1stWebDesigner https://1stwebdesigner.com Helping You Build a Better Web Tue, 26 Jun 2018 08:41:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Create an Effective Plan for Your Website’s Design https://1stwebdesigner.com/effective-plan-website-design/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/effective-plan-website-design/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 08:38:51 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=138139 When designing your own website, it typically requires you to craft a detailed plan for creating it and oftentimes finding people to assist with the project. Sometimes the website design takes no more than a week, but most of the time it takes longer. What’s more is that all websites require testing and some kind of maintenance after the design is done.

Websites are becoming simpler and easier to construct, but you still don’t want to cut any corners along the way. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of steps for you to effectively plan your website’s design.

Create a Plan with Goals

Your plan involves figuring out the purpose of your website. Do you want more sales? Email subscribers? Donations?

After that, you need to set up some goals for that plan. How many sales are you trying to get per month? Is there a certain number of visitors you would like to see every month? Combined with a good analytics program (like Google Analytics), you should be able to check in on all of this information.

Person illustrating a business plan

Assign Roles for that Plan

You often won’t be working on the website design alone. You might need a web developer, along with someone who can write content, like blog posts and webpage details. The same goes for a logo designer and a CSS professional who takes your customizations to the next level.

Once you decide on the professionals needed, outline the roles and make sure everyone knows what others are doing.

Create a Budget Based on the Plan and Roles

It’s good to set your team before establishing a budget, since the web design professionals can help recommend the best value in items like hosting, graphic design, content management systems and more. It doesn’t matter the size of your organization. A budget needs to be put in place to see your expenses and how you plan on paying for those expenses.

Coins and Clock

Develop a Strategy for Content

Without a content strategy, websites tend to not get updated. These types of sites display old, stale information that people don’t care about. Therefore, you should put together a strategy for content such as blog posts, slideshows, documents, videos and pictures. Are you going to post all of these content items starting at day one? Or is it a better idea to make a schedule and share things like videos and blog posts over the course of the year?

Draw Out the Structure of the Website and Make a Mockup

Think about which web pages you’ll use to form your website. For instance, you may have pages like About Us, Contact Us, Portfolio or an Online Shop.

Once you have the list of webpages, generate a mockup, or visual representation of your website, to show to other people in your organization. This is essentially the first draft of the site, which can be developed in Photoshop or many other mockup or wireframe programs online. Most of the time it’s best to have a designer complete the mockup, but sometimes you can do it yourself with pen and paper.

Website Mockup

Design It

From simple navigation to a quality company logo, the process of designing is best accomplished with an experienced web designer. Even if you only hire a consultant or use online resources to design your site, take your time with this process and prepare for lots of testing.

Test the Design Multiple Times

Consistent testing solves many problems and guarantees that the mistakes are minimized. For example, one of your testers might find that the website doesn’t show up properly on Internet Explorer. Another tester may discover that a few of your navigational buttons lead to broken links. Having a solid testing plan ensures that your website is ready to show to both customers and the search engines.

Person typing on a laptop

Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

You may have someone in your organization to maintain the website, or you might want to hire a freelancer to do this. Regardless, maintenance keeps your website secure, up-to-date, clean and fresh with content.

It’s important to assign someone to post new content on your website. It’s also necessary to update your CMS and plugins. In addition, you’ll want to configure a system that backs up your content and secures the site into the future.

Now You’re Ready to Effectively Plan Your Website’s Design

Now that you have the knowledge to plan your website, get started with your outline and think about the people who will undertake every task. If you have any questions about effectively planning your website’s design, let us know in the comments.

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Overcoming The Illusion of Per Project Profitability https://1stwebdesigner.com/per-project-profitability/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/per-project-profitability/#respond Sun, 24 Jun 2018 16:55:52 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=138170 The illusion of per-project profitability can be a tough mindset nut to crack. I’ll talk with digital agency owners that say things like, “I have a 70% profit margin!” What they are telling me is that they have a seventy percent gross profit margin. They sell a project for $10k and pay some offshore team $3k to deliver it.

What they fail to consider is their business’s fixed costs – or their competitive wage – into the equation. The reason these numbers are significant is that they happen every month, regardless of how many projects you bring in. Your mortgage doesn’t care how fat your per-project margins are, just that you have their dough every month, relentlessly for 360 months.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say how profitable his or her work is, only to discover that his or her business is unprofitable. I will hammer this point until all agency owners understand it, or you decide to punch me in the face.

How This Works

The math to figure this out is simple. The problem I find when consulting with most digital agency owners, especially those with agencies less than a million dollars a year, is that they don’t pay themselves a fixed wage. They pay themselves whatever is left over at the end of the week or month (or they charge those plane tickets for their upcoming vacation to their business credit card because their personal account is broke – I speak from experience).

To figure out profitability, I always ask an agency owner to tell me what they should get paid every month. Thinking about their salary makes the math I’m about to show them more painful, but alas, more realistic. Let’s take a virtual agency of one as a baseline example. They sell $10,000 projects here and there, and the owner (should) makes a $60k per year salary with another thousand in fixed costs for hosting, internet and the like.

That scenario looks something like this:

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Revenue $10,000 $0 $10,000
COGS/Labor $4,000 $0 $4,000
Gross Margin $6,000 $0 $6,000
Fixed Op Ex $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Net Profit $0 -$6,000 $0

This business is now $6,000 in the hole. Since the owner isn’t paying themselves a fixed wage, they don’t pay themselves that second month and might still hold the illusion that the business is ok, they just are putting in sweat equity or something.

No, the business is not ok, and you’re not ok.

Wake Up Now

Before I showed this digital agency owner this math on the back of a napkin, they had proclaimed to me that their work was indeed profitable. My response is, “who cares, you’re not getting paid, and the business is redlining!”

At this point, I usually ask something like:

“How does it feel to know what’s going on in your business?”

Which gets a response of varying degrees of:

“It makes me depressed.”

Good. An unprofitable business makes me depressed too. However, now we know. And the more we know about what is going on, the more clear we are on the actual issues at hand. We can solve problems with better solutions than just not paying us.

