Using Jetpack to Accelerate WordPress Development

(This is a sponsored post.)

[Geoff:] I’ve built a fair number of WordPress sites in my day. It’s been my go-to since the 2.x-ish days because it works for any site, big or small. That’s the sort of solution and flexibility you like to have as a freelancer.

Boy, I wish I had Jetpack available in those early days.

Like WordPress itself, Jetpack is a good solution for many, many of the types of things clients are looking for from a WordPress site. I used to spend hours researching the right plugin for a specific feature, whether that was for comment filtering, asset caching, beefier search functionality, creating custom post types on the fly… you name it. All of that — and a heckuva lot more — is included in Jetpack right out of the box.

Here’s what I’m talking about. A friend of mine runs a pop-up gallery here locally. She displays paintings, photographs, sculptures… basically anything super artsy from super talented locals. That includes events, socials, performances and screenings. The wild thing is that it “pops” up in different spots, based on what she’s showing and what public space is available. So, you get how a website would be helpful for visitors to keep tabs on what’s coming up and where things are going to take place, not to mention getting a recap on past events.

We’ve all made sites for friends, right? It’s the kind of thing you do for free on the side. That makes it something you want to do well, but not necessarily spend a ton of time making. That’s where Jetpack really helped me out in this case.

If Jetpack is new to you, it’s a WordPress plugin that, as part of what it does, is bring features from and makes them available on your self-hosted WordPress sites.

For example, my friend really needed to showcase work. This is less of a content site and more of a visual experience, so media plays a big role. Photos, video, audio. You get …

20+ Best Animated Keynote Templates With Stylish Transitions

A great way to make your Keynote slideshow more attractive is to use animation effects. With just a few entrance animations or transition effects, you can instantly make your presentation look more professional.

However, it takes a lot of configuring and testing to figure out the right animations for each and every slide in your presentation. If you’re in a rush to finish up a presentation, there won’t be any time to play around with animation effects and transitions.

We found a solution to this problem in animated Keynote templates. We handpicked some professional and creative Keynote templates for this collection that also comes fully equipped with predefined animations and transition effects. All you have to do is download the template and start customizing.

Mobile App – Keynote Presentation Template

Mobile App - Keynote Presentation Template

Creating a presentation slideshow to promote a mobile app takes a lot of careful planning and design work. With this fully animated Keynote template, you’ll be able to cut that work in half. It features 32 unique slides with beautiful designs you can use to promote mobile apps and games.

Ishvara – Animated Keynote Template

Ishvara - Animated Keynote Template

Featuring 5 different color variations, this stylish Keynote template will help you create attractive slideshows for fashion, design, and business presentations. The template includes 30 unique slides with animations.

Retorica – Marketing Keynote Template

Retorica - Marketing Keynote Template

If you’re working on a presentation for a sales meeting, marketing presentation, or a creative project showcase, this Keynote template is the perfect choice for you. It comes with a creative slide design with shapes and lots of space for showcasing large images. The template features a total of 150 animated slides.

Sentinel – Fashion Keynote Template

Sentinel - Fashion Keynote Template

This elegant and minimal Keynote template is perfect for making a slideshow to promote a fashion brand or an apparel business. It features a clean design that gives more focus to images. The template consists of 30 unique slides that are available in 5 color schemes.

Tagores – Dark Keynote Template

Tagores - Dark Keynote Template

Dark colored slide designs work well for presentations as they help highlight the …

Does Your Web Design Business Need a Rebrand?

How long ago did you start your design business or side gig? Three months? Three years? And how long has it been since you evaluated your business since then?

As a web designer, your job is to think critically and creatively for your clients, which is why you ask them probing questions like:

  • How old is your business?
  • What’s its mission?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What’s the personality of your brand?
  • Where do you see your business in five years?

The better you understand the business, the more easily you can design a website and shape a brand identity around it for them. But I’m willing to bet you haven’t spent much time doing the same for your own business.

I know the last thing you want to do is to take time away from revenue-generating work to evaluate your business and potentially rebrand it. However, what if a rebrand could bring you better work, better quality of clients, and better pay?

There’s a reason why you put so much care into designing a website that perfectly aligns with a company’s mission and personality. You should do the same for your own.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business

Lots of companies undergo rebrands. In some cases, it’s because they want to clean up a tarnished image as was the case in Uber’s rebrand. In other cases, they decide to strengthen their branding with visuals that are more uniquely their own, like MailChimp did.

