The Ultimate Vintage Design Resource Bundle – Just $29


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Vintage Resources

1000s of best-selling, authentic vintage design assets

This is a treasure trove for any vintage lover! There are 1000s of assets in here including 42 vintage fonts, rare vintage letterforms, textures, old papers, decorative elements, vintage brushes, old illustrations (vectorised for your needs) and handy vintage actions.

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An introduction to frontend testing


Testing frontend code is still a confusing practice to many developers. But with frontend development becoming more complex and with developers responsible for stability and consistency like never before, frontend testing must be embraced as an equal citizen within your codebase. We break down your different testing options and explain what situations they are best used for.

Frontend testing is a blanket term that covers a variety of automated testing strategies. Some of these, like unit and integration testing, have been an accepted best practice within the backend development community for years. Other strategies are newer, and stem from the changes in what backend and frontend development are used for now.

By the end of this article, you should feel comfortable assessing which testing strategies fit best with your team and codebases. The following code examples will be written using the Jasmine framework, but the rules and processes are similar across most testing frameworks.

  • Best pieces of user testing software

01. Unit testing

Unit testing, one of the testing veterans, is at the lowest level of all testing types. Its purpose is to ensure the smallest bits of your code (called units) function independently as expected.

Imagine you have a Lego set for a house. Before you start building, you want to make sure each individual piece is accounted for (five red squares, three yellow rectangles). Unit testing is making sure that individual sets of code – things like input validations and calculations – are working as intended before building the larger feature. 

It helps to think about unit tests in tandem with the ‘do one thing well’ mantra. If you have a piece of code with a single responsibility, you likely want to write a unit test for it.

Let’s look at the following code snippet, in which we are writing a unit test for a simple calculator:

In our Calculator application, we want to ensure that the calculations always function independently the way that we expect. In the example, we want to make sure that we can always accurately add two numbers together.

The first thing we do is describe the series of tests we’re going to run by using Jasmine’s describe. This creates a test suite – a grouping of tests related to a particular area of the application. For our calculator, we will group each calculation test in its own suite. 

Suites are great not only for code organisation, but because they enable you to run suites on their own. If you’re working on a new feature for an application, you don’t want to run every test during active development, as that would be very time consuming. Testing suites individually lets you develop more quickly.

Next, we write our actual tests. Using the it function, we write the feature or piece of functionality we are testing. Our example tests out the addition function, so we will run scenarios that confirm that it’s working correctly.

We then write our test assertion, which is where we test if our code functions as we expect. We initialise our calculator, and run our addNumbers function with the two numbers we wish to add. We store the number as the result, and then assert that this is equal to the number we expect (in our case, 10).

If addNumbers fails to return the correct figures, our test will fail. We would write similar tests for our other calculations – subtraction, multiplication, and so on.

02. Acceptance tests

If unit tests are like checking each Lego piece, acceptance tests are checking if each stage of building can be completed. Just because all the pieces are accounted for doesn’t mean that the instructions are properly executable and will allow you to build the final model.

Acceptance tests go through your running application and ensure designated actions, user inputs and user flows are completable and functioning. 

Just because our application’s addNumbers function returns the right number, doesn’t mean the calculator interface will definitely function as expected to give the right result. What if our buttons are disabled, or the calculation result doesn’t get displayed? Acceptance tests help us answer these questions.

The structure looks very similar to our unit test: we define a suite with describe, then write our test within the it function, then execute some code and check its outcome. 

Rather than testing around specific functions and values, however, here we’re testing to see if a particular workflow (a sign-up flow) behaves as expected when we fill in some bad information. There are more minute actions happening here, such as form validations that may be unit tested, as well as any handling for what shows our error state, demonstrated by an element with the ID signupError.

Acceptance tests are a great way to make sure key experience flows are always working correctly. It’s also easy to add tests around edge cases, and to help your QA teams find them in your application.

When considering what to write acceptance tests for, your user stories are a great place to start. How does your user interact with your website, and what is the expected outcome of that interaction? It’s different to unit testing, which is better matched to something like function requirements, such as the requirements around a validated field.

03. Visual regression testing

As mentioned in the introduction, some types of testing are unique to the frontend world. The first of these is visual regression testing. This doesn’t test your code, but rather compares the rendered result of your code – your interface – with the rendered version of your application in production, staging, or a pre-changed local environment. 

This is typically done by comparing screenshots taken within a headless browser (a browser that runs on the server). Image comparison tools then detect any differences between the two shots.

Using a tool such as PhantomCSS, your tests specify where the test runner should navigate to, take a screenshot, and the framework shows you differences that came up in those views.

This visual regression framework illustrates decision trees in your application, exposing complexity to those outside of development

Unlike acceptance and unit testing, visual regression testing is hard to benefit from if you’re building something new. As your UI will see rapid and drastic changes throughout the course of active development, you’ll likely save these tests for when pieces of the interface are visually complete. Therefore, visual regression tests are the last tests you should be writing.

Currently, many visual regression tools require a bit of manual effort. You may have to run your screenshot capture before you start development on your branch, or manually update baseline screenshots as you make changes to the interface.

This is simply because of the nature of development – changes to the UI may be intentional, but tests only know ‘yes, this is the same’ or ‘no, this is different’. However, if visual regressions are a pain point within your application, this approach may save your team time and effort overall, compared to constantly fixing regressions.

04. Accessibility and performance tests

As the culture and awareness around frontend testing grows, so does our ability to test various aspects of the ecosystem. Given the increased focus on accessibility and performance in our technical culture, integrating this into your testing suite helps ensure these concepts remain a priority. 

