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    • Alan
      Multi Purpose IPS Theme that has various options and settings to make this theme very customizable, It is great for a nice clean website and projects you are looking to setup thats different from the rest with a few tweaks of the settings. The choice is totally upto you
      Get Theme: Click Here To Download
      Demo:
      Our core website uses an edited master xml and on theme selector we have the outter dark red.
      Support:
      Bug Tracker
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      Remove Copyright:
       
      Costs $35 USD if you wish to remove the copyright in the footer (Designed By: Storm Developers) 
        Click Here
        Theme Basics:
      Fully Responsive
      Included Master XMLs ( Blue ) & Outter Dark Red
       
      Version 1.0.0:
      Theme options of this theme has a range of features, Listed below these are the additional options that extends the core IPS standard colors and settings.
       
      Header:
      Add Favicon
      Logo Max Height ( So fits well with your design and is not going to be too large)
      Use of a background image if you do not wish to use a standard color
      Gradient Options and angle degree if you dont want standard color or background image
       
      Footer:
      Choice to use original IPS footer or use our called “Mega Menu”
      Options to edit mega menu background, font color, link color, link hover color
      Footer Gradient Color Options and angle degree
      Use of background image
      Edit links and menu layout from the footer tab
      Enable a top border with choice of color
       
      Menu:
      Main Nav – background options also gradient, angle degree options
      Main Nav Active / Hover State – background options also gradient, angle degree options
      Sub Menu – background and font color options also gradient, angle degree options
      Enable a Drop shadow and color of choice
      modify default menu you can add margin and rounded corners
      use of custom css if you wish to change the menu that fits your needs
       
      Sections (forum and sitewide section headers):
      Standard background color
      Option to enable gradient color with angle degree to change the color of choice
      Option to enable a border at bottom of these headers with a choice of color
       
      Widgets (sidebar / other)
      Standard background color choice
      Font color of choice
      Option to enable gradient with angle degree to change the color of choice
      Option to enable a border at bottom of these headers with a choice of color
       
      Extras:
      Sections and Widgets Borders enable or disable
      Sections and Widgets Borders color of choice
      Enable site body background image if you wish to not use standard color
      Body background gradient color options with angle degree if enabled
      Enable Author Panel background (APB)
      APB – Color of choice
      APB – Gradient colors and angle degree of choice
      APB use image instead ( If you prefer to use a background image)
       
      Global Messages:
      Displays at top of site (sitewide) if you need to make an important announcement
      Title Background Gradient Colors and angle degree of choice
      Fully color editable on the header and content with font color of choice too.
      Border bottom on or off with the options to choose a color
       
      Integrations:
      Addthis bar on website (Needs addthis registration and publisher id)
       
      Plus more to come as we work on it further.
       
       

