Posts Tagged

tools

This $40 cloud training can help you master AWS, Azure, and more top tools

When innovations are developed, it almost always pays to be among the first with expert knowledge. That’s certainly been the case with cloud technologies so far, where skilled professionals can earn $98k per year. If this is an area of expertise you would like to explore but aren’t yet ready to commit to a lengthy and expensive post-secondary program, we’d recommend first getting your feet wet with The Complete 2020 Cloud Certification Bundle.

This economically priced bundle, valued at $3,800, provides students with a great introduction to cloud technologies. They’ll learn about major players like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, discover the basics of building and deploying cloud-based infrastructures, and find out what makes the technology so advantageous as we move to a web-based world. And students will earn actual certificates upon completion too, so they could even use this training to find entry-level work.

What makes this particular program so enticing is the fact that students are able to direct their own studies. There are no actual classroom sessions to attend, so you won’t have to worry about fitting a tight learning schedule around work. And, you have a full year to complete all twelve courses. Plus there are no textbooks to purchase, making this training route even easier on the pocketbook.

It’s vitally important that information technology professionals keep their training on the cutting edge. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold and shell out big dollars on time-consuming post-secondary training. Instead, learn the 21st century way with The Complete 2020 Cloud Certification Training Bundle, currently offered to readers for just $39.99.

 

The Complete 2020 Cloud Certification Training Bundle – $39.99

See Deal

Prices are subject to change.

 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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15 Useful Tools and Services for Designers and Agencies

When the time has come to make some changes to your website-building toolkit there’s no shortage of tools or services you could use to smooth out your workflow, save money, add to website capabilities, or put bigger smiles on your clients’ faces.

There are literally hundreds of tools and services you could choose from, if you had the time to make the necessary comparisons, and if you could be confident your choices were good ones.

Or, at our invitation you can browse our selection of top tools and services for 2020. Each of our choices is based on comprehensive reviews, comparisons, and careful analyses. Any one of these tools or services is quite capable of not only making your day but changing how you do business – and for the better.

 

1. UXPin

Prototyping and collaboration have time and again proven to be not only useful but powerful techniques web design teams count on to achieve successful outcomes, especially for large or very complex projects.

UXPin is a highly advanced prototyping and collaborative tool that lets you build prototypes that look and feel like the final product.

It is not difficult to use UXPin. Some might refer to it as Google Docs on steroids as far as the collaborative features are concerned. These features include:

  • Reusable design elements and components team members can use to quickly create prototypes;
  • Interactive form elements, such as check boxes, text fields, and radio buttons;
  • Vector drawing tools than enable team members to create prototype elements that are limited only by their imaginations;
  • Material Design, iOS, and Bootstrap design element libraries.

Click on the banner to find out more about this powerful tool and its many additional features.

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2. BeTheme

BeTheme, with its more than 40 core features, including a huge assortment of website-building elements, is the biggest WordPress theme of them all. Be has virtually everything you would want or expect from a premium multipurpose WordPress theme, which is a very good reason for including it in this list.

This theme is fast, it’s flexible, and it’s very easy to work with. A beginner could create a traffic-generating website on the first try. Experienced web designers appreciate how easy Be makes it for them to satisfy a large and diverse clientele.

The package includes:

  • What has to be the highlight; Be’s selection of 500+ responsive and customizable pre-built websites. They cover 30 industry sectors, a wide range of business niches, and all the major website types.
  • An Admin Panel, a Shortcode Generator, and a selection of shortcodes that gives users a multiplicity of design options and eliminate the need for coding.
  • The powerful Muffin Builder 3 page builder, a Layout Generator, multiple grid layout options, and much, much more.

Click on the banner to find out more about this popular theme.

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3. Mobirise Website Builder

Three good reasons to select a website builder are (1) if you can use it however you want, (2) if it’s affordable, or better yet, free, and (3) if you are given complete control over your design/build process.

Mobirise satisfies these criteria, and there are many other reasons for choosing it as well.

  • Mobirise is offline. All you have to do is download it. Then, you can use it as you please.
  • Mobirise is free. No strings attached, and you can use it for both personal and commercial purposes.
  • You’re not tied to a given platform. This, along with being offline, is why you have complete control over what you do.

In addition, Mobirise has a great selection of HTML themes, homepage templates, and over 2,500 trendy website blocks to work with, no coding is required, and your sites will be 100% responsive and exhibit crazy-fast performance.

Click on the banner to learn more.