If you’re having issues enforcing performance budgets or accessibility standards, this is a way to keep these requirements in the forefront of people’s minds.

Both of these checks can either be integrated into your workflow with build tools like Grunt and Gulp, or semi-manually within your terminal. For performance budgets, a tool like grunt-perfbudget gives you the ability to run your site through WebPageTest automatically within a specified task. 

However, if you’re not using a task runner, you can also grab perfbudget as a standalone NPM module and run the tests manually.

Here’s what it looks like to run this through the terminal:

The same options are available for accessibility testing. So for Pa11y, you can either run the pa11y command in your browser for output or set up a task to automate this step. In the terminal:

Most tools in these categories are fairly plug-and-play, but also give you the option to customise how the tests get run – for example, you may set them to ignore certain WCAG standards.

Resemble.js is a popular image comparison library, and gives you a lot of control over what triggers a visual differentiation

Next page: How to introduce testing into your workflow

Many developers are on board with having some kind of frontend testing present in their codebase, but some are still skeptical about the cost-benefit balance. If you're just considering how testing would fit into your team and workflow, you should think about the following:

01. Start with known pain points

If you’re constantly seeing the same bugs popping up in certain parts of your codebase, it’s wise to investigate if testing could help. 

If it’s code regression and it’s not possible to unit-test the code, try to adjust your acceptance tests so they cover the scenario at a higher level. This will also give you a baseline test to experiment against. If the number of regressions on this feature goes down after writing tests, you may find other developers more inclined to embrace testing in the future.

02. Make it part of the workflow

In order to keep the team honest about their test-writing, everyone should hold themselves and others accountable. Perhaps talking about tests becomes part of your code review process: ask why tests weren’t written, or point out areas where they might be helpful. 

By having an open dialogue about tests, you may find ways to motivate your team to keep writing them. Using a continuous integration service such as Travis CI to run your test suite automatically on your development branches can also make your test suite more visible.

Services such as Travis CI can make testing more visible

03. Don’t do everything at once

For teams that are new to testing, adopting all the testing types at once might be overwhelming – and if you’re starting with new code, you might not even need all the methods. For example, if you don’t have a lot of client-side logic or user interaction, maybe visual regression tests will cover most of your application.

Introducing one testing type at a time will give your team a chance to learn how to test and adjust any parts of the process that prove difficult. At the end of the day, your team needs to be on board and dedicated to this practice.

04. Revisit and review

Testing, like any other part of your codebase, requires constant revisits to make sure your current implementation still makes sense. Remember, a test suite that nobody runs is a test suite that may as well not exist. 

But if you put the time and effort into your testing strategy, the time saved by fixing regressions means time that can spent building new features, or making your existing code even better. 

This article was originally published in net magazine issue 285, buy it here

Next page:

  • 20 JavaScript tools to blow your mind
  • 11 great UI designs

Challenge Yourself More Often By Creating Artwork Every Day – Smashing Magazine


Whether you’re into good ol’ drawing and painting, or quick editing in Photoshop or Illustrator, one thing’s for sure: they’re all creativity’s best friends. Some draw pictures all day1, while others find their inspiration in uncommon sources2 in order to break out of the box. Whatever it is that you decide to do, it’s good to challenge yourself more often and get out of your comfort zone. If you don’t, you may never discover something that you love doing, or perhaps even worse, never learn a whole lot about yourself.

If your excuse are pesky blackouts or simply having no clue what to create nor where to get started, don’t fret! Even the most talented artists out there practice so much more than you’d ever imagine, and hone their skills by trying out copywork3. The most important thing is to be confident and simply give it a try. For more encouragement, I’ve collected a good number of inspirational artwork that is bound to give you that spark you need to get started already!

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

ING Creatives 2017 Link

It’s quite obvious where they got the inspiration from. Very well executed.

8
Image credit: Chiara Vercesi9

Shop — Belgium Link

Hard not to love this. Just look at the shadow and light effect on the Atomium, and the subtle texture pattern in the spheres. So well done.

10
Image credit: Sam Chivers11

Kinkaider Brewing Co. — Moscow Mule Link

Interesting choice of colors. It gets the adventure spirit going. Those line textures are also very well applied.

12
Image credit: Matt Carlson13

Golden Light At Paris Link

Beautiful timing to get that amazing golden hour work for you. Combine that with Paris and you get this result.

14
Image credit: Nathalie Geffroy15

Balanced Life 🌴 Link

Love the hairline, handlebar and wheels. Super cool!

16
Image credit: Frederique Matti17

Hacking — Crayonfire Link

An editorial illustration for DB Magazine in the US on the subject of the dangers of hackers within the hospital system. Beautiful style, colors and patterns.

18
Image credit: Neil Stevens19

Poste Italiane Link

Nice perspective, and beautiful style. I love the radio.

20
Image credit: Andrea De Santis21

La Maison À Travers Les Âges Link

The surreal world of Sébastien Plassard.

22
Image credit: Sébastien Plassard23. (Large preview24)

California Sunsets 🌴 Link

Such a beautiful shot with a perfect fly-by by those birds. Amazing colors.

25
Image credit: earth26

Nature Prints Link

A selection of recent prints created with a wildlife theme. Go see the others27, too.

28
Image credit: Neil Stevens29

Belgian Headwinds Link

Beautiful! However, when your legs don’t want to cooperate it can be something else.

30
Image credit: Matt Blease31

Second Thought Poster Link

One of winners of Communication Arts 2017. I love the duplicity in here. Very clever!

32
Image credit: Magoz33

Escada Link

Wonderful usage of vivid colors used in this fragrance brand illustration.