    • Many conversations in our industry tend to circle around strong opinions and universal answers. Choosing a shiny new technical stack or sticking to an old-school paradigm; betting on a trendy framework or building a custom light framework of your own; using an attention-grabbing pop-up or sticking to calmer, less annoying solutions. We tend to have strong opinions about design and development, and so we agree and disagree, and argue endlessly, trying to protect and explain our views. Sometimes (and maybe a bit too often) to the point that conversations escalate and result in annoyingly disgruntled camps not agreeing on anything.
      It’s not the stubbornness that brings us there, though. It’s the simple fact that we all have different backgrounds, expectations, and experiences. But sometimes we end up debating answers that are all acceptable and seeking the ultimate truth in a place where it really can’t exist. This pattern shows up for the usual suspects: accessibility, performance, tooling, workflows, and naming conventions. It also repeats itself with topics that are often considered to be ephemeral: ethics and privacy.
      In the past, these topics could be spotted sporadically on the remote fringes of Twitter threads and blog posts. These days we’ve become very aware of the frightening dimensions that collection and use of personal data have gradually and silently gained. So we’ve started fighting back. Fighting back by publicly complaining about privacy-related dark patterns, unsolicited emails, shady practices, strict legal regulations, and ad-blocker wars against disruptive ads from hell. Of course, these are all important conversations to have and raising awareness is important; but we also need an applicable, pragmatic approach for designing and building ethical and respectful interfaces within our existing, well-established processes. We could use a few established patterns to bake in privacy-aware design decisions into our interfaces by default.
      As a part of Smashing consultancy and teaching at universities and schools, over the last several months I was privileged to run interviews with 62 customers of various ages and experiences in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, USA, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, and Canada. My objective was to ascertain the role privacy plays for users these days, and how the interfaces we so thoroughly craft are perceived when it comes to various touchpoints. The findings from these interviews are the foundation of this article series.
        In this four-part series, we’ll explore some of the respectful ways to approach privacy and data collection, and how to deal with notorious GDPR cookie consent prompts, intrusive push notifications, glorious permission requests, malicious third-party tracking, and offboarding experience:
      Part 1: Privacy Concerns and Privacy in Web Forms Part 2: Better GDPR Cookie Prompts Part 3: Designing Better Notifications Part 4: Privacy-Aware Design Framework Why Aren’t Privacy-Aware Interfaces a Default?
      Imagine a beautiful, authentic historical street, paved with half-broken cobble stones, tiny vintage stores, and flourishing flowers randomly placed across the pathway. Sauntering along such charming streets is a wonderful experience, full of smells and sounds of the city that aren’t easy to capture in the daily stream of mundane tasks.
      Now imagine the very same street packed with lookalike merchandise farms stacked right next to each other, plastered with promotional posters, blinking advertising, loud music, and repeating marketing messages fighting for your attention over and over and over again. Compared with the previous experience, that’s very different, and most likely much less enjoyable.
      Unfortunately, in both of the scenarios above, the more often we walk down that same street, the more we become accustomed to what’s happening, and in the end these experiences become normal — and even expected — along that path. Over time, we tend to get used to the way things appear and function, and especially when it comes to advertising, over time we’ve learned fairly well how to dismiss the marketing messages streaming endlessly and loudly our way.
      Not all marketing messages are ineffective, of course; in fact, most people are receptive to them, mostly because they are literally everywhere, often heavily personalized and hence relevant. We see them as an unnecessary evil that enables and finances our experience, be it reading an article, playing a game or watching a video. What came along with it, though, isn’t just visual noise and a substantial performance footprint of adverts, but also ever-increasing tracking, collection, and ongoing evaluation of private data.
      As a result, many of the online experiences we attend to on a daily basis feel more broken and frustrating than refreshing and inspiring. Over years of daily training on the websites we love and hate so much, we’ve got used to it — and many of us no longer notice how distracting, invasive, and disrespectful the websites have become.
      While boring pop-ups and annoying blinking ads might be easy to ignore or dismiss, sneaky push notifications, ambiguous copywriting, shady backdoors in seemingly friendly apps, and deceptive ads camouflaged as parts of the UI are nothing but a notorious, well-executed hustle. Not many website owners would willingly impose this kind of experience on their customers, and not many customers would knowingly return to a website that shared their private data for retargeting or reuse. With such experiences, trust and loyalty are at stake, and these days they are extremely rare and precious values that are hard to reacquire once they are lost.
      Pop-ups are rarely friendly and respectful, as they interrupt the experience. However, Medium goes to extremes when trying to make the interruption friendly and humble with strong, thoughtful microcopy. (Large preview)
      If we ask ourselves why honest interfaces haven’t made a breakthrough yet, bypassing and pushing away all the culprits out there, it’s not easy to find an answer at first. It’s not that designers want to manipulate customers, or that developers want to make experiences slower, or that marketeers are happy to endlessly frustrate and confuse users’ experience for the sake of one-off campaigns.
      In a world where every brand demands immediate and uninterrupted attention, attention has become incredibly scarce, and so competing against loud guerrilla campaigns with a subtle, humble marketing message might feel remarkably inferior. Clever, subtle campaigns can be effective, but they need to be constantly invented anew to remain interesting — and there is no guarantee they actually will work. On the other hand, it’s much easier to rely on solutions that worked well in the past — they are predictable, easy to measure, and not too difficult to sell to clients.
      In fact, we tend to rely on predictable A/B tests that give us clear answers for measurable, quantifiable insights. But when it comes to ethics and the long-term impact of an interface on loyalty and trust, we are out there in the blue. What we are missing is a clear, affordable strategy for meeting business requirements without resorting to questionable practices that proved to be effective in the past.
      In most conversations I’ve had with marketing teams over the years, the main backlash against all the UX-focused, customer-protective changes in marketing was the simple fact that marketing teams didn’t believe for a second that they could be as competitive as good ol’ workhorse techniques. So while, of course, calm, ethical, and privacy-aware interfaces would benefit the user, moving away from the status quo would massively hurt business and make companies less competitive.
      Sadly enough, they might be right. Most of us use well-known services and websites that have all the despicable practices we so love to hate. Tracking, and collection and manipulation of data are at the very core of their business models, which allow them to capitalize on it for advertising and selling purposes. In fact, they succeed, and for many users, trading privacy is an acceptable cost for all the wonderful benefits that all those giants provide for nothing. Beyond that, moving away from these benefits is remarkably hard, time-consuming, and just plain painful, so unless a company hurts its users on a level that goes way beyond harvesting and selling data, they are very unlikely to leave.
      'Confirmshaming', one of the dark patterns used too frequently on the web. Image source: confirmshaming.tumblr. Many dark patterns are collected by Harry Brignull on darkpatterns.org. (Large preview)
      Many of you might remember the golden days when the first mobile interfaces were clunky and weird and slow, and when everything seemed to be out of place, and we were desperately trying to fill all those magical rectangles on shiny new mobile phones with adaptive and pixel-perfect layouts.
      Despite good intentions and wondrous ideas, many of our first interfaces weren’t great — they just weren’t good executions of potentially great ideas. As time passed, these interfaces slowly disappeared, replaced by solutions that were designed better, slowly carved out of thorough efforts in research and testing, and gradual, ongoing refinements. It’s rare we see and regularly use some of those old interfaces today. Sometimes they remain locked up in app ecosystems, never updated or redesigned, but the competition pushed them away hastily. They just aren’t competitive enough, because they weren’t comfortable enough to enable users to reach their goals.
      I wonder if the same will happen with the new wave of privacy- and ethics-aware applications. Well-designed, small applications that do simple tasks very well, with a strong focus on ethical, respectful, and honest pixels, without shady backdoors and psychological tricks. We can’t expect giants to change overnight, but once these alternative solutions start succeeding, they might be forced to refine their models in response. I strongly believe that taking good care of users’ data can be a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition that no other company in your niche has.
      For that to happen, though, we need to understand common pain points that users have, and establish interface patterns that designers and developers could easily use. We’ll start with common privacy concerns and seemingly obvious interface components: privacy-related issues often raised in web forms.
        Eliminating Privacy Concerns
      So you designed a wonderful new feature: an option to connect your customers with their friends by importing contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or perhaps even their contact list. Imagine the huge impact on your sign-ups if only a fraction of your existing customers choose to use the feature, connecting with dozens and hundreds of their friends on your wonderful platform! Unfortunately, the feature is likely to have difficulties taking off, not because it isn’t designed well, but because of the massive abuse of privacy that users have been exposed to over the years.
      Remember that awkward conversation with a few friends wondering about an unusual invitation they received from you the other day? You didn’t mean to annoy your friends, of course, but the service you’ve just signed up to was happy to notify your friends on your behalf, without your explicit permission. Perhaps recommended default settings during installation contained a few too many checkboxes with ambiguous labels, or perhaps the app just wouldn’t work correctly otherwise. You didn’t think anything at the time, but you’ll definitely think twice next time, before leaving all of those checkboxes opted-in.
