Tips for Web Development in 2016

Over the years, the way web development has changed drastically. Looking towards the future, we can expect for this trend to continue. For this reason, developing new tactics for the new year is the best way to ensure your website will be effective throughout the year and into the future.

Here are a few tips to get your started:

Tip 1: Focus on Mobile

The need for mobility has been on the rise for several years now. But, during 2016, this is expected to become even more important. When looking at your web development tools for the coming year, make sure you make sure your site is mobile ready and accessible. Spend time developing the mobile aspect of your website. Many sites are built with different options for their visitors so that everything is easily readable regardless of the device the site is being pulled up on.

Tip 2: Look at Search Engine Changes

 

One trend that is interesting is the fact that many search engines are developing ways to answer direct questions. When asked a question, the search engine will answer the question without actually pulling up a specific website. Instead, it will pull up the question among the results of the search, which helps searchers avoid the need to visit a specific website to search for the answer. What this means for web developers is that if you have a great amount of content on your site that is designated for answering questions, you may need to rethink your approach. Creating content that cannot be answered quickly is the best option to go with when you are creating your content.

Tip 3: Consider a Flat Design

Your visitors should enjoy staying on your site because it is easy to navigate and read. The content should be valuable and correlate with the products and services you have to offer. To help with this, make sure you are avoiding a lot of clutter on your pages. Instead, keep a simple design that won’t distract from what you are offering.

One item that has been shown to improve this issue is a flat design. This is something that is becoming more and more popular each day. While it was not created by Microsoft, it was definitely made more popular by the design of Windows 8, which is built around a flat design concept. With this idea, focus is placed on making the site easier to use. It has been shown that this design helps readers to find what they need faster than ever before.

Tip 4: Increased use of Video

The constant need to be on the move has decreased the amount of attention span that we have. Because of this, customers are looking for content that is easy and fast to digest. One way many web developers are creating this type of content is through the use of video. Video is something that helps put faces behind the services and products that are being offered, which can make the message even more powerful.

While developing your videos, keep in mind that there will also be some pretty significant changes to the screens that people are viewing them on. You should expect them to grow and shrink at the same time. This is because of the decreased prices of technology, which allows businesses and home-users to purchase bigger screens for their computers and for the increased popularity of smaller devices, like the Apple Watch. Producing quality videos that can easily be viewed, regardless of the device, is now more important than ever for these reasons.

These are some of the biggest trends you can expect to see surface during 2016. While some of them have already been on the rise, you can expect them all to become even more popular in the coming year. Putting these tips into action during 2016 is a great way to make sure your website stays strong and powerful now and in the future.

10 Best Web Design Concepts for Digital Users

If you’ve scrolled through apps, searched menus or swapped out colors on animated items before sending them to your shopping cart, then you’ve interacted with some of the ten best web design concepts experienced by early 21st century digital users. Here they are, in list form for your convenience:

1. Empty State

emptystate

This design concept has increased in importance and innovation. Most designers know that an app, or a site, should never dead-end. Users must be redirected or educated in an entertaining manner to either return to the main page or to learn how to utilize the app. Whether the empty state contains an image and a directive, or an explanation and an option, users must feel engaged and not abandoned.

For inspiration on designing your own empty space, emptystat.es is a great source.

2. Interactive

Folks over at The Next Web noted that interactive sites would see a rise in popularity throughout 2015. Their definition of interaction involved storytelling and narrative devices coupled with user interaction and graphics.

See Seattle’s Space Needle site for an example of merging a graphic journey with an informative story.

3. Minimalism

Also mentioned by The Next Web is the rise of minimalism.  Minimalist design has the practical function of speed but also a riveting aesthetic function. Click here for an example.

The site is spacious and incredibly functional. Users know exactly what they need from the site or app and exactly how to fulfill their needs. For a large portion of users, ease and accessibility are high priority.

4. Parallax Scrolling

parallax_scroll_2013_cover

Users are becoming more sophisticated and their expectations are increasing. Parallax scrolling is familiar for anyone who has ever gamed. Incorporating this three-dimensional design into retail sites has become a way to capture user attention.

However, The Boat best showcases how dramatic this design can be for both sophisticated and non-sophisticated users.