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4. LayerSlider

LayerSlider is, as many designers already know, a great tool for designing sliders, popups, and other animated website elements.

Features include:

  • A drag and drop visual builder and a Photoshop-like image editor;
  • Animated page blocks that make it possible to build a complete website;
  • A large selection of slider templates, including templates especially designed for beginners;
  • LayerSlider is SEO and mobile device friendly as it includes a variety of layout options to work with.
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5. Dr. Link Check

If you have a large website featuring an abundance of links, you’ve probably come across one or more broken links from time to time. Even a single broken link should be unacceptable, and Dr. Link Check is a service that inspects code to identify broken links.

Dr. Link Check also:

  • Checks server response times and error codes;
  • Checks for proper URL formatting;
  • Can be scheduled to check on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Click on the banner to learn more about this important service.

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6. Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

Uncode is a creative top-seller multiuse theme for creatives who need a tool like this to best serve their needs. Uncode is ideal for building portfolio, blogging, or magazine-style sites or websites for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Uncode’s many features include:

  • A powerful frontend editor, an advanced grid system, and adaptive image system;
  • 400+ Wireframes Sections;
  • WooCommerce and WPML compatibility.

The showcase is definitely not to be missed. Click on the banner to see it.

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7. Stockfresh

Three things to look for in a stock photo agency is a large, well-organized inventory, quality items, and reasonable prices. It’s also nice to be able to browse through the inventory before you pay a penny. That’s what Stockfresh is all about.

  • Stockfresh has an inventory of millions of items;
  • Sign up for free to see what’s available before choosing a plan;
  • The items are categorized (30 categories) and the prices are competitive.

Click on the banner and sign up today.

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8. XStore | Multi-Purpose WooCommerce WordPress Theme

One way to get precisely the eCommerce store you want is to build it from scratch. That’s the hard way. Putting XStore to work may seem like a lazy approach, but it’s actually far better; not to mention faster.

There are several reasons for letting XStore do the heavy lifting:

  • 90+ ready-to-go customizable stores;
  • XStore’s powerful product page builder;
  • Inspirational product demos;
  • $300 worth of premier plugins;
  • Powerful header builder.

They add up to a stress-free way to build your store.

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9. Slider Revolution

7 million worldwide users have made Slider Revolution a popular tool for incorporating creative sliders and special effects into web designs. Slider Revolution 6.0 does a great deal more.

  • 6.0 enables you to create awesome sliders, content modules, carousels, and hero headers;
  • A host of ready-to-go templates, addons, and 2,000 royalty-free elements give you almost unlimited design possibilities;
  • With 6.0, you can even build a complete website.
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10. 8b Website Builder

8b is brand new. It’s super-fast. It’s a joy to work with. You can create websites from your desktop, from a mobile device, or both.

Among the reasons for incorporating such a new tool on our list of top tools are these:

  • 8b sites get fast Google rankings;
  • The package features 250 cool templates;
  • Features include AMP, PWA, and Site Export;
  • 8b is free to use, plus you get a free domain.

Check 8b out today!

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11. WhatFontis

You’ve found the perfect font. You can’t identify it or locate its source. Sound like a bad dream? It happens to web designers all too often.

It’s time to call upon WhatFontis. Download an example of the font in question and you can expect a response in seconds:

  • A positive identification;
  • A very close match if the exact font can’t be located;
  • Alternatives with prices if the font is too pricey.

Seems like a very good deal. It is.

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12. Goodiewebsite

Goodiewebsite is a development platform servicing a web designer in need of assistance, or a small business owner who wishes to establish an online presence.

You can expect outstanding results from goodiewebsite if you:

  • Need a simple WordPress website;
  • Intend to conduct business via a simple WooCommerce site;
  • Have a 1 to 10 page website in mind.

Goodiewebsite also provides responsive email templates to help its customers with their marketing.

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13. Heroic KB – Knowledge Base Plugin

FAQ pages tend to give “stock” responses which often fail to completely answer a user’s question. Giving those same users fact-filled responses can do wonders for your business. With the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin you can:

  • Provide visitors with a wealth of useful, accurate, and up-to-date information;
  • Make this information available 24/7 via rapid search;
  • Apply Heroic KB’s actionable analytics and feedback to improve your customer service operation.

In other words, the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin is a wise investment.