      In general, when asked about what kinds of privacy issues customers seem to be worried about, the following concerns have been raised, in order of magnitude or severeness:
      Tracking and evaluating user preferences, location, and so on Convoluted privacy policy changes Lack of trust for free or freemium services Disturbing and annoying advertising in apps or on websites Targeting with commercial and political messages Unwanted notifications and marketing emails No proper control of personal data Exposing personal preferences to third parties Difficulty to delete personal details Difficulty to cancel or close account Safety of stored data on servers Uploading a photo of a credit card or passport scan Use of personal data for commercial purposes Exposing private messages and emails publicly Exposing search history publicly Social profiling by potential employers An app posting on user’s behalf Difficulty to export personal data Difficulty to cancel a subscription Hidden fees and costs not explicitly mentioned Importing contact details of friends Trolling and stalking online Data breach of login, password, and credit card details Hacked Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts It’s quite astonishing to see how many concerns our humble interfaces raise, producing doubt, uncertainty, and skepticism in our customers.
      They don’t come out of nowhere, though. In fact, conversations about privacy often share a common thread: dreadful previous experiences that users had to learn from — the hard way. Usually it’s not those password input nightmares or frustrating CAPTCHAs; instead, it’s credit card fraud after an online purchase, and never-ending emails from companies trying to lure you in; and unsolicited posts, check-ins, and recommendations graciously posted on user’s behalf. So it shouldn’t be very surprising that for most customers the default behavior and response for pretty much any request of personal data is “Block,” unless the app makes a strong, comprehensible case of why the permission should be granted.
      This goes for importing contacts as much as for signing in with a social login: nobody wants to spam their friends with random invitations or have an app polluting their profile with automated check-in messages. On the other hand, anonymous data collection always wins. Whenever the word “anonymous” made its appearance in privacy policies, security updates, or web forms, customers were much less reluctant to share their personal data. They understood that the data is collected for marketing purposes, and wouldn’t be used to target them specifically, so they had no issues with it at all across the board. So if you need to gather some data, but don’t need to target every individual customer, you are likely to cause fewer concerns with your customers.
      One of the most dreadful features out there: importing contacts from other social networks. Very often, customers associate this feature with nothing but annoying and irreversible spam. (Large preview)
      In our interviews, users often spoke about “being burned in the past,” which is why they tend to be careful when granting permissions for any kind of data or activities online. Some users would have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, heavily protected with 2-factor authorization via their phone; others would have dedicated spam or throwaway email address for new accounts and registration, and yet others would never share very personal information in social networks. However, all these users were in a small minority, and most of them changed their attitude after they had experienced major privacy issues in the past.
      We have to design our interfaces to relieve or eliminate these concerns. Obviously, this goes very much against dubious practices for tricking customers into posting, sharing, engaging, and adding value to our platforms, hence exposing their personal data. This might also work against the business goals of the company that is heavily dependent on advertising and maximizing customer fees. However, there is a fine line between techniques used to keep users on the site and exploiting their privacy. We need to eliminate privacy concerns, and there are a few straightforward ways of doing so.
        Privacy In Web Forms
      While it’s been a good practice to avoid optional input fields and ask only for the information required to complete the form, in the real world web forms are often poisoned with seemingly random questions that appear absolutely irrelevant in the user’s context.
      The reason for this isn’t necessarily malicious in intent, but rather technical debt, as the site might be using a site-wide component for all forms, and it simply doesn’t allow for enough flexibility to fine-tune the forms appropriately. For example, when asking the user for their name, we’ve become accustomed to breaking a full name into first name and family name in our forms, sometimes with a middle name in between.
      From a technical perspective, it’s much easier to save structured data this way, but when asking for a person’s name in a real-life conversation we hardly ever ask specifically for their first name or last name — instead we ask for their name. In some countries, such as Indonesia, the last name is very uncommon, and in others a middle name is extremely rare. Hence, combining the input into a single “Full name” input field seems most plausible, yet in most web forms out there, it’s rarely the case.
      That means that in practice, seemingly random questions have to be asked at times, even though they aren’t really required. On the other hand, marketing teams often need personal information about their customers to be able to capture and present the reach and specifics of the audience to their potential advertisers. Gender, age, preferences, habits, purchasing behavior and everything in between falls under this category. And that’s not the kind of data that users are happy to willingly hand over without a legitimate reason.
      When running interviews with users, we’ve identified a few common privacy-related data points that were considered to be of a “too private, too intrusive” nature. Obviously, it heavily depends on the context too. Shipping address is perfectly acceptable at a checkout, but would be out of place in an account sign-up form. Gender would be inappropriate in an anonymous donation form, but would make perfect sense on a dating website.
      In general, users tend to raise concerns when asked about the following details (in order of magnitude or severeness):
      Title Gender Age Birthday Phone number Personal photo Credit card or bank details Signature Passport details Social security number Admittedly, only a few users would abandon a form just because it’s asking for their title or gender. However, if the questions are framed in an inappropriate way, or many of the questions seem to be irrelevant, all these disturbances start to add up, raising doubt and uncertainty at the point when we, as designers, want to ensure clarity and get all potential disturbances out of the way. To avoid that, we need to explain why we need a user’s data, and provide a way out should the customer want to keep the data private.
      Explain Why You Need A User’s Data
      With numerous data breaches, scam mails, and phishing websites permanently reminding users of the potential implications of data misuse, they rightfully have doubts and concerns about sharing private information online. We rarely have second thoughts when asked to add a few seemingly harmless radio buttons and input fields to a form, but the result is often not only a decrease in conversion, but a long-lasting mistrust of customers towards the brand and its products.
      As a result, you might end up with people submitting random data just to “pass through the gates,” as one interviewer called it. Some people would creatively fight back by providing random answers to “mess up the results.” When asked for a phone number, some would type in the correct number first (mostly because they expect the input to be validating the correct format of the phone number), and then modify a few digits to avoid spam calls. In fact, the more personal data a website is attempting to gather, the more likely the input is to be purposefully incorrect.
      Just-in-time explanations with the info tooltip in forms. Explaining why you need a user’s data matters. Image source: Claire Barrett. (Large preview)
      However, customers rarely have concerns when they fully understand why particular private information is required; the doubts occur when private information is required without an adequate explanation. While it might be obvious to the company why it needs particular details about its users, it might not be obvious to users at all. Instead, it might appear suspicious and confusing — mostly owing to the simple lack of understanding of why it’s actually needed and if it might be misused.
      As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to explain exactly why the private data is required. For example, a phone number might be required to contact the customer in case a package can’t be delivered. Their birthday might be required to customize a special gift for a loyal customer. Passport details might be required for identity verification when setting up a new bank account.
      All these reasons have to be explicitly stated as a hint next to the input field; for instance, revealed on tap or click behind an info icon, to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. For the same reason, if you’re aware that some questions might feel weird for a particular set of customers, make them optional and indicate they can be skipped if they seem to be not applicable.
      It’s also a good idea to reassure the user that you take their privacy seriously, and that their data will be protected and, most importantly, will not be used for any targeted marketing purposes nor shared with third parties. Surprisingly, the latter seemed to be even more important to a large number of users than the former, as they didn’t want their data to “end up in random, inconvenient, places.”
      Always Provide A Way Out
      We have all been there: the reality is rarely a set of straightforward binary choices, and more often than not, it’s a spectrum of possibilities, without an obvious set of predefined options. Yet isn’t it ironic that our interfaces usually expect a single, unambiguous answer for reasonably ambiguous questions?
      When designing the options for title and gender, we tend to think in common patterns, providing a strict set of predictable options, basically deciding how a person should identify themselves. It’s not our place to do so, though. Not surprising, then, that for some users the options felt “patronizing and disrespectful.” A common area where this problem occurs frequently is the framing and wording of questions. Gender-neutral wording is less intrusive and more respectful. Instead of referring to a specific gender, you could keep the tone more general; for instance, asking for the age of a spouse rather than wife or husband.
      The world is rarely binary. Always provide a way out when specifying gender. Check the article on inclusive form design for gender diversity. Also, askingaboutgender.tumblr.com collects good UX practices for collecting and displaying information about gender. (Large preview)
