6 Finance Apps for Your Freelance Business


6 Finance Apps for Your Freelance Business

A great set of financial apps and tools can make it easier to manage your freelance business. From tracking receipts and invoices for clients, to making sure you’re ready for tax season and have all your expenses accounted for. There are plenty of great apps to help you manage your freelance business.

Characteristics of great finance apps are that they are secure, cloud-based, include automation tools to help you work more efficiently, are affordable, come with financial accounting and reporting that you can understand and customer support when you need it. All of the apps on this list fit the bill.

1. Invoicely

Paid plans let you brand every invoice with a custom URL, colors, and icons.

Invoicely is an invoicing platform with robust reporting features that make it easy to keep track of clients, payments, and expenses. Plus, invoices are well-designed and easy to manage all in one place.

Key features include the ability to track all your finances in a visual format, ability to accept online payments (even from mobile devices) and track time, expenses and mileage.

Invoicely comes with automation tools for recurring invoices and payments; you can create and manage taxes, discounts and shipping rates; and paid plans let you brand every invoice with a custom URL, colors, icons and log-in screen.

Cost: Invoicely has free and paid plans, depending on the level of invoicing you need. The free plan includes unlimited invoices and online payments through PayPal; the Basic Plan ($9.99 per month) also allows for two team members, time and expense tracking and recurring statements, online payments through multiple servers and multiple businesses within one account; the Professional Plan includes all features for up to 10 team members and the Enterprise Plan includes all features for up to 25 team members.

Try it: You can try it free and upgrade as your business grows with the ability to upgrade or downgrade plans at any time.

2. Cushion

finance apps

Cushion connects with Harvest, Freshbooks, FreeAgent and Xero for more seamless workflows.

Cushion is an app designed to help you manage time and expenses so that you can budget projects and forecast how your business is doing. The premise of the app is that it is supposed to help make freelancing a little less of a rollercoaster ride of a business model.

Key features include schedule forecasting so you can plan projects up to one year at a time, the software helps you keep track of financial goals with monthly income projections and adjustments based on work, invoice clients right from Cushion (and see which clients are always late), project-based costs so you know if clients or jobs are money-makers or losers, time-tracking tools for when you need it and integration with other common freelancing software. Cushion connects with Harvest, Freshbooks, FreeAgent and Xero for more seamless workflows.

Cost: Cushion offers three paid plan options: Moonlighter is $5 per month for one user and five clients/15 invoices, Freelancer is $10 for one user and unlimited clients and invoices and Collaboration for teams with multiple users.

Try it: Cushion is free to try for 30 days.

3. Shoeboxed

finance apps

Shoeboxed provides a way to deal with receipts, expense reports, and mileage expenses online without having to keep track of so many slips of paper. It’s an easier way to manage what can be a bookkeeping nightmare for many freelancers and you can use all of this information come tax time.

Key features include receipt organization with precise scanning and human data verification, ability to generate expense reports with receipt images attached, online business card management that you can export to a CRM, mileage tracking using your smartphone’s GPS, a “magic envelope function” to hold and store prepaid envelopes with your actual documents and tax preparation tools with IRS-accepted receipt images.

The online app is easy to use with a simple interface.

Cost: Shoeboxed has a “free for life” plan, as well as paid options with more features, including a lite plan with up to 50 paper documents per month ($15 per month), classic for up to 150 documents per month ($39) and business for up to 500 documents, three users and QuickBooks integration ($69).

Try it: Just sign in with your Google account to get started.

4. TransferWise

finance apps

Accounts are free, and each send comes with a simple fee structure.

TransferWise might be the most affordable and easy way for freelancers and clients to send money internationally. The platform uses the real exchange rate, or mid-market rate, to help people and businesses send money internationally. The rate is guaranteed for all transactions where the money is deposited for sending within 24 hours.

Key features include lower sending costs that can save international clients up to eight times what other services and banks charge, money is deposited right to a connected bank account, and recipients don’t pay for transfers.

Cost: Accounts are free. Each send comes with a fee that you can see right up front.

Try it: Create a TransferWise account for your business and start getting paid quickly.

5. Wave

finance apps

Wave is a great option for newer freelancers (or those that don’t need a lot of bells and whistles with an invoicing app). You can import and track expenses, but you can’t track time. Plus this app is free for all users – a nice bonus – and allows you to accept credit cards and bank payments.

Key features include multiple invoice customization designs, integrated payment processing, income and expense tracking with easy to read reports and ability to pay team members with direct deposit payroll with tax calculations and online pay stubs. Payment processing and payroll features are pay-as-you-go based on which services you opt to connect, but you only have to pay if and when you use these services. Fees include common charges such as credit card processing fees.

Cost: Free for all users.

Try it: You can get started with Wave without a credit card, just login online or download the apps for iOS or Android.

6. Shake

finance apps

Shake is a legal contracts app, which isn’t financial by nature, but can save your business financially. A solid contract can help you specify important terms with clients, protecting you and your business. The app keeps you from having to re-invent the wheel every time you need a new basic contract.

Key features include the ability to create, sign and send legally binding contracts quickly. Plus all your documents are stored in the app for easy access at any time. Contract recipients can even sign documents from any device and return immediately. No more waiting on the mail, which can delay contracts and keep projects from starting quickly.

Cost: Free.

Try it: Create an account, pick a contract type, fill in your details and send it right from the web or mobile app.



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MotoCMS Website Builder Evolution. Major MotoCMS Updates for 2017


MotoCMS website builder has been drastically upgraded this year. See what is new in its functionality and create beautiful websites easily!

The post MotoCMS Website Builder Evolution. Major MotoCMS Updates for 2017 appeared first on MonsterPost.