“Deciding not to pay yourself to solve a business problem should be the last solution on the table. Not the go to each month because you are avoiding hard decisions.”

When people realize this injustice they are putting on themselves, I want them to go to bed fuming. I want them to think, “How have I let this happen?!”

We can put that energy and frustration to good use.

Channeling the Energy

If we run with the above example, we could make two relatively simple changes to this business and see lasting benefits.

The first would be a small update to their pricing model. I’m not talking about getting all hardcore by doubling their prices (which wouldn’t be wrong, but probably a bit reckless). In my head, I would be targeting at least a 15% net margin after paying themselves a wage. Since this example uses nice round numbers, month one and three operate at a 0% margin, so we can raise prices by 15% with everything else holding true we’d have the target margin.

The second would be to hammer into their head that they need to sell a $10k project EVERY month. If they told me that they didn’t get that many leads, then we’d solve that problem. If they said to me that they couldn’t deliver that much work, then we’d solve that problem. With enough time maybe we’d solve both problems.

With those two changes, here is how their situation changes:

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Revenue $11,500 $11,500 $11,500
COGS/Labor $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Gross Margin $7,500 $7,500 $7,500
Fixed Op Ex $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Net Profit $1,500 $1,500 $1,500

Now we have true profit! The magic of pricing and volume.

Your Marching Orders

Getting clear on this issue in your business requires you to get clear on your financial numbers. I have been (unpleasantly) surprised at how many agency owners are not clear on this. This issue doesn’t affect the small shops as I illustrated in my example. I’ve worked with agencies with over $100k in monthly revenue that were unprofitable (but were convinced that shouldn’t be so because of the per-project illusion!).

The other thing that I demand of people is that they set a baseline salary for themselves and any other owner. The more this number equals a competitive wage for the position you fill in your business the more accurate our net margin number will be.

It’s just too easy for an agency owner to vary their pay and push this issue under the rug. Maybe it’s because we get beat around by our clients so much that we don’t think our salary is that important.

When in fact, it’s the MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER when running a business. When an airplane is going down, you put your oxygen mask on first. Then you take care of those around you. If your pay fluctuates, you lose respect for yourself. Your peers or spouse will think your business is not dependable. These views will seep into your mindset.

If you don’t pay yourself regularly, the chances of you going out of business go up significantly. Set a target wage. Get clear on your fixed monthly expenses. Make sure you track your company’s monthly performance.

How much margin you make on an individual project matters. Putting that number in the context of your month-to-month profit and loss statement is more important. I’d rather hear you say, “I have a 15% profit margin!” and for that to be real business profit margin after paying yourself a competitive wage than some 70% blasphemy.

If you don’t know this stuff, stop what you are doing, and figure it out RIGHT NOW. That client can wait. Your future depends on it.

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10 Newsletter Layouts With Free Source Code https://1stwebdesigner.com/email-newsletter-source-code/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/email-newsletter-source-code/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 08:02:38 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=131688 Designing a newsletter can be tough. Not only do you need knowledge and understanding of how users/readers expect content to be delivered to them, you also have the headache of making the layout compatible with all of the many emails clients.

It helps if you study the layouts of existing newsletters to get an understanding of how the code and layouts work. That’s why I’ve curated 10 of the best newsletter designs that are fully responsive and up-to-date with modern coding standards.

If you’re planning to launch your own newsletter, these designs should be great inspiration for you.

SeatGeek

With a single column design and large typography, I love the way the SeatGeek email uses icons and simple graphics to grab your attention.

The large typography also takes up a high percentage of the page making it very easy to read. Shorter paragraphs, larger text, and a clear CTA at the bottom of the page all increase usability.

For a simple verification email this does the job well.

PlayStation

If you’re looking for a more complex design, Sony’s Battlefield 1 release offers some nice ideas.

Most of this newsletter relies on images to replicate the official Sony PlayStation website. This is great for building brand awareness and trust, but this also feels a bit light on information since it doesn’t tell the reader what to do or what the message means.

Still, it has a really smooth design and it shows how much quality graphics play a role in email layouts.

Social Print Studio

Email verification messages don’t need to be complex. But you should feel okay adding some details about the website/list the user just signed up to.

This email by Social Print Studio is primarily a verification message, but it also includes points about the site and what new users can expect from using it. This even includes a ‘shop’ CTA leading directly to the site where readers can order prints of their Instagram photos.

An excellent example of coaxing users back onto the site while also increasing signup verifications.

Archant

Here’s a real interesting email newsletter with an update preferences message from Archant (online publisher).

The goal is to connect with users who may have subscription settings that are either too strict (blocking all contact) or too lenient (receiving too many emails). It’s a cool way to connect with existing subscribers and ideally get them signed up to more lists.

WistiaFest 2017

Event newsletters like this one are usually pretty simple. They only have a few goals: share information about the event and encourage subscribers to buy their ticket early.

This newsletter has all of that in spades with CTAs to check out the event’s speakers and to sign up for a ticket. The layout also follows a single one-column design which usually works best for emails.

Lists for events also don’t go out regularly, so it’s crucial to include the logo near the very top of the page. This way subscribers know exactly what the message is about since their last message was probably 12 months before.

Sprout Social Webinar

The Sprout Social newsletters are fantastically well-designed and their codebase is phenomenal. Take a look at this simple design promoting an upcoming webinar.

It’s pretty short and uses graphs to draw attention. It also uses bulleted lists with icons to help sell the webinar as bullet points are much easier to read than paragraphs.

Plus, the big green CTA is well above the fold and pushes their webinar schedule. You can replace many of these elements with your own and see fantastic results.

Sprout Social IG Scheduling

Another example from Sprout Social is this promo email covering their Instagram scheduling feature.

One difference with this layout is the alternating two-column features grid. It uses square icons placed alongside square info-boxes with clear visuals. A great concept and it blends in nicely with the overall design.

If you’re looking for a basic template to study and possibly recreate you should check out the Sprout Social emails. Considering all factors like visuals, copy, and page structure, Sprout Social do email marketing right

Moo Design

From business cards to custom stickers, this promo newsletter really sells the product well. You can learn a lot by studying how other websites promote their content, and this Moo newsletter is a terrific example.

