10 key web design trends

From HD design to Flat 2.0, this free book explains 10 modern web design trends and how to make the most out of them.

Web Design Book of Trends is the newest addition to the design library of the wireframing/prototyping app UXPin. This ‘web design almanac’ takes an in-depth look at today’s hottest design trends and their best practices.

With new technology and new tastes, users will expect new web design techniques. Minimalist layouts, long-scrolling navigation, looping HD video backgrounds – these are just a few of the latest trends modern users want to see more of. Equal parts lookbook and ‘how-to’ manual, this ebook compiles everything into one handy volume.

This 185-page guide spans 10 chapters, each dedicated to a single trend. It’s thorough, yet practical and quick-reading. All the points are illustrated in 166 examples from companies including Squarespace, Google, AirBnB, Dropbox, Bauer, and Dribbble.

Topics in the e-book include:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of each trend
  • How minimalism improves responsive design
  • Evolution of flat design into ‘flat 2.0’
  • How to adapt to HD design techniques
  • The dangers of the ‘above the fold’ myth
  • When to use custom or stock photography
  • The most interesting typography techniques
  • How to use card patterns based on top companies
  • How to add delight with interactions and animations

Take a look, and feel free to share if you find it helpful. Download this free ebook here.

Top Enterprise Platform Trends to Keep Your Eyes On

With a variety of different cloud-based applications making their mark in the enterprise software market, it looks like this industry is in for some accelerated growth. Efficiency improvements from enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) deployments have prompted roughly 70 percent of businesses to prepare heavy investments in cloud-based enterprise platforms over the next three years.

Because of increasing affordability, scalability, and return on investment (ROI), smaller businesses are starting to adopt enterprise platforms, pushing the growth of apps like ERP and CRM platforms to a level it has never reached before. It is expected that 78 percent of small businesses will fully adopt cloud-based enterprise apps by 2020 compared to today’s paltry 37 percent.

The steady uptake of business apps is beginning to create exciting new trends. Let’s look at a few of them.

Increased Automation

Cloud-based enterprise application services like Panaya are taking off amid the keen interest in automating business processes with big data inputs. For enterprises, it will no longer be viable to go through the trouble of manually implementing enterprise updates and upgrades each time a new enhancement package is available.

Automation impacts productivity by streamlining processes. This makes tasks and projects easier to manage and, as a result, less costly. With scale, automation has an even bigger impact, especially when it comes to big enterprises that have complex data and process structures. The efficiency and productivity returns from automating business processes are a particularly strong incentive for adoption.

Cloud Platforms Are a Clear Winner

As the cloud refocuses resources from costly infrastructure investments onto operational expenditure, businesses are becoming keen on gaining the cost advantages. Much of this investment is going to be in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementations, which are seeing an increase in overall total cloud workload, up from 41% projected to 59% in 2018. From $13.5 billion back in 2011, the SaaS market is expected to grow by 243 percent to $32.8 billion by that time.

The increase in demand for SaaS solutions has also spurred a large revenue stream for many startup companies. Today, developers reach the $50 million milestone much earlier  than in 1998, according to Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint who has compiled various analyses of the market’s evolution over time.

IoT Makes Its Way Forward, Dragging Wearables Along

Given the distributed nature of cloud computing, applications are beginning to fit into smaller spaces. The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon has received a significant amount of attention for the useful applications in various industries around the world. The market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.72 percent by 2019. The relevance of IoT in freight tracking and any other business application that requires sensors has created the conditions for new business models to flourish, giving rise to creative means of acquiring, processing and analyzing data.

Wearables are also catching up, albeit more modestly. In this year, only one percent of all wearables shipped were destined for workplaces. By 2020, this number is expected to increase to 17 percent. The effects of this phenomenon are numerous, from enhanced workplace monitoring to higher productivity, as a result of the convenience offered by these devices on their own.