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A Complete Checklist to Launching a Website


Launching a website is an extremely big task that needs to be completed as one of the first steps for its purpose, whether it’s an ecommerce store, lead generator or a service, a website is a great place to start.

The task is so large that you’re bound to have forgotten or incorrectly completed everything and that’s why as web design experts, we’ve produced a complete checklist to launch your website.

Within this checklist, we will cover web design and marketing for your website whilst also providing further free tools and paid online services to utilize to ensure your getting the best from your website. Don’t worry though, we not just telling you about these tools, we do as we preach, meaning we either do or have used the tools ourselves on our website.

Each check provided gives information regarding improving your website’s user experience to how to make sure everything is correct for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes for higher ranking on a search engines results.

Web Design

1. Check sites URLs are live and functioning properly

Look at your website and make sure it is live, each feature needs to be working. This could mean the whole website. To check your internal links are functioning, utilize free tools such as Google Search Console to check internal links and highlight broken links.

2. Check site speed

A strong correlations exists between load speed of a site and bounce rate showing that this is an essential aspect of the creation of a website. You need to ensure that your site speed is running at optimal performance which is within the recommended timings. Check out your website performance through Google PageSpeed Insights which also highlights resolutions. We recommend looking at your imagery which can be incorrectly formatted and displaying large content which simple formatting would resolve.

For example, monitoring a website which has possibilities to optimize site speed, Google Analytics produces suggestions.

Google PageSpeed Insights

3. Make sure 404 page is setup correctly

Unless your meticulous in your website design, there will always be links that are incorrect or lead to previously deleted pages. It is essential to correctly set up a 404 (error) page to highlight to the visitor that there is an issue however they will still be within your website and its links to other content rather than web page not found pages.

4. Ensure the sites multi-device ready

Every website needs to be multi-device friendly which means that users can use all the features easily on different device platforms such as mobile, tablet or desktop. Ensuring this is optimized for multi-device usage is a large factor of Search Engine Optimization and you will want to be accessible from all devices to help conversion.

5. Check UX

Constantly create, check, refine your user experience throughout your whole website, from broken links to ease of navigation. An easier user experience is commonly linked to a positive reputation towards your website.

6. Create and manage site back-ups

Creating website back-ups secures yourself from the accidental mistake of your web host deleting your website. Even though your web host may produce back-ups, a surprisingly large amount of them actually do not make the files available to their customers. In the occurrence of a mishap, you will be able to react quickly to prevent missing out on sales and securing your peace of mind. There is many different features to create and manage site back-ups such as Dropbox.

7. Monitor site uptime

You will never want to miss a sale because your website or server was down without you knowing and you also don’t want to have to constantly check and waste your day. We advice investing in subscription softwares which provide recorded performance updates and instant email/SMS alerts so you don’t have to check. These services are quite difficult to find a reliable source.

8. Test loads for big traffic

Use online web pages and softwares which can provide the ability to test your website’s performance if a surge in traffic occurred. These softwares will provide the durability of the website whether site speed is dramatically affected or website failure. These statistics will enable you to customize and alter the website to perform optimally in the occurrence of a surge of online visitors.

9. Think security first (SSL certificate)

SSL Certificates are small data files which embed a cryptic key into a website preventing data theft. Website with the additional security will have a padlock feature within the address bar, this feature allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. We recommend every website to contain a SSL certificate however it is essential if they contain card transaction, data transfer and logins.

10. Set up development site

Create a development site which allows alterations to a current website or configuration in a website format without publishing your content live. This allows you to test out designs and work on visual aspects to enhance conversion once your site goes live. To create a development site, most platforms will provide guides to assist you such as Drupal.

11. Start a post-launch enhancement list

May you want to get your site live without every feature optimized or additional paid options which you can only implement once you have revenue from your website. Before you forget to include this alterations, during development, produce a post-launch enhancement list. Not only does this apply to features but also on content you’d like to expand and develop to keep up with SEO rankings. This additions could range from live chat features by providers such as Hablo Chat to left baskets accounts into email subscribers such as OptinMonster.

12. Double check your images

Use high quality images, you can initially rely on free stock images to provide a startup website however once you’re developing traffic, you will want to incorporate your own high quality images which represent your brand. These images will become a valuable resource however they will be wasted if they are incorrectly formatted or embedded within a webpage. If you’re unsure about your online images, check with a web design agency for support to ensure these images are formatted correctly to ensure optimal load speed.

13. Optimised for SEO

Research and include Search Engine Optimization tactics/opportunities, these will be valuable to enhancing your ranking on a search engine for specific keywords. Such items as tailoring meta tags and meta descriptions to alternative text for images will all help towards your website SEO, even though SEO is a practice against unknown ranking factors produced by the search engines, experience has lead to developing small insights into what are currently essential factors to incorporate.

14. Test your forms

Submission or contact forms will become the lifeblood of your website, you will rely on these features for visitors to complete call-to-action functions. Make sure the forms submission feature is working correctly and the resulting submission leads to the correct location which is monitored.

15. Test links

Don’t allow your visitors to become frustrated because your website is full of broken internal links which prevents them from accessing their chosen content. Work through the navigation of your site manually to check for broken or misleading links, alternatively take advantage of services which complete the task for you such as Ahrefs.com or Google Search Console.

16. Check web pages are compatible across browsers

Not every user will use the same browser such as Google chrome or internet explorer, make sure your web pages are compatible across every browser to appeal to the broad volume of potential visitors.

17. Favicon is in place and rendering properly

Favicon is the customizable icon associated with the webpage which once on your site will display within the tab section of the browser. Creation of these favicon is simple and can be completed through many web pages such as….. However make sure it is rendered correctly to be easily identifiable to your visitor.