Product photos show how these items could be used and you can also learn a lot from the email’s style and flair.

It feels colorful and fun with a light sense of humor. This tells readers how these products feel and why you might want to visit Moo.

The newsletter uses a two-column product feature with blocks of images and text. An excellent way to grab attention and increase conversions.

Under Armor

The Under Armor brand is very popular in the fitness community. They have tons of great products and their newsletter design sells their items well.

Notice how many unique photographs are used in this design. With some products, it just makes sense to add photos more than text. Block elements with photos and CTAs work well for Under Armor’s newsletter and this is usually a good strategy for all physical goods.

Runtastic

Product feature lists are also great for promoting mobile apps and digital software. This Runtastic email relies on app screenshots and small flat-styled icons to grab your attention.

The goal of this newsletter is to encourage clickthroughs and get new users digging deeper into features. It’s an entire suite of programs and tracking tools so it can take time to learn everything.

But with a great follow-up email you can provide just enough info to get people curious and wanting to learn more.

These are just some of the best newsletter designs I’ve found but there are dozens more out there. And regardless of what you’re promoting or why you need a newsletter, these designs will help you plan usable layouts with clean source code to boot.

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10 Resources to Find Free Textures https://1stwebdesigner.com/10-resources-find-free-textures/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/10-resources-find-free-textures/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:36:48 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=137917 Textures are an all-but-necessary component in web design. They can give a webpage depth, draw the eye to key elements, serve as great backgrounds and just look great when used well! If you’re looking for free textures to enhance your projects, you’ve come to the right place. Here are ten free websites where you can download high-quality textures.

Free Stock Textures

Free Stock Textures

Created by two photographers and artists, this website hosts a ton of textures all licensed under Creative Commons Zero. From nature, to concrete, to abstract – there are all sorts of images to find here. You can also sort by tags, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

There’s a download limit of 5 per day for anonymous users and 50 for registered users.

Pexels

Pexels

Pexels is a free stock photography resource, which has a textures section that contains tons of gorgeous, high-quality images. Images are user-uploaded and licensed under CC0. And there’s no download limit, so you can get as many as you want!

Unsplash

Unsplash

Unsplash is a free photography website supported by a large community of photographers. There are tons of textures and patterns, all available for personal and commercial use under CC0.

Textures.com

Textures.com

Textures.com is a versatile site that comes with basically every kind of textured graphic you can think of. Need photos? 3D scanned surfaces? Panoramas, decals or brushes? You can find them here. The robust search feature allows you to search for specific textures as well as tags like “seamless” or “scanned”.

You can download up to 15 images a day with an account. From there, you’ll need to purchase credits or a subscription. You’ll also need credits to download larger files.

Vecteezy

Vecteezy

Need textured vectors? Vecteezy is the place to find them. There are tons of beautiful, clean vectors available for download. Some are free while others require credit. You can sort by license, which is really helpful if you only want to see the free images.

Wild Textures

Wild Textures

Wild Textures has textures of all kinds, but where the website shines is in its sorting system. You can sort by categories, tags and even by color! This makes it super easy to find the perfect texture. There’s also some auto-generated previews of the pictures used for different functions.

Stockvault

Stockvault

This vault of stock photos and textures contains everything from grungy patterns to the abstract. Simple or complex, you’ll find a high-definition picture that fits your needs here. Users who upload can choose from commercial or non-commercial use, or public domain – so make sure to check the license.

Freepik

Freepik

Freepik has a massive library of vector textures that come in .ai and .eps format. Without buying a plan, you’re limited to 5 anonymous and 30 registered downloads a day. There are also a few commercial stipulations.

Texturelib

Texturelib

A small-but-robust library, Texturelib is free for personal or commercial use. Most of the images are inspired by nature, but there are also quite a few architecture textures – such as photos of roads, windows and doors.

TextureKing

TextureKing

TextureKing has a variety of grungy, nature-like textures, available for use in almost any commercial project. While the site features about 400 images and doesn’t appear to be updated very often, there are a few categories to pick from, and the high-quality textures can be downloaded for free without an account.

Textures in Web Design

When used correctly (and perhaps sparingly), textures are a great design choice. Use them to call attention to important elements, to craft a rough, grungy atmosphere – and to add depth and beauty to a flat design! With so many free resources, you should have all the tools you need to craft deep, gorgeous websites.

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14 Best Material Design UI Kits & Frameworks For Designers https://1stwebdesigner.com/material-design-ui-kits/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/material-design-ui-kits/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 08:59:19 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=135067 The incredible material design library is awesome for designers. It might be the most famous design language ever and it fits well with all devices.

And with the large following behind material design, we’ve also seen dozens of frameworks hit the web. Many of these are half-baked or partially finished, but there are some good ones in the mix.

For this post I’ve curated my top picks for the 14 best material design kits you can start using today. These work for all types of websites and, even though they follow a similar design language, they all have unique features that make them valuable.

All the UI Kits You Could Ask For


1. MUI

MUI Framework

I recently stumbled onto the MUI framework and really like it so far. I had never heard of this before – but I have a feeling it’ll be around for the long haul.

It’s a material design framework built around Google’s guidelines for great websites, clean code and native device support from smartphones to desktops. This includes all the standard material UI elements like appbars, tappable buttons, and custom panels.

The introduction is pretty clean and easy to follow regardless of your coding background. Even if you’ve never used a framework before, this one should be a piece of cake.

2. Material Design Kit

Material design kit

The infamous Material Design Kit is perhaps the best digital design freebie out there. It comes as a full package for Photoshop, Sketch and Adobe XD. This makes up about 90% of the design community’s preferred software. So regardless of how you craft mockups – you’ll be good.

It comes with 60+ different interface components and it’s pretty darn easy to work with.

Be warned that the full kit comes at a price. So while the free version is fantastic, it shouldn’t be the only kit you use for mockup design work.

3. Materialize.css

Materialize.css

Materialize.css is another personal favorite that’s been around for a few years. This one’s definitely stable and should be good to run on any site.