5. Long Page

The Boat site also features single page long scrolling, another design trend that was in use throughout the past year. Technology has finally caught up with user preferences and mobile devices have become highly scrollable. This limits the need for short pages with lots of links.

Bounty Beverage proves how exciting a long scroll can be.

6. Customized Photography

High quality photos incorporated into the overall site design is a way to personalize the experience and connect with users. One site that received attention from Hubspot is Four Rivers Smokehouse. Warning: This will make you very hungry. Unless you are vegan, in which case maybe you shouldn’t look.

7. Animation

As you can see from several of the sites above, animation is also an essential design element. Why have a static customized photo when you can animate it?

This trend is everywhere, from the most utilitarian sites, like Paypal, to far more exciting web pages like this.

National Geographic’s Eat: The Story of Food won the 2015 Webby for web site animation and graphics. Not only does the site feature animation but it is also features a long-scrolling, narrative/journey based web design.

8. Responsive

When a website is interactive it invites the user to engage with it. When a website is responsive, the site responds to the user’s needs. This is most often seen in ecommerce and retail sites. A user/customer visits the site with a goal in mind. They want to purchase an item and need to quickly find the tools they need to make the purchase with as little frustration as possible.

Responsive design responds to the device the user is holding and optimizes that user’s experience. Menus fold out from margins making mobile purchases easy. Accordian menus cascade options for the user with limited screen space. These same design features are found on desktops. However, sometimes it can become a bit over done. Here’s an example.

9. Best of Everything Design

The site listed above combined pretty much everything: fold-out menus, animation, interaction, story-telling but it was missing minimalism.

More and more frequently designers are showing off all of their skills but this kind of overkill deadens the user experience. An example of minimal, nuanced design goes to Dropbox. If only those sketches had a bit of movement.

10. AMP HTML

Google’s latest open-source initiative is AMP HTML, a language used to create fast-responding mobile web pages. By eliminating bloat, AMP HTML provides mobile users with quick downloads and aims to include users with limited internet access.

Pinterest has begun employing AMP HTML and TechCrunch reports that the New York Times and other established sites will follow suit.

jQuery Date Time Pickers: 31 Options for You to Try

When you hear the words, ‘DateTime Pickers,’ what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Did you imagine someone pulling their hair out? If so, you are not alone.

DateTime Pickers are positioning tools used to help ensure the accuracy of the data on web forms. Sounds good in theory right? But, the truth is, many of the DateTime Pickers available are quite tedious and some are just plain old counterintuitive.

And with so many options to choose from, how can you know which one is best for your needs? Never fear, we’ve compiled a list of 31 of the best, free jQuery DateTime picker plug-in available to help you narrow down your options.

1. jQuery UI Datepicker

This is jQuery’s default Datepicker and it is tied to a standard form input field. Plus, it comes with a variety of options that include icon trigger, formatting date, and min and max date settings.

2. gIDatePicker

Dark Neon

This customizable and lightweight date-picker is only 7kb when compressed. It gives users the choice to style date range, special dates, current date, and more.

3. jQuery UI Bootstrap DatePicker Theme

This lightweight jQuery UI bootstrap theme is relatively easy to use. Simply add the theme CSS to change your date-picker style and you’re done.

4. DateBox

This jQuery Mobile plug-in supports a variety of different styles, like slide style, Flip style, Full Calendar display, and Android style. Plus, not only is it fully localized, it supports over 40 languages as well.

5. Clockface

Using Twitter Bootstrap? This clock-style time picker can be attached to any component like div, button, or input. It also comes with built-in support for events, methods, and options.

6. JalaliJSCalendar

One of the unique aspects of this date-picker and calendar widget is that it supports the Persian calendar. It also supports all the major browsers and is released under GPL stipulated terms.

7. DateTimePicker by Curious Solutions

This plug-in was created works excellently on both mobile devices and PCs. Plus, it has a flat UI and gives users the ability to change values by editing the textbox directly or by using the + or – keys.

8. Any Time

This easy to use date-picker gives you the ability to format both the date and time in any way that you choose. It was designed with speed in mind and supports both the 24-hour and 12-hour clock.

9. BeatPicker

This simple, but powerful, date-picker requires jQuery 1.8+for optimal operation. It can be customized with several options and detailed documentation is available as well.