34
Image credit: Mads Berg35

Illustration For GQ Magazine, Thailand Link

The muted colors work very well together. I’m also inspired by the simplicity of the shadows.

36
Image credit: Tanawat Sakdawisarak37

ING Creatives Festival Link

The reflection in the helmet, and reflection of the light on the suit are nicely executed.

38
Image credit: Lena Vargas Afanasieva4139

ING Creatives Festival II Link

Much to love in here such as the custom typography, the special dog and the color palette.

40
Image credit: Lena Vargas Afanasieva4139

Mortirolo-Gavia Link

Simply gorgeous!

42
Image credit: Jered Gruber43

Design In Alert Link

Still from an illustrated animation. The finished video44 of Festival Bienal is quite nice.

45
Image credit: Felipe Vargas46

100 Years Of La Rinascente Link

Love the elegance in this design style.

47
Image credit: Simone Massoni48.
(Large preview49)

The Thirty-Nine Steps Link

The suspense is all over this illustration for the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps. Makes me want to read it.

50
Image credit: Giordano Poloni51

Countryside Cycling Prints Link

Inspired by those long countryside curved roads. Love how the colors are applied.

52
Image credit: Neil Stevens6753

Manhattan — Muti Link

Love the amount of detail and simplicity with the 1 line weight and the minimal use of color.

54
Image credit: Muti55

Foggy Sunrise Link

Wonderful landscape and atmosphere with fog, foreground and one red poppy!

56
Image credit: Pascal Schirmer57

Racing Post Link

So many things to discover in this beautiful piece. Made me smile. I really love the busyness here. So well executed.

58
Image credit: Steve Scott59. (Large preview60)

Radio Flyer 100th Anniversary Poster Link

Great poster. Love the impressive impact. Read about the design process61.

62
Image credit: Brian Miller63

Geometry In Architecture Link

Great geometry and wonderful reflection of the sky.

64
Image credit: nihilisten65

Countryside Cycling Prints II Link

Inspired by those long countryside curves. You feel the speed in this one. Available as a poster.

66
Image credit: Neil Stevens6753

Seasalt Rain Branding Link

Part of a selection of characters which personified the incredibly functional yet stylish Rain collection. See the other characters68, too.

69
Image credit: Foxcub Studio70

Letterforms And Calligraphy Link

Lovely mix of colors and beautiful custom typography.

71
Image credit: Matteo Goi72

Colorful Boxes Link

Playing with color, shapes and shadow. That’s what you’ll see in this series called Colorful Boxes. Absolutely love the very bright colors in this one.

73
Image credit: Andreas Levers74

Antelope Canyon Link

Amazing capture! It’s Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It looks so surreal, just like paint strokes.

75
Image credit: Earth76

Desert Landscape Study Link

The 45 degrees lines made the final work looks really unique. Look at the shadow and light effect on the cactus. So well done.

77
Image credit: Matt Carlson78

Mountain Roads Link

Views like this are the reward for all the suffering to get there.

79
Image credit: desvre80

The History Of The Book Link

Opening illustration for an article about the history of the book. Beautiful style and details! The hair is nicely done.

81
Image credit: Goncalo Viana82

Seaside Link

Inspiring color combinations.

83
Image credit: Matt Carlson84

Usbek & Rica #22 Link

Great shadows and gradients, and lovely soft style.

85
Image credit: Florent Hauchard86

Pavillon Gazon Link

Great unity. Love the cute detail of the dog running away.

87
Image credit: Fago Studio88. (Large preview89)

Mostly Mozart Link

Perfect example on what you can achieve when using negative space.

90
Image credit: Malika Favre91

Mexican Dude Link

Gotta love the cacti as well as the colors here — obviously.

92
Image credit: Anano Miminoshvili93

Designing For Growth Link

An illustration for Etsy for their medium blog about designing for growth.

94
Image credit: Naomi Wilkinson95

Information Overload Link

Dealing well with flood of information. Very well translated.

96
Image credit: Tim Boelaars97

Train Safety, Mind The Gap Link

Nicely done Mind The Gap train safety poster.

98
Image credit: Robert Frank Hunter99

Under Construction Link

Beautiful color palette in this one. The reflections on the windows are nicely done.

100
Image credit: Dmitrij101

Trail Bliss Link

Never stop exploring! Fantastic action shot with superb light.

102
Image credit: Sandi Bertoncelj103

Airstream Link

Pretty sweet texture work and great color choices.

104
Image credit: Muti105

Bons Baisers de Lemon Bay Link

Admiring the simplicity of this style.

106
Image credit: Virginie Morgand107

Segment Link

Not your everyday color palette. I really like the idea of leaving color out. Beautiful design style.

108
Image credit: Jones & Co109

McLaren Poster Illustration Link

Always a pleasure to introduce some new work from Mads. Love how he played with perspective in this one.

110
Image credit: Mads Berg111

Furka Pass Link

Look at those majestic mountains! What an awesome road to ride your bike on.

112
Image credit: Earth113

Jazz Link

That clarinet player is just perfect. I love how his finger draws your eye up to the piano player with that matched fine line.