Have a look at their startup guide to get a feel for how everything works. You can include optional JS files to add components to your page or just use the Materialize stylesheet.

Most developers want a lightweight CSS framework, so it makes sense to focus primarily on Materialize as a frontend HTML/CSS structure.

4. Material Design Lite

Material Lite

The Material Design Lite framework avoids any reliance on external JS libraries or CSS files. It’s a completely self-supporting framework that runs on modern coding standards and even supports graceful degradation for older browsers.

However, this MDL library has officially merged with the Web Components project – so it’s no longer in active development.

But I still included it here because it’s a great starting point for new projects. You won’t find many (or any) bugs in the code and it should work as expected.

5. Surface

Surface CSS

Surface is a general CSS framework that doesn’t exactly clone Google’s material guidelines. However, it is inspired by them.

The entire library is 100% CSS-based and uses zero JavaScript. This means no scripts weighing you down and all the components run in pure CSS.

In total, the stylesheet measures just over 5KB – which is pretty reasonable considering what you get.

Have a look at the getting started page for more details.

6. MD Bootstrap

MD Bootstrap

MD Bootstrap is one of the few freemium libraries out there. It does cost money for the pro version, but you can use the free version indefinitely. This makes it perfectly suitable for most projects.

Not to mention this library runs on Bootstrap 4, which makes it fully compliant with the newest updates. Pretty cool!

There are quite a few Bootstrap frameworks that use material design, but the MD Bootstrap kit is my favorite.

Browse their tutorial to learn more.

7. Bootstrap Material Design

Bootstrap Material framework

This is one other Bootstrap add-on that really takes material design to the next level. With the Bootstrap Material Design framework you have the option of using the older version (3.x) or the newer Bootstrap 4. Both choices are fully supported and this library is completely free regardless.

While I think both material BS libraries offer value, I think this one’s a bit more customizable from the get-go. But that also means it takes a little more work to learn the internals.

Have a look at their GitHub page if you would like to learn more.

8. Material UI

Material UI

If you’re building modern webapps then you’ll probably know all about React. It’s one of the largest JS frameworks on the web and it’s growing larger every year.

The Material UI framework brings material design into the React.js ecosystem. This lets you build custom material-styled webapps while coding on top of a React.js base.

It’s currently in development for a v1.0 release and you can expect that update very soon. Have a look at the GitHub repo for more information.

9. Vuetify

Vuetify

Another fast-growing JS framework is Vue.js. This works like React, except it feels more like a traditional templating library for all types of sites – not just webapps.

The Vuetify library offers a material design UI kit on top of the Vue.js framework. This project started a little while back and it features a pretty dedicated support base.

There’s a fantastic user guide online you can check out if you’d like to see how this works in action.

But I can’t say this is the perfect solution for all Vue.js projects, so keep that in mind before launching this on a live site.

10. Bulma

Bulma CSS

Love using CSS flexbox? Then the Bulma framework is for you.

This runs on top of common material design features with aesthetics that can blend into any page. The design is clean, super-easy to use and the grid system is phenomenal.

This is my top choice for anything flexbox related. Even if you don’t know much about flexbox, this framework makes for a great learning tool.

11. Ionic Material

Ionic Materials

If you want to build native apps without programming, then Ionic is a perfect choice. It works like a web framework and lets you publish native Android applications that can actually be accepted into the store.

Ionic Material takes things to the next level. With this framework you can build native-looking apps that run on Google’s material design guidelines.

All you need is some knowledge of Ionic and a willingness to dive into this gorgeous UI kit.

12. Google Material Color

Google Material Color

Google Material Color isn’t a complete UI kit, but rather a color library for web developers.

This comes with a bunch of pre-built color codes that fit perfectly into Google’s color requirements. And this library runs on top of Sass, Less, and Stylus.

13. Material UI

Google Material colors project

Short, simple, and easy to setup best describes this Material UI kit developed by Balaj Marius.

It’s a super-simple concept and certainly not the largest library here. But it gets the job done – offering a solid number of material components for any project.

Most of these follow the card interface which has become popularized by Google. It’s the perfect addition to any material website.

14. Hubuntu UI

Hubuntu UI framework

Few designers mention admin themes because they’re just not as popular as frontend frameworks. But the Hubuntu UI admin kit is phenomenal for building your own dashboard, whether it’s for a CMS, a SaaS product or anything else.

This entire framework runs on the Stylus preprocessor but can be used with plain CSS. It is fairly complex so you’ll need to do some reading to get into the nitty-gritty details.

Thankfully everything you need to learn can be found on the main GitHub page, along with setup instructions for the whole framework.

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In 2018, Work with the Best Resources For Designers & Developers https://1stwebdesigner.com/2018-best-resources-for-designers-developers/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/2018-best-resources-for-designers-developers/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 07:10:40 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=138026 The learning process to keep up with the latest web technologies can take up lots of time. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to put these new technologies to work. The more you know the better of course. But plenty of people out there are busy developing the tools you need to keep abreast of technology.

This is as good a time as any take an inventory of your computing tools to see which are obsolete. You may find yourself discarding a few old favorites. But when you first have the chance to put the replacements to work you’ll have no regrets whatsoever.

Check out these 15 best tools and resources. One or more of them could not only make your day but help make 2018 the year your business takes off.

1. Elementor Page Builder

Elementor Page Builder

There’s a reason why Elementor is the #1 page-builder. There are several in fact. This open source frontend page builder makes it ever so easy to visually create spectacular websites without any need to code. Elementor works on any theme, it’s developer friendly, lightning fast, pre-built with beautiful templates and creative design elements. Elementor is also free.

Elementor became the most popular website-building tool in a very short time, already surpassing 900,000 active installs in under two years.

Elementor surpasses its alternatives in terms of ease of use, superior workflow, and excellent performance. These advantages explain how Elementor grew so fast.

The most popular feature that makes Elementor shine above the rest is its visual form builder that comes included with built-in 3rd party integrations to most marketing automation tools and CRMs.

