Free Download: Kawaii Summer Icon Pack

Spread the summer vibes with this fresh set of icons from Freepik and Flaticon! The Kawaii icons come in three different versions, allowing you to customize their look and colors.  

The set is completely scalable so that you can adapt all the vectors to the size that you need. From mellow cocktails to a plane ready to fly off the ground to take you on a dream holiday, these adorable icons include all the travel and beach items you need for your next design project. Free for personal and commercial projects (not for redistribution). 

If you want to start your summer with joy and energy, download the free set below!

Please enter your email address below and click the download button. The download link will be sent to you by email, or if you have already subscribed, the download will begin immediately.

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9 WordPress Hacks To Encourage Higher CTRs From Google

Great content that offers value to readers will rank in Google. But there are tricks you can use to increase your clickthroughs and grab attention from searchers. We have a great guide on basic SEO setup using the WordPress SEO plugin. But this is just the first step of WP SEO and there are many other things you can do…. Continue Reading

The post 9 WordPress Hacks To Encourage Higher CTRs From Google is written by Jake Rocheleau and appeared first on WPKube.

Fast-Track Your ECommerce Build with Themify Shoppe for WooCommerce

The common belief amongst web designers is that content is king, but that’s not quite true; when it comes to the web, shopping is king. eCommerce nets billions for companies worldwide, as access to global customers means anyone with a quality site can compete with highstreet stores.

Unfortunately, building an eCommerce store of your own can be a complex, lengthy, and frustrating experience. Even with the help of industry leading options like WooCommerce, a profitable site with a carefully crafted UX is beyond many designers.

That’s where Themify Shoppe comes in. Shoppe is a WooCommerce theme designed to help you build a professional standard eCommerce site in mere minutes.

Shoppe is packed with proven features that customers love: Ajax cart updates a user’s cart without refreshing the page, quick look gives customers fast access to product details in a lightbox, image zoom lets customers zoom in on products to see them in more detail, wishlist lets users ‘favorite’ products for later, and product share lets users easily post your products to social media helping you go viral. Shoppe includes everything you need to start a successful shop with WooCommerce.

Shoppe also features a cool demo import tool. This awesome tool sets up your site just like Themify’s demo, kickstarting your design process. There are even additional themes—and more on the way—so you can import a completely different look and feel at the click of a button. If time is tight there are 60 regular layouts and 20 shop landing pages you can choose from.

But of course Shoppe isn’t restricted to the included themes. Included is the intuitive drag and drop Themify Builder, ensuring that you can craft unique, professional-grade eCommerce designs in mere minutes. Just about any layout you can imagine is possible. What’s more, every layout is fully responsive, so it will work great no matter what device your customers choose to shop from.

A single licence of Shoppe can be used on unlimited sites so once you’ve build one store, you can build another, and another.

Shoppe comes with a whole year of support and updates, so you can be confident that in the unlikely event that you run into a hitch, someone from Themify’s support team will dig you out of the hole.

And if you’re not already convinced, there’s a 30-day money back guarantee, so buying a licence to use Shoppe really is risk-free.

A standard licence is currently $49 and a developer licence is $69. Head over to themify.me to start building your eCommerce empire today.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Themify –]

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5 Ways Designers Should Develop Empathy

Empathy. It’s a virtue. It’s a valuable quality in any human being. It’s a distinct advantage in connecting to people. It’s also kind of the latest design buzzword. But it’s not just a trend.

You see, designers are figuring out that being able to empathize with and understand other people leads to creating better interfaces for them. If you know their needs, you can meet them. If you meet their needs, they’ll stick around longer. They might even empathize with your need for their money.

See, there’s a small potential conflict, there. Empathy isn’t something you can pull out of a toolbox when you need results. If there’s anything I ever learned from my old missionary days, it’s that most people can tell when you don’t truly care. Empathy must be a way of life. Yes, empathy can help you make better designs, but it will—it must—also enrich your life. Pun intended.

Empathy can help you make better designs, but it will…also enrich your life

Empathy usually takes work, and requires development. People are often naturally empathetic to friends, and sometimes even to family. Empathy for strangers, however, is more often a learned trait. But the rewards are many, from better work, to better relationships with acquaintances, colleagues, and more. You may also find yourself spending less time thinking ill of others, which will decrease your stress levels a lot.