10. Mobi Pick

This Android-style date-picker widget uses the XDate date library and was designed for use with jQuery mobile. Plus, it uses Modernizr to allow progressive enhancement of date input fields.

11. Clockpicker

This clock-style date picker supports all the major browsers. It works great on both desktop PCs and mobile devices and provides you with 15 options to customize the plug-in.

12. Calendar Picker

This lightweight calendar has built-in internationalization as well as the ability to use the Next and Previous arrows for easier navigation. Plus, it lets you change the current date.

13. Minical

This lightweight plug-in consists of a mere 300 lines of coffee-script but features over 10 customizable options and 3 API methods. It also comes with full keyboard support.

14. Timeframe

Marketed as a better calendar, this plug-in is not only draggable; it lets users select a date range as well. Plus, when you set the corresponding option, multiple months can be shown at a time.

15. Rome

Although this plug-in doesn’t need jQuery, it’s still worthy of your consideration. It supports both time and date picking and lets you select the start day in the calendar.

16. Pickadate

jQuery 1.7+ is required to run this lightweight and mobile-friendly date time picker. It is available in over 40 languages and has a number of features, like month/year selectors, that come in quite handy.

17. Timepicki

There are a ton of Datepickers on the market, but time-pickers are a little harder to find. Timepicki is a lightweight time selecting plug-in that also allows you to set a time limit for your project.

18. PickMeUP

This simple date-picker plug-in can also be used as a calendar. It also gives you the option to select a specific date range or a special event.

19. Zebra Datepicker

Made by Stefan Gabos, this compact date-picker comes with two themes and can be easily customized with CSS. Plus, its user interface makes picking select months and years quick and simple.

20. ptTimeSelect

This plug-in needs both jQuery and dimmention.js to function and is purely for selecting the time. It is also highly customizable and comes with 10 options for you to choose from.

21. Zebra Datepicker

Not to be confused with the date-picker from #19, this plug-in is made by Stefan Petre and gives you the ability to place several calendars on one page. Plus, CSS makes it easy to customize the style and it is great for responsive designs.

22. jdPicker

When in its default state, this plug-in works like a simple date picker. But, it features many customizable options that enable you to perform more advanced functions.

23. jQuery Date Picker

This unobtrusive jQuery plug-in was designed to be extensible and flexible. It gives users the ability to easily add date picking functionally to their pages and web-forms. Plus, it can be used in a multitude of ways to can add calendar widgets to your website.

24. Responsive Calendar

This fully responsive calendar lets you add or remove events relatively easily. It uses CSS3 with backward compatibility and HTML5, but it is not free for commercial use.

25. Bootstrap DatePicker

This bootstrap styled date-picker has 2 dependencies, jQuery, and bootstrap. The picker can be activated by either calling plug-in API function or using data attributes.

26. Calendar

Like Rome, Calendar isn’t a jQuery plug-in, but it’s still worth a gander. It was created with validation, usability, and accessibility in mind and will add an unobtrusive date-picker to your form elements

27. jQuery DatePicker

This MIT licensed plug-in gives you the option to display the calendar box as an inline or pop-up. It also features an option for selecting either a date range or individual dates.

28. Tigra Calendar

This JavaScript calendar tool helps improve the user experience and is perfect for beginners with no programming knowledge. CSS makes it easy to customize and style, plus it works great in mobile devices as well.

29. Pikaday

Unlike the other choices on this list, Pikaday is a pure JavaScript date-picker and has no dependencies. This lightweight tool provides easy styling options because it was designed with modular CSS classes and is little more than 4kb when minimized and zipped.

30. DateRangePicker

By default, this plug-in displays two calendars for users to select the proper date range. It features several events, functions, and options that you can customize and is dependent on jQuery, Moment.js, and bootstrap.

31. Foundation Datepicker

This feature-light date-picker supports different date formats, like combinations of D, M, DD, MM, and YYY. It also has built-in methods to place, show, and hide the picker.

There are literally thousands of date-pickers to pick from on the internet, but they aren’t all created equal. Using the above list will help you narrow down your options so you can choose the best option for your needs.