Marketing

18. Auto-responders are working properly

Linked to your forms, if you use live chat features such as Hablo Chat, make sure that autoresponders are implemented to provide a positive user experience but also a to monitor customer satisfaction whilst you’re away.

19. Social media share icons work correctly

A huge marketing channel is social media, different social medias are more beneficial than others for specific tasks such as twitter for customer service. You must make sure that your website links directly to the correct page for an alternative method of contact to you. Integrate each feature within to show visitors how accessible you are.

20. Check for duplicate issues

Make sure your website does not feature duplicate additions such as content, imagerys or forms as this will affect your SEO. To prevent duplicates, ensure you produce original content and if the feature is already included, make sure the link is correctly formatted.

21. Avoid scraped content

Don’t use scraped content, this is the process of using a ‘bot’ to search competitive or linked web pages to collect content from the sources and produce similar content. Alternatively this can also be done by physically copying content from a different source.

22. Avoid duplicate meta tags

Meta tags are HTML attributes that provide an overview of the linking webpage. You will commonly associate them with the hyperlink in search engine results, but limiting yourself to duplications prevents a broad audience from accessing your content. Make sure that you research keywords within your target market utilizing sources such as Ahrefs or Google Adwords to find similar phrasing in your niche. Once you have optimized your meta tags, you’ll have increased the opportunity of click-throughs.

23. Install Google Analytics and create an account in Search Console

Use Search Engine analytics, for most of us that will be Google’s Search Console. The analysis will provide Google’s record of your website and provide hints and tips to improve your website. The better the website, the higher the ranking in the search engine for specific keywords results.

24. Do keyword mapping for your website

Before you produce any additional content or implicate a structure to your website, perform website saving research into your competitors. Using analytical sources such as Ahrefs or Google Adwords, you can identify the keywords associated with your niche and also similar phrases which may provide an easier integration into the niche but also as supporting phrases to include for SEO purposes.

25. Proofread your content

Any content that you produce will become discoverable on the internet, therefore any content your produce needs to be proofread by yourself and preferably by someone else. We recommend using a different individual as if it’s your content, you will become blind to the mistakes. A fresh perspective will allow any errors to be discovered.

26. Ensure the content is factual

Be factual, this will add to your user experience but people love to learn new things, this style will allow you to add informative content without being over elaborative.

27. Keep content style concise

You could be producing a lot of content with the prospect of adding backlinks to your site or production of high quality content. Make sure that the content you produce is consistent through all the content but also concise to your niche.

28. Create social media accounts for your brand

Be approachable from multiple social media formats such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and more specific to your niche. These social media accounts will allow you to promote products, answer questions and be a contact locations for potential customers.

29. Formulate USP

Generate your own Unique Selling Point, make yourself stand out from the competition. This does not mean re-inventing the wheel, your unique selling point can be a minor change to your competition within your niche. Once you have formulated your USP, market and promote this to make your website be unique.

30. Plan outreach and advertising

Produce a marketing plan, this is coincide with what you require to include within your website but also what channels you are going to aim to obtain traffic through. We recommend reviewing and analyzing competition and seeing how you can overtake them.

31. Set up your marketing tools
  • Google analytics suite – Free tool for everything you need to see how your website is performing via views and clicks
  • Charlie (CRM) – Customer Relationship Management – This tool will show possibilities to retain and attract new customers
  • Tweetdeck – Manage all your Twitter tweets from one location, the webpage supplied by Twitter offers the ability to schedule tweets from multiple accounts to assist with marketing over a large time period without committing everyday to the task.
  • Hemingway – Produce the perfect content, this online checking website performs analysis to highlight phrases which could be improved, whilst providing a difficulty of readability scale.



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UXPin Changelog February 2018 #4


In the past two weeks, we’ve released a few enhancements to the Design Systems (redesigned Design System Libraries panel and improved notifications about updated/outdated symbols) and to the Editor (introduced copying and pasting styles, layers and search improvements). Details below.

Design Systems

  • Redesigned Design System Libraries panel in UXPin Editor 
  • Notification about outdated symbol appears only when there’s a newer version in the Design System Library.
  • Any updates to symbols in Design System Library will be visible immediately for all users in the account.
  • Improved undo/redo for symbols based on their content.
  • Small bug fixes and visual improvements.

Editor

  • Possibility to copy and paste styles across elements 
  • Elements and icons are separated in the search results 
  • Layer dragged to the group lands at the top of the list instead of the bottom.
  • Extended areas for dragging and dropping layers.

If you’re interested what we’ve released inFebruary, please check out Changelog 2018 #3.

Join the world’s best designers who use UXPin.

Sign up for a free trial.



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Artist and sculptor Eva Rothschild to unveil exciting new work in London


Eva Rothschild Ruins, 2016 Jesmonite, resin, spray paint, steel, 360 x 205 x 130 cm, 141 3/4 x 80 3/4 x 51 1/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Artist and sculptor Eva Rothschild will be unveiling new work in a solo exhibition at London gallery, Modern Art, this month. Internationally renowned for her large-scale public commissions, her most notable works include Tate Britain’s Duveen Gallery Commission in 2010, and Empire – a Public Art Fund Commission in New York in 2011. Her solo show, Hot Touch, was the inaugural exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield gallery when it opened in 2011, and she has since exhibited extensively at galleries worldwide.

Eva follows the legacy of modernist sculptural tradition, in the line of leading female artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Eva Hesse. She has developed a distinctive visual language – recognisable for her abstract and angular constructs and compositions.

Her work is concerned with the social and spatial qualities of sculpture; how certain qualities of corporeality might be invested with spiritual meaning, and the precise point at which narratives might arise out of formal arrangements.