1. Travel a Bit, If You Can

Before we get to design-specific considerations, there are more general ways to develop empathy. Travel is one of the best ways to do that. Actually seeing other places and cultures can do a lot to dispel preconceptions about others, which will help you empathize. Learning about other cultures can help you design for them, too. A classic example is China, where red is the color of joy. (Incidentally, they still use red stop signs.)

physical travel may not be necessary, but it helps

Now, you may not have the budget to hit up China. Travel to another city then. Walk to a different neighborhood. Try a different restaurant. Failing that, watch some documentaries on people who aren’t like you. Developing a wider perspective is the point here, and physical travel may not be necessary, but it helps.

2. Volunteer and/or Socialize

Find a cause you believe in (preferably one that involves helping humans), and dedicate some time to it. Get in there and meet the people you’re helping. Meet the people helping them. Nothing helps you understand the importance of accessibility like seeing the ancient technology (if any) that some people have to work with. Also, nothing helps you cut down on industry jargon like just talking to a lot of non-designers.

If you don’t have the resources to volunteer for any given cause, just look for time to socialize. Talk to people who aren’t like you, and get them to teach you something about their jobs, or their hobbies. People usually love to talk about themselves (it might take the shyer ones a while), and the things they are passionate about.

3. Talk to the People You’ll be Designing For

Okay, so on big projects, you might actually be able to get a budget for user research. Take full advantage of this. If your site is targeted at, say, doctors, go start talking to doctors. Ask them specific questions about their browsing habits, the way they look for information, where they look first, and so on. Ask them what they’d want most out of a product like yours. If you don’t have a budget for that, you can still talk to any doctors you might know, shoot some questions out on Quora. Reach out.

lay aside your preconceptions, and truly listen

The most important step comes next: lay aside your preconceptions, and truly listen. Take their feedback at face value as much as possible. If they say something like, “I can never find X.”, don’t go thinking, “Well maybe they just didn’t look because they’re busy doctors.” Start with the assumption that they looked.

Unless “X” happens to be front and center on the home page, or something.

4. Consider Emotional Conditions

Many writers have discussed the importance of dealing with things beyond your control. We talk about dealing with screen glare, visual impairments, device size, and so on. We also have to consider how are users are feeling on any given day.

Attempting to shame your users for any reason is going to backfire no matter what their mood

Ask yourself how the experience is going to affect your users based on their mood. For example: If a user is angry and impatient, a modal window is going to drive them away even faster than a normal user. If a user is happy to have finally found what they’re looking for, an efficient, easy shopping cart experience will solidify their good opinion of you. Attempting to shame your users for any reason is going to backfire no matter what their mood.

5. Method Acting

Become the user. Spend a day or so every month using the web with an older device, or throttled speeds. Get outside and browse on your phone in a variety of weather conditions. Use your own site or service, where possible and applicable. Put your site out there in the real world and find everything that bugs you about it. Use an older browser.

It was some time ago, but the years I spent on dial-up while the world progressed to broadband internet all around me… that’s never going away. And I honestly believe that it made me a better designer. There’s no real substitute for experiencing the web in a worst case scenario. The times I had to wait half an hour for a Flash object to load made me strong, and they made me count bytes.

Conclusion

A few years ago, I asked someone who worked with computers all day what a good beginner’s computer class might look like. I jokingly suggested a class on how to visually identify buttons. They said, more or less, “That would be great. I know a lot of people who could use that kind of basic information.”

That doesn’t mean people are dumb. It just means that even in our ever-advancing society, there is a vast disparity between the ways we nerds use the web, and how everyone else does. There’s a difference in how we perceive it. We need to understand these differences if we’re going to design for other people.

And we need to work on understanding them every day.

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The 1 UX Mistake We Nearly All Make

UX experts can’t seem to agree. They argue about the details they feel are most important to the user experience. Becoming the user is most important. No you’re wrong. Usability is what matters most! Over and over they argue about the details they feel are most important.

Their ‘expert’ opinion doesn’t matter.

As designers, we already know what’s best. We know how things should be done, right? We already have a UX process we follow.

That’s the problem…

The vast majority of UX designers ignore a few important criteria. This doesn’t mean we’re incompetent or that we don’t know what we’re doing (we do). It means we’re more likely to leak users (customers).

It’s difficult to plug the holes we aren’t aware of. Our ignorance creates a cycle of failure.

What are we missing?

  1. Ideal users
  2. The right group of users
  3. The right UX/UI elements
  4. A user compatible UX

How does this affect the UX? Let’s dig in to find out:

Ideal Users

Most organizations focus on numbers. They’re needy, willing to accept any user or customer that’s willing to do what they want. This is a terrible idea because all users aren’t created equal.

