Adding support for Dark Mode to web applications

MacOS Mojave, Apple's newest operating system, now features a Dark Mode interface. In Dark Mode, the entire system adopts a darker color palette. Many third-party desktop applications have already been updated to support Dark Mode.

Today, more and more organizations rely on cloud-based web applications to support their workforce; from Gmail to Google Docs, SalesForce, Drupal, WordPress, GitHub, Trello and Jira. Unlike native desktop applications, web applications aren't able to adopt the Dark Mode interface. I personally spend more time using web applications than desktop applications, so not having web applications support Dark Mode defeats its purpose.

This could change as the next version of Safari adds a new CSS media query called prefers-color-scheme. Websites can use it to detect if Dark Mode is enabled.

I learned about the prefers-color-scheme media query on Jeff Geerling's blog, so I decided to give it a try on my own website. Because I use CSS variables to set the colors of my site, it took less than 30 minutes to add Dark Mode support on Here is all the code it took:

@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) {
:root {
--primary-font-color: #aaa;
--secondary-font-color: #777;
--background-color: #222;
--table-zebra-color: #333;
--table-hover-color: #444;
--hover-color: #333;

If you use MacOS Mojave, Safari 12.1 or later, and have Dark Mode enabled, my site will be shown in black:

It will be interesting to see if any of the large web applications, like Gmail or Google Docs will adopt Dark Mode. I bet they will, because it adds a level of polish that will be expected in the future.
Source: Dries Buytaert

Web Design Advice

I have a segment on my YouTube channel, where people send me the things they’re working on and I give them random advice. :) If you want your work featured on my YouTube channel and elsewhere please send your ideas along ( And I’ll give constructive, fair advice that I hope won’t leave you sorry you asked.Brandon Wu sent me this awesome site called Markd. He’s received nice organic traction with it so far because it ranked well on Product Hunt.Brandon, you’ve gotten a ton further than a lot of people do by getting an idea out there into the world. Clearly people are using it and it fits a need people have. So a huge congratulations!These are just some things that I’d experiment with if it were my project.Social ProofOne of the first things that stands out to me about the site is “Where are the Testimonials!?” There are a bunch of people saying nice things about this tool already on places like Product Hunt:This is something I see over and over again. On product sites or portfolios sites, even resumes. There’s no social proof. And it’s so easy to fix.There’s people saying nice things about you somewhere. Even if it’s your friends and colleagues at first. Once people see others giving you attention, the odds go way up they’ll give you some too.Don’t Repeat YourselfI’d get rid of the second textual mention of “Markd, It’s all about the people.” You only have so much time to make an impression on people. Be careful not to repeat yourself.Sure your website is likely to restate a benefit multiple times or share how much people love it. But don’t say the exact same thing multiple times. Use the space for something much more poignant.Lead with a BenefitMarkd is the quickest way to remember and organise people you find online.That’s what your left with as a top headline when you remove the duplicate text.I like it. I’d really play that up then as a headline. Big. Bold.It does stand out to me though to be a little “featurey” in language.I’d try to see if using a benefit as the top most thing you communicate would serve you better. For example Draft, the writing software I make:My product name comes last in the initial headline. A benefit, Write Better, is the first thing I wanted people to understand Draft would help them with.SEOSEO for so many people is some dark art that you just assume a lot of shady marketers spend most of their time on or you can’t compete with.Well, you might not be able to compete on SEO.But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the knowledge of what people are actually searching for when you plan out your site.When I was running Inkling our prediction market software, the space was crowded with competitors. I didn’t know what our chances were of ranking for “prediction markets”. Probably low. But I did know that’s what people thought of us as.To try and stand out, a competitor dropped the “prediction markets” language and used something like “social crowd forecasting 2.0”. But people weren’t searching for that. No one understood what that was. They went out of business.Props to them for doing something unique for sure. But it still needs to be something that fits naturally into what people have in their head. A problem they’re searching for. Something they’re trying to get better at. What they already think it’s called.In your case I don’t know what that is. But it might be worth some time fooling with Adwords Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, or something like Market Samurai. Even fooling with Google Search autocomplete led me to things like “profile bookmarking”Which might be a start to some great headlines to begin the experience.Long Lines of TextLong lines are hard to read and scan. And they can look wonky when centered and words start to break to other lines.A fantastic article on typography is from THE 100% EASY-2-READ STANDARD . There’s some great advice in there like: “As a rule of thumb, fit about 10–20 words per line.”More BenefitsThere’s a lot of focus on features on the site. Even this headline for example.I’d try more headlines with benefits. Lots of big, easy to read, concise statements of benefits.Examples at Highrise:“Never let a lead fall through the cracks again. Get your team back to selling.”“Life’s too short”These were headlines at Highrise that came from hearing our customers talk about, not features, but what benefits they were trying to achieve.If you need some help with doing those types of interviews with customers, you might enjoy these videos I did of our Jobs To Be Done interviews.Keep it SiloedI clicked on the about page and it took me to’m sure people would ask, “What’s pepwuper?” A consulting/business site? I’d avoid encouraging people to have to learn another “entity” here.Get that page on the site.Share the Origin StoryI also noticed the About page repeats much of the homepage. I’d use that space for something unique.You probably have an interesting story around why you bothered to create the tool in the first place. Share that! Over and over I’m asked for the stories behind why I created Draft or what made David and Jason create Highrise to begin with. People love origin stories.Has it Been Neglected?I’m not a lawyer, but I’d look into whether you really need or want a copyright notice in your footer like everyone else does. It’s a bit cargo culted. It’s also one of those things that are easy to forget to update with the current year. When people see that they often think the site or product is dead. If you leave it, you might want to just make it dynamic with some code so you never forget to update it again.There you go. Some random thoughts and possibilities for experimentation.Folks, check out Markd. Brandon, I love the idea and the hustle. Keep at it!And if I can be more help, to you, and this goes for everyone reading this, please just ask: Send me sites. Half baked ideas. Full baked ideas. Problems. Whatever. I’d love to help. (If you don’t want my thoughts of your work shared publicly on places like YouTube or Medium, please make sure to mention that.)P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups, try Highrise.Web Design Advice was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