This new exhibition at Modern Art on Vyner Street – from 22 March until 28 April 2018 – will emphasise the breadth of her practice, encompassing works in varying scales, materials and production techniques. Particularly striking will be a new, five metre-high sculpture, conceived inside the Vyner Street gallery space, very much on the scale of her abstract outdoor interventions. Until then, you can enjoy some examples of her most memorable works below.

Eva Rothschild An Array, 2016 Jesmonite, rebar, plaster bandage, aluminium, perspex, glass beads, paint, rebar, 310 x 305 x 200 cm, 122 1/8 x 120 1/8 x 78 3/4 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York & Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild An Array, 2016 Jesmonite, rebar, plaster bandage, aluminium, perspex, glass beads, paint, rebar, 310 x 305 x 200 cm, 122 1/8 x 120 1/8 x 78 3/4 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York & Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Bright Eyes, 2017 Patinated bronze, 281.5 x 23 x 23 cm, 110 7/8 x 9 1/8 x 9 1/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Bright Eyes, 2017 Patinated bronze, 281.5 x 23 x 23 cm, 110 7/8 x 9 1/8 x 9 1/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Fall, Fall, and Falling, 2014, Powder coated steel, enamel paint, 118 x 240 x 100 cm, 46 1/2 x 94 1/2 x 39 3/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Fall, Fall, and Falling, 2014, Powder coated steel, enamel paint, 118 x 240 x 100 cm, 46 1/2 x 94 1/2 x 39 3/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Sweet Valley, 2011, Painted oak, steel stand, 243 x 60 x 56 cm, 95 5/8 x 23 5/8 x 22 1/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Sweet Valley, 2011, Painted oak, steel stand, 243 x 60 x 56 cm, 95 5/8 x 23 5/8 x 22 1/8 ins, Copyright the artist, courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Nature and Culture, installation view, 2014, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway, Copyright the artist, courtesy Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway & Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Eva Rothschild Nature and Culture, installation view, 2014, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway, Copyright the artist, courtesy Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway & Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London



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20 Quotes That Prove that Traveling is Good for the Soul


Routines can make us feel stagnant in our lives. That’s why so many people seek out a grand adventure. Normalcy and daily tasks can put you in a rut, but luckily there’s a way out.

One of the best ways to set your soul on fire and increase your happiness in life is to travel. It doesn’t even have to be across the globe; You could visit a neighboring state, or even go on a camping trip for a night.

Traveling changes the way we think and act, and can only make you a better you, regardless of where you are. The point of traveling is to see a new place and create new experiences.

If you stay stuck in the same location doing the same things, your mind stays stuck too. So tackle the the rut and grow by setting out on an adventure and start traveling.

Why is Traveling Good for You?

You can eat Indian food or attend Oktoberfest right here in the U.S., so why travel thousands of miles? There is one simple answer to this question: people. People create culture and shape your experiences. Eating Indian food in India versus in the U.S. will give you a completely different experience. You won’t just be eating Indian food, you’ll be partaking in their daily life and culture.

Culture wouldn’t exist if people didn’t create it. And if culture didn’t exist, then there’d be no point in traveling. The reason people travel is to open their minds to new experiences. These new experiences then adapt their perspectives.

If you stay within the same boundaries of the same culture, you’ll never expand your mind.

holy indian man bathing in a holy lake during sunrise

Everything that you do and see while you’re abroad holds a cultural significance to that country. Everything was cultivated from years of history and traditions that are sacred to its people. Whether it is a kiss on the cheek or a national holiday, you’ve become part of their world when you visit.

With every experience abroad you are widening your scope of the world and of culturally-different people. By this point you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, that’s great and all, but how does that affect me?”

Simply put, everything you experience in life changes the way you think and your life’s path.

If you stay stagnant in a routine, you’re not experiencing anything new. But with traveling, you’re constantly exposing yourself to brand new experiences.

On top of that, you’re meeting new people and hopefully learning more about the world. There’s no better way to enhance your education than to experience what you’re reading in a textbook. Seeing the Great Wall of China in a textbook is far different than walking across it yourself.

Birds eye view of Kathmandu, Nepal

Traveling will change your life, regardless of where you go or what you do. It makes things you’ve only seen and heard of more real to you.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lifestyle. But not everyone lives like you, and with traveling, you’ll get to see that. The ability to see another person’s struggles makes you reevaluate your own problems.

You’ll be able to come back to your lifestyle and obtain a new perspective on how to live. Some things may not seem important anymore, and others may become the world to you. You’ll leave your little bubble and set your eyes on a new way of life, guaranteed.

Our experiences shape how we see the world. So if you’ve only experienced your own country and culture, your worldview is very small.

It’s hard to see things from a culturally different perspective if you’ve never experienced that culture. But travel will put you in a position where you’re eye to eye with people different than you.

You’ll experience a different culture and see a different part of the world. It’ll be nearly impossible to not have your worldview change after you’ve traveled to somewhere completely new—at least once.

On top of all this, you’ll find a new appreciation for your own culture and country. After you’ve experienced countless other cultures, you’ll start noticing aspects of your own tat you didn’t before.

There are certain things that we take for granted, or don’t notice about our culture in our daily lives.

indian aunty weaving a scarf

But after you travel and see these things highlighted in other parts of the world, it’ll be impossible not to see it in your own. Hopefully this will help bring you closer to your own culture.

Traveling is the best way to escape your personal world and enter into everyone else’s. Even a bad trip will shape your mind for the better. There’s no situation where traveling won’t change who you are today to make you a better version of yourself.

Traveling is by far one of the best things you can do for yourself if you want to grow as an individual.

But if you don’t want to take my word for it, here are 20 other people who might be able to convince you.