Another notable feature is the theme builder that lets you easily design your header, footer, single post and other dynamic parts of your site.

2. Mobirise Website Builder

Mobirise Website Builder

In today’s world, a website must be device friendly if it is to be successful. It makes sense then to invest in a website builder that specializes in building mobile-friendly websites – like Mobirise.

Mobirise is also great to have on hand for small projects like landing pages, portfolios, promo sites, or small to medium websites. Mobirise’s drag and drop functionality makes it simple to work with and there’s no need for coding.

Mobirise is an offline application so you’re not tied to any specific platform, you have complete control over your web-building projects, and you can host your website wherever you choose. The Mobirise package is chock-full of trendy blocks and templates (1,200 of them) plus large selections of icons, fonts, and free images.

Best of all, Mobirise is free for both personal and commercial reasons and without restrictions. Over 1.5 million Mobirise-built sites are currently active.

3. Amelia – Enterprise-Level WordPress Appointment Booking Plugin

Amelia - Enterprise-Level WordPress Appointment Booking Plugin

Amelia is a WordPress plugin from Elite Envato author that automates your booking activities 24/7 and gives you complete control over your appointments, your schedule, and those of your employees. Clients or customers can make appointments any time of the day or night.

Amelia is easy to install and easy to work with as no special training is necessary. The colors and fonts of its frontend elements can be customized to match your WordPress theme or your corporate brand.

An important advantage this plugin offers both your business and your customers is it eliminates call waiting, phone tag, and back and forth emailing to set up an appointment or get things straightened out. Customers and clients can book an appointment in seconds on their smartphone or computer.

Amelia supports group bookings, and automatically sends email notifications to participating parties whenever an appointment has been booked, cancelled, rejected, or is pending.

As Amelia just launched, it is available at a promotional price for several weeks, so hurry before it goes up.

4. monday.com

monday.com

monday.com is a central platform from which teams can manage their tasks down to the finest details. This team management tool can serve a team of 2 or a widely-dispersed team of thousands equally well. monday.com encourages team collaboration and project transparency, it is a proven productivity booster, and provides team management solutions for both technically and non-technically-oriented teams.

5. Nutcache

Nutcache

This business-oriented project management application is equally well-suited for web designers and developers and project managers that subscribe to Agile processes and principles such as Scrum and the use of Kanban boards. Nutcache will help you collaborate and conduct your work more efficiently from project estimating and budgeting to expense management, time tracking, and final billing.

6. Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

You’re bound to be impressed (as will a client) with Uncode’s portfolio-building features and functionalities that enable you to achieve awesome results in a relatively short time.

With Uncode, you don’t have to start a portfolio-building project from scratch, and you don’t have to resort to coding to achieve pixel-perfect results thanks to Shape Dividers, Slides Scroll, the powerful Gallery Manager, and a host of other cool features.

7. Themify Ultra

Themify Ultra

Whether you have a single project, or dozens of them for dozens of different clients makes no difference. With Themify Ultra you can handle them all. This multipurpose theme’s host of pre-designed layouts, customizable mega-menus, WooCommerce support and multiple other features including the portfolio post type plugin will ensure that you can build any website for any client.

8. Houzez

Houzez

Building a website for anyone in the real estate sector can be a genuine challenge unless you have exactly the right tools. Houzez is a real estate WordPress theme that has every function and feature you need to satisfy the most demanding client.

Houzez’ features include everything from advanced search capabilities and listings format options to the new custom fields builder and search composer. In addition, the team behind this theme is known for its high-quality customer support.

9. Salesmate

Salesmate

Salesmate is a customer relationship management plugin that you can integrate with your WordPress site to engage and capture leads to add to your sales teams and increase your sales.

This CRM plugin will help you keep your leads organized, tag leads having special views, talents, or characteristics, and moved them through the sales cycle to where you can communicate with and respond to them quickly and easily.

10. 34,000 Icons Full Bundle by Roundicons.com

34,000 Icons Full Bundle by Roundicons.com

This is your chance to download the world’s largest collection of icons all wrapped up in a single bundle. These 34,000 icons are royalty-free and consist of flat icons, solid icons, full icons, doodle icons, and most other icon types you’re ever likely to run across.

The icon bundle comes with a commercial use license and is yours for a one-time payment. Be sure to use coupon code R1200FFALL for a 20% discount.

11. Stockfresh

Stockfresh

This up-and-coming stock photo agency has already amassed several million hand-selected photos and vector images at competitive prices. This makes Stockfresh a wonderful resource to have for your stock photo and graphic images needs.

Stockfresh is currently working to extend their super selection to include themes, fonts, templates, and other design aides. Check their website for special checkout discount prices.

12. PhotoBlocks Grid Gallery

PhotoBlocks Grid Gallery

Creating a pixel perfect, attention-getting gallery to showcase your work couldn’t be easier if you make Photoblocks Grid Gallery with its visual drag and drop builder your gallery-builder of choice.

Photoblocks is responsive, so your gallery will be scaled up or down as needed, no matter the screen size. Photoblocks offers a variety of hover effects and social sharing icons.

13. Beamer

Beamer

Churning out emails, newsletters, and other methods of announcing promotions, new products or services and the like can be a hassle. Why not turn the problem over to Beamer?

It’s simply a matter of inserting this online newsfeed application into a website’s “What’s New?” section together with an accompanying menu item or icon. Beamer customers have reported over 10x more user engagement compared to other announcement methods.

14. The Web Designer YouTube Channel

The Web Designer YouTube Channel offers high-quality video tutorials on a variety of subjects relating to your day-to-day web design activities. You can view and learn from subjects ranging from UI and UX to WordPress and typography, and everything in between.

You’ll also find videos featuring design tips and actual design examples. Go to the landing page for more information on a service that can help your business grow.

15. Portfoliobox

Portfoliobox

This online website builder was designed with photographers, designers, artists, and other creative professionals in mind. Portfoliobox is flexible and easy to use, no coding is required, and it’s not theme based.

All templates offered by Portfoliobox are free of charge. With the free plan you’re allowed to host 50 images, 10 pages and 10 products.