 

15+ Best Responsive HTML5 Frameworks

Across the internet, website design and design platforms are being continuously revitalized. One example is HTML5. HTML didn’t have any numbers behind it to begin with, so the 5 is a great indicator of the transformations this design convention has undergone in recent years. HTML5 frameworks in 2014 have proven exceptionally versatile in the design of a website’s front end. There is more than one HTML5 platform that was made available in 2014 and each is packed with a smorgasbord of features, but what people are primarily interested in is the time-saving convenience of this platform. One of the ways HTML5 does this is through the reduction of CSS/CSS3 repetition. Cutting out these programming tasks saves a lot of energy. Making a website responsive and cross-browser compatible has never been easier. Besides offering a high degree of customization and clean coding, it offers styles that are getting more and more prevalent among design platforms. Finally, HTML5 isn’t large size-wise, so it will not slow websites down.

Following we will examine the best HTML5 platforms.

Twitter Bootstrap

An extremely popular framework, it has an intuitive and sleek front-end design platform engineered to facilitate easier website development. It includes all of the essential components which have come to be expected in the development of responsive websites; things like responsive grids of the twelve column variety, jQuery plugins that can be custom designed, and much more.

HTML5 Boilerplate

Boilerplate aids in the facilitation of quick web apps that are easily adaptable. It also allows for the fast design of websites. Site performance is exemplary, and server configuration can be independently maintained. A great platform for newer projects.

Gridless

An exceptionally option-rich platform, this HTML5 and CSS3 boilerplate is geared at helping users design responsive websites of the cross-browser variety that are optimized for mobile use. It also features extremely aesthetic typography.

Less Framework

Less Framework is a modern platform that provides a front-end framework for the construction of designs that are exceptionally responsive. It’s CSS grid system is specifically geared toward making websites that are adaptive. Less Framework has four layouts and among typography presets there are three different sets; all of which are base on one grid.

Kube

Kube Framework is, thankfully, not overblown as far as CSS frameworks are concerned. It features a variety of layouts and styles while using only one CSS file. Simplicity brings beauty, and this HTML5 platform provides fewer files so that processing gurus can enjoy the work.

CreateJS

This is a suite of libraries and tools of the modular variety which enrich content so that it is interactive. Enrichment is primarily done through the suite of tools working together.

Zebra

Not merely how a Frenchman refers to a brazier, Zebra provides fresh possibilities for web development via Rich UI applications. Any imaginable UI can be designed, as its approach rests above the canvas element in HTML5. It’s a purely web-based alternative to Applet or Flash tech and doesn’t need plug-ins on the client side for installation.

52Framework

This framework aims to give programmers a building methodology that’s responsive and less complicated in the incorporation of HTML5 and CSS3 while simultaneously supporting “modern” browsers. It comes packaged with HTML5 video players, canvas examples, validation forms, rounded corners, and more.

Layers CSS

This lightweight framework of the CSS variety actually refrains from an emphasis on design and instead focuses on primary structure. Fluid grids and simple classes help support responsive layouts.

Montage

For building modern web apps, Montage is bar none. It aids in the construction of scalable, maintainable applications of the HTML5 variety which have been enhanced for modern devices. Reusable components and HTML templates make this HTML5 framework stand out.

Base

Base is a lightweight framework that’s semantic and extendable. Designed for the powering of the next generations websites, responsiveness is key with Base.

SproutCore

SproutCore is the first open-source framework on this list and builds quick, innovative experiences for the user on the internet. Incredible speed is intended for diminished wait-time on a given server. SproutCore is accessible anywhere.

Groundwork

It’s responsive and relies on HTML5, CSS, and Javascript frameworks. It has a grid system, is customizable, and much more.

Skeleton

As the name implies, this is a bare-bones system designed to rapidly develop sites. It operates from three main principles: responsive grids in the mobile sphere, quick starting, and exceptional style.

Pure

Pure is a small, responsive conglomeration of CSS modules usable in any web project. This framework is exceptionally minuscule; the entire set of modules is only 4.4 Kilobytes which have been gzipped and minified. Mobile devices were obviously in mind when this framework was put together.

HTML5 Kickstart

Ultra lean, this framework is an HTML5, CSS, and JS building machine capable of rapidly producing websites. It incorporates a ubiquity of features in one package; things like responsive grid layout, slide-shows that are touch-enabled, and much more.