 

  1. “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

 

  1. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

 

  1. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure, self-determined, self-motivated, often risky, forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world” – Mark Jenkins

 

  1. “To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye

 

  1. “You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.” – Ella Maillart

 

  1. “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

 

  1. “Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” – Frank Borman

 

  1. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

 

  1. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do — especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

 

  1. “The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.” – Werner Herzog

 

  1. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends” – Maya Angelou

 

  1. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

 

  1. “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” – David Mitchell

 

  1. “Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience—buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello—become new all over again.” – Anthony Doerr

 

  1. “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment.” – Hilaire Belloc

 

  1. “We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

 

  1. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

 

  1. “Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

 

  1. “Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.” – Jamie Lyn Beatty

 

  1. “Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” – Francis Bacon



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Top Tips to Prevent Hacking Attempts On Your Website


There are many different reasons why website owners must do all they can to protect their portals from hackers. In fact, if you own an e-commerce portal, you must have already faced some sort of hacking attempt. On the other hand, hackers not just focus on e-commerce websites, they go after simple websites too. And that’s the reason why every web admin needs comprehensive web security solutions.

These web security products must be picked and used only after carrying out a thorough review of each one of them. Let’s take you through some useful tips that will help you prevent such hacking attempts on your website.

Keep everything updated

You must keep your operating system as well as every application software, for instance content management systems, antivirus software, anti-malware and other web security tools updated to their latest versions. It’s important for your hosting service provider to also keep their systems regularly updated. That’s the reason you must always go with a hosting service well known for focusing heavily on its security measures.

Guard against the XSS (cross site scripting) attacks

It’s fairly easy for hackers to inject malicious JavaScripts into your webpages, and change your webpages’ content whenever anyone accesses them. Thereafter, the visitors’ login cookie details and credentials would get stolen upon their visit. It is important that you prevent injection of any such scripts into your webpages.

Form data validation

It’s recommended that you carry out both server side as well as browser side validation of the form data. Such two-level validation would ensure that no malicious scripts are entered into the webpages, via the data form fields.

Prevention of SQL injection attacks

Website owners are advised to always use the parameterised queries instead of the standard Transact SQL as the latter can help hackers in insertion of rogue scripts.

A comprehensive file uploading policy

You might need to allow your visitors and users to upload images and/or files to your Web server, as a part of your business needs. Hackers can make use of such facilities and upload malicious data on your website. Any uploaded images or documents could actually be malware. Hence, it is important to enable uploads only if absolutely needed and with great caution. You must do away with the execute permissions for those files to ensure complete security of your website.

Stringent password policy

You must implement stringent password policies for your website and make sure that they are followed by every single user. These users must be educated about the importance of keeping strong passwords.

The recommended password length should be more than eight characters, including special characters, numerals and upper/lower case alphabets. Dictionary words must be completely avoided and the users must be urged to keep longer passwords. Furthermore, if anyone needs to store his/her passwords somewhere for authentication purposes, they should always do so in an encrypted format.



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Using Sass to Control Scope With BEM Naming


Controlling scope is something you probably don’t tend to consider when working with CSS and Sass. We have had access to the ampersand (&) for quite some time now, which gives us a level of scope—but it’s easy for it to lose its usefulness when you’re nested quite deeply. The & can send us down a windy road of doom when we completely lose track of what it means and can be responsible for some really heavy bloat.

Meanwhile, in JavaScript, we can control the scope of this by casting it as a variable at the point where it means what we will want it to. This is often at the start of a method or object:

function foo() {
  let self = this;

  return function() {
            
    // Self = foo(), even int his closure
    return self;
  }
}
    
// We need to instantiate foo() or its 'this' will be the window
let bar = new foo();

Now that we have self in the above context, we always have a reference to foo() regardless of where we might find ourselves within the function. This is really useful when we end up in setTimeout scenarios, closures or event handlers.

A quick example of an event will hopefully help to illustrate my point.

Using this markup:

<div class="component">
  <div class="component__child-element"></div>
</div>
<div class="component">
  <div class="component__child-element"></div>
</div>

We can add this JavaScript:

function foo() {

  // Load up all component child elements
  let childElements = [...document.querySelectorAll('.component__child-element')];
   
  // Loop each element and add an event listener
  childElements.map(element => {

      element.addEventListener('click', function(evt) {
          
        // Log what `this` currently is
        console.log(this);
      });
  });
}

// Create a new instance of foo
let bar = new foo();

In that code sample, if you click a component__child-element with your console open, this will report itself as the event target, which happens to be the element that we clicked. This isn’t ideal if you thought it would reference foo().

Now, if we run the same sample with self in place of this in the event handler, the console will report an instance of foo() instead:

function foo() {
    
  // Control scope of this by storing it
  let self = this;
  
  // Load up all component child elements
  let childElements = [...document.querySelectorAll('.component__child-element')];
 
  // Loop each element and add an event listener
  childElements.map(element => {
    element.addEventListener('click', function(evt) {
      
      // Self will report itself as `foo()`
      console.log(self);
    });
  });
}

// Create a new instance of foo
let bar = new foo();

So, how does this relate to Sass?

I’m glad you stuck with me there, because that JavaScript example was a primer for what we’re going to look at with Sass.

First, let’s start with that same markup and some core styles.

<div class="component">
  <div class="component__child-element"></div>
</div>
<div class="component">
  <div class="component__child-element"></div>
</div>
.component {
  display: block;
  max-width: 30rem;
  min-height: 30rem;
  margin: 5rem auto;
  background: rebeccapurple;
  position: relative;
  border: 1px dashed rebeccapurple;
    
  &__child-element {
    display: block;
    width: 15rem;
    height: 15rem;
    border-radius: 50%;
    position: absolute;
    top: 50%;
    left: 50%;
    transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
    background: white;
  }
}

This gives us a nice purple square with a white circle inside it. Nothing groundbreaking, but useful for this example.