Conclusion

Pick one or more of these 15 top quality tools and resources. You’re likely to notice improvements in daily web design/development work performance! You will see smoother workflows, increased sales, or some combination of the above.

These top-quality items are either free to try, completely free, or affordably priced. Each of them represents a cost-effective investment. Also, each in its own way will help you cope with the latest tech changes.

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10 Beautifully Designed Free Bootstrap Dashboard Admin Templates https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-bootstrap-dashboard-templates/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-bootstrap-dashboard-templates/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 09:15:17 +0000 http://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=129212 The goal of any admin area (a.k.a. “Dashboard”;) should be to provide all the functions a user needs and doing so with their ease-of-use in mind. Using the popular Bootstrap framework, you can create an administration area that excels in both form and function.

Here are 10 free Bootstrap-based themes that will help to turn your custom admin area into a user-friendly powerhouse.

All the Admin Templates You Could Ask For

Bootstrap Admin Templates
2M+ items from the worlds largest marketplace for Admin Templates, Themes & Design Assets. All of it can be found at Envato Market.

AdminLTE

AdminLTE is a lightweight theme that prides itself on being both beautiful and useful. It’s fully responsive, includes a selection of six skins and is even optimized for printing.

AdminLTE

Material Dashboard

Built with Google’s Material Design in mind, Material Dashboard is clean and colorful. The UI is inspired a bit by layered sheets of paper and uses light, surface and movement to create an easy-to-use dashboard.

Material Dashboard

AdminBSB – Material Design

Those looking for a very Google-like interface will love AdminBSB – Material Design. It follows the principles of Material Design while providing users with a familiar-looking GUI.

AdminBSB - Material Design

BootFlat Admin

BootFlat Admin features an attractive and easy-to-navigate dashboard area. As its name indicates, it uses the BootFlat flat UI kit.

BootFlat Admin

Klorofil

Klorofil features lots of useful elements such as charts, timelines, notifications and ready-to-use page templates. It provides you with all the basics you’ll need to build a perfect backend to your site or web-based app.

Klorofil

Shoppy E commerce Admin Panel

Using vibrant colors and a flat UI, Shoppy is a great choice for a custom eCommerce dashboard. It’s fully responsive and includes lots of goodies like buttons, icons and animated charts.

Shoppy E commerce Admin Panel

Paper Dashboard

Unlike a lot of admin themes out there, Paper Dashboard is quite subtle in its use of color. That leads to a beautiful UI that may have a bit more of a calming effect than other, more cluttered choices.

Paper Dashboard

Bluebox

There’s something to be said for simplicity in color scheme. Bluebox does it to near perfection in that the consistent use of blue makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. It comes with lots of UI elements while supporting Google Fonts and Fontawesome Icons.

Bluebox

Blocks – Single Page Admin

Blocks takes a different approach to the admin screen by utilizing a fully-widgetized UI. Also gone is the ubiquitous left-side navigation in favor of a much more subtle menu across the top. This just goes to show that there is more than one way to create an appealing admin layout.

Blocks – Single Page Admin

Free Responsive Horizontal Admin

Free Responsive Horizontal Admin also eschews the standard left menu. The theme also makes nice use of white space and sports a muted color scheme. This could be a solid choice for those who need a more simple and minimal type of dashboard.

Free Responsive Horizontal Admin

Admin Themes That Help You Take Control

Admin areas have, to some degree, gotten a bit stale – especially when you look at what some popular CMS are doing. Part of their problem is that you don’t necessarily want to make radical changes to a UI that millions are comfortable with.

So the real innovations are coming in the form of the roll-your-own dashboards, like the ones featured above. Building your own admin can free you up to take a few more chances than the bigger players out there. These Bootstrap-based themes are proof that there is still a lot of room for both improvement and different ideas.

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10 Open Source 3D Animated Sliders Built On CSS & JavaScript https://1stwebdesigner.com/3d-animated-sliders/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/3d-animated-sliders/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 21:55:41 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=135794 You can add some pretty crazy image sliders into your project with basic jQuery or even with free WordPress plugins.

They all have their own unique animations, custom interfaces and features. But if you can’t find what you want in a plugin, then you may be forced to build it yourself.

That’s what many of the developers featured below did when they built these incredible 3D-animated sliders. Here are 10 of my favorites from CodePen.

Slicebox

See the Pen Slicebox – 3D Image Slider by codefactory (@codefactory) on CodePen.

You’ve probably seen or heard of Slicebox before. This is a popular 3D slideshow plugin and it’s by far one of the most detailed.

This pen offers a live demo of the animated slider in action with most of the features still intact. It all runs on jQuery, while this specific demo works with just 50 lines of JavaScript.

But you can find an even more detailed example on the Codrops site. I’m a huge fan of this slider. If you’re looking for something with crazy 3D effects – this is your best bet.

Rotating Page Slider

See the Pen Rotating 3D Slider by Nikolay Talanov (@suez) on CodePen.

Developer Nikolay Talanov created this rotating slider with some very detailed JavaScript and even more complex HTML/CSS classes.

His code actually follows the BEM naming conventions for CSS, which use a double underline to separate blocks from containers. This makes it a lot easier to skim the code once you understand what you’re looking at.

But this slider may not work for everyone because it rotates the entire page rather than just a part of the page.

Still, it’s a really cool effect that would work very well on specific projects.

Smooth Perspective Slider

See the Pen Smooth 3d perspective slider by Alex Nozdriukhin (@alexnoz) on CodePen.

If you love parallax design on the web, then have a look at this slider created by Alex Nozdriukhin.

As you move your cursor around the page you’ll notice the slideshow element responds in kind. As you rotate your way through the elements, notice the custom animation effects.

This really is pretty smooth and it’s a darn creative use of web animation. However, you may have trouble finding a project that is a good fit for this type of slideshow.

3D Effects with jQuery

See the Pen jQuery 3D Effect Slider by victor (@vkanet) on CodePen.

This basic slider is proof that you can build something great with just a little bit of jQuery. It works on a timer interval, but can also be controlled with the included navigation arrows or dots.