114
Image credit: Andy Selimov115
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  11. 11 http://www.samchivers.com/Shop-Belgium
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  13. 13 https://dribbble.com/shots/3559258-Kinkaider-Brewing-Co-Moscow-Mule
  14. 14 http://www.nathparis.net/color/6u6wa9ur0ks8qkmnxtxqplzrw0nyic
  15. 15 http://www.nathparis.net/color/6u6wa9ur0ks8qkmnxtxqplzrw0nyic
  16. 16 https://dribbble.com/shots/3532597-Balanced-life
  17. 17 https://dribbble.com/shots/3532597-Balanced-life
  18. 18 http://www.crayonfire.co.uk/hacking
  19. 19 http://www.crayonfire.co.uk/hacking
  20. 20 https://www.behance.net/gallery/46066931/Editorial-illustrations-for-Poste-Italiane
  21. 21 https://www.behance.net/gallery/46066931/Editorial-illustrations-for-Poste-Italiane
  22. 22 http://www.lamartinierejeunesse.fr/ouvrage/la-maison-a-travers-les-ages-nathalie-lescaille-moulenes/9782732474540
  23. 23 http://www.lamartinierejeunesse.fr/ouvrage/la-maison-a-travers-les-ages-nathalie-lescaille-moulenes/9782732474540
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  25. 25 https://www.instagram.com/p/BUsjPVpAdla/
  26. 26 https://www.instagram.com/p/BUsjPVpAdla/
  27. 27 http://www.crayonfire.co.uk/nature-prints
  28. 28 http://www.crayonfire.co.uk/nature-prints
  29. 29 http://www.crayonfire.co.uk/nature-prints
  30. 30 https://www.instagram.com/p/BUHw2hhjBxP/
  31. 31 https://www.instagram.com/p/BUHw2hhjBxP/
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  35. 35 https://www.behance.net/gallery/47601677/Escada
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  55. 55 https://www.behance.net/gallery/47337265/Manhattan
  56. 56 https://500px.com/photo/215740807/foggy-sunrise-by-pascal-schirmer
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  64. 64 https://www.instagram.com/p/BG3mk_xIFL6/
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  70. 70 http://www.foxcubstudio.co.uk/portfolio/seasalt-rain-branding
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  76. 76 https://www.instagram.com/p/BVprIpbg1X3/
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  82. 82 http://www.goncaloviana.com/the-history-of-the-book-2
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  84. 84 https://dribbble.com/shots/3543468-Seaside
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  91. 91 http://malikafavre.com/mostly-mozart
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  93. 93 https://dribbble.com/shots/3612836-Mexican-dude
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  99. 99 http://robertfrankhunter.com/work/train-safety-mind-the-gap/
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  101. 101 https://dribbble.com/shots/3615601-Under-Construction
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  103. 103 https://500px.com/photo/218037981/never-stop-exploring-by-sandi-bertoncelj
  104. 104 https://www.instagram.com/p/BTbsT5Ygoz5/
  105. 105 https://www.instagram.com/p/BTbsT5Ygoz5/
  106. 106 http://www.virginie-morgand.com/make-my-lemonade
  107. 107 http://www.virginie-morgand.com/make-my-lemonade
  108. 108 https://www.behance.net/gallery/53717443/SEGMENT
  109. 109 https://www.behance.net/gallery/53717443/SEGMENT
  110. 110 https://www.behance.net/gallery/53277409/McLaren-Poster-Illustration
  111. 111 https://www.behance.net/gallery/53277409/McLaren-Poster-Illustration
  112. 112 https://www.instagram.com/p/BVxHwEkA_dp/
  113. 113 https://www.instagram.com/p/BVxHwEkA_dp/
  114. 114 https://dribbble.com/shots/3157231-Jazz
  115. 115 https://dribbble.com/shots/3157231-Jazz

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How to Raise Your Prices without Scaring Off Clients


It’s a vicious cycle.

As freelance designers, we all undercharge. We want to charge more, but here’s the dilemma: We’re afraid if we raise our prices we’ll scare away clients.

So we keep our prices low and we miss out on lost revenue.

But that’s just a part of the problem. Because it creates a vicious cycle. To make enough, we have to work to the point of exhaustion.

We take on any work that comes our way—working at capacity or near capacity—but instead of getting ahead, we end up on this treadmill running in place.

Being underpaid is bad enough, but also being overworked on top of that is just plain demoralizing.

That’s why pricing is so important (for your health and the health of your business).

My challenge to you is to raise your prices. So you can stop that vicious cycle.

Today I’m going to show you a simple technique from my new course on pricing for getting paid more without scaring away potential clients.

Any designer can easily apply it.

Even if you’re not a “natural salesman”.

Even if (like me) you are an introvert who hates writing proposals.

Even if up until now, you’ve avoided talking money with your prospects like it was some kind of contagious disease.

This technique is for you, my friend.

(I also have a special FREE bonus to help you even further. Make sure you read all the way to the end to get it.)

Let’s jump into the details.

One pricing mistake almost every designer makes

Pricing for Designers

Let’s say you’ve been approached to design a website or a new brand identity or something. You talk with the prospect or email back and forth to learn about their needs and once that is done, you give them a price.

One price.

That’s where the mistake happens.

Here’s the problem with offering only one price.

When you offer only one price, your prospect only has 2 choices: yes, or no.

If they don’t like that price, they are gone and off to the next vendor to find another price.

Offering just one price also makes it really easy for the prospect to compare your website or brand identity price to someone else’s price down the street.

When that happens, you’re now competing head to head with their prices and this creates the dreaded race to the bottom that puts pressure on you to keep lowering your prices more and more.

There’s a better way to do it.

How to stop your prospect from shopping around

Ever have a prospect ask you for a quote and then just disappear? Well, what happened is what I mentioned above. They were shopping around to find a better price. Or, they were trying to see if the price someone else quoted them was a good one or not.

So here’s how you short circuit that process and give yourself the best opportunity to land the project.

Instead of putting them to a yes-no question, you can give yourself more chances to get to a “yes” answer by offering additional choices or packages.

