelines help bring consistency to a codebase.

If you’re writing long-form text, Markdown is clearly a great alternative to authoring HTML. Sometimes though, Markdown syntax isn’t enough. It’s always been possible to write straight HTML inside of Markdown documents. This includes custom elements so, if you’re building a design system with native web components, it’s easy to incorporate them inside your text-based documentation. If you’re working with React (or any other framework that speaks JSX, like Preact or Vue), you can do the same thing by using MDX.

This article is a broad overview of the tools available for writing documentation and for building style guides. Not all the tools listed here make use of MDX but it’s increasingly being incorporated into documentation tooling.

What is MDX?

A .mdx file has exactly the same syntax as a regular Markdown file, but lets you import interactive JSX components and embed them within your content. Support for Vue components is in alpha. It’s easy to get MDX set up with Create React App. There are MDX plugins for Next.js and Gatsby. The forthcoming version two release of Docusaurus will also come with built-in support.

Writing documentation with Docusaurus

Docusaurus is made by Facebook and used by every Facebook open source project, apart from React. It’s also used by many major open source projects outside of Facebook, including Redux, Prettier, Gulp and Babel.

A screenshot of logos of all the various frameworks that support Docusaurus, including React, Gulp, Jest, Babel, Redux and Prettier.
Projects making use of Docusaurus.

You can use Docusaurus to document anything — it isn’t front-end specific. Docusaurus uses React under the hood, but you don’t have to know that framework to make use of it. It’ll take your Markdown files and turn them …

25+ Modern, Premium Google Slides Templates & Themes

Google Slides is a great web-based, free platform for creating presentations (and collaborating as you do so). There are plenty of pre-made default templates available, but they can only so so far — many are quite simple, and lack polished aesthetics.

If you’re wanting to take your Google Slides presentation to the next level, today’s collection of 25 pre-made templates will help. They’re all fully editable, beautifully crafted, and come ready for you to drop in your own text, images, graphics, charts, and more. We hope you find them useful!

Our Favorite Google Slides Templates

Don’t have the time to scroll through our entire list? Then you can save time by checking out our top picks of the list. These are the best of the best free and premium Google Slides templates on the list.

Top Premium Pick

Onfire – Modern Google Slides Template

Onfire - Modern Google Slides Template

If you’re looking for a Google Slides template filled with colors and shapes, this template is perfect for you. It includes 30 unique slide layouts in 5 different color schemes featuring creative image placeholders and fully editable design.

The template is designed with vector graphics and shapes. This will allow you to freely customize the design to change the colors and sizes of the shapes however you like.

Why This Is A Top Pick

The unique design of the image placeholders in this template is what caught our attention the most. Also, being able to choose from multiple color designs makes this template useful for creating many different types of presentations.

Top Free Pick

Brook – Free Google Slides Template

Brook - Free Google Slides Template

Brook is a multipurpose Google Slides template you can use to create many different types of business and professional presentations. The template comes with 8 unique slides and you can download it free of charge.

In addition, the template also features high-quality vector icons and editable vector graphics that will add more value to your presentations.

Why This Is A Top Pick

Even though this template only has 8 slides, they are designed well and includes

It’s Time to Talk About Testimonials

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to get new business — and high-quality business at that. But unless you’re focused on a very small space where everyone knows each other, it can be hard to get your clients to refer you to others on their own.

That’s why you need to be willing to ask clients for testimonials and online reviews.

Look, consumers are smart. They know that anyone can build a website for their business and claim that they’re the best in their space. “We build websites that get you results” isn’t going to mean anything to prospective clients unless you have proof of those results.

That’s where client testimonials and reviews come into play. You’re going to let the words of former clients and proof of their satisfaction and results speak on your behalf.

How to Ask Clients for Testimonials and Reviews

As a web designer, it would greatly benefit you to collect as many client testimonials as you can for your website. And, beyond that, to start encouraging clients to leave positive reviews for you on Google.

Think about it like this:

consumers need to read about 10 online reviews before they can trust a business

Prospective clients are taking a big risk when they hire a designer to build their website. If they don’t know you, have never heard of your business, and don’t know anyone who’s used your services, how can they trust that you’ll design a great website for them?

Bright Local conducted a Local Consumer Review Survey a couple years back and found that consumers need to read about 10 online reviews before they can trust a business.

That’s because client reviews and testimonials are valuable. They give prospective clients a sense for what it’s like to work with you and what they can realistically expect to get out of the relationship.

For example, you can see here the level of detail included in this testimonial for BA Creative:

Then, you have to think about what happens when reviews come …

15+ Best HDR Lightroom Presets

The HDR technique is one of the most popular techniques photographers use to add more depth and range to photos. It usually takes multiple photos and a lot of work to take photos using the HDR technique.

However, if you have the Lightroom app, there’s a much easier way to create that same HDR effect with just a few clicks. In this post, we’re sharing with you a collection of the best HDR Lightroom presets you can use to add an authentic HDR effect to your own photos.

These HDR Lightroom presets are easy to customize, and they let you adjust the settings to match any kind of a photograph, whether you take it with a DSLR or your smartphone camera.

What is an HDR Lightroom Preset?

The presets are one of the most useful tools available in Adobe Lightroom. Presets allows you to quickly apply effects, make adjustments, and improve the overall look of a photo with just a single click. These come in handy when you’re editing an entire photo shoot or a batch of photos.

There are many different types of Lightroom presets out there and an HDR Lightroom preset is a type of preset that allows you to replicate the HDR technique and apply an effect to your photos. This effect allows you to enhance the depth and mood of your photos.