Cloud Applications are Complicating IT Security

While the cloud makes connectivity more convenient, it also comes with privacy and security risks. Because users – and even businesses –are surrendering privacy to third parties, there is a concern among business owners and IT professionals that employees may be inappropriately using data or resources.

Half of all organizations in the last 12 months have had at least one security incident, a trend expected to continue unless businesses start taking an improved approach to data security. Costs are beginning to reach astronomical levels, with the cost of data breaches reaching an average of $3.8 million per incident, up from $3.5 million one year ago.

The worrying increase in both the frequency and cost of data breaches has to do with the poor access control and data protection found in “vanilla” cloud applications adopted by a majority of businesses, especially startups, “solopreneurships” and small businesses. As a response, using solutions like Skyfence.com coupled with very prudent data access policies and procedures could help reduce this trend considerably. This particular platform provides IT departments the added control to ensure sensitive data is not intentionally or inadvertently leaked on public cloud.

Conclusion

The enterprise application market is on a path to fast and sustainable growth. Businesses can leverage these platforms in optimizing their operations for improved efficiency and productivity. Automation, enhanced security, and a move to cloud-based solutions will help improve agility, thus enabling companies to likewise focus on attaining their business goals.

Five Apps You Don’t Want to Miss: Auctioneer, Mapkin, Leo Privacy Guard, and More

What to do this weekend is already settled, so all you need is some companion apps that will help you have fun. Here are apps for this weekend to give you spoken directions, preserve the privacy of your photos, learn some guitar lessons, or more.

Mapkin

Which mapping app do you launch when, let’s say, you’re heading off to a party? With Google Street view you can check what the place looks like, and Maps will help you get there. That’s fine, but a recently released app, Mapkin, is worth your attention: It is the first GPS with crowdsourced voice guidance, which gets you smarter directions. Oh, and if you join, you can help others by sharing tips about landmarks, tricky turns, and more… Mapkin is available for free on the App Store.

Leo Privacy Guard

Okay, so you arrive at the party and you start taking pictures. With Leo Privacy Guard, you can take snapshots and save them in your private album. The Guard widget will help you quick-launch the private camera feature with a single tap. But the app does so much more: It monitors the device, understands your privacy level, and provides a safe box where you can store your personal info. Check out Leo Privacy Guard (free) on the App Store / Google Play.

Fact Mountain: US Presidents

Imagine that you are in a discussion about US presidents and missing some info. No problem, you can always look it up on the Web, but you know “there is an app for that”, and it’s called Fact Mountain: US Presidents. The good thing about this is that it makes studying fun. The app costs $3.99, and you can download it from the App Store.

Rock Like the Pros

Sticking with the educational theme, here’s another app you may want to check out: Rock Like the Pros – Music Guitar Lessons. You can improve your guitar skills with this simple app. It’s free, and if you don’t want to spend money, just follow the “free lessons” tab. It’s limited but may be enough for you. Otherwise, it will ask you to subscribe, and that costs $4.99/month, but you can cancel anytime. Download Rock Like the Pros – Music Guitar Lessons from the App Store / Google Play.

Auctioneer

Form the makers of Kosmo, Touchdown Here, and Must Deliver, Cherrypick Games, here is a recently launched game you’ll love to play: Auctioneer. As you may already have guessed, the game was developed using the company’s signature pixel art design and takes you to an auction. The catch is the game gives you only seconds to find the highest bid. Download Auctioneer (free) from the App Store.

Tuneteams: The Global Music Licensing Marketplace

Do you ever wonder why big music companies have a marketing advantage when it comes to breaking artists, globally? According to industry insiders, it’s because of their networks of local companies, or wholly-owned subsidiaries, in different countries around the world.

It stands in stark contrast to smaller record labels and publishers, who typically operate in only one country. In an effort to build an international business, small music companies must license their music to their peers in other countries. The problem with this is that small labels have only been able to afford to close international licensing deals annually at conferences like Midem. It’s actually what prompted Ian Henderson to take a long, hard look at this issue and recognize that global music sales have declined from $26.6 billion in 1999 to $15 billion this year.