mailto: for Google Apps (Not Gmail) in Chrome

You can change the default mail client to use gmail via your browser pretty easily and you can follow these instructions to get it started.
But, since I’ve moved from the free Gmail to a new email address, this function no longer works and it’s been really frustrating.

Oh yah.
Thankfully, I found a simple Chrome Extension which allows me to use a Google Apps domain like and I get the same behavior!
You can install it here… and I’m a much happier email user now.
The post mailto: for Google Apps (Not Gmail) in Chrome appeared first on John Saddington.

So you need to parse an email?

Say you have a website with users who have accounts. Those users email you sometimes. What if you could parse that email for more context about that user, their account, and what they might want?

There are email parsing services out there. For example, Zapier offers Parser, which is free, with the idea being that you use Zapier itself to interconnect that data with other apps.
You teach it about your emails and then get programatic access to those data bits. is another service just for this.

Same deal, you send the emails to them, and from within that app you set up parsers and do all the processing you need to do.
That might not be exactly what you need.
Perhaps your goal in parsing an email is to extend the data available to you right in your email client.
Gmail is a pretty huge email client. I just noticed that they have released and official way to make "Gmail Add-ons":
Gmail add-ons are developed using Apps Script, a scripting language based on JavaScript that serves as a connective platform between Google products like Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Gmail. Every Gmail add-on has a corresponding Apps Script project where you define your add-on's appearance and behavior.
That might be just the ticket for those of you looking to get your hands on email data, do stuff with it, and have a UI for doing stuff right within Gmail. There is a marketplace to check out with existing apps. The Trello one seemed pretty compelling to me.

The contextual cards you create for your add-ons work for both web and mobile versions of Gmail. This means that you don't need to create separate web and mobile versions of the add-on—the same code works everywhere!
Personally, I make pretty heavy use of Front, which is like a shared team inbox superapp.
Front offers a plugin system as well, which adds your own custom panel right into the app itself and gives you all that programatic parsing stuff you need to get into emails (or tweets or whatnot).