3 Tips for Using HDR Presets

If you’re not familiar with the HDR technique or using HDR presets, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you start applying the effect to your photos.

Pick Your Photos Carefully

Unlike most other types of Lightroom presets, HDR presets needs to be used with only certain types of photos. The HDR technique is best used with photos taken in bright and natural light conditions, especially outdoors.

Of course, you can use the effect with other types of photos, but you should pick the photos carefully that most require more depth. For example, the HDR effect will make your outdoor landscape photos look …

FilmHERO: Stock Video Made Easy

Do you find yourself asking where other websites find such amazing video clips?

You don’t need a monster budget to get high-quality video for your website. With the right stock video, you can create a custom website experience that uses one of the trendiest and most engaging elements out there.

FilmHERO is a good place to start. The video provider has a huge collection of video clips that you can download and use in any number of projects. Here’s how it works.

What is FilmHERO?

FilmHERO is a stock video service. What’s different about this provider is that they produce fresh video content every week, using their own team of directors and crews to make clips that look amazing.

Video content on the site is 4K or higher, so it will look great on every screen, every time.

Here’s how the company describes their product:

We know that flexibility is key. That’s why we offer packs of footage for that one-off project or subscriptions for regular users. Whether you’re a global studio or a film student, we have the right solution for you with keen pricing. Epic content for all. We’re not here to make a quick buck, we’re in it for the long term. Take our footage and mix it with your passion and creativity then see what happens next.

Large Video Selection

All of the clips on FilmHERO are sorted into categories so that it’s easy to find just the right stock video footage. Packs also come in these category-based themes.

Choose from categories such as adventure, aerial, arts, business, education, faith, fitness, governance, humanities, industry, lifestyle, media, medical, retail, romance, scenic, science, sports, technology, and vacation.

There’s also a robust search option if you have an idea of what you need in particular.

The collection includes more than 12,000 4K clips in more than 800 …

Good News For Apple Users

Are you an loyal Apple fan? Well, here’s some good news for you, especially if you’re planning to buy a new Mac or you’re already a proud owner of  one.

There’s no need to pay for anything if you want data transferred to your new Mac. The data migration fee has finally been dropped.

After speaking with an Apple Store Operations Specialist, TidBITS reported that the company has dropped the data migration fee charged when users move their content from an old computer to a new Mac.

(Via: https://news.yahoo.com/apple-quietly-nixes-fee-transfer-data-old-mac-091257923.html)

That’s really good news because Apple’s data migration fee was quite high. You would really have had to factor that in if, in case, you wanted to upgrade your old Mac to a new one.

Previously, when you went to the Apple Store to upgrade your computer to a new one or had some repairs done, you’d have to pay a whopping $99 to migrate the data to your new device or new hard drive. As first reported by TidBITS on Tuesday, Apple quietly discontinued charging this particular fee.

(Via: https://news.yahoo.com/apple-quietly-nixes-fee-transfer-data-old-mac-091257923.html)

So, if you’re seriously considering replacing your old Mac, go right ahead. Now is the perfect time for it.

An Apple Store Operations Specialist told the tech news site that “Beginning April 2, there will be no cost of Data Migrations with the purchase of a new Mac or Data Transfers with a repair.”

(Via: https://news.yahoo.com/apple-quietly-nixes-fee-transfer-data-old-mac-091257923.html)

For tech savvy folks, data transfer from one Mac to another can easily be done.

Nevertheless, if you’re confident in your tech savviness, you could do so yourself at home; Apple offers a set of instructions explaining how to move content from an old computer — even if it’s a PC — to your new Mac. If you got into the habit of uploading your files to iCloud, there’s no transfer even necessary when you change computers.

(Via: https://news.yahoo.com/apple-quietly-nixes-fee-transfer-data-old-mac-091257923.html)

For folks, who have no technical knowledge or patience to deal with data transfer, they can always just go to an …

The Browser Can Remember Edited Content

You can make the text inside any HTML element editable by adding the contenteditable attribute.

<div contenteditable>
  Hey, I'm like a textarea kinda now!

I wouldn’t say there are wheelbarrows full of use-cases for that, but it’s neat. One possible use might be an in-progress design in which editing the content from the design itself is useful either for you, or for someone else (a client?) who needs to change the text.

So, great, contenteditable. Now someone can click into the text and edit it.

There is nothing permanent about those changes. Refresh the page, look in another browser or whatever. Those edits are gone.

Say you wanted to do a little better job and make the changes persistent. You aren’t trying to build a CMS here, or save the data through an authenticated connection to a database or anything. You just wanna make the edits to the text are maintained if the page refreshes.

One way is to chuck the data from the text changes you make into localStorage.

  1. When text is edited (on blur of the element), save the data to localStorage using a namespace and the
    ID of the element as the key.
  2. When the page loads, look through localStorage and see if there are any keys that match elements on the page and, if so, replace the content.
const editables = document.querySelectorAll("[contenteditable]");

// save edits
editables.forEach(el => {
  el.addEventListener("blur", () => {
    localStorage.setItem("dataStorage-" + el.id, el.innerHTML);

// once on load
for (var key in localStorage) {
  if (key.includes("dataStorage-")) {
    const id = key.replace("dataStorage-","");
    document.querySelector("#" + id).innerHTML = localStorage.getItem(key);

See the Pen
localStorage + contenteditable
by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)
on CodePen.

This reminds me of a few other things…

  • document.designMode = "on" is like a shortcut for making every element on the page behave like it has contenteditable.
  • Mavo is a little bit like this concept only with authentication, true data storage options, and editing UI.
  • If performance is a concern, KV storage is supposed