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14. Rank Math

Trying to optimize your site to make the search engines love your content isn’t always an easy task. A better way is to let Rank Math do your SEO heavy lifting. Rank Math offers the following:

  • Analyses of 40 different SEO factors to help your website attract more traffic and make it an eCommerce powerhouse;
  • A cool selection of Elementor, Automated Image, WooCommerce, and Local SEO tools;
  • 404 Monitor;
  • Sitemap, redirection, and error checks.
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15. Movedo Theme

Movedo is a theme that can make 2020 a year you’ll fondly remember. It was created by a top rated author who didn’t mind straying outside the envelope on occasion to provide users with an assemblage of nifty, extremely useful special effects, e.g., things that are either moving or simply appearing to so.

  • Gives you a clean, modern design to work with;
  • Is responsive and extremely flexible;
  • Offers 24/7 support.

Movedo can indeed make this a year you’ll remember. It rocks!

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*****

The above selection should make it easy to find a tool or service that will save you time, minimize your business costs, and help to streamline your design workflows or business operations. You’ll also avoid having to sift through hundreds of tools and services to find something that would work best for you.

These tools and services practically guarantee to increase the amount of time you’ll have to devote to your more pressing tasks and items.

 

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



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COVID-19 and tech: New collaboration tools mean new security risks

Shortly before Slack’s IPO this spring, the company addressed potential security threats to workplace chat software in an SEC filing. The risks identified included malware, viruses, worms and ransomware, among others. A 2019 Accenture report found that 85 percent of organizations experienced phishing and other social engineering attacks, an increase of 16 percent in a single year.

Ready or not: Collaborate

If your company hadn’t yet decided to move their communication and file sharing onto collaboration platforms, the coronavirus crisis made the decision for you. While the move to collaboration tools became a necessity, security threats will continue to surface, requiring new methods of securing the environment.

“It’s a safe bet for malicious attackers that their targets are using one – or more – popular tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google, Zoom and so on,” said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer at Kaseya. It’s a low effort way to gain access to enterprise tools.”

The Slack filing also pointed to the potential threat posed by organized crime, as well as hostile nation states and attackers acting on their behalf, as a risk to Slack, it’s partners and its users. 

“Hackers and cybercriminals are acutely aware of the wealth of sensitive information that’s shared via such workplace collaboration tools,” said Attila Tomaschek, a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy. “They are therefore naturally quite attractive targets to go after.”

A host of threats (beyond COVID-19)

Tomaschek notes that a phishing attack could introduce malware that might compromise an entire organization’s collaboration platform, as well as personal and sensitive business documents and files. 

Another potentially concerning vulnerability could appear from third-party apps that integrate with software like Teams and Slack. 

“Equally concerning is cybercriminals’ ability to take advantage of APIs to gain access to companies’ data through their collaboration tools,” Tomaschek said. These tools work with a host of third-party applications that companies will often integrate into the tools for a convenient and more seamless experience with other applications. The problem is that the API that’s used to connect the collaboration software with the third-party application can be exploited by a hacker to intercept data and communications between the two applications.”

[ Related: How to automate repetitive tasks in Slack ]

Companies are increasingly focused on automation and integration, said Steve Tcherchian, chief product officer at XYPRO, who also sees a door opening for malicious hackers. 

“The most things that can integrate with each other and provide a single pane-of-glass view, the less cost, management overhead and potential for problems exist,” Tcherchian said. “Most of these [collaboration] apps have third-party integrations to just about every other apps for this purpose. The challenge becomes how secure are the integrations, what data is shared between them and what risk is introduced into your platform?”

Collaboration tools will become a prime target for hackers, Tomaschek said, because, by design, they make it easy to spread data through the organization.

[ Related: Three encrypted Slack alternatives worth a look ]

“Along with the largely informal and casual communication style generally used on these platforms, unassuming users could easily let their guard down and not being vigilant about what they communicate and what links they click on,” Tomaschek said. “Compounding that is the inherent immediacy of the medium, which encourages quick responses and which can further lead to carelessness and imprudent activity by users.”

Bart McDonough, CEO of Agio, agrees that the level of trust an employee expects in their workplace chat software may lead to vulnerabilities. 

“There’s less general skepticism around inbound communications,” McDonough said. “While it’s uncommon for bad actors to spoof and fake messages on collaboration platforms, the reality is if one assumes the identity of an employee, the content they share becomes highly trusted very quickly. Email, in contrast, has experienced many years of publicized risks, negative stories, and user awareness training, sharpening the sword of cynicism among users.”