Humans love choices and when you give them the right amount of options, they automatically begin to compare them against one another.

Your prospect is comparing your price to your competitor’s down the street.

With package choices, now they are comparing your packages to each other instead of to your competition.

They are looking at the benefits of each package and since you have more than one price they can choose, you’ve got more swings at the plate to get to that “yes” answer.

So how many packages should you offer?

Three.

Goldilocks Pricing

Using “Goldilocks Pricing” to raise your prices

Goldilocks Pricing is a Good-Better-Best pricing tactic. Not too much, not too little, just right.

The great thing about offering three packages like this is it gives you a chance to present higher prices, without scaring away clients.

So what do those packages look like?

For example,

Let’s say a prospect has come to you looking for a site redesign.

After talking to them about the details of the project, you might realize they need a particular scope of work. Usually, this will be your middle or “Better” package.

However, instead of just offering them this package, you’ll also provide a lower priced package—the “Good” package. Which is a stripped down version of the “Better” package.

And then you’ll offer a “Best” package. This package contains everything you might include if the client came to you and said “Money is no object. Give me the best.”

No prospect ever says anything like that, but this is another reason you offer it: They might not have thought of these extra services that could benefit their business. So think of this offer as an actual benefit to them, because it is.

You’ve now created a wonderful menu for your prospect to choose from, and they get to pick an option that works for them.

If your middle package is too high, you’ve got the lower package.

…and occasionally, your “Best” package will get picked and you’ll get the extra revenue that comes with it.

But if you never include that premium package, your prospect will never have the chance to say yes to it.

And without the lower package, you might lose a prospect who is scared off by your higher prices.

Does this work for smaller projects?

I know what you are thinking. You’re saying, “Well this could work for big web design projects, but what if I work on small print projects? How do I make packages out of that?”

The way to do it is to break things down into smaller components. Divide up all the different components and then package things back up in a way that makes sense.

So let say you have a print project.

You might already be offering something of value that you are not getting paid for.

Maybe it’s vendor management.

So one package might be brochure design, and another might be brochure design plus vendor management. And then the next package is the brochure, plus vendor management and something else.

You might have to dig a bit, but there is always something more you can offer.

Will the prospect be annoyed I’m offering more than they’ve asked for?

We often feel obligated to only quote what the client has asked for. But as long as what you are offering them makes sense and is related to the project, most clients and prospects will be appreciative.

The other day I went to a car wash. I went to get my car washed but did they sell me just a car wash? Nope. They gave me three options.

One option was just the interior. The other option was the interior and exterior. And the third option was interior, exterior plus a coat of wax.

I chose the middle option. Was I mad they offered to wax my car? Certainly not. It wasn’t right for me but for someone else will take them up on that offer.

This tactic scales no matter what size projects you work on as long as you are willing to get creative with how you package what you are selling.

If a car wash can do it, you can do it too.

My design proposal template

5K Proposal Tempalte

If you want to get started presenting options to your clients and prospects, I’ve got a quick way for you to do it. I’ve included a special bonus download for you that includes the 3 option proposal template I use in my design business.

» Download it here

I regularly use this proposal to sell $5K+ proposals and I’ve included a video walk-through to explain how I set it up.

Check it out and start earning more!

The Options for Programmatically Documenting CSS


I strongly believe that the documentation should be kept as close to the code as possible. Based on my experience, that’s the only option that works well in the long term. External documents, notes, and wikis all eventually get outdated, forgotten, and lost.

Documentation is a topic that always bugs me. Working on poorly documented codebase is a ticking bomb. It makes the onboarding process a tedious experience. Another way to think of bad documentation is that it helps foster a low truck factor (that is, “the number of people on your team who have to be hit by a truck before the project is in serious trouble”).

Recently I was on-boarded into a project with more than 1,500 pages of documentation written in… Microsoft Word. It was outdated and unorganized. A real disaster. There must be a better way!

I’ve talked about this documentation issue before. I scratched the surface not long ago here on CSS-Tricks in my article What Does a Well-Documented CSS Codebase Look Like? Now, let’s drill down into the options for programmatically documenting code. Specifically CSS.

Similar to JSDoc, in the CSS world there are a couple of ways to describe your components right in the source code as /* comments */. Once code is described through comments like this, a living style guide for the project could be generated. I hope I’ve stressed enough the word living since I believe that’s the key for successful maintenance. Based on what I’ve experienced, there are a number of benefits to documenting code in this way that you experience immediately:

  • The team starts using a common vocabulary, reducing communication issues and misunderstandings significantly.
  • The current state of your components visual UI is always present.
  • Helps transform front-end codebases into well-described pattern libraries with minimal effort.
  • Helpful as a development playground.

It’s sometimes argued that a development approach focused on documentation is quite time-consuming. I am not going to disagree with that. One should always strive for a balance between building functionality and writing docs. As an example, in the team I’m currently on, we use an agile approach to building stuff and there are blocks of time in each sprint dedicated to completing missing docs.

Of course, there are times when working software trumps comprehensive documentation. That’s completely fine, as long as the people responsible are aware and have a plan how the project will be maintained in the long run.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular documentation options in CSS:

Knyle Style Sheets (KSS)

KSS is a documentation specification and style guide format. It attempts to provide a methodology for writing maintainable, documented CSS within a team. Most developers in my network use it due to its popularity, expressiveness, and simplicity.

The KSS format is human-readable and machine-parsable. Therefore, it is intended to help automate the creation of a living style guide.