Henderson also recognized that many artists have raised serious concerns with pay-per-play revenue generated from streaming services like Spotify. So, in 2013, he took his 15 years of music industry experience and set out to provide artists and music companies with new markets and new sources of revenue.

To that end, he built tuneteams, a music licensing marketplace which essentially democratizes international music licensing. Via tuneteams, each and every label, company, or publisher can negotiate deals any time, any day, and across the entire globe.

“Just as distributing CDs evolved into digital distribution, tuneteams’ licensing marketplace will evolve existing music industry licensing practices,” says Henderson, CEO and founder. “As we build awareness and content available for license on our platform, we believe tuneteams will usher in a new era of mutually beneficial licensing deals between international music companies.”

 

Tuneteams was built as a B2B marketplace where brands, record labels, songwriters, and music publishers can auction recording licenses while at the same time publishing and sub-publishing agreements on their own terms. Auction owners set a minimum bid, enter parameters like proposed license terms and territory, and then determine whether bidders compete to offer the highest advance or the highest royalty rate.

Bidders can also review contracts and listen to songs before bidding. After closing, the winner and auction owner then sign one of tuneteams’ template contracts electronically: the platform provides e-signature, escrow, and money transfer technologies from industry leaders in order to make the deal fast and safe.

While the platform has only been around since August 1, there’s already content available to license from popular artists and recording labels. Obviously they’ll be looking to beef that up as they keep growing and moving forward. For now, though, it’s pretty safe to say that these smaller labels are thrilled to finally have an outlet to easily license their music.

Trello Marks 10 Millionth User, Launches Business Class

Project management platform Trello hit a huge milestone recently when it logged its 10 millionth user. This milestone came at the same time as the launch of their Business Class, a new tool for teams.

Business Class offers all new product and backend features, including tools to surface activity and important info, key integrations with services including Salesforce, Github, Google Drive, and Slack. These features should make it easier for teams to use Trello to collaborate and more effectively manage projects and priorities.

Trello was founded in 2011 by Michael Pryor (no relation…that I’m aware) and Joel Spolsky.  It offers a visual, flexible, and collaborative way to manage projects and stay organized. They currently count teams from Conde Nast, Lonely Planet, Instacart, and Expedia among their clients.

“Instacart has a lot of moving parts, and the entire company relies heavily on Trello to share ideas, track issues in product, and collaborate across teams,” said Max Mullen, co-founder of Instacart, in a statement.  “We’ve used Trello since founding the company, and our use of the product has evolved as the company has grown, which is one of the main reasons we’re such big fans.”

Business Class maximizes the benefits for teams with enhanced control, and insight into team activity across all boards. New features include:

  • Board collections: All new user interface for Business Class aggregates and highlights boards, allowing users to filter based on number of members, categories, and most starred.
  • Integrations (Power-Ups): Trello now plugs into the broader enterprise ecosystem with a platform that streamlines the workflow between essential services including Slack, Box, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Salesforce, Github, Mailchimp, Help Scout, and appear.in.
  • Priority support: Priority response times from Trello’s support team.

“There’s no substitute for the sense of clarity and control you get when you see a big, intimidating project broken down into individual, achievable goals,” said Michael Pryor, CEO of Trello in a statement.  “We’ve built the new Business Class based on the specific needs of teams who are rapidly adopting Trello as a central tool for their daily workflows.”

A video highlighting the new Business Class features can be found here.

Stage 32: An Education Hub For Entertainment Industry Creatives

LinkedIn is by far the world’s largest professional network with more than 380 million members in over 200 countries and territories. But it isn’t meeting the needs of everyone, leading to the creation of several sites positioning themselves as the go-to professional network for niche industries. If you work in hospitality, you’ve got Industry. If you’re a doctor, head over to Doximity. If you’re an IT professional, join SpiceWorks. And if you work in the entertainment industry, you have Stage 32.