Credential stuffing is also on the rise, said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer at Kaseya. “Attackers can gain credentials through phishing or simply by purchasing them from the millions of records for sale on the dark web and then testing – credential stuffing – those credentials on popular collaboration tools sites.”

It only takes one person’s chat login to be hacked, to expose multiple employee’s data through the collaboration software, noted Tim Roberts, managing director, digital-cyber team at AlixPartners. “People also feel more comfortable once within an apparently secure collaboration space, and therefore may drop their guard when faced with requests to share passwords or send confidential documents. This false sense of security needs to be managed.”

[ Related: How to pick the right collaboration tools]

Future threats

Tomaschek expects over time to see attacks that incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to target collaboration tools. 

“For instance, bots could be developed to mimic genuine human interaction over these collaboration systems,” Tomaschek said, “and could potentially become incredibly effective at gathering sensitive information from unsuspecting employees or get them to click on files containing malware.”

In terms of threats in the wild, Tomaschek points to malware that stole data via Slack and Github, surreptitiously moving data between the two platforms. 

“There has been malware that connects to collaborative software version control platforms, like Github, for downloading commands,” Tomaschek said. “It then outputs the results of those commands to cloud-based proprietary instant messaging platforms, like Slack, and then uses free cloud storage services for uploading stolen files and documents. Abusing legitimate tools and services allows attackers to fly under the radar of traditional security solutions.”

In addition to traditional hacking threats, in its SEC filing Slack also pointed out that collaboration software faces “threats from sophisticated organized crime, nation-state and nation-state supported actors who engage in attacks …  Third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees, users, or organizations into disclosing sensitive information such as user names, passwords, or other information or otherwise compromise the security of our internal electronic systems, networks and/or physical facilities in order to gain access to our data or the data of organizations.”

Steps to take to ensure security in chaotic times

The outbreak of the coronavirus may have forced your hand, but there steps you can take to ensure a secure collaboration envjronment. McDonough sats that organizations can help secure their virtual workspaces by employing similar security practices to what are already have in place for email.

“Make sure that two-factor authentication is enabled for all logins,” McDonough said, “and across all associated software – not just the collaboration tools themselves. There’s also an education gap employers must close by training users around identity management risks. Administrators should also ensure that employee access and accounts on these platforms are promptly removed once an individual leaves the company.”

Security policies will need to revamped to include educating employees on potential threats in collaboration software, advises Liviu Arsene, global cybersecurity researcher for Bitdefender.

“At the same time IT and security teams should set in place monitoring tools and technologies designed to spot potential sensitive data that might be exposed,” Arsene said. “Educating employees in cybersecurity best practices and having a strong company policy in terms of accepted apps, coupled with highly regulated access to company-critical data, can help organizations increase they cybersecurity posture and reduce the footprint of potential misuse of collaboration software.” 

Shortly before Slack’s IPO this spring, the company addressed potential security threats to workplace chat software in an SEC filing. The risks identified included malware, viruses, worms and ransomware, among others. A 2019 Accenture report found that 85 percent of organizations experienced phishing and other social engineering attacks, an increase of 16 percent in a single year.

Ready or not: Collaborate

If your company hadn’t yet decided to move their communication and file sharing onto collaboration platforms, the coronavirus crisis made the decision for you. While the move to collaboration tools became a necessity, security threats will continue to surface, requiring new methods of securing the environment.

“It’s a safe bet for malicious attackers that their targets are using one – or more – popular tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google, Zoom and so on,” said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer at Kaseya. It’s a low effort way to gain access to enterprise tools.”

The Slack filing also pointed to the potential threat posed by organized crime, as well as hostile nation states and attackers acting on their behalf, as a risk to Slack, it’s partners and its users. 

“Hackers and cybercriminals are acutely aware of the wealth of sensitive information that’s shared via such workplace collaboration tools,” said Attila Tomaschek, a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy. “They are therefore naturally quite attractive targets to go after.”

A host of threats (beyond COVID-19)

Tomaschek notes that a phishing attack could introduce malware that might compromise an entire organization’s collaboration platform, as well as personal and sensitive business documents and files. 

Another potentially concerning vulnerability could appear from third-party apps that integrate with software like Teams and Slack. 

“Equally concerning is cybercriminals’ ability to take advantage of APIs to gain access to companies’ data through their collaboration tools,” Tomaschek said. These tools work with a host of third-party applications that companies will often integrate into the tools for a convenient and more seamless experience with other applications. The problem is that the API that’s used to connect the collaboration software with the third-party application can be exploited by a hacker to intercept data and communications between the two applications.”