      To avoid lock-in, it’s a good strategy to always provide a way out should the customer want to specify input on their own, or not want to share that data. For title and gender it might be as easy as providing an additional input field that would allow customers to specify a custom input. A checkbox with “I’d rather not say” or “I’d like to skip this question” would be a simple way out if customers prefer to avoid the question altogether.
      Always Ask For Exactly What You Need, Never More
      What question seems to be more personal to you: your age or your birthday? In conversations with users, the former was perceived much less personal than the date of birth, mostly because the former is more broad and general. In reality, although companies rarely need a specific date of birth, the required input contains masks for the day, month, and year.
      There are usually three reasons for that. On the one side, marketing teams often want to know the age of the customer to understand the demographics of the service — for them, a specific date of birth isn’t really necessary. On the other side, when a company wants to send out custom gifts to a customer on their birthday, they do need the day and the month — but not necessarily the year.
      Never ask more than you need. For its age prompt, Carlsberg used to ask only the year of birth, and ask for month and day only if necessary to verify that the customer is over 18 years old. (Large preview)
      Finally, depending on local regulations, it might be a legal requirement to verify that a website visitor is over a certain age threshold. In that case, it might be enough to ask the customer if they are over 18 rather than asking them for their date of birth, or ask them only for the year of birth first. If they are definitely younger than 18, they might not be able to access the site. If they are definitely older than 18, they can access the site. The prompts for the month should appear only if the user might be just below or just above 18 (born 18 years ago). Finally, the day input would appear only if it’s absolutely necessary to check if the user is old enough to enter the site.
      When designing an input for age or date of birth, consider the specific data points that you need and design the form accordingly. Try to minimize the amount of input required, and (again) explain why for what purpose you need that input.
      When Asking For Sensitive Details, Prepare Customers Ahead Of Time
      While users can find a way to “pass through the gates” with title, gender, age, birthday, and even phone number input, they will have a very difficult time finding a way out when asked for their photo, signature, credit card, passport details, or social security number. These details are very personal and customers tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time filling in these input fields, slowing down massively as they do so. Often this area would be where the users would spend most of their time, and also where they abandon most frequently.
      When asked to type in this kind of data, customers would often linger around the interface, scanning it from top to bottom and right to left or scrolling up and down — almost hoping to detect a reassuring confirmation that their data will be processed securely. Almost nobody would mindlessly load their personal photo or type in their passport details without a brief reassurance phase, both on mobile and on desktop.
      There are a few strategies to alleviate the concerns users might have at this point. Because users slow down significantly in their progress, always provide an option to save and finish later, as some users might not have the details to hand. You could ask for their phone number or email to send a reminder a few hours or days later. Additionally, consider reassuring users with a noticeable hint or even pop-up that you take their privacy seriously and that you would never share details with third party.
      It might also be a good idea to prepare the customer for the required input ahead of time. You could ask them to prepare their passport and bank account details before they even start filling in the form, just to set the right expectations.
      The more sensitive private details are, the less room for amusing remarks there should be. The voice and tone of accompanying copywriting matter a lot, just like the copy of error messages, which should be adaptive and concise, informing the user about a problem and how it could be fixed.
      Don’t Expect Accurate Data For Temporary Accounts
      You’ve been here before: you might be having a quick bite in a coffee shop, or waiting for your spouse in a shopping mall, or spending a few layover hours at an airport. It probably won’t take you long to discover a free Wi-Fi hotspot and connect to it. Suddenly, a gracious pop-up window makes its glorious appearance, informing you about 15 free minutes of Wi-Fi, along with a versatile repertoire of lengthy text passages, auto-playing video adverts, painfully small buttons, tiny checkboxes, and miniature legal notices. Your gaze goes straight to where it matters most: the sign-up area prompting you to sign in with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SMS, or email. Which option would you choose, and why?
      Throughout our interviews, we’ve noticed the same behavior over and over again: whenever customers felt that they were in a temporary place or state (that is, they didn’t feel they might be returning any time soon), they were very unlikely to provide accurate personal data. This goes for Wi-Fi in airports as much as in restaurants and shopping malls. Required sign-ups were usually associated with unsolicited marketing emails, mostly annoyingly irrelevant. After all, who’d love to receive notifications from Schiphol Airport if they’ve only flown from it once?
      Every time a temporary account requires email, expect a throwaway email to be entered. Such forms just don’t work, so it’s about time to stop designing them. More examples of such interfaces can be found here. (Large preview)
      In fact, users were most unlikely to log in with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, because they were worried about third-party services posting on their behalf (we’ll cover these issues in a bit more detail later in this series). Many customers just didn’t feel comfortable letting an unknown third party into what they consider to be their “private personal sphere.” Both SMS and email were perfectly acceptable, yet especially when traveling, many customers didn’t know for sure if they’d be charged for text messages or not, and referred email instead. Hence, it’s critical to never enforce a social sign-in and provide a way out with an SMS confirmation or an email sign-up.
      With the email option chosen, however, only a few people would actually provide their active personal or business emails when signing up. Some people keep a trash email, used for new accounts, quick confirmations, random newsletters and printing documents in a print shop around the corner. That email is hardly ever checked, and often full of spam, random newsletters, and irrelevant marketing emails. Chances are high that your carefully crafted messages will be enjoying the good company of these messages, usually unopened and unread.
      Other people, when prompted to type in their email, provide a random non-existent @gmail.com account, hoping that no verification will be required. If it is required after all, they usually return and provide the least important email account, often a trash email.
      What happens if the service tries to ensure the validity of the email by requiring user to retype their email one more time? A good number will try to copy-paste their input into the email verification input field, unless the website blocks copy-paste or the email input is split into two inputs, one for the segment before the @ symbol, and one after it. It shouldn’t be too surprising that not a single customer was particularly thrilled about these options.
      Users seem to highly value a very strict separation between things that matter to them and things that don’t matter to them — especially in their email inbox. Being burned with annoying marketing emails in the past, they are more cautious of letting brands into their private sphere. To get their attention, we need to give customers a good reason to sign up with an active email account; for example, to qualify for free shipping, or auto-applied discounts for loyal customers, or an immediate discount for next purchases, or a free coffee for the next visit. One way or another, we need to deserve their trust, which is not granted by default most of the time.
      Don’t Store Private Data By Default
      When setting up an account, it’s common to see interfaces asking for permission to store personal data for future use. Of course, sometimes the reason for it comes from the objective to nudge customers into easy repurchasing on future visits. Often it’s a helpful feature that allows customers to avoid retyping and save time with the next order. However, not every customer will ever have a second order, and nobody will be amused by an unexpected call from the marketing department about a brand new offering.
      Customers have no issues with storing gender and date of birth once they’ve provided it, and seem to be likely to allow phone numbers to be stored, but they are less likely to store credit card details and signature and passport details.
      Hence, it’s plausible to never store private data by default, and always ask users for permission, unchecking the checkbox by default. Also, consider storing details temporarily — for a few weeks, for example — and inform the user about this behavior as they are signing up.
      In general, the more private the required information is, the more effort should be spent to clearly explain how this information will be processed and secured. While a subtle text hint might be enough when asking for a phone number, passport details might need a larger section, highlighting why they are required along with all the efforts put into protecting user’s privacy.
      Users Watch Out For Privacy Traps
      The more your interface is trying to get silent consent from customers — be it a subscription to email, use of personal data, or pretty much anything else — the more customers seem to be focused on getting this done, their way. It might seem like a tiny mischievous checkbox (opted-in by default) might be overlooked, yet in practice customers go to extremes hitting that checkbox, sometimes as far as tapping it with a pinky finger on their mobile phones.
      With a fundamental mistrust of our interfaces, customers have become accustomed to being cautious online. So they watch out for privacy traps, and have built up their own strategies to deal with malicious and inquisitive web forms. As such, on a daily basis, they resort to temporary email providers, fake names and email addresses, invalid phone numbers, and random postal codes. In that light, being respectful and humble when asking for personal data can be a remarkably refreshing experience, which many customers don’t expect. This also goes for a pattern that has become quite a nuisance recently: the omnipresent cookie settings prompt.
      In the next article of the series, we’ll look into these notorious GDPR cookie consent prompts, and how we can design the experience around them better, and with our users’ privacy in mind.