Stage 32 goes beyond the traditional benefits offered by professional networks (e.g., making connections, looking for jobs, staying up on news, etc.) by providing cutting-edge online education to a global population of people looking to make it in the ever-evolving entertainment industry. The integration of massively open online courses (MOOCs) makes strategic sense, which is likely why LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5 billion. It also allows Stage 32 to keep membership free while generating revenue through its pay-to-play business model.

Indeed, whether you’re a producer, screenwriter, director, actor, cinematographer, editor, art director or composer (or some combination of these) Stage 32 offers classes to meet your specific needs. Some of their most popular ones of late include “The 5 Secrets to Financing Your Next Indie Film” and “The Art of Indie Producing.” The average cost per webinar ranges from $39-59 with longer online courses (2-8 weeks) landing somewhere between $99-799.

All of the teachers are industry executives that have excelled in their chosen field. When asked what their motivation is, Stage 32’s Managing Director Amanda Toney says, “They do receive a percentage of the revenue generated, and some of them teach for exposure. But most do it because they want to give back. There’s a community feel even to our education. Many have gone so far as to donate their payment to an arts charity.” Jon Sperry – a highly respected dialect coach who has worked with Harvey Keitel, Sofia Vergara, and Russell Crowe – taught a Stage 32 class that was attended by members from over 40 different countries.

Classes with a wide geographic appeal

The broad geographic appeal is a huge part of the company’s success. The fact that all classes are streamed, recorded and available for viewing later means it works for busy people living in any time zone. Richard Botto, Stage 32’s founder and CEO, says, “It’s certainly no longer a fact that filmmaking and television production only happens in LA and NY. The stage is now global. And the ability to bring education to the world has been our intention from day one.”

Since launching 2011 global membership has grown to be over 500k people actively collaborating and supporting each other to move film and television projects forward. In the past year alone the company has amassed over 1k hours of educational content and generated over $1 million. Among those that have paid for a Stage 32 class, 91% say they’ll do it again in the future.

The idea for Stage 32 came when Botto was attending yearly film festivals like the American Film Market (AFM) and observed a palpable frustration among many attendees that their opportunities for connection, collaboration and breakout success were so disjointed and infrequent. He strongly believed that there needed to be an online destination serving the specific needs of these individuals, and knew he had the experience to bring it to life.

Botto had already experienced some entrepreneurial success. Throughout the 90s he ran a consulting business with his brother that helped traditional companies establish an online presence. In 2000 he launched a men’s lifestyle magazine called RAZOR and served as the publication’s Editor in Chief and CEO for the next six years, pursuing acting and writing projects on the side. After leaving RAZOR he began gaining serious traction as a screenwriter and producer. This is what landed him in the film festival circuit, and gave him the industry expertise and professional network needed to launch Stage 32. When the beta was ready in 2011 Botto emailed a link to 100 of his industry contacts, asking them to send it along to five more people if they enjoyed the experience. Membership took off.

Educating the next generation of media talent

Some of Stage 32’s growth has to do with marketplace dynamics. The continued proliferation of media network and online distribution channels has increased demand for quality content. Large studios are traditional TV networks are snapping up online content providers (e.g., Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Awesomeness TV, etc.) to ensure they don’t get left behind, and agents and managers are hungry for talented new writers that are able to authentically connect with niche audiences of viewers. A huge number of successful shows and movies are being made outside of the traditional studio system, and the DIY culture in Hollywood has become more and more mainstream. Stage 32 is teaching the evolution of the entertainment industry as it’s happening, and more people than ever are throwing their hat in the ring.

To be sure, there are other places to go for education if you’re seeking success in the entertainment industry. Well-respected academic institutions, such as USC’s Film School, and still arguably the best places to hone your chops and network – not to mention receive a highly credible degree. But those institutions are only available to select few due to both admittance and cost. There are solid continued education offerings like UCLA Extension, which has 17 categories within the entertainment and music industry where online classes are currently being offered. Each class offers credits towards a degree, but the average cost is more than $500/class. Again, access is limited.