We use it at CodePen to figure out who's emailing us (from the perspective of our own app) and show some contextual information about them, as well as provide some quick common actions that we might need.

Another thing to consider is how the emails are being generated at all. For example, do you offer customer support by just saying "email us at", or do you have them fill out a form which generates an email? If it's a form, that's, in a sense, parsing an email before it's even sent, meaning it has structure and potentially programattic access to individual fields.
An example of that might be using a Wufoo form for your support and then using the API to access the data as needed. Maybe you can skip email parsing entirely.

So you need to parse an email? is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

New in Highrise — our Small Business CRM

Mobile 3.1, better mobile emails, and moreIt’s officially Fall here at Highrise HQ in Chicago, but it sure didn’t feel like Fall for our wonderful company meetup here a few weeks ago:If you want to get to know the team some more, and hear our thoughts on business you should check out a couple videos we made with some great advice around staying motivated and getting started with programming.For more videos like these, subscribe to the channel.We’ve also been busy getting the word out about our simple CRM and have had some fortunate results with Highrise recently being named as a top 20 category leader for CRM solutions by and 6th for best CRM software by Crozdesk.But we could still use a lot more help spreading the word. If you have a few minutes, we could use some reviews on Capterra (or any other review site you frequent).As always if you need anything, whether Highrise or otherwise, please shout. We’d love to help.Nathan Kontny CEO, Highrise YouTube / Twitter / Facebook / InstagramMobile 3.1Just a couple months ago, we announced iOS 3.0 and today we’re thrilled to announce BOTH iOS and Android 3.1.For iOS users, since we recently released 3.0, these updates are general bug fixes and performance improvements.For our Android users, you’ll get all of the iOS 3.0 updates like tags!:Read about more Highrise Mobile 3.1 features here.If you like the recent updates we’d love a review in the app stores or if there’s something causing you trouble send us a note: Mobile EmailsWe’ve been making a big push to improve the Highrise experience on mobile devices. And today’s change continues to move that forward.Read more about better mobile emails here.API Strict Parties UpdateHighrise has many integrations, a few of which we’ve built ourselves and released over the past few years like Gmail and Outlook, and even Slack.And many built by third parties, such as Zapier…For those integrations matching on names across apps or systems, one of the issues both our partners and our customers sometimes ran into was a ‘fuzzy logic’ search on contacts. The ‘Parties’ search for People and Companies was built to account for some flexibility on the way people might enter contacts into various systems — i.e. ‘Sam Jones’ or ‘Samantha Jones’ would return both contacts. But if Sam and Samantha are actually 2 separate people the fuzzy logic also sometimes caused confusion.So we’ve introduced a new parameter with our API that allows the user to turn off the fuzzy logic and only return exact matches.Read more about our API strict party parameter here.Highrise About TownRead more about a few places we’ve been spotted in the wild recently.Highrise Blog and Tips…Every week we publish a new tip such as:Reordering custom fieldsShare notes with mentionsTextExpander + HighriseUsing access logs‘Secret’ contact filtersFinding files fasterFollow us on Medium for more frequent Highrise tips and announcements. Or subscribe on YouTube for daily business insights.New in Highrise — our Small Business CRM was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

DrupalCoin Blockchain Jaipur Meetup

2017-10-07 11:00 Asia/Kolkata





Event type: 

User group meeting BlockchainJaipur/events/243736084/

Its been a while since we have organized any meet in Jaipur. Lets meetup the coming Saturday at Phi Space, Shyam Nagar. This will be a 3-4 hour event with a few sessions and discussions.
Discuss our DrupalCoin Blockchain experiences and share cool stuff.
Plan for a larger meetup/event where we could host around 100+ audience and come up with some useful DrupalCoin Blockchain sessions.
We are looking for speakers who can share their experience. If you are interested, you can either post here or can send email to,,
Phi Space, S- 23,
Krishna Marg, Shyam Nagar, Jaipur
PS: We will need your support and participation to make this event successful.

Announcing Node.js on Acquia Cloud

Today, Acquia announced that it expanded Acquia Cloud to support Node.js, the popular open-source JavaScript runtime. This is a big milestone for Acquia as it is the first time we have extended our cloud beyond DrupalCoin Blockchain. I wanted to take some time to explain the evolution of Acquia's open-source stack and why this shift is important for our customers' success.