See the Pen Square with Circle by Geoff Graham (@geoffgraham) on CodePen.

You’ll probably notice that we’re using BEM syntax, so let’s go ahead and create a modifier.

We want an inverted version of .component that has a white background with a purple circle in it. So, let’s go ahead and approach it how we’d probably think to do it straight away by including it in the same nested ruleset:

.component {
  // Other styles redacted for brevity 
  
  // The reversed modifier flips the colors around
  &--reversed {
    background: white;
    border-color: lightgray;
    
    &__child-element {
      background: rebeccapurple;
    }
  }
}

See the Pen Square with Circle by Geoff Graham (@geoffgraham) on CodePen.

Wait, why is this not working? The problem is that the & has a scope of .component--reversed, so &__child-element compiles to .component--reversed__child-element, which doesn’t exists in the markup.

$self to the rescue!

Just like in the JavaScript we looked at before, we’re going to cast our initial scope into a variable called $self. You can do it like this:

.component {
  $self: &;
}

That means that wherever we use $self in our component, it will compile to .component.

So let’s refactor that reversed modifier, so that it actually works:

.component {
  $self: &; // Hey look, it's our new best friend!
  display: block;
  max-width: 30rem;
  min-height: 30rem;
  // Other styles redacted
  
  &--reversed {
    background: white;
    border-color: lightgray;
    
    // Here, we use $self to get the correct scope
    #{ $self }__child-element {
      background: rebeccapurple;
    }
  }
}

The compiled CSS for that element is now .component--reversed .component__child-element which of course exists and successfully turns the inner circle purple:

See the Pen ‘Using Sass to Control Scope With BEM Naming’ example by Andy Bell (@hankchizljaw) on CodePen.

Further exploration

One thing I like to do in my components is reference a parent’s modifier within the element itself, rather than referencing the element within the modifier like we did earlier. This is to keep my styles grouped per element. For the same reason, I’ll also put media queries within elements too.

I end up with code that looks like this:

// We're still within .component where $self has been declared.
&__child-element {
  display: block;
  width: 15rem;
  height: 15rem;
  border-radius: 50%;
  position: absolute;
  top: 50%;
  left: 50%;
  transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
  background: white;
  
  // Flip the color when the parent is reversed
  #{ $self }--reversed & {
    background: rebeccapurple;
  }
}

Having access to $self as the root context gives us the flexibility to approach our modifiers like that with ease. Because $self is .component and & is .component__element, adding the --reversed portion generates us .component--reversed .component__element which is exactly what we wanted.

See the Pen ‘Using Sass to Control Scope With BEM Naming’ example by Andy Bell (@hankchizljaw) on CodePen.

A more advanced example

Now let’s really push the boat out and write something interesting. We’re going to layout three separate grids. Using $self, I’m going to change the color of the grid items using a sibling selector within a grid-item itself.

See the Pen ‘Using Sass to Control Scope With BEM Naming’ example by Andy Bell (@hankchizljaw) on CodePen.

Let’s look at the Sass that affects the color:

&__item {
  // Item styles redacted for brevity

  // For each direct `.grid sibling`, make this item rebeccapurple
  #{ $self } + #{ $self } & {
    background: rebeccapurple;
  }
}

What that selector compiles to is .grid + .grid .grid__item. The combination of $self and & enables us to generate that within the context of the element which is our &. This is incredibly powerful for maintaining some sort of order within complex codebases.

Wrapping up

We’ve taken inspiration from JavaScript to control scope in our BEM components with Sass by using this little snippet at the root: $self: &. With the scope control, we gain flexibility to write clean, organized, BEM driven CSS when we are deep in a modifier or child element.

I hope this little tip will help you to improve your Sass. If it does, get in touch with me on Twitter or drop a comment below. It’ll be great to see how gaining control of scope with Sass has helped you out.



Top Web and Graphic Design Trends that will dominate in 2018


Every year a designer sees a new design trend sprouting up. Sometimes these trends last for a few days, while sometimes they rule the design world for years. While these web and graphic design trends keep on changing, it keeps designers on their toes and gives them a lot of learning opportunity, at times they become too hectic for the designers to keep track of things. As such, they miss some vital points when designing for themselves or some clients. Now, even for a business owner, it’s important that they know the latest trend in the designing world so as to make that perfect website, marketing material etc. to grab the audience. There were several trends in 2017 that added to the making of more interactive and user-friendly websites and we are sure that these trends would be there too in 2018.

However, 2018 will be bringing some new web and graphic design trends as well. In this article, we would be covering the design trends that would rule 2018. Please, take a look.

  • One website, One Font- While the usual trend has been to use 2-3 fonts on a website,  so as to maintain the variations. We would be seeing a single font use throughout pages in the year 2018. The variation would be in the use of color and the font size. One can clearly see how effectively Uber has used one font in its entire website. By changing the color and font size, they have made sure that the audience does not get bored and the content does not look monotonous.

Uber

Image Source:www.thenoiselab.es

  • Bright and Bold Color We will be seeing the use of bright colors in websites as well as other graphic design elements. Designers will be using colors that can catch instant attention and bring out a certain feeling in the target customers. Even in the logo design world, the designers are trying to use bright colors when designing a logo.