For you? Well, it might be more practical and simple than that.

Consider the following scenarios. Some may sound familiar while others don’t. However, if you do find any connection to the questions and situations I’m about to pose, then it may be time for your business to undergo a rebrand:

1. Did You Start Without a Niche?

Web designers work in a very congested and competitive space, especially as a younger generation of designers raised on computers and apps enter the workforce. That’s why you may find that working without a specialty doesn’t …

How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many?

It seems like one the existential questions of our time – at least, for web designers. But for years, many of us have been trying to figure out the “right” number of WordPress plugins to use within a website.

I hate to break it to anyone who likes nice, round figures: There is no specific number. No threshold that defines you as either a pro or poser. I know, some people define their success by using a minuscule number of plugins. If you can get away with doing so, you get much respect from me.

For the rest of us, plugins are a tempting proposition. They can take care of so many tasks – large and small. And they’re only a few clicks away.

But add too many and it can weigh down your site’s performance. Not to mention that every single thing you install adds another layer of complexity to the mix.

While there is no one-size-fits-all number of plugins you can or should run, there are some ways to tell if you’re past the limit. Here are a few factors to help you make that determination.

The Hosting Environment

Computing power and network bandwidth are incredibly important factors in terms of performance. Yet, most often the only control designers have over them is when choosing a host (if one hasn’t already been chosen for us). If you have a choice, look for a provider that offers lots of both.

Beyond raw power, the server’s OS and related software also play a role. You’ll want to ensure you’re running PHP 7.x, as that’s been proven much faster than previous versions. Server-based caching and load balancing can provide a big boost if your host offers them.

As important as anything, though, is the type of hosting account you have. If it’s low-end shared hosting, you’re probably not going to get the same bang for your buck that you’d get with a higher-end VPS or dedicated setup. The more dedicated resources your site has, the more well-coded plugins you may …

20+ Best InDesign Book Templates

InDesign is the go-to choice for all designers when it comes to making books and brochures. The InDesign book templates we handpicked for this collection will show you why it’s the best tool in the industry.

It usually takes a lot of careful planning and creative thinking to design effective book page layouts with proper content and paragraph arrangements. When using pre-made book templates, you can avoid all that work and jump straight to customizing the design.

For this collection, we picked a few different types of book templates, including branding manuals, eBooks, fashion look books, design books, portfolio books, and more. All you need to do is download the template and start editing.

The Voyage – Brand Book Template

The Voyage - Brand Book Template

Most companies don’t have big budgets to spend on designing professional brand style guides. But, that doesn’t mean you have to make ugly brand style guide books that make your company look bad. Simply use this premade book template to lay out your brand guidelines in a professionally designed book. The template includes 28 page layouts and comes in A4 size.

Polygonal – Brand Style Guide Template

Polygonal - Brand Style Guide Template

Designing brand style guide books for creative agencies and design firms takes extra work since they have to look more attractive and creative. This beautiful brand style guide book template will help make that process easier for you. It features 28 page designs featuring modern layouts and color swatches for easily editing the design.

Wave PhotoBook Template

Wave Photobook Template

Creating a modern photobook to showcase all your work, designs, and photo albums will be so much easier when using this photobook template. It comes with 30 unique page designs with stylish colors, automatic page numbering, editable graphics, and much more.

The Ocean – Brand Manual Template

The Ocean - Brand Manual Template

This beautiful brand manual template will allow you to make a professional brand style guide for your company with a landscape design. The template is compatible with InDesign CS4 and higher. It includes 24 page layouts which can be edited to change the colors, text, and fonts.

Brand Manual

A Deep Dive into Native Lazy-Loading for Images and Frames

Today’s websites are packed with heavy media assets like images and videos. Images make up around 50% of an average website’s traffic. Many of them, however, are never shown to a user because they’re placed way below the fold.

What’s this thing about images being lazy, you ask? Lazy-loading is something that’s been covered quite a bit here on CSS-Tricks, including a thorough guide with documentation for different approaches using JavaScript. In short, we’re talking about a mechanism that defers the network traffic necessary to load content when it’s needed — or rather when trigger the load when the content enters the viewport.

The benefit? A smaller initial page that loads faster and saves network requests for items that may not be needed if the user never gets there.