Similar to JSDoc, in KSS, CSS components are described right in the source code as comments. Each KSS documentation block consists of three parts: a description of what the element does or looks like, a list of modifier classes or pseudo-classes and how they modify the element, and a reference to the element’s position in the style guide. Here’s how it looks:

// Primary Button
//
// Use this class for the primary call to action button.
// Typically you'll want to use either a `<button>` or an `` element.
//
// Markup:
// <button class="btn btn--primary">Click Me</button>
// Click Me
//
// Styleguide Components.Buttons.Primary
.btn--primary {
    padding: 10px 20px;
    text-transform: uppercase;
    font-weight: bold;
    bacgkround-color: yellow;
}

Benjamin Robertson describes in details his experience with kss-node, which is a Node.js implementation of KSS. Additionally, there are a bunch of generators that use the KSS notation to generate style guides from stylesheets. A popular option worth mentioning is the SC5 Style Generator. Moreover, their documenting syntax is extended with options to introduce wrapper markup, ignore parts of the stylesheet from being processed, and other nice-to-have enhancements.

Other sometimes useful (but in my opinion mostly fancy) things are:

  • With the designer tool you can edit Sass, Less or PostCSS variables directly via the web interface.
  • There is a live preview of the styles on every device.

Who knows, they might be beneficial for some use-cases. Here’s an interactive demo of SC5.

GitHub’s style guide (Primer) is KSS generated.

Unlike the JavaScript world, where JSDoc is king, there are still a bunch of tools that don’t use the KSS conventions. Therefore, let’s explore two alternatives I know of, ranked based on popularity, recent updates and my subjective opinion.

MDCSS

If you’re searching for a simple, concise solution, MDCSS could be the answer. Here’s an interactive demo. To add a section of documentation, write a CSS comment that starts with three dashes ---, like so:

/*---
title:   Primary Button
section: Buttons
---

Use this class for the primary call to action button.
Typically you'll want to use either a `<button>` or an `` element

```example:html
<button class="btn btn--primary">Click</button>
Click Me
```
*/
.btn--primary {
    text-transform: uppercase;
    font-weight: bold;
    bacgkround-color: yellow;
}

The contents of a section of documentation are parsed by Markdown and turned into HTML, which is quite nice! Additionally, the contents of a section may be automatically imported from another file, which is quite useful for more detailed explanations:

/*---
title:  Buttons
import: buttons.md
---*/

Each documentation object may contain a bunch of properties like title (of the current section), unique name, context, and a few others.

Some other tools that have been on my radar, with very similar functionalities are:

Nucleus

Nucleus is a living style guide generator for Atomic CSS based components. Nucleus reads the information from DocBlock annotations.

Atomic CSS is a guideline to write modular styles, projecting different levels of complexity on a (bio-) chemical scale. This results in low selector specificity and allows you to compose complex entities out of simple elements. If you’re not fairly familiar with Atomic CSS, the learning curve may look a bit overwhelming in the beginning. The entities for Nucleus include:

  • Nuclides: not directly useable on their own styles (mixins, settings, variables).
  • Atoms: single-class element or selector rules (buttons, links, headlines, inputs…).
  • Molecules: one or more nested rules, but each of them is not more than an Atom
  • Structures: the most complex types, may consist of multiple molecules or other Structures.
  • … and a few more.

The button example we use throughout this article here stands for an Atom – a very basic element of the stylesheet (single-class element or selector). To mark it as an Atom, we need to annotate it with the @atom tag, followed by the name of the component:

/**
 * @atom Button
 * @section Navigation > Buttons
 * @modifiers
 *  .btn--primary - Use this class for the primary call to action button.
 * @markup
 *  <button class="btn">Click me</button>
 *  <button class="btn btn--primary">Click me</button>
 *  Click Me
 */
.btn--primary {
    text-transform: uppercase;
    font-weight: bold;
    bacgkround-color: yellow;
}

Here’s an interactive demo.

Conclusion

There is yet to be a clear winner in terms of a tool or a common syntax definition for programmatically documenting CSS.

On the one hand, it seems like KSS leads the group, so I’d say it’s worth considering it for a long-term project. My gut feel is that it will last for a long time. On the other hand, different syntax options and tools like Nucleus and MDCSS look promising too. I would encourage you to try them on short-term projects.

It’s important to note that all tools presented in this article might do the job well and seem scalable enough. So try them out and pick whatever makes the most sense to your team.

I’d appreciate it if you would share in comments below if you know or have experience with any of these or other tools worth knowing about!


The Options for Programmatically Documenting CSS is a post from CSS-Tricks

Master light and shade with the new Paint & Draw issue


We've decided to shake things up in the latest issue of Paint & Draw with the introduction of a new regular feature. With Masterclass, we talk to renowned artists about the pieces of work that inspire them the most. 

Kicking off this feature is portrait artist David Cobley, who gives an impassioned speech about his favourite painting. We hope you find this a pleasant change of pace from all our hands-on tutorials and workshops!

Buy issue 10 of Paint & Draw here!

On top of this, our cover feature sees Paint & Draw's resident pastel expert, Rebecca de Mendonça, reveal how to create a beautiful, realistic illustration that guides the viewer's eye across the page. As if that wasn't enough, you'll also find a ton of our usual tips, tutorials and lessons to push your skills to the next level. Make sure you don't miss it!

Subscribe to Paint & Draw here!

Realise fresh paper collages

Clippings from old magazines can form the basis of a collage

In our easy to digest Bitesize tutorials, Sylvia Paul reveals how creating a collage can help you break out of an artistic routine.

Create lifelike pastel illustrations

This pastel tutorial captures the energy of a beautiful Arabian horse

Rebecca de Mendonça helps you build up your pastel skills with the latest instalment of her in-depth feature. In this issue she shows you how she drew this stunning Arabian horse.