    Not only this, we will also see a greater use of gradients in color. By varying the color tone, designers would like to target the audience attention to a specific part of the website. Duotone too will be coming in picture with its usage in designs and logos and will emerge as a great helping hand for those who are creative and like to create logo designs on their own using free logo maker tools. A duotone is created when one contrasting color is put on top of the other. Spotify is credited with the resurgence of duotone in the digital world, which previously was largely associated with the print media.
  • Authentic Photos- Stock photos are rarely able to catch the attention or develop trust among its target audience. Therefore, more and more website designs are including high-quality original photography on their websites. While original photography was in trend 15-years back, somehow it lost its charm. But, it’s back and we think it would rule the year 2018.
    When using authentic photos for your website make sure that it appeals to the users and tells a story. Also, do make sure that the file size of an image is kept as low as possible.

authentic photo

Image Source:www.companiesinmumbai.onlinekhareedle.com

  • Bold Typography- To emphasize important points, designers will be using bold typography. The simple reason being that the attention span of users is getting less by each passing day. As such it becomes extremely important that your user receives your message in that little time slot.
    Take for example social media sites, where people hardly read a text, the only way one can easily contact the audience is images. Therefore, the designers try to use bold typography with the variation in the font to make the message effective.

  • Microinteraction- Microinteraction is the word that you would have been hearing a lot these days! So what is microinteraction? One can easily say that these are animations that a website uses to communicate with its users. From the Facebook notification you get to the tinder swipe request, all of them are examples of micro-interactions.

    Now, there are animations and GIFs that also have seen a rise in their usage across web design as well as graphic design elements and will be in the top list of web and graphic design trends as well. Not only are they light in size, but they also help to deliver the message in a concise form.
    Cinemagraphs, a refined version of GIFs are also gaining popularity. Cinemagraphs are basically frozen images with a small area showing a subtle movement. The images look intimidating and clearly draw the attention of the targeted users.

Image Source:www.giphy.com

  • Interactive Content- Throughout 2017, we have been hearing that ‘Content is the King’ and it would remain so in the year 2018. Be it the use of blogs, having explainer videos, creating infographics or podcasts, we will be seeing a lot of work in this section.

    There is one form that is quickly catching the attention of the user’s and that is the content that asks people personal and challenging questions. Based on the answers, the website provides the users with personalized resources. This personalized experience has been seen to draw more customers as compared to other methods.

 

  • Box Designs- The use of box design in a website is gaining prominence among the designers. In the box design, a website is divided into boxes that can be considered as separate section displaying information. Now, one of the major advantages that box design have is they can easily be mobile responsive. We have seen several sites using box designs, such as Apple which uses box design to give illustrative images.

box design

Image Source:www.techwebspace.com

Final Thoughts

While the web and graphic design trends do change continuously, we believe that the above trends will rule the year 2018. As a designer or a business owner make sure that you pay heed to these trends when designing for your website, social media post or marketing materials. 

The Smashing Creativity Submissions And Winner — Smashing Magazine


Everybody’s an artist. That was the idea behind the Smashing Creativity Challenge which we announced at the beginning of the month. We asked the community to get their creative ideas flowing, and design a desktop wallpaper for March 2018. The only requirement: The wallpaper had to somehow relate to the theme “Exploring New Worlds”. How? Well, only your imagination was the limit.

Today, we are happy to present the result of this creative experiment, and the lucky winner, too, of course. So let’s get ready to explore new worlds — be it the great unknown, the little adventures that inspire us every day, and even our own minds.

By the way, if you’re up for a creative challenge, too, we’ve got a new one coming up (plus a smashing prize to win) for April. More on that, at the end of this post.

And The Winner Is …

Let’s Get Outside!

Lívia Lénárt from Hungary designed a wallpaper that reminds us to get outside and seize the beginning of Spring. Who knows what adventures might await us there?

Download Lívia’s wallpaper:

  • with calendar: 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1600×1200, 1680×1200, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
  • without calendar: 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1600×1200, 1680×1200, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440

Congratulations, Lívia! You won a Wacom Intus Pro tablet (medium size). Enjoy! We’d love to see what it will inspire you to bring to life — perhaps we’ll see it in a future wallpapers post?

More Submissions

A big Thank You to everyone who participated. It was great to see the theme come to life in so many unique ways. Keep up the brilliant work!

Exploring New Worlds Through Books

“For me, every book has a new world in it. Whether it is a fairytale or thriller storybook, they always take us into a new world where we can explore new things, meet new peoples and witness a new story every time.” — Designed by Suman Sil from India.

Exploring New Worlds Through Books
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Greetings from Mars

“I was inspired to create this artwork by space and planet Mars, and by the fact that the name of the month March comes from the Latin word ‘Martius’. It was named after Mars, the Roman god. The main character is a cat that lands on planet Mars and conquers it, the colors are predominant reds and browns with a contrast of light green. I played with texture and composition and of course I enjoyed designing the main character, an Astro-cat ready to explore the new world.” — Designed by Inna Alexandra Marculescu from Romania.

Greetings from Mars
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Peaceful Wave

“‘Exploring New Worlds’ made me think that if we could reinvent ourselves with a goal of peace and sharing – that would be an exciting place to live.” — Designed by Lora Eggleston from NC, USA.

Peaceful Wave
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Knowledge

“Exploring new worlds is much like exploring your own mind, creativity and knowledge. The only way to learn what’s really inside you is by trying something new. The illustration is my very own vision of the knowledge. It’s placed in some mysterious habitat. It’s a space where people learn from each other, find new talents and study their own limits.” — Designed by Julia Wójcik from Poland.

Knowledge
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City Upon The Hill

“A defeated medieval knight arrives at a serene valley after a long onerous journey through forestlands and hills. A city upon a hill, glimmering in the dark of the night emerges in front of him. He realizes that his journey has finally come to an end.” — Designed by Dipanjan Karmakar from India.