Ulkit

This is a modular front-end framework that’s lightweight and designed for the development of powerful web interfaces that are also fast. It provides a collection of HTML, CSS, and JS components that are comprehensive, simple, extendable, and easily customized.

Foundation

One of the most advanced front-end frameworks of the world, Foundation makes the use of HTML frameworks simple for the building of small websites. Designed for websites that are flexible and responsive.

Gumby 2

Gumby 2 is a CSS Framework that is exceptionally responsive. It can also be customized with ease. Built with the power of Sass, this framework is designed to be downloaded, tweaked, and deployed!

Web design in modernity has never been easier and HTML5 platforms only serve to increase the possibilities through convenience. Try any of these platforms and see which one best fits your needs. There are several that will doubtless blow your mind–but in the good way!

UX Design: Three Questions Every Designer Should Ask

As a UX designer you understand the need to employ strategies from various disciplines. You have to integrate human behavior with data. So, you scroll through spreadsheets and analytics. You develop remote user tests. You strategize, tweak and refine. Sometimes you need to pull back and recenter. Here are three questions you should ask yourself if you find yourself stuck in a rut.

What Does the User Want to Know?

It is important to remember that sometimes users visit a site for more than just a service or product. Sometimes they may be there solely for the experience, at first. Orr Shtuhl, UX director at Blenderbox, views each site he designs not merely as a way to communicate information and enhance interaction with the user, but as a means to take users from one level of experience to another. Shtuhl told Fast Company that he likes to start with the question “What does the person want to know?”

He continues

“I always approach [UX design] as education. You need to think about what the user’s level of knowledge is when they get here, and what the level of knowledge is that you want to take them to.”

Understanding what a user wants to know adds an extra, somewhat psychological, aspect to the design experience. People like to learn. They like to gain expertise. Designing a well structured site that takes a user from one area of comfort into another creates a sticky experience. Users want to come back to expertly use the site and to gain more knowledge.

Shtuhl creates this learning environment by using basic information architecture techniques. He starts with bullet points, prioritizes the points and then creates labelled tasks for users to perform and complete.

What Has The User Done?

Sarah Harrison, head of UX design at True&Co. told Techcrunch that  UX designers need to know conversion data, remote user testing results, and, “Synch with customer support. They’re the frontline.”

Finding out first hand from users, or from those in direct contact with users, what works and what doesn’t assists designers in making the small tweaks and changes that every site needs.

Since the downside of many forms of user testing is their inherent trend toward bias (confirmation, procedural, user, take your pick) gaining feedback from users outside of test sites is extremely valuable. Listening to recordings of frustrated users or reading customer service notes provides an inside look at what happens in the minds of users when left to their own devices. What has this user done? How do you design solutions?

Harrison says she focuses on strategic management and relies on Google Analytics, Google Sheets, sharpies and post-it notes to organize collected data. The data she collects is from usability tests and AB testing. She puts the metrics on post-it notes that she places throughout her work area, positioned on various website images. She then uses this information to make tweaks and adjustments to the sites’ existing user design.

Is The Design Feasible?

Spending days and weeks designing a wireframe only to find the engineers are unable to implement it is an incredibly frustrating experience. Although engineers and designers have the same goal in mind (to make a seamless user experience), they come to that goal from opposite angles.

Getting past communication obstacles is key in facilitating strong user experience design. Designers and engineers have to be willing to communicate and collaborate. Sometimes, if you are stuck, an engineer might have the best solution. But, you have to be willing to collaborate.

Collaboration means sharing ideas with engineers and making compromises. Mason Foster at Mulesoft recommends opening up with engineers as a way to ensure that certain design concepts can be implemented. He describes a best case scenario:

“In many cases, conversations about designs that are tough to implement may lead to situations where an engineer will say ‘we can’t do that, but we could do this …’ and then you’re innovating.”

Designers facilitate an innovative atmosphere when they respect engineers’ concerns and acknowledge their importance to the project. This is done, says Foster “by establishing a common language [and] inviting feedback.”

Foster believes the only way this collaboration can be achieved is through “sitting together, meeting together, and reviewing each other’s work on a daily basis.”

Using collaborative software and making communication a required part of the development process helps to bridge the divide.

To share some of your inspirational design tips or to learn more about creating great user experiences, please contact us.