    • In early discussions you have with clients about the website you’re tasked with designing, does the topic of web hosting ever come up? My guess is that it’s not something your clients give much thought to, waving it away with:
      I get why they’d think that way. For starters, they’re paying you a large sum of money to design the site. Of course, they’re going to look to other areas to offset those costs. Because server technology is rarely understood by the people who own websites, it’s easy for them to mistakenly think they can save money there.
      Here’s the problem though:
      As a website grows in authority and expands its reach, security and performance problems will arise if the hosting configuration isn’t prepared to handle it.
      In the following article, I’m going to show you why clients need the power of VPS hosting behind the websites you design for them. And why you — the administrator — need a tool like the Plesk control panel to manage it.
      The Web Designer’s Connection to Web Hosting
      In many cases, people get stuck being the go-to person for one highly specialized task at the companies they work for. This person handles the marketing. This person manages inventory. This person coordinates client meetings.
      One of the things I love about working with websites is that there are so many new things to learn about and other areas to branch out to. If you don’t want to be relegated to building website after website, day in and day out, there are ways to expand your offering and become the total end-to-end solution provider for clients.
      In my opinion, web hosting is one of the areas you should look to for expansion. Now, I’m not saying you should become a reseller of hosting or anything like that. All I mean is that it would be beneficial to understand how the technology behind a website affects the outcomes of what you’ve built.
      For example:
      An underpowered hosting plan fails to handle influxes of traffic, which leads to slower page speeds and a drop in conversion rates. Occasional downtime on the website leaves visitors wondering if it’s even worth going to the site if its availability is unreliable. There’s a high demand for the inventory sold on the site, but potential customers are too nervous to pull the trigger since security seems to be non-existent. Even if you’re not the one responsible for the server technology your client’s site sits on, you can see how this sort of thing could have a negative effect on your business. You build an amazing website that aims to do exactly what your client wanted, but the server technology is holding it back.
      Who do you think the client is going to blame in that case?
      Rather than let it get that far, I’d suggest you engage your clients early on in conversations about their web hosting. As we move on, I’m going to present you with specific arguments you should be prepared to make regarding the hosting as well as how it’s managed.
      An Introduction To VPS Hosting
      When it comes to choosing the right hosting for your clients’ websites, there’s a lot to think about:
      Who Should You Entrust Your Website To?
      There are thousands of web hosting companies to choose from. But in terms of reliability? That list could easily be narrowed down to less than a hundred.
      HostGator has been a web hosting company I’ve recommended to clients for years, especially ones who need a powerful hosting solution like Plesk VPS hosting. If your client doesn’t have a strong preference of provider, start here.
      What Type Of Web Hosting Will Serve Your Website And Audience Best?
      This is what you need to know about the different kinds of web hosting:
      Shared Hosting
      This is the cheapest form of hosting available and probably the one your clients will be most inclined to purchase.
      The hosting provider designates a section of a web server to a number of clients who will then share the resources. This means there are strict limitations set on how much bandwidth and storage a website can use, but very little you can do to control any of it — especially if another website in the shared server space hogs the resources.
      It’s this last point that’s especially problematic on shared hosting. Although your hosting plan might indicate you get X amount of memory, it’s actually a cap on how much you might have access to if no one else is using resources from the server at the same time. In reality, it’s very likely you’ll run into lack of memory errors due to this limitation quite frequently.
      Shared hosting is fine for small, personal blogs or private websites. Not for serious businesses.
      Cloud Hosting
      This is similar to shared hosting except that it’s more secure and stable.
      Rather than relegate a website to one specific segment of a web server, the site is hosted across a number of servers. That way, if one server experiences an outage or another website compromises the performance of others around it, your website can safely be hosted elsewhere.
      That said, there are still a number of limitations that come from cloud hosting. If your website is for a growing business, but you don’t expect a lot of traffic to it (say, if it were a simple portfolio), cloud hosting would be a good choice.
      Dedicated Hosting
      This is the most robust form of web hosting, which also makes it the most expensive.
      As the name indicates, your hosting company will lease you an entire server to host your website. So, think of this like shared hosting, but on steroids. As you can imagine, when you have your own server environment, it greatly reduces the risk of anyone else compromising the performance of your website.
      That said, there is a lot more work involved in managed a dedicated hosting account and the website on it. This is really only best for large enterprises, social networks, e-commerce sites and others that require this type of extreme web hosting.
      VPS Hosting
      This stands for “virtual private server”. The name alone should give you a good idea of how this differs from the other kinds of hosting already mentioned.
      In sum, a virtual private server is like a scaled-back version of dedicated hosting. Instead of having an entire server to yourself, the web hosting company carves out a dedicated portion of the server and personalizes its settings for you. Although you share the server with other VPS clients, you don’t share the resources with anyone else. You get exactly what you pay for.
      Here are some other highlights of VPS hosting:
      It’s faster and more secure than shared or cloud hosting. It’s cheaper than dedicated hosting. It’s custom-tailored to your needs, but still allows you to take more control over your server configuration. Bottom line: VPS is an overall better hosting solution for growing businesses.
      How Will You Manage Your Web Hosting Account?
      There’s one more question you have to ask yourself before you commit to a new hosting provider and plan.
      Because VPS hosting is more complex and requires a greater degree of management than a set-it-and-forget-it type of hosting like shared or cloud, you need a control panel you can rely on.
      So, let’s explore the Plesk panel and take a look at what you can do to maximize the management of your new website with it.
      An Exploration Of Plesk VPS Hosting
      This is the Plesk website:
      Large preview
      It won’t take long to realize that Plesk is not like other control panel solutions. The website will help clarify some of this for you, but I’d like to give you an inside look at the control panel so you can see for yourself.
      A Universally Friendly Control Panel
      Plesk is one of those tools you step inside of and immediately realize you made the right choice. With a very short learning curve, Plesk is a highly intuitive control panel solution that’s great for anyone:
      Plesk is a universally user-friendly platform. (Image source: Large preview)
      In all honesty, I don’t know how much time your clients will spend inside the control panel. When I’ve managed and built websites for clients in the past, just asking for login credentials to their hosting account tended to be a real chore.
      Regardless of whether they want or know what to do with a control panel, Plesk provides a user-friendly experience regardless of who the user is as well as their level of comfort with website management. I’ll show you why in this next example.
      Words cannot describe how frustrating it is to ask clients to complete simple tasks. (Source)
      Great Interface For Clients And Other End Users
      If you’ve ever tried to use cPanel to manage hosting and domain services, you know how overwhelming it can be to use.
      If you’re not familiar with it, this is typically what cPanel looks like upon first logging in:
      This is how the cPanel interface (meant for end users) looks like. (Image source: cPanel) (Large preview)
      If you plan on reselling or managing hosting for your cPanel clients, then you'll need to use a separate dashboard called WHM:
      cPanel’s user interface (Image source: cPanel) (Large preview)
      There’s a navigation and sub-navigation bar at the top, which makes management options seem simple enough.
      Then, you’re presented with individual actions you can take to manage hosting, your website or email accounts within the control panel itself. This is just too much — even for technically-minded clients who know what the heck they’re looking for.
      Now, check out the Plesk interface for power users:
      The Plesk power user home page. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      This is insanely well-organized and clearly labeled. If your clients or other novice users were to step inside of Plesk, they’d instantly know where to go as well as which actions they could possibly take from the sidebar alone.
      It gets better within each of the individual modules. For instance:
      An example of the clean layout of the Plesk UI. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      This is what the Tools & Settings page looks like. As you can see, it’s not bogged down by a barrage of icons for each setting. Instead, it presents options in a succinct and well-organized manner, which will greatly reduce friction that might otherwise exist in a tool of this nature.
      Great Interface For Designers And Developers
      Plesk offers an alternative “service provider” view for web developers and designers:
      A look at the Plesk service provider interface for developers. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      It looks a lot like the power user view, except you can see that the sidebar is broken up into different modules. What I like about this is that it encourages developers to manage more of their business from one tool instead of a variety of business management tools.
      From within Plesk, you can:
      Add new customer accounts and manage them from one dashboard. Adding and managing customers in Plesk is easy. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Customize what they do and see in their “power user” view of Plesk. This helps keep server and website management under control. Managing customers in Plesk is easy. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Create hosting plans that you can, in turn, sell to customers as subscriptions. Managing hosting plans in Plesk is easy. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Move non-Plesk customers over to Plesk with a simple-to-use migration tool. The Plesk Migrator extension. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Customize nearly every aspect of your clients’ server configurations. Like disk space: It’s easy to configure your server with Plesk. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Manage the essentials to ensure the server runs in tip-top shape. For instance, here are some of the PHP settings for security and performance: Security and performance controls are a priority in Plesk. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      Manage things like plugins, themes and more if you build websites with WordPress. Plesk users can control various WordPress settings and tools inside of the control panel. (Source: Plesk) (Large preview)
      If you’ve ever been frustrated with the management piece of your business or felt that your ability to control things was lacking, Plesk is the solution. Plus, you can use Plesk extensions to really open this tool up. Add business management features like invoicing and site-builder tools to improve your offering, streamline your workflow and make more money.
      Last but not least, you can white label it with your branding. That way, when clients step inside, they’re reminded that they have a trusted website pro like you to properly manage their server and website.
      Flexible Workflows
      Another developer-friendly feature of Plesk is its flexibility.
      One of the issues with letting clients make decisions about their web hosting and server management is that they don’t understand the amount of work that goes into it behind the scenes. They might think:
      But you and I know it’s not that simple.
      For starters, there’s your level of comfort in using the command line. For some developers, that level of comfort is low, so having a flexible solution like Plesk that removes the need for programming is great.
      That said, you can still use the CLI if you prefer. Plesk provides you with full root access, so you won’t have to worry about being restricted to the control panel’s settings to manage your VPS server either. Like I said, it’s flexible. It allows you to work as you want to work.
      Plus, it works on a number of configurations:
      Linux vs. Windows Apache vs. nginx Ruby on Rails vs. Node.js. Whatever you choose, settings are available to deeply customize and configure each so that the VPS hosting plan works exactly as you need it to.
      Wrapping Up
      It’s your hope that when you build a website for a client, it doesn’t go to waste. You design powerful website experiences so that clients can effectively leverage their web presences to drum up new business and increase conversions.
      Sadly, something like a poor choice of web hosting can compromise all of that planning and hard work on your part. Unless you’re in the habit of designing websites for very small businesses or nonprofits, Plesk VPS Hosting is the logical choice. Not only is it a great solution in terms of easing your administration and management responsibilities, but it’s also an amazing tool for building your design business.
      If you’re interested in using Plesk VPS hosting, I’d suggest you start by looking at HostGator. In addition to being one of the leading hosting companies around the world, there is a 45-day Money-Back Guarantee available which may help you encourage your clients to give it a try.