It’s all pretty easy to customize if you’re looking to restyle the animation, as well. Just make sure that you’re up-to-date on the latest jQuery techniques before diving into this code.

3D Flipping Image

See the Pen 3D Flip Image Slideshow by Nik Lanús (@niklanus) on CodePen.

One interesting aspect of this pen is that it doesn’t work exactly like a slideshow. It’s built more to showcase the animation rather than a typical slider UI.

Still, I’d say that developer Nik Lanús has created an amazing design with a very attractive flipping animation.

You can force the images to flip by scrolling up or down on the page (this can all be controlled in jQuery). But it’ll take some work to move this animation effect into a full-blown image slider.

3D Cube Slider

See the Pen 3D Cube slider. Pure CSS. by Ilya K. (@fornyhucker) on CodePen.

I’ve never seen anything quite like this on the web – it has to be one of a kind.

With this 3D cube, you may be surprised how accurate and smooth the animations feel. Note that this script is a bit heavy, so you may have to give the pen a minute to load in.

But here’s the great part: this entire 3D cube animation works on pure CSS. No JavaScript required. How great is that?

Carousel Using TweenMax.js & jQuery

See the Pen 3D Carousel Using TweenMax.js & jQuery by John Blazek (@johnblazek) on CodePen.

You can build some incredible things with custom libraries like TweenMax.

One such example is this carousel, which works just like a typical 3D rotating album you’d expect to find in iTunes. The whole thing is controlled via JavaScript and it works with one of the many TweenMax animations.

Granted, this demo just uses placeholder text for each block – so it’s not all that pretty to look at. But you can easily swap out the text and create one heck of a custom carousel.

3D Slider in Pure CSS

See the Pen PURE CSS 3D SLIDER by Dmitriy Panfilov (@panfilov) on CodePen.

Here’s another radical slider with a super unique interface. This CSS3 slider is built on just HTML and CSS – making it even more impressive.

Creator Dmitriy Panfilov built this like an album stack where you click any of the lower elements to bring it into the foreground. It’s not your typical slideshow interface but it can work very well on websites with enough space.

But this really feels more like a practice project just to prove how much you can do with a little CSS ingenuity.

3D Image Gallery

See the Pen 3D images gallery by Bobby (@ImBobby) on CodePen.

If you’re looking for a rotating carousel with a smaller frame, check out this code snippet.

It works via CSS3 transforms and really does feel like it’s embedded into the page in 3D space. Note that the images may also take a few seconds to load, so it may require some patience on your part.

But what I like most about this snippet its portability. You can reformat the container element to whatever size you’d like – making this flexible and easy to add into any layout.

10. Carousel Cubed

See the Pen 3D Cube Carousel by Derek Wheelden (@frxnz) on CodePen.

Yup, another crazy cube carousel with some pretty whacky code.

This design created by Derek Wheelden relies on Sass and Bourbon mixins to simplify the animations. But all of the jQuery code is built from scratch, so you can easily reuse it without any preprocessing.

Again, this may not prove incredibly useful for every project you build. But the design is flashy enough to grab attention and certainly usable in the majority of modern web browsers.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with 3D effects on the web. If you’d like to see more, have a peek in CodePen for plenty of awesome 3D snippets that you can work with.

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How to Run a Heuristic UX Evaluation https://1stwebdesigner.com/heuristic-ux-evaluation/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/heuristic-ux-evaluation/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 20:15:48 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=132024 User experience development and optimization is a broad field. There are many facets of web design to consider in the development of a website. The factors affecting user experience, or UX, span from content production and page layout to website interactions.

Being able to identify usability issues with a user interface is called heuristics. It encompasses broad, qualitative rules that help determine the usability of your website and the overall experience your visitors are having.

The UX Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Wireframe & UX Templates, UI Kits & Design Assets


To ensure better performance, designers use a heuristic evaluation, which is a way to test the overall UX of your site and if the site has usability issues. Your website’s UX is important and can have a big impact on your business and the success of your website.

Image via UsabilityGeek.com

A heuristic evaluation is different than user-testing because you are utilizing usability professionals instead of users. Sometimes, this approach is referred to as an expert review since you are getting professional feedback about your UX.

There are over 200 criteria that can be used when a site is being evaluated. Most businesses will determine the specific probes they want to be included in the evaluation. Many experts base their questions and responses on Jacob Neilson’s 10 Heuristics for User Interface Design.

Here is a closer look at those 10 heuristics:

1. Visibility of System Status

The system or website should always keep users in the loop about what is going on. This information is given to users through feedback in a reasonable time.

2. Match Between System and the Real World

The website should cater to a specific audience. The language used through phrases, words, and concepts should be relatable to that specific audience and fit into their worldview.

3. User Control and Freedom

Users will inevitably click on something by mistake, leading them to a page they don’t want to be on. An exit or return option should be available to them for a quick return.

4. Consistency and Standards

Platform conventions have been put in place, so your users do not have to wonder what your website means. Most users are familiar with these conventions. If your site is consistent, it should be easy for users to navigate and know what steps to take to reach a goal.

5. Error Prevention

Evaluators check for situations that could lead to an error page for your user. A good error message will send readers back to where they belong. An even better solution is removing any error-prone conditions on your website.

6. Recognizing Rather than Recalling

Your website should not require its users to remember information. Objects, actions, and options should always be visible, allowing them to keep up with your website’s dialogue without missing a beat.

7. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

Accelerators are often used to speed up the process and interaction between experienced users and your website. This means that no matter the level of expertise of your user, your site will function at the same speed.

8. Aesthetic and Minimal Design

There should be no fluff or irrelevant information on your website. The design should be aesthetically pleasing and seamlessly incorporate relevant content and information for your users.

9. Helps Users Recognize, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors

Error messages should never include code and should simply explain the problem to users. It should suggest a quick solution that is easy for the user to follow.

10. Help and Documentation

It is most effective to have a system or website that does not require any help or documentation. If your system does require it, it should be easy to find, read, and carry out.

How to Run Your Evaluation

Planning and running your heuristic evaluation can be a long process.