You need ideal users. These are your ideal users, the kind you’d do (almost) anything to keep. Focusing your time and attention on these users creates dramatic growth.

all users aren’t created equal

What specifically makes these users so special?

  • They’re active and engaged. These users are vocal. They know your product, they’re familiar with your designs and they know how things work.
  • They’re willing and able to do what you want. They’ll buy your products and identify the hiccups in your checkout process. They’ll actually use your tools to import their photos, and they’ll tell you when it doesn’t work.
  • They tell you who they are. Their behaviors and habits set them apart from your other users. You’re able to find them using a variety of methods – email, surveys, social media, analytics data. They stand out because they’re not like your other users.
  • Designing around them creates growth. Focusing your attention on these users gives you more of the things you want whether that’s traffic, revenue or attention. User centric design that’s focused around these customers.

Amazon optimizes the UX around ideal users (customers). Amazon’s UX is tailored around one thing in particular: Amazon Prime.

Originally, Amazon Prime meant free two-day shipping. Then Amazon decided to add Prime video. Then Prime music, followed by Prime books. Spend some time on their site and you’ll notice they craft their offerings around Prime. Why? Because Amazon Prime members spent 2 1/2 times as much as non-prime customers. 51 percent of Prime customers spend $800 a year or more on Amazon compared to only 16 percent of non-prime customers. Good UX has boosted Amazon’s business by more than 50 percent!

How do they use UX to uncover ideal users?

  • Shopping is simple and easy. Amazon’s patented one click shopping buttons make it easy for customers to do what they want to do. Buy.
  • Give customers what they want. Amazon gave users the Amazon Assistant making it easy for customers to buy products from any site
  • Look out for the user. You’ve probably seen the frequently bought together and customers who bought this item also bought categories on their product pages. What makes Amazon’s so special? It’s relevant to you the user.

The bad news?

Most designers aren’t doing this. They’re focusing on their users as a whole. They treat users as equals which, as we’ve seen from Amazon, is a serious mistake. When you’re missing ideal users you focus your time attention on details that don’t matter.

The Right Personas

Personas can be helpful if they’re selected carefully; which is exactly what most businesses are doing, right? Actually, No.

Most of the time, designers rely on the wrong personas. They focus their attention on the users they have. Wait a minute, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a UX designer? What exactly do you focus your attention on if you’re not focused on the users you have?!

Successful UX designers focus on the users they want.

Successful UX designers focus on the users they want. Your target audience, user personas, feedback, surveys and user testing should help you accomplish one thing: Get the users you want. Successful UX designers aren’t focused exclusively on what their users say. They create comprehensive user personas using a variety of sources:

  • user testing;
  • customer experience analytics;
  • usability testing;
  • cohort analysis;
  • data mining.

Surveys, are incredibly helpful. They give you answers to the questions you know to ask. Analysis uses behavior and outcomes to answer questions you didn’t know to ask. Analysis tools make the unknown unknowns, known. Analysis tools show you what a customer does, which is arguably more important than what they say. How do we know?

Facebook used UX data to create and launch two new products. The newsfeed and mini feed. User response was overwhelmingly negative. The backlash was swift as 284,000 users joined protest groups within one day.

What did Facebook do? Nothing.

Why didn’t Facebook do anything? Because their data told them a different story. Users were spending far more time on Facebook. Contrary to user objections the newsfeed was a hit. Mark Zuckerberg responded personally to user fears and objections.

Facebook used their data to develop user personas. These personas were built on a variety of factors but they relied primarily on user behavior and outcomes.

When things got tough, their persona data gave them the confidence they needed to stick to their guns. They knew their users and they understood what they really wanted.

Optimizing UX for the Right Users

Most organizations don’t focus their time and attention on UX optimization. Those that do, focus on the wrong users. They focus again, on the users they have rather than the users they want. It’s a fatal mistake. Left unchecked, organizations, tweak and “optimize” their designs with the wrong goals. They focus on the wrong users.

It can’t be that bad, can it?

It’s terrible because it slowly takes your attention aware from your core users, the people who matter most. Every tweak, every edit moves you further away from your core users and closer towards failure. It’s a silent, but deadly process that ruins businesses slowly.

How do we know?  Digg.

In their heyday, Digg was popular with tech professionals. Developers, designers, IT professionals, and techies relied on Digg. Digg had a huge cult following. For a time things were good.