Artist interview: Stan Miller

Stan Miller discusses his love/hate relationship with watercolours

Every artist has a medium that they struggle with. For Stan Miller, it's watercolours that prove to be a difficult tool to master. In this interview the American artist discusses how he keeps his passion for painting alive.

Construct buildings with shapes

Simple shapes can form the basis of architecture artwork

When it comes to painting buildings, getting bogged down in details is a mistake that trips up a lot of artists. In this article, Amnon David Ar demonstrates how breaking buildings down into shapes can make the whole process a lot easier.

Draw textures with coloured pencils

This lifelike illustration looks good enough to eat

Believe it or not, this amazing still life was created using just coloured pencils. Want to know how it was done? You're in luck! Steven Marquette is here to show you how he creates his realistic drawings that are bound to leave you hungry.

  • More from Paint & Draw

How to Make a Great Infographic in Under an Hour


When a small business like yours has something to say, how do you say it? A compelling video or an informative blog post, perhaps. How about an infographic? This is a strong option for sharing data in a visual and textual way. Today, we’re excited to show you why, when it comes to making an infographic, it’s easier than you think – almost like creating your own website.

This graphic tool can be valuable for your business, in particular, when your goal is to convey a lot of information in a simple and memorable way. Below, we’ll cover some of the best resources around for creating a beautiful infographic in no time.  

Why infographics?

There are several things that make this type of visual important. For starters, they’re attention grabbing. They are the visualization of research data, which can make even the most boring information look and feel more interesting.

An infographic will likely keep someone more interested than a lengthy blog post. They can be punchy, full of color and lively photos. The stimulating visuals allow viewers to indulge in their curiosity.

Do you need to pay to create a great infographic?

Short answer: Not really, but maybe.

Many of the programs you’ll find to create infographics will likely start out free and then you’ll need to pony up some cash to unleash their full potential. In some cases, it’s very much worth it. However, the real convenience is the extra templates, and other pieces of content you have access to – depending on the tool you use.

If you’re trying to make an infographic for free, be sure to read the fine print of the service you’re looking to work with.

Prepare the groundwork

Before you start, it’s best to get an idea of what you want on your infographic. We recommend to follow these few steps:

  • Collect your date and organize it.
  • Design a rough sketch on how you want to present it.
  • Write the content you’re going to display.
  • Choose the online tool that matches your needs.
  • Start creating!

Now that you have the process in mind, let see the wonderful online resources designed for this purpose.

Pick a tool for creating your infographic

Canva

When searching for a program to create an infographic, Canva is surely at the top of any list. Powerful and easy to use, it offers up a drag and drop interface to create all sorts of different graphics for social media or even print. Best of all, it’s free to use!

Of course, there are some paid options with Canva. Some designs, icons and other elements are not free and you’ll be presented with your payment options before you can download your completed infographic. Luckily, if you already have your images and other content you want to use, you won’t need to pay a dime.

Venngage

Vengage

Venngage is another great option for infographics, offering up a wide set of tools in drag and drop fashion. It shares a very similar design as Canva, so you’ll be fairly accustomed if you’ve used it before.  

Icons, charts, maps and more await you with Venngage. Creating your infographic is fun and free, but you’ll have to pay in order to download it. Even if you use a blank canvas and upload one of your own visuals, you’ll still need to upgrade your plan in order to claim the graphic. Nonetheless, Venngage is one of the best of it’s kind and isn’t to be dismissed.

Piktochart

Piktochart

Need more options? Then Piktochart is your next stop. Using its free templates, you’ll be able to create, design and customize a presentation or infographic in a short amount of time.

Piktochart has a dedicated section to showcase other creations from their users, simply called Inspire Me. While you’ll find other tools that have something similar, Piktochart’s Inspire Me section does exactly that and can be very welcoming for the intimidated, first-time infographic creator.

Another thing that’s not in short supply is Piktochart’s tutorials, just in case you need a little help with the infographic editor. Luckily, with its ease of use, that likely won’t happen.

Easel.ly

ease.ly infographic maker

Easel.ly may be the most simple of all of the offerings on this list, and that’s not a bad thing. While it may lack the polish found in other tools, it’s a no frills infographic creation machine.

Unlike some others that attempt to know what type of job or position you have in order to present you a more curated list of templates, Easel.ly throws you into their collection so you can get to work fast.

The infographic editor may look a tad dated, but it’s as powerful as the other options we mentioned. Another admirable thing you’ll find with Easel.ly is that it has a “what you see is what you get” approach, in that, it doesn’t show you extras that you simply can’t use as a free user. This is an infographic tool that wants you to be happy with what you have, and if you need more, it’s just an upgrade away.

Visme (Beta)

Visme

While Visme has been around for a while, it still bears a Beta tag, but you’d likely never know.

The editor looks slick and a touch more professional looking than its competitors, but its capabilities are essentially the same.

When adding elements to your infographic, you’ll see exactly what you have access to as a free user, as a small banner is added to all of its premium elements. This isn’t to say that you can’t create a great looking infographic without paying, though.

As a free Visme user, when exporting your final graphic, you’ll only be able to export it to JPG format. Free infographics will also have Visme branding at the bottom.

Make it yours

No matter what tool you choose to make your infographic, you’ll more than likely start with a template. Of course, you can also start from scratch and use a blank canvas, but working from a template can save you some time. Once chosen, it’ll be better to change or remove elements on it the before adding your own icons and texts.

Infographics are visually stimulating as it is, but you want yours to really stand out. Going with a bright color palette may sound like a good choice, but you may want a more welcoming color for your target audience. Not sure what we mean? We have you covered for this; simply check out our psychology of color article to start exploring that world. 