From client-side JavaScript to server-side JavaScript

JavaScript was created at Netscape in 1995, when Brendan Eich wrote the first version of JavaScript in just 10 days. It took around 10 years for JavaScript to reach enterprise maturity, however. Adoption accelerated in 2004 when Google used JavaScript to build the first release of Gmail. In comparison to e-mail competitors like Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, Gmail showed what was possible with client-side JavaScript, which enables developers to update pages dynamically and reduces full-page refreshes and round trips to the server. The benefit is an improved user experience that is usually faster, more dynamic in its behavior, and generally more application-like.

In 2009, Google invented the V8 JavaScript engine, which was embedded into its Chrome browser to make both Gmail and Google Maps faster. Ryan Dahl used the V8 run-time as the foundation of Node.js, which enabled server-side JavaScript, breaking the language out of the boundaries of the browser. Node.js is event-driven and provides asynchronous, non-blocking I/O — things that help developers build modern web applications, especially those with real-time capabilities and streamed data. It ushered in the era of isomorphic applications, which means that JavaScript applications can now share code between the client side and server side. The introduction of Node.js has spurred a JavaScript renaissance and contributed to the popularity of JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS, Ember and React.

Acquia's investment in Headless DrupalCoin Blockchain

In the web integrationworld, few trends are spreading more rapidly than decoupled architectures using JavaScript frameworks and headless CMS. Decoupled architectures are gaining prominence because architects are looking to take advantage of other front-end technologies, most commonly JavaScript based front ends, in addition to those native to DrupalCoin Blockchain.

Acquia has been investing in the integrationof headless DrupalCoin Blockchain for nearly five years, when we began contributing to the addition of web service APIs to DrupalCoin Blockchain core. A year ago, we released Waterwheel, an ecosystem of software integrationkits (SDKs) that enables developers to build DrupalCoin Blockchain-backed applications in JavaScript and Swift, without needing extensive DrupalCoin Blockchain expertise. This summer, we released Reservoir, a DrupalCoin Blockchain distribution for decoupled DrupalCoin Blockchain. Over the past year, Acquia has helped to support a variety of headless architectures, with and without Node.js. While not always required, Node.js is often used alongside of a headless DrupalCoin Blockchain application to provide server-side rendering of JavaScript applications or real-time capabilities.

Managed Node.js on Acquia Cloud

Previously, if an organization wanted to build a decoupled architecture with Node.js, it was not able to host the Node.js application on Acquia Cloud. This means that the organization would have to run Node.js with a separate vendor. In many instances, this requires organizations to monitor, troubleshoot and patch the infrastructure supporting the Node.js application of their own accord. Separating the management of the Node.js application and DrupalCoin Blockchain back end not only introduces a variety of complexities, including security risk and governance challenges, but it also creates operational strain. Organizations must rely on two vendors, two support teams, and multiple contacts to build decoupled applications using DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js.

To eliminate this inefficiency, Acquia Cloud can now support both DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js. Our goal is to offer the best platform for developing and running DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js applications. This means that organizations only need to rely on one vendor and one cloud infrastructure when using DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js. Customers can access DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js environments from a single user interface, in addition to tools that enable continuous delivery, continuous integration, monitoring, alerting and support across both DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js.

On Acquia Cloud, customers can access DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js environments from a single user interface.
Delivering on Acquia's mission

When reflecting on Acquia's first decade this past summer, I shared that one of the original corporate values our small team dreamed up was to "empower everyone to rapidly assemble killer websites". After ten years, we've evolved our mission to "build the universal platform for the world's greatest digital experiences". While our focus has expanded as we've grown, Acquia's enduring aim is to provide our customers with the best tools available. Adding Node.js to Acquia Cloud is a natural evolution of our mission.
Source: Dries Buytaert

DrupalCoin Blockchaincamp São Paulo 2017

2017-11-24 08:00 - 2017-11-25 17:00 America/Sao_Paulo





Event type: 