Then came their redesign. In 2010, Digg designed to do a complete website redesign. Digg founders were under pressure. Investors wanted Digg to go “mainstream” to become the next big thing. So they pressured the team to make changes. Digg redesigned their website and voting system so users had less influence. Their users weren’t happy. The redesign was beautiful, but it was unpopular. Users felt it was unfamiliar, clumsy, difficult to use. It wasn’t the same Digg they had come to know and love.

Their website traffic plummeted. Digg lost a third of their traffic overnight. They experienced a mass exodus of traffic as their core users abandoned them. Digg never recovered. 

It’s a common mistake many businesses make. They focus on optimizing the UX but they fail to realize the truth. These “UX improvements” actually make the UX worse. They continue to make changes until it’s too late. They attribute the loss of traffic and users to something, anything else. It’s a new competitor, advertising has gotten more expensive, we need something new, etc.

But savvy designers know the truth. When the UX is poor, your users leave, never to return.

Maybe “Fatal Mistake” is Too Strong a Phrase

Am I overstating things? A bad UX can’t be that bad, can it? Actually it can.

The data is pretty clear. A bad UX is bad for everyone:

  • if 100 online consumers have a bad experience 88 of them won’t come back;
  • 79 percent of users will search for another site to complete their task;
  • 61 percent of users that don’t find what they’re looking for quickly move on to another site;
  • 60 percent of users who don’t buy cite dissatisfaction, not enough information, slow connection or a small screen;
  • 90 percent of users reported they stopped using an app due to poor performance;
  • 86 percent deleted or uninstalled at least one app because of performance problems.

As a designer, you already know good UX design is important. But good UX depends on your users.

UX Needs to be Optimized

UX experts can’t seem to agree. They argue about the details they feel are most important to the user experience. The good news is they don’t have to agree. Their expert opinion doesn’t matter because it’s all about the user. Great UX design focuses on the users you want, not the users you have.

Great UX design focuses on the users you want, not the users you have

Optimize the UX for your ideal users and suddenly your design creates growth.

Focus your attention on the right users and you’ll have everything you need to create an amazing design, no arguments necessary.

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Oxygen Review: A WYSIWYG Visual Website Builder for WordPress

With the slow collapse of Headway Themes, there’s been somewhat of a void in the WordPress visual website builder space. By visual website builder – I mean a tool that helps you build your entire WordPress site – header, footer, content…everything. Thankfully, we’re due for a breath of fresh air from Oxygen, a new’ish WYSIWYG WordPress website builder from Soflyy,…. Continue Reading

The post Oxygen Review: A WYSIWYG Visual Website Builder for WordPress is written by Colin Newcomer and appeared first on WPKube.

3 Essential Design Trends, July 2017

This month the focus is on design elements. Many recent trends have involved user patterns, color or typography, but here it’s all about subtle techniques. Essential trends to take note of include downpage navigation, boxes as a design element and plenty of vertical lines and movement.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month:

1. Downpage Navigation

Designers seem to be in quite the experimental phase when it comes to navigation these days. From vertical, side navigation options to pop-out styles to downpage styles, menu items are kind of all over the place.

While downpage navigation used to be a distinct no-no, it can grow on you. And as more designers opt for this user pattern, it will become more generally accepted. Here’s a word of caution: If you opt for downpage navigation, keep a close eye on website analytics to ensure that your visitors understand the pattern and are continuing to click. This technique might not work for all audiences.

So how do you make it work?

  • The best downpage navigation styles are applied to simple, designs. A homepage without a scroll and only a handful of pages is best.
  • Downpage navigation elements need to be on the large side, so that users don’t overlook them.
  • Sticky elements are necessary if the page has a longer scroll.
  • Consider downpage navigation on the homepage for a fresh alternative, but return to a more traditional pattern on interior pages.
  • Use it with a minimal framework. Downpage navigation can get lost easily in a design that’s complex or has a lot of elements competing for a user’s attention.
  • Include an “extra” design element to push users toward navigation. This could include anything from a bold color choice to a directional visual that helps guide the eye toward navigation in a nontraditional location.

2. Boxes as Design Elements

This might be one of the most striking and versatile trends of 2017—boxed elements for pure aesthetic purposes.

Boxes are a great container—as we’ve seen from the card trend—but designers are working with boxes to highlight content, show off images and draw the eye to a certain part of the canvas. And it works beautifully.

The nice thing about this trend is that it is so versatile. You don’t have to rethink an entire design to use boxed elements. They can serve as pure visuals or link to other content. A box can contain almost anything, from a great image to a call to action.