Headquartered in the Manhattan Beach area of Los Angeles, Stage 32’s team has grown to 10 and the company is projecting 50-75% YoY revenue growth. Up to this point the company has been completely bootstrapped and has not raised an official round, but Botto says he has been approached and has begun exploring financing possibilities to fast track growth.

The Hardest Lesson B2B Software Product Managers Learn

As a B2B software product manager, you spend your day responding to internal and external requests for help. In between these requests you find time to manage requirements, roadmaps, and customer intelligence all before you invest the necessary time politicking for your team.

Since we all know success rests heavily on learning new things, innovating new ideas, and competing better to achieve more with the same resources, this scenario is a dangerous one because in all this flurry of activity, there’s simply no opportunity to learn.

When I ask product managers what they’re learning, I often get one of two responses: a dry-winded summary of a book they read a few months ago or verbal diarrhea of the 99 things they learned since lunch.

Here’s the truth: in an average day, you’re learning a lot about making today’s business more efficient. But when I ask these B2B managers to think about what they are learning that challenges their assumptions about the company and its opportunities, the response is almost always awkward silence.

Looking for Disruptive Opportunities in the Fringe

Learning how to achieve goals slightly more efficiently every year is an important priority for many companies, and companies that evaluate internal processes may discover small ways to improve the existing business or make slightly more money. However, far bigger wins can come from shifting your thinking from incremental growth to big-picture innovation.

These fringe ideas and customers usually sit on the edge of your typical thought processes and therefore go unnoticed until it’s too late. And when you combine this efficiency-focused attitude with the fact that companies seldom learn new, earth-shattering ideas from their current market, it becomes clear that most companies have built up a wall of incremental progress that lets no innovative idea survive.

When senior leaders over-invest in building efficiency because over time, it narrows a company’s field of vision. This makes you fragile because your systems, processes, and culture outweigh the importance of efficiency, resulting in difficulty to implement change (such as when IBM, SAP, and Oracle moved into the cloud). This also makes you slow to respond because you’re often playing catch up with companies that embraced the fringe much sooner (such as Nokia’s response to smart phones and Microsoft’s response to search engines).

It’s this dangerous company culture that threatens the future of your company’s ability to compete, and it’s the opposite strategy — similar to BCG’s tagline, “Strategy happens at the fringe” — that will free your business up for unlimited opportunity.

Finding Your Company’s Fringe Market

Every company has at least two fringe markets that they can tap into to unveil innovative ideas and white space opportunities. Simply identify your primary market and look a step below it to see what tangential audience is not being served by the processes and ideas you already have in place.

For example, almost 100 million customers shop at WalMart at a monthly frequency. Its fringe market, then, are the 100 million occasional shoppers who shop at a yearly frequency. Another example is Workday. It’s strong in healthcare, but it stands on the edge of a huge fringe opportunity in hospital functions such as asset management that it doesn’t currently offer. It could also grow from near verticals such as long-term facilities.

Creating a Fringe Strategy

Should you redirect your entire service from the served market to the fringe market? Definitely not. It’s all about balancing today’s risk while lining up new opportunities for the future. The most strategic, forward looking product VPs I know spend about 80 percent of their time focused on today’s customers and 20 percent of their time focused on the fringe. Junior product managers should spend 95 percent of their time on today’s business, leaving about 5 percent of their time to explore the fringe.

The tyranny of the served market and the opportunity of the fringe are at odds with each other. Focus too much time on increasing efficiency in today’s processes, the future will pass you by. However, too much learning from the fringe and you won’t have the profits (or customers) to propel you to the future. As a senior B2B leader, you are obligated to balance what you learn between what serves your customers now and what will serve them in the future to best organize your time today.

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