Companies with expansive resources should hire at least three usability experts to perform the evaluation. Your team will decide upon the guidelines to be used during the evaluation, and then each expert will evaluate the site separately. Someone who is comfortable with the site should be available to the experts to answer any questions and record the process.

Before You Start

It is important to have a clear focus of who your users are before you begin the evaluation process. Develop personas or story maps for your users and make sure your website design caters to those individuals.

Consider the different tasks your users do when they are visiting your website. Most businesses prefer to rank these activities in order of importance. Take these tasks and relate them to the guidelines that will be given to the evaluators.

Develop a Method

After you have determined your guidelines and tasks the experts should be evaluating for, develop a method. Your evaluation method will include a system of severity codes the evaluators will be basing their responses on. Once the guidelines and methods are in place and your experts have been trained on them, it is time to run the evaluation.

Write a Report

When the heuristic evaluation is over, it is time to study the responses and write a report on the findings. Just like data, here’s where you gather the intel and analyze it. At this point, you can show developers the problems your users may have and come up with solutions for them.

Though you offer a written report, present your findings in person, if possible. This evaluation was done to test the functionality and UX of your website, and those who are involved in the process need to fully understand the findings – some of that may mean face-to-face interaction.

You will be reporting to the team of developers and key stakeholders in the business, so present the information tactfully and make it clear the recommendations for changes are for the betterment of the business.

Your report should include a list of the specific heuristics that were used in the evaluation. This will show the starting point that gave you your results. Explain who the experts are and their backgrounds to the group.

List the issues you discovered with the most important first. Then, give the audience solutions to how these problems can be fixed efficiently.

Your findings and report may mean some extra work for the developers, so give them as much information as possible about the findings so they understand how the UX is being affected and what they can do to fix it.

Can You Run a Heuristic Evaluation Without Experts?

Small start-ups or freelance web developers may not be able to afford a team of experts to evaluate their web design. In these situations, a more informal method called the heuristic markup can be helpful. This method does not provide professional results but can still be beneficial when testing your usability and UX.

Using this process, you set aside a few hours to walk through the website. Try to separate yourself from the development and act as a member of your target audience.

Keep in mind one of the personas developed for the business and perform the tasks as you imagine they would. Keep notes of your experiences as you move your way through the website, keeping track of areas where you got stumped or see a potential problem.

Insight Into UX Can Boost Your Website’s Traffic

Sometimes, why a website works well for a demographic can be a mystery, and these heuristic evaluations take some of the guesswork out of the process. Regardless of the size of your business, a heuristic evaluation of your website allows you to gain knowledge and experience about what your users are seeing.

Their experience on your website determines how long they stay, if they buy your product or service, and whether they return. Conducting an evaluation is the best way to discover potential problems and develop the best UX for your visitors.

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How to Stay Focused and Productive as a Freelancer https://1stwebdesigner.com/stay-focused-productive-freelancer/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/stay-focused-productive-freelancer/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 05:55:18 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=137872 For some freelancers, churning out work and keeping focused comes easy. For others, it’s a living nightmare. If you find yourself struggling and wasting hours on social media, all hope isn’t lost. Before you give up on freelancing and go back to that office job, try these tips to get back on track.

Establish Structure

Many people choose freelancing for its freedom. What’s better than waking up at noon and working in pajamas? But just because you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder or a tight schedule doesn’t mean you don’t have deadlines to meet.

Don’t let your laziness get the best of you. You’re allowed to make your own structure, so design a schedule that works for you!

If you want to have a 30-minute coffee break in the morning, then feel free – just make sure that you do start working on those terms. Don’t let 30 minutes turn into an hour. A lack of discipline is the downfall of many freelancers.

Man pointing to a date on a calendar.

Work with Your Energy Cycle

Every day has high and low points, and this cycle is different for everyone. Some find it easier to start right away, and struggle to focus as the day goes on. Night owls may need to spend the afternoon relaxing and ride on their nightly burst of energy.

Figure out when you feel most active and put those times to use. Save your recreational time for when you’re feeling lazy. If you work best in the morning, don’t get up and waste that potential energy on video games. Change up your routine if you must.

Typing in a dark room.

Rest and Reward

The best way to get motivated is to use positive reinforcement. If you force yourself to work without a break, you’ll only begin to dread your job. Our brains aren’t wired to sit still and stay focused for hours on end.

Break your work into smaller tasks. When you hit those milestones, take a break to do something enjoyable. Wrote 1,000 words? Play your favorite game for a while. Finished up a webpage template? Treat yourself to some ice cream. Even if it’s just to get up and stretch your legs every 30 minutes, make sure to give your brain a break.

You may find it easier to take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day, or work for hours and take longer rests. Just don’t reward yourself unless you’ve earned it.

But it’s also important to know your limits. When these small breaks stop working, take a long shower or do something that requires little mental energy. Get relaxed, then get back to work.

Video game controller.

Take Care of Yourself

Nothing does more wonders for your productivity than a good night’s sleep, lots of exercise and a few healthy meals. If your job is getting in the way of this, it may be time to step back. Know when you’re overloaded, and when to say “no” to a client. Don’t work yourself into the ground.

Create a Comfortable Workspace

It may not seem that important, but comfort can do wonders for your productivity. Work in a quiet room with no noise or distractions. Invest in a comfy office chair or a nice, spacious desk. Make it yours with posters, plants and your own personal touch. Decorate to create a casual or professional environment, depending on where you work better.

Man in home office.

Use Tools

There are many apps, websites, and programs out there that can help you stay focused. Desktop calendars, virtual sticky notes, and time management tools are great at keeping everything straight. If you’re desperate, Parental Controls can keep you off Facebook.

Apps like Habitica, Mindbloom or Fighter’s Block! “gamify” your life and reward you for staying motivated – helping you build better habits.

Person holding mobile phone.

Do What Works for You

More important than any advice a stranger can give you is this: Figure out what’s best for you. Articles like this can point you in the right direction, but they’re no replacement for experimenting. Keep trying and find what keeps you motivated, what’s best for your situation and what methods keep you focused and on track.

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