City Upon The Hill
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Starman

“We wanted to pay homage to Starman who entered the Earth’s orbit in February. We truly hope to see it on Mars some day, so we made this graphic to visualize what it would be like up there.” — Designed by PopArt Studio from Serbia.

Starman
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Sending FriendShips to March

Designed by João Acácio from Portugal.

Sending FriendShips to March
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Galaxy Glimpse

“For the ‘Exploring New Worlds’ theme I thought about Earth being a potential new planet to other worlds, so this is a little galaxy glimpse of an explorer from a different world.” — Designed by Kate Carlin from Australia.

Galaxy Glimpse
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Underexplored

“My mind went toward an imaginary world underwater when I thought of Exploring New Worlds. We often dream about exploring space or other planets, but it seems there is still much to discover here on Earth.” — Designed by Paul Cushing from Boise, Idaho.

Underexplored
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Imagine

Designed by Romana Águia Soares from Portugal.

Imagine
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Passport

“March brings the will to travel and with it comes the will (or need) to explore new worlds, new cultures, and even new challenges.” — Designed by Diana Lima from Portugal.

Passport
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The Unknown

“As the theme you’ve proposed says ‘Exploring New Worlds’, I made here a connection, between the dark side and the unknown lighted and catchy area.” — Designed by Valentin Keleti from Romania.

The Unknown
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  • without calendar: 320×480, 640×480, 800×480, 800×600, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1152×864, 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×960, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1400×1050, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1680×1200, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 1920×1440, 2560×1440

Bicycles

“I am very fond of bicycles. This graffiti reminds me of my childhood during the 80’s and the begining of the 90’s when I loved to take a ride on my bicycle during the sunny days and sing my favorite song: ‘Wonderful Life’ from Black. Today when I ride the bicycle I always get that feeling of exploring the unknown: new day, sky, trees, streets, oh there is a new cat on the roof. Cheers!” — Designed by Marija Zaric from Belgrade, Serbia.

Bicycles
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Search For Life On Planet Red

“Exploring New Worlds: It’s a race to find life beyond our planet Earth. Is Planet Red (Mars) our next destination? Let’s come and join hands to find our new world.” — Designed by Debobrata Debnath from India.

Search For Life On Planet Red
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Sun Temple

“In March, the world awakes from its intense sleep and the first sun rays say us hello. They warm our souls with their playful joy. Let each of us rediscover the Sun Temple within ourselves, and our lives to become a joyful sunny day, regardless of the weather outside.” — Designed by Viktor Mazhlekov from Bulgaria.

Sun Temple
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Explore The Forest

“This month, I want to go to the woods and explore my new world in sunny weather.” — Designed by Zi-Cing Hong from Taiwan.

Explore The Forest
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A New World

Designed by Kellie Heath from Portland, Oregon.

A New World

The Great Beyond

“My inspiration came mostly from ‘The Greay from’. It’s about a dog and an astronaut exploring a strange new world.” — Designed by Lars Pauwels from Belgium.

The Great Beyond
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Explore The Far East

“March is a big month in Japan as it commemorates the start of Spring, new life, and blooming wild cherries. I have picked Japan as it’s the destination I always wanted to go to and explore their culture. Thus when reading the ‘Never Stop Exploring’ quote, I couldn’t think of anything else but this.” — Designed by Sara Galova from Portugal.

Explore The Far East

Live To The Fullest

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. #ExploringNewWorlds” — Designed by Dekko Digital from India.

Live To The Fullest
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Join The Challenge!

Feeling inspired? Well, now’s your chance to get creative and feature your artwork on Smashing Magazine.

We’ve got a new challenge for you, and there’s a smashing prize waiting for one lucky winner:

Design a desktop wallpaper in which you illustrate your favorite song. Once again, what you make out of it, is entirely up to you. There’s only one requirement: Please don’t simply write down the lyrics. Instead, show us what the song is about, what images arise in your head when you listen to it, what it means to you, how it makes you feel. Is it loud and bold, full of energy, or calm and relaxing? Show us!

The deadline is Monday, March 26th, 2018.

Please be sure to read the following guidelines carefully before you get started (we’ve also collected them in a PDF for you).

Submission Guidelines

  1. Please design two versions of your wallpaper. One with and one without a calendar for April 2018. This way, your wallpaper remains useful even after the month has ended. The calendar should be in English.
  2. Make sure the wallpaper contains a Smashing Magazine logo. You can download different versions of the logo at http://smashed.by/logos. Oh, and please feel free to include your own logo in it, too, if you want.
  3. Submit your design in as many different screen resolutions as you can, so that as many readers as possible can enjoy your artwork on their desktops.
  4. Name your files according to their resolutions and their formats (e.g., 1280×720.jpg or 1280×720.png), and save them in two separate folders named “cal” and “nocal”.
  5. Fill in this form. It will generate a file which you need to send us together with your artwork.
  6. You’re almost there: Pack your “cal” and “nocal” folders as well as the generated form file into an archive (preferably .zip).

Once you’ve bundled everything up, send us your package to the following address: wallpapers@smashingmagazine.com. If your ZIP is too large to send via email, please don’t hesitate to provide us with a Dropbox or Google Drive link instead.

The deadline is Monday, March 26th, 2018.

What You Can Win

After the deadline has ended, we’ll award a SmashingConf ticket of your choice to one lucky winner: It’s up to you to decide if you’d like to go to SmashingConf San Francisco (April 17th—18th) or SmashingConf Toronto (June 26th–27th). Good luck!

SmashingConf San Francisco
Design a wallpaper about your favorite song and win a ticket to one of our upcoming SmashingConfs.

Sounds good? We’d love to see what you’ll come up with. Happy designing!

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us anytime.