[ Related: How to automate repetitive tasks in Slack ]

Companies are increasingly focused on automation and integration, said Steve Tcherchian, chief product officer at XYPRO, who also sees a door opening for malicious hackers. 

“The most things that can integrate with each other and provide a single pane-of-glass view, the less cost, management overhead and potential for problems exist,” Tcherchian said. “Most of these [collaboration] apps have third-party integrations to just about every other apps for this purpose. The challenge becomes how secure are the integrations, what data is shared between them and what risk is introduced into your platform?”

Collaboration tools will become a prime target for hackers, Tomaschek said, because, by design, they make it easy to spread data through the organization.

[ Related: Three encrypted Slack alternatives worth a look ]

“Along with the largely informal and casual communication style generally used on these platforms, unassuming users could easily let their guard down and not being vigilant about what they communicate and what links they click on,” Tomaschek said. “Compounding that is the inherent immediacy of the medium, which encourages quick responses and which can further lead to carelessness and imprudent activity by users.”

Bart McDonough, CEO of Agio, agrees that the level of trust an employee expects in their workplace chat software may lead to vulnerabilities. 

“There’s less general skepticism around inbound communications,” McDonough said. “While it’s uncommon for bad actors to spoof and fake messages on collaboration platforms, the reality is if one assumes the identity of an employee, the content they share becomes highly trusted very quickly. Email, in contrast, has experienced many years of publicized risks, negative stories, and user awareness training, sharpening the sword of cynicism among users.”

Credential stuffing is also on the rise, said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer at Kaseya. “Attackers can gain credentials through phishing or simply by purchasing them from the millions of records for sale on the dark web and then testing – credential stuffing – those credentials on popular collaboration tools sites.”

It only takes one person’s chat login to be hacked, to expose multiple employee’s data through the collaboration software, noted Tim Roberts, managing director, digital-cyber team at AlixPartners. “People also feel more comfortable once within an apparently secure collaboration space, and therefore may drop their guard when faced with requests to share passwords or send confidential documents. This false sense of security needs to be managed.”

[ Related: How to pick the right collaboration tools]

Future threats

Tomaschek expects over time to see attacks that incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to target collaboration tools. 

“For instance, bots could be developed to mimic genuine human interaction over these collaboration systems,” Tomaschek said, “and could potentially become incredibly effective at gathering sensitive information from unsuspecting employees or get them to click on files containing malware.”

In terms of threats in the wild, Tomaschek points to malware that stole data via Slack and Github, surreptitiously moving data between the two platforms. 

“There has been malware that connects to collaborative software version control platforms, like Github, for downloading commands,” Tomaschek said. “It then outputs the results of those commands to cloud-based proprietary instant messaging platforms, like Slack, and then uses free cloud storage services for uploading stolen files and documents. Abusing legitimate tools and services allows attackers to fly under the radar of traditional security solutions.”

In addition to traditional hacking threats, in its SEC filing Slack also pointed out that collaboration software faces “threats from sophisticated organized crime, nation-state and nation-state supported actors who engage in attacks …  Third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees, users, or organizations into disclosing sensitive information such as user names, passwords, or other information or otherwise compromise the security of our internal electronic systems, networks and/or physical facilities in order to gain access to our data or the data of organizations.”

Steps to take to ensure security in chaotic times

The outbreak of the coronavirus may have forced your hand, but there steps you can take to ensure a secure collaboration envjronment. McDonough sats that organizations can help secure their virtual workspaces by employing similar security practices to what are already have in place for email.

“Make sure that two-factor authentication is enabled for all logins,” McDonough said, “and across all associated software – not just the collaboration tools themselves. There’s also an education gap employers must close by training users around identity management risks. Administrators should also ensure that employee access and accounts on these platforms are promptly removed once an individual leaves the company.”

Security policies will need to revamped to include educating employees on potential threats in collaboration software, advises Liviu Arsene, global cybersecurity researcher for Bitdefender.

“At the same time IT and security teams should set in place monitoring tools and technologies designed to spot potential sensitive data that might be exposed,” Arsene said. “Educating employees in cybersecurity best practices and having a strong company policy in terms of accepted apps, coupled with highly regulated access to company-critical data, can help organizations increase they cybersecurity posture and reduce the footprint of potential misuse of collaboration software.” 