If you read through other lazy-loading guides on this or other sites, you’ll see that we’ve had to resort to different tactics to make lazy-loading work. Well, that’s about to change when lazy-loading will be available natively in HTML as a new loading attribute… at least in Chrome which will hopefully lead to wider adoption. Chrome has already merged the code for native lazy-loading and is expected to ship it in Chrome 75, which is slated to release June 4, 2019.

Eager cat loaded lazily (but still immediately because it's above the fold)

The pre-native approach

Until now, developers like ourselves have had to use JavaScript (whether it’s a library or something written from scratch) in order to achieve lazy-loading. Most libraries work like this:

  • The initial, server-side HTML response includes an img element without the src attribute so the browser does not load any data. Instead, the image’s URL is set as another attribute in the element’s data set, e. g. data-src.
  • <img data-src="" alt="...">
  • Then, a lazy-loading library is loaded and executed.
  • <script src="LazyLoadingLibrary.js"></script>
  • That keeps track of the user’s scrolling behavior and tells the browser to load the image when it is about to be scrolled into view. It does that by copying the data-src attribute’s value to the previously empty src attribute.
  • <img src="" 

A Better Approach for Using Purgecss with Tailwind

Greg Kohn looks at how to use Purgecss — a tool that helps remove unused styles — and Tailwind — a utility-based CSS framework — and why we might want to pair these tools together:

Tailwind, by intention, is aiming to equip you with an arsenal of utility classes by generating more than you need. There are some best practices which will help keep this overall build size down, like limiting your colors and breakpoints or turning off the modules by default before adding them as necessary. Still, you’ll inevitably generate classes that go unused. And honestly, approaching your configuration with an unrelenting miserly attitude will slow you down and make development less fun. By leaning on Purgecss, there’s no worry that the CSS your users download will only include classes that are ultimately needed.

I’ve never used Tailwind or Purgecss, but I reckon the latter could be particularly useful if you have a giant old codebase and you don’t have the resources to refactor things just yet. I guess my only concern with introducing a tool like that is it could encourage folks to not refactor large and problematic areas in their styles – taking the safest route with this tool instead.

For more info about Tailwind, though, Ben Tinsley wrote a great post a while back about how to get started and Nick Basile showed us how to style a form with Tailwind.

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from CSS-Tricks…

Blockchain 2.0 – Explaining Distributed Computing And Distributed Applications [Part 11]

How DApps serve the purpose of Blockchain 2.0 Blockchain 1.0 was about introducing the “blockchain” into the list of modern buzzwords along with the advent of bitcoin. Multiple white papers detailing bitcoin’s underlying blockchain network...

The post Blockchain 2.0 – Explaining Distributed Computing And Distributed Applications [Part 11] appeared first on OSTechNix.

from OSTechNix…

Reputation Management 101

I really don’t need to explain how important your reputation is, do I?

Short version: if people think you suck, either as a person or as a designer, they won’t hire you. It’s not a difficult concept, all things considered.

Figuring out what other people think of us is much harder. Controlling what they think about you is next to impossible, as any attempt to “change your image” will probably backfire, unless you’re a consummate actor. And then… then there’s one big, honking problem: the idea of “sucking as a person or as a designer” will vary from person to person.

No matter how wonderful you are, somebody will…misjudge you…That’s life

Everybody wants something different out of life. Some people will think you’re an arrogant know-it-all if you talk too loudly or confidently, and others will think you’re weak and indecisive if you’re quiet. Some will expect their website to be loaded with as many shiny things as possible; others will dismiss you if they get even a metaphorical whiff of JavaScript.

If you’re looking to this article to help you control how others perceive you, don’t bother. No matter how wonderful you are, somebody will misinterpret you, misjudge you, or just not pay enough attention. That’s life.

On the other hand, what you can do is build a reputation that appeals to the clients you want. You know, the fairly reasonable ones. These tips can help you to minimize the number of negative interactions you have with clients in general. The more positive interactions you have, the better your reputation, the more clients you actually like will come knocking at your door.

Get A Set of Principles, And Stick To Them

This seems like a no-brainer, but people often start out with good intentions, but ill-defined principles. I did. It has led to a situation or two where a client asked me to implement a sort of “grey pattern”, or do something a little sketchy, but ultimately not “bad”. This would inevitably end with them asking me to do …