    • GDPR sure received a lot of uproar when it became a thing. I'm not really a fan of Europe laws and I'm glad I don't live there. 
      If you don't know what GDPR is:
      Source: Wikipedia.
      I've heard how some trolls used this to hit forums, saying how they are GDPR experts and demanded stuff from forum owners. 
      Of course, I'm going to comply but to a degree.
      I wouldn't let them take advantage and listen to their demand to delete all content they have posted on a forum/website I own. If they have their real first and last name, I would of course remove that. I would tweak my terms to ban posting personal information such as phone number, address, etc. Then there are the other minor things like privacy policy, cookie notice etc. 
      So yeah, what's your opinion about GDPR and what are you doing on your website(s) regarding it? 

    • This forum uses IPB. I'm guessing the owner prefers it over other forum software. 
      I personally like xenForo. I jumped ship from vBulletin ages ago back when they had version 4 available. 5 was a complete mess from the reviews/opinions I've read. I'm so happy I did not stay with them. If xenForo was never made, I might have went with IPB, phpBB or MyBB. Probably IPB... 
      So out of all the free and paid forum software available today, which is your favorite and why? Please answer as an admin and a regular forum member. 
      Thank you! 

    • We believe that open source matters and a big project our ERP is going to be, so if you are a developer and have a bit of spare time feel free to come and join us in building our stormERP system.
      We are just starting out and hopefully it will be a fantastic PHP system that everyone will love, based on the symfony framework we feel it will be a great achievement in the php world.
      Feel free to get on board and help us build a great future for the system.
      Send us a message here or come to our github link is located on our main page.