Some tips for making the most out of a boxed design element include:

  • Use a box to create depth or focus, such as Cedrick Lachot, below. The photo on the black background is simple, and the white text on top adds emphasis to the rectangular shape and other clickable boxes on the homepage and throughout the design.
  • Use a box to layer elements. Feudi Di San Gregorio, below, uses a box to draw the eye to a very specific part of the content with a layering technique that make it feel like part of the image. Look closely at the hands in relationship to the box. This same concept is used for multiple images in the horizontal scroller and adds an extra layer of beautiful complexity to the simple design.
  • Use a box to create flow. Beoplay, below, uses stacked boxes with images to create a path through the design. Each box animates from a number of smaller boxes to engage the user and encourage scrolling.
  • Use a box to create an actionable element, such as a pop-up call to action, on top of the design.
  • Use boxes to create a design with cards in the Material Design style. While this trend has been around for a little while, it is still a popular option, particularly for mobile-based designs.

3. Vertical Lines

You don’t always think about the web as a vertical space, but more designers are incorporating very vertical elements into designs.

From skinny lines to establish flow to photos with distinct up and down elements, vertical elements can help direct users through a design, encourage scrolling and even focus attention on certain elements. As an added bonus, vertical elements are visually interesting simple because they aren’t as common as horizontal, square or circular elements.

Some of the desire to think more vertically might start in your hands. While most desktop websites live in the standard 16:9 space, access to websites on phones and tablets is often turned on the side with a more vertical orientation. (In the case of many mobile phones, this orientation is distinctly vertical.)

That makes vertical accents and user patterns more common and more accepted for website visitors. They won’t balk at the design or wonder how to interact with it. Vertical orientation is quite mainstream.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate a vertical feeling to a design.

  • Try a background with subtle vertical lines to create texture.
  • Create a collage of images with vertical shapes.
  • Use vertical lines over the main image to establish depth between layers of elements, such as photos or videos and text.
  • Use vertically animated sweep to separate elements in an image slider.
  • Plan imagery with a vertical focus.
  • Consider a split-screen design so that each side has a more vertically-oriented aspect ratio.
  • Use a background pattern of small objects in a vertical alignment.
  • Stack icons or elements rather than space them across the screen.

Conclusion

Any time you consider using a trend in a design project, there’s an element of risk involved. How long will the trend be popular? Will it make the design look dated?

Rather than opting for full-scale trendy website options, consider a trendy element such as those above. These elements can be easier to incorporate into the design (and just as easy to remove if you don’t like them later). The trick to maintaining a modern style is in the details; it doesn’t require a brand new design every six months.

What trends are you loving (or hating) right now? I’d love to see some of the websites that you are fascinated with. Drop me a link on Twitter; I’d love to hear from you.

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4th July Independence Day WordPress Deals & Coupons

We would like to wish all our American friends a Happy Independence Day. To celebrate this day, a number of WordPress companies are offering huge discounts on their products. You will find special deals on plugins, themes, hosting, and other services. I think this is a great time to invest some money in your business. Below I have listed some…. Continue Reading

The post 4th July Independence Day WordPress Deals & Coupons is written by Dev and appeared first on WPKube.

Popular Design News of the Week: June 25, 2017 – July 2, 2017

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.

5 Huge CSS Milestones

 

Terrible Colors

 

Beautifully Designed Bootstrap 4 CheatSheet

 

Inline Validation is Problematic

 

If You Thought Facebook Ads were Creepy Before, We’ve Got Some Bad News

 

4 Things I Know About Pattern Libraries

 

Frame: A Simple, Sophisticated Stop Motion App

 

7 Branding Tools to Effectively Establish your Brand

 

A Comic Sans for the 21st Century is Here

 

Why You Should Be Excited About Zero UI

 

How do You Draw a Circle?

 

Colorfonts: The Future of Typography

 

Quotes on Design

 

Midas 2.0: Unveil Who’s Behind an Email Address

 

Graphic Design’s Next Great Challenge: Branding AI

 

Organic Shape Animations with SVG ClipPath

 

Foundation 6.4 has Arrived!

 

Craft 2.0 – A Collaborative Platform for Product Creation

 

10 Awful Client Cliches that Make Every Designer Cringe

 

Reaping the Benefits of Impostor’s Syndrome

 

Panobook: A Panoramic Notebook for your Desk

 

Apple’s AR is Closer to Reality than Google’s

 

The World’s Favourite Color (According to GF Smith)

 

Artificial Intelligence for Designers

 

This AI’s Inspirational Posters are Hilarious

 

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

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Comics of the Week #396

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

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

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

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

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

Expensive adjectives

Memory inhibitor

 

Original copy

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

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