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Exciting New Tools for Designers, March 2020

Spring is in the air. As the season changes, many designers are looking for a little refresh of their own. Hopefully some of these new tools and resources will do the trick.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

 

Visme

Visme allows you to quickly create and share content with tools to build presentations, infographics, documents, videos, and graphics — with little to no design skills. But it’s for designers too with features that you will appreciate in a platform that makes crafting visuals quick and easy. (It’s great for creating social media graphics, in particular!) The new release is intuitive and allows you to work with video or still images, illustrations, text, maps, and more. You can even set branding guidelines so your team can work from the free app.

 

Thinkers Notebook and App

The Thinkers Notebook and App brings your paper sketches to the digital space. The notebook and app work together to turn things on the page into high-res digital images that you can share, add notes to, edit and more. The best feature is the ability to collaborate and comment on handwritten notes or ideas. If you still like to use paper and pen to start the ideation process this tool is for you. (The app is free and the notebook is under $20.)

 

Opensource Builders

Looking for an alternative to a certain app? Opensource Builders is a collection of open-source tools with similar functionality.

 

Unscreen

Unscreen will remove the background of videos automatically. You can record footage anywhere – even without a green screen – and use the tool to scrub the background to an invisible layer and then add your own background element. The tool is free and also includes a pro version (coming soon) with more features.

 

Beastnotes

Beastnotes is designed for students taking online courses. The tool allows you to efficiently capture notes while watching video lectures with the browser extension. Then use the site to revise and study for exams. The best part? You don’t have to try to decipher your handwriting later.

 

Iconset

Iconset can help you save time searching for icons on your computer. The tool is a free SVG icon organizer that works on Mac and Windows operating systems. It features a drag and drop interface and can be sync for team use. You can even create and publish your own icons sets and find everything using a super-fast search tool.

 

Svelte-Grid

Svelte-Grid is a draggable and resizable grid layout with responsive breakpoints. And you guessed it, this tool is for Svelte.

 

Masked and Layered Linear Gradients

Here’s a pen you’ll want to play with. Masked and Layered Linear Gradients is a neat look behind the curtain of how a cool background gradient swatch comes together.

 

Neumorphism.io

Neumorphism.io is a generator to create the CSS for the soft UI style that seems to be popping up everywhere. Change the colors, size, and more to get just the design you are looking for in the neumorphic style.

 

Glitch Art Generator

Glitch Art Generator helps you create a glitch background effect and download the file once you get it right. Adjust colors, number of glitches, location, direction, and corner effects.

 

Android Phone Mockups

If you are looking for an Android phone mockup, you’re in luck. This set includes eight mockup templates so you can showcase designs in a realistic environment.

 

Heroicons

Heroicons is a free MIT-licensed set of SVG icons for web projects. The set includes two styles – outline and solid – with 140 icons each.

 

Vangogh

Vangogh is a color palette generator that uses machine learning to generate color combinations based on a search term. Each query – such as winter or sunset – returns four themes with five palettes each. You can also pull palettes from images. Every palette comes with downloadable color codes.

 

Cutt.ly

Cutt.ly is a URL shortner that allows you to create branded short links and track everything in an analytics dashboard. It also includes a browser toolbar shortcut for super-fast link shortening.

 

Care Bear Needs Love

Care Bear Needs Love is just a fun little project by Jhey. Click the mouse to start (We won’t spoil the surprise; you should go visit for yourself.)

 

Create Diagonal Layouts

Did you know you can build diagonal layouts with CSS? This tutorial by Nils Binder includes markup and tips to make easy work of something that looks cool and complicated.

 

Stacking Cards Effect

This tutorial takes your through creating a trendy stacking cards effect using the CSS sticky position and the Intersection Observer API. It includes a demo and downloads to make the most of this simple lesson.

 

Signup Form Generator

Use visual tools to create a sign-up form in three steps and for free. Choose the template you like, fill in the fields, select a color. Download the form and its Angular code, or customize it in UI Bakery.

 

MarkUp

MarkUp lets your turn your website (or concept design) into a canvas for feedback and collaboration. Real-time commenting can help you get projects done faster and know exactly what pain points there might be with the design. You can have an unlimited number of projects, collaborators, and comments for free.

 

Airtable Scripting Block

Airable users will appreciate this — a new scripting block that allows you to write, edit, and run short scripts right inside the tool. Plus, it’s all hosted within Airtable.

 

Boring Sans B

Boring Sans B (there’s also an A) is a typeface family designed along two variable axes, weight and weirdness. These parameters allow designers to explore a full range of variations on sans serif design, starting from a neutral set of proportions and evolving to a strongly contrasted and dynamic treatment.