    • PHPStorm is an IDE that fits perfect for any php project and we believe here at Storm Developers would like to highlight the features to show why we love it so much. PHPStorm is the chosen IDE that i use to develop and work on our StormERP developments.
      PhpStorm deeply understands your code.
      Major frameworks support
      PhpStorm is perfect for working with Symfony, Drupal, WordPress, Zend Framework, Laravel, Magento, Joomla!, CakePHP, Yii, and other frameworks.
      All the PHP tools
      The editor actually 'gets' your code and deeply understands its structure, supporting all the PHP language features for modern and legacy projects. It provides the best code completion, refactorings, on-the-fly error prevention, and more.
      Front-end technologies included
      Make the most of the cutting edge front-end technologies, such as HTML5, CSS, Sass, Less, Stylus, CoffeeScript, TypeScript, Emmet, and JavaScript, with refactorings, debugging, and unit testing available. See the changes instantly in the browser thanks to Live Edit.
      Built-in developer tools
      Perform many routine tasks right from the IDE, thanks to the Version Control Systems integration, support for remote deployment, databases/SQL, command-line tools, Docker, Composer, REST Client, and many other tools.
      PhpStorm = WebStorm + PHP + DB/SQL
      All the features in WebStorm are included into PhpStorm, with full-fledged support for PHP and Databases/SQL support added on top.
       