Once you have placed all of your graphics, text and other data, take a step back and make sure it tells the story you were initially aiming for.

Share it with the world

After you’ve completed your infographic, it’s time to get it out into the world. Share it on your website, social networks and anywhere else you can think of that makes sense. It’d be a shame if you put work into your masterpiece, only for no one (but you and your pets) to see it!

Now that you’re a professional infographer, it’s time to create your stunning website today!

History of Brand Identity, How Branding Creates Icons


Brand identity is the most important factor in creating a brand. It helps in creating awareness among the consumers about a specific company.

Brand identity web design includes the logo, typeface, color, design and everything else that represents the company in front of the customers. But, how did this began? Understanding the history of brand identity can make us realize its priority in a better way.

Take a look at few points that showcases the history of Brand identity web design:

The history of brand identity

1. The Introduction Of Brand Logos:

There are hardly great logos in the current market. Few claim it’s easier to make a logo while few contradict it. To make an eligible logo one need to be good at typography, symbolism and must have an innovative mind for designs.

Going back to history Logos were driven by these aspects.

A logo is not simply a drawing neither a picture. It needs to be complex. During old ages, logos were driven by human expressions that carry symbols resembling visual codes and literary arts.

Mythology and its concept played an important role in logo designing. They helped in communicating effectively as all were able to relate to it easily. In historical period, people’s intrapersonal communication was held through various marks, signs, and symbols. They understood the objectives of these signs non-verbally.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols for the purpose of interpretation. People believed in the message of signs and symbols for understanding several aspects of life.

Signs and symbols can take different forms irrespective of any matter. It may be a thing, an image, words, sound, smell, flavor etc.

The origination of symbols is basically evolved through cultural references.


Great Brands Actually Stand For Something

See how great brands are in the business of serving people in these brand building video clips. A great brand is worth protecting and nurturing, brands are owned by people after all. See how some awesome brand identities have done exactly that over the years.


2. Early Cave Paintings and Identifying marks

Before languages, the Stone Age had no words to express its feelings. The Man started displaying his feelings through visuals. The visuals were those that were carved on the walls of several caves.

These cave paintings had a deeper meaning as Man expressed his emotions through this only medium. The expression of emotions through visuals and drawings itself tells us that brand existed from the beginning of humans.

Gradually, the expansion created the Identifying marks. A variety of stamps, signs, symbols and signatures started taking its evolution.

For example, consider these early marks.

  • The orb and the cross theme meant ‘God shall reign over earth’.
  • The printer’s trademark resembled a beautiful paradox used as conjunction called ‘make haste slowly’.
  • Rembrandt Harmensz van rijn, made authorship in his paintings with a distinctive.

3. Formation of Corporate Identity

As the time passed, the corporate revolution came into existence and within time, they began to develop. The companies realized that dealing with the marks alone isn’t providing an improvement.

Gradually, to compete in the national and the international market they decided to expand. This was how Logos were introduced.

These logos began to symbolize the core purpose and vision of a corporation with impact. Many of them got wider acclaim and began to spread.

Few identity designs began to prevail powerfully. The progress included

  • It was a Vienna-based production community of visual arts. The logo displayed Werkstatte’s four elements:

The Werkstätte’s Red rose symbol plus the monogram marks of the Werkstätte, the designer, and the producer.

These standard elements also had the use of the square as a decorative motive, were used to design everything from invoices to wrapping paper.

  • Designers like Milton Glaser and Alan Fletcher changed the perspective of graphic identity during the second half of the century.
  • Growth in Television Bugs
  • After print, the logo designing reached over the television emphasizing its mark in various entertainment mediums.

4. The Brand Evolution During the 20th Century

After all these immense improvisation and development the twentieth century began with Brand.

Today, a brand has to showcase its aspect in various mediums to represent the corporation. Even though the logo has a lesser visualization with respect to the brand, it doesn’t stop to create impact.

The businesses started realizing the importance of Logos to create a brand identity in the minds of the people. Therefore, they came out with an innovative representation of their brand through logos. In no time logos became Brands forming an identity in between the people.

  • At the initial stages, Brands were considered as things such as products or organization. But now, companies opt to consider services and reputations while forming a brand.
  • Slowly, brands have shifted their priority from products to the firm or organization.
  • Due to an increased uncertainty in religion and political institutions, the formation of brand is more depended on the individual
  • Now, brands try to claim unique functions, attributes, and features to make the process effective.

Final Thought

From the history to the era now, brand identity design played a major role in communicating intentions to consumers and all kinds of interested third parties. This is exactly why we now have successful brands that are considered household names. Versus those brands that still remain obscure after much time has passed.


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Considering the path ahead, it’s quite imaginable. Brands are certainly going to be more pervasive. The importance of brand identity may generate value to the companies unbelievably.


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Be sure to read these other engaging stories and feature posts from DesignBump and elsewhere around the web.



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Master web design languages with this developer bundle

For a web developer, a line of code can look like a stroke of paint on a canvas. If you want to see code as a work of art, then you need to check out the Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle. You can get it now for just $39 (approx £30)

For any aspiring web developer, the Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle is the perfect starting place. This collection of courses will teach you how to work with the most important languages in web development, from JavaScript to HTML5 and CSS3, to bring your dream designs to life. 

There are eight courses with 48 hours of actionable lessons that you won’t want to miss.

You can get the Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle on sale for just $39 (approx £30), which is 96% off the retail price! That’s a massive saving on a course that could set you down a new career path, so grab this deal today!