 

Deep Shadow

Deep Shadow is a slab typeface that creates the expected effect from its name. It uses layering to create the effect and does have some instructions for use.

 

Holla Hearth

Holla Hearth is an elegant brush script that makes a beautiful display typeface. The demo is somewhat limited, but a full version of the typeface is available.

 

Manti Slab

Manti Slab is a good choice if you want to make a statement with typography. Regular, Light, and Black weights are highly readable. The demo includes a limited character set and there is a full version available.

 

Stanley

Stanley combines unexpected things: Ligatures and a stencil style. The characters are interesting and have a lot of character.

stanley

 

Street Photography

Street Photography is a typeface with a handwriting style that is easy to use. It includes upper and lowercase characters but is otherwise limited.

street



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5 Essential Social Media Tools to Boost Your Profile

Expelliarmus! shouts Harry Potter and the dark wizard loses his wand. Heroes of the fantasy world are incomplete without their tools: Thor’s Hammer, Captain America’s Shield, Iron Man’s suit, and let’s not forget the most tool dependent superhero of them all, Batman.

You don’t need to save the world from the apocalyptic intentions of villains, but you do need tools to save yourself — from the avalanche of strict deadlines, and monotonous tasks. We aren’t talking about hammers, axes, or shovels, we’re talking about the modern war for attention that takes place on social media.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of social media tools that will help you survive. The criteria for the list? The tool has to be versatile enough to be used by both a freelancer just starting out in social, and also by an experienced digital media agency team. It also needs to be simple enough to use for a non-technical person. Finally there are brownie points for being fully functional on a smartphone.

 

1. Buffer Publish

TLDR: A social media publishing application with enough power to suit almost everyone’e needs. Comes with a free plan.

The Achilles heel for modern social media platforms remains their media guidelines. Instagram leans towards square dimensions for photos, while Facebook uses the cover layout for photos, and Twitter…well, that’s another story.

The predicament continues with posting times. While you may want your post to stay relevant throughout the day, in reality, it will be lost in the sea of opinions in just a few moments. Your Instagram posts may stay pertinent for longer, but you won’t be able to hang on to that for long either. How does one battle through these intricacies and still come up on top? You add a social media management application to your arsenal.

The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome

We’ve tested several social media publishing apps, and while many have introduced some radical features, the nod still goes to a veteran application: Buffer Publish.

Buffer allows you to simultaneously post on up to five social media platforms, while also allowing you to schedule posts using a queue. The Unsplash tab on the media hub offers a plethora of royalty free images with just a few clicks. The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome. In addition to previewing your posts, it even warns you of the platform limitations, if you were about to cross any.

Perhaps the most important feature of Buffer isn’t often highlighted: it doesn’t make you use the web version, almost everything you need is right there on the mobile app (iOS and Android).

The free plan, which allows for one user to manage three social media accounts with up to ten scheduled posts is good enough to get started; however, for higher brand ambitions and integrity, you must go pro! Paid plans start as low as $12/month for individuals and $99/month for businesses. All paid plans come with trial periods.

Buffer does have its setbacks, if you are a small digital marketing team that heavily relies on team communication then paying a hefty sum of $99/month isn’t ideal, in that case, you might try SproutSocial or Hootsuite, which are built for teams by default.

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2. Animoto

TLDR: A web video creation/editing application that won’t replace a serious video editor such as Premiere Pro, but will do enough that you question whether you need a serious tool in the first place.

Would you rather watch a video of Lebron James slam-dunking a basket or scroll through ten images of him in the process? Unless he’s the reason your team keeps losing — in which case you won’t watch anything at all — you would choose the former. That’s the thing about video, it’s just more engaging than other media.

So, if video is the undisputed king of all media types, why don’t we often see it posted on social media? Well, videos take a lot of work to create, edit, and publish; not to mention the tedious learning curve of video editing software.

Hold your horses though, Animoto is trying to lessen the blow here, by simplifying video creation, one tedious task at a time. It all starts with templates, choose a template that matches your requirements and you’ve already set the foundation for your video. All that then remains, are personalizations, you can customize text, color, border, shadows, animations, transitions and much more, there is hardly an attribute that you can’t change.

Need more flavor? Choose from a myriad of royalty free music tracks tailored for tutorials, demos, slideshows, teasers and everything else you might need.