      Intelligent Coding Assistance
      Hundreds of inspections take care of verifying your code as you type, analyzing the whole project. PHPDoc support, code (re)arranger and formatter, quick-fixes, and other features help you write neat code that is easy to maintain.
      Smart Code Navigation
      Be the master of your codebase thanks to the efficient, lightning-fast navigation features. The IDE understands where you want to go and gets you there instantly.
      Fast and Safe Refactoring
      Refactor your code reliably with the safe Rename, Move, Delete, Extract Method, Inline Variable, Push members Up / Pull members Down, Change Signature, and many other refactorings. Language-specific refactorings help you perform project-wide changes in a matter of clicks, which can all be safely undone.
      Easy Debugging and Testing
      PhpStorm is renowned for its zero-configuration Visual Debugger, providing extraordinary insight into what goes on in your application at every step. It works with Xdebug and Zend Debugger, and can be used both locally and remotely. Unit Testing with PHPUnit, BDD with Behat and profiler integration are all also available.
      Final Thoughts
      Overall it is a great environment and helps speed up your development time, testing and debugging. I would love to hear your views and opinions about the IDE and some great success stories about the developments you have created.

    • Adobe announced its plans to stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020.
      For 20 years, Flash has helped shape the way that you play games, watch videos and run applications on the web. But over the last few years, Flash has become less common. Google has announced that three years ago, 80 percent of desktop Chrome users visited a site with Flash each day. Today usage is only 17 percent and continues to decline.
      This trend reveals that sites are migrating to open web technologies, which are faster and more power-efficient than Flash. They’re also more secure, so you can be safer while shopping, banking, or reading sensitive documents. They also work on both mobile and desktop, so you can visit your favorite site anywhere.
      These open web technologies became the default experience for browsers late last year when sites started needing to ask your permission to run Flash.  Google has said that Chrome will continue phasing out Flash over the next few years, first by asking for your permission to run Flash in more situations, and eventually disabling it by default. We will remove Flash completely from Chrome toward the end of 2020.
      Adobe will continue to support Flash until the end of 2020 through patches and security update but adobe have announce they will be placing Flash into EOL (end of life)
      If you regularly visit a site that uses Flash today, you may be wondering how this affects you. If the site migrates to open web standards, you shouldn’t notice much difference except that you'll no longer see prompts to run Flash on that site. If the site continues to use Flash, and you give the site permission to run Flash, it will work through the end of 2020.
      It’s taken a lot of close work with Adobe for most companies that have relied on flash along with other browsers, and major publishers to make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free.

    • Does your company still use PHP 5.6? Homestead Fifty Six is a development environment for PHP 5.6 and 7.0 by Homestead maintainer Joe Ferguson.
      Last week Joe announced the project on his blog:
      Homestead Fifty Six initially has two offerings:
      $10 per month for access to the packages $15/month for access to packages as well as priority support for any help you may need getting the project working. With the release of PHP 7.3, the PHP team dropped official support for EOL versions, including versions 5.6 and 7.0. Homestead also dropped support for these versions, which makes perfect sense and reduces the maintenance burden of Homestead.
      While users are encouraged to update to new stable releases of PHP, sometimes it’s not so cut and dried in reality. Projects like Homestead Fifty Six aim to bridge that gap and provide access to these tools.
      You can read Joe’s full announcement for the full details, including links to purchase access to Homestead Fifty Six.
      Original Credits: Laravel news

    • Well its a great beginning here at storm developers, with so much happening we have finally got the start of a new era coming right to your desktops, laptops and mobile devices, aside from our products and services that we currently offer to our customers and clients we are so proud to announce that we have now introduced a community to help bind the developers, designers and marketing world with resources not only will help us as a website but you as a member here as part of our community.
      We have so many plans and moving forward we love to become one of the best resources and contributor to the worlds evolving technology and keeping up to date with the latest codes and design techniques.
      Not only that we have also now introduced the system basics for our new up and coming open source ERP called StormERP, it will be built with the love from the open source community and our team of developers.
      here is a small snap of the main system.

      We have so much work to be yet completed but with the help from everyone in the open source world we aim for it to be the number 1 PHP based ERP system in the world.
      If you want to be part of the project and get involved feel free to let us know as the core system is freely downloadable and open github to download and submit your contributions too.
      Getting very exited to our future and hope to meet some wonderful developers and designer moving forward and looking forward to see how this project develops.
      looking forward to speaking to you all in our community and if you do register please feel free to say hi and also a big nice warm welcome to our community.

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