While pitch perfect video creation, or editing on a smartphone app is miles away from ideal, the Animoto app, available on Android and iOS tries its best, so much so, that you rarely feel the need to use the web version.

Having said all of this, comparing the precision on Animoto to an application such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is like comparing apples with oranges.

Animoto doesn’t offer any free plans, you will have to shell out at least $9/month for the basic plan, which includes everything that an individual may need. If you need more, you can go for the professional plan which will set you back by $64/month and they’ve also provided a business plan, which will cost you $94/month. If you don’t want to spend much but still want something more premium (and if you don’t mind a learning curve) Adobe offers the Premiere Pro for $33.99/month.

Animoto is a tool for everyone looking to bypass video editing software, with enough ability to yield good quality videos that’ll make you stand out from the crowd.

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3. Canva

TLDR: An ‘all-in-one’ photo creation/editing application that will have an impact on your current social media reception.

If video is the undisputed king of media types, then image is the crown prince!

However, the prince of media types suffers the same fate as the king, images are harder to create than text and the editing part is better left of to a professional, not to mention the cost of expensive photo editing software.

Canva is trying to provide high-quality customized images to people who would prefer to avoid the learning curve and hefty license fees. Canva offers you templates that cater to Display pictures, cover photos, brochures and even book covers.

We are talking social media here, so lets stick to it, whether it be designing a cover photo for your Facebook/Twitter page or be it a fancy Instagram post, you can do it all with Canva. Selecting a template sets the foundation for the image, then you can design however you wish and your designs will come out very professional.

I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all

Even when I do know how to work my way around a photo editing app, sometimes using an app like Canva is just easier, when I am not worried about contrast, photo filters, and all that jazz, it’s just much quicker to use a template from Canva.

Canva does offer a basic free plan, which is good enough for a newbie but if you want to unlock the real potential of this app, then you must go pro. The paid plans offer better typefaces, stock images, larger cloud storage and much more. The paid plans start from $12.95/month, which you can try for free on a 30-day basis.

While Canva is great most of the time, it is an online app. I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all, literally! The application tells you to come back later, which can be frustrating when you want things done quickly.

Canva is a blessing of an application for all sorts of people who don’t want mega accuracy with their edits and who don’t want to bother themselves with overlay definitions and Photoshop’s learning curve. If you can live with the glitches of a web application, then for sure, you must try out Canva.

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4. BuzzSumo

TLDR: A tool that unfolds enough clues to solve the content puzzle without ruining it for all creative purposes.

It doesn’t matter if you have a social media manager app like Buffer publish, custom art from Canva, the most eye-catching videos made with Animoto, in the end knowing the content that interests your audience is the key differentiator for your social media success. It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes.

It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes

BuzzSumo is one such app which lets you know exactly what kind of content is trending around the world. While we do have free apps such as Google Trends, BuzzSumo takes it to another level. While many of us make the same mistake of labelling apps such as BuzzSumo as a mere ‘Keyword Search’ tool, there’s so much more to it than we may think.

You can filter trending topics based on date, location, trends, effectiveness and much more. Having problems coming up with topics? BuzzSumo suggests/recommends content topics for you, all done with a sophisticated tab. BuzzSumo even lets you keep a tab on content posted on pre-defined tags/topics, so you always know what your competition is up to.

BuzzSumo isn’t cheap though, plans start at $99/month and can go up to $499/month. A newbie social media content creator can benefit from knowing what is trending, however, paying $99/month is a bit too steep, especially when you have a free tool such as Google Trends available. BuzzSumo is for the level two tier for content creators who want that edge over their competition, and if you fall in this category, it is well worth the price tag.

buzzsumo

 

5. Buffer Reply

TLDR: A tool that will streamline all your audience has to say, so that you can connect more with less.

While your content quality may invite audiences, there are other factors that keep them there. One of them is how your audience connects with you, and this connection is what builds a loyal fan base. While you may automate analytics and uploads, the communication part is done by hand and that is where the problem lies.

From the team that brought us Buffer Publish comes Buffer Reply, the younger sibling that does enough to make a name for itself.

Buffer Reply collects the comments/replies/mentions on all of your social media accounts and presents them in an ‘all in one’ inbox. It also features an auto responder which can add a professional touch to a business account/profile.

All this comes at a price though — there are no free plans — the paid plans start at $50/month. The subscription fees are worthwhile for those who have a considerable following on most of the social media platforms, for individuals who are just started, it may not be worth investing that much money.

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Featured image via Unsplash.



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