DrupalCoin Blockchaincamp or Regional Summit

Reserve os dias 24 e 25 de Novembro (sexta e sábado) para mais uma DrupalCoin BlockchainCamp São Paulo!
Será no Mackenzie: Campus Higienópolis Rua da Consolação 930 - Consolação / São Paulo - SP
Será a terceira edição do maior evento de DrupalCoin Blockchain do Brasil, onde a principal missão neste evento é promover e difundir o uso da tecnologia no país e estimular a troca de conhecimento e experiência entre os participantes. A comunidade DrupalCoin Blockchain do Brasil é formada por desenvolvedores e empresas que trabalham com a tecnologia e adeptos e simpatizantes do software livre.
Para o evento deste ano, temos uma estimativa de 300 congressistas, cerca de 30 palestras de temas e níveis diversos e mais 2 keynotes com palestrantes.
Inscrições abertas até o dia 23/11. Mas não deixe para a última hora, aproveite o primeiro lote! Inscreva-se agora e garanta a sua vaga!
Seja um palestrante! Estão abertas as submissões de palestras até o dia 30/09! Envie sua palestra!
Quer ir mas não está podendo? Seja um voluntário! [link em breve]
Fique atento para mais informações em breve!


logodcamp2.png221.47 KB


Cloud Storage as a CDN Option

Inspired Magazine
Inspired Magazine - creativity & inspiration daily
If you have a slow site, probably on shared server that receives a lot of traffic, you may be able to speed things up a bit by hosting some of your content on a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Unfortunately traditional CDN is often priced out of reach for a small business website, but the good news is there is a way to set up cloud storage drives to act as your own personal CDN systems. In this article we’ll discover some methods for doing that.
Cloud storage CDN emulation vs pure CDN
The main difference is cost and volume. Pure CDN usually works out cheaper for high traffic volumes and more expensive for low traffic volumes. Because a typical small business isn’t likely to see the kind of traffic that would make pure CDN worth it, emulating CDN functionality with cloud storage is generally a more affordable and simple solution.
Choosing a cloud storage provider
Using cloud storage for CDN requires that you can make individual files available for direct public access, so this rules out zero-knowledge encryption services, because they’re not designed for general public access.
Second, you don’t want a provider that puts limits on resource access, or at least the limits should not be too strict.
Distributing content you want to get paid for
There are then different options depending on what kind of content you’re hosting. If you’re wanting to host specialist content, for example video, music, or other artistic works, checking out DECENT would be a good idea.

DECENT is a highly specialized blockchain based decentralized content delivery network. It allows you to self-publish anything without dependency on a middleman.
Utilizing peer-to-peer connections, DECENT traffic is very difficult to disrupt or block, which also makes it potentially able to circumvent censorship. It is more oriented toward commercial transactions, and blockchain technology makes these transactions easy to secure.
What it’s not very good for is distributing ordinary files like JavaScript, CSS, and XML files. For that, you’ll need a more regular cloud storage provider. The two biggest players in this field are Google and Amazon. Both are giants, but there are considerable differences between them.
A quick comparison: Amazon vs Google
Amazon comes in two flavors: Amazon S3 and Amazon Drive. The Amazon S3 system is an enterprise level system with all the complexity that you’d expect from such a system. It’s designed for big websites that get a lot of traffic, and the pricing structure is really complicated.
You may never need to worry about the pricing, however, if your needs are reasonably modest. Amazon S3 offers a free deal with 5GB of storage, 20k get requests and 2k put requests.
The problem here is that many of those get requests are not coming from humans, but from robots, so you can quickly burn through 20,000 requests before the month is up if your site is good at attracting robots. When your site does go over the limits, it doesn’t get suspended. You just have to pay up.

Amazon Drive is like Amazon S3 with training wheels. It comes with a much easier to use interface, requiring less technical ability. There’s a subclass called Prime Photos where you can get unlimited photo storage, and 5GB of storage for videos and other files, but it’s only free if you subscribe to Amazon Prime. The next step up provides 100GB of storage for $11.99 per year, and for $59.99 per year you can get 1TB of storage.
The standout thing here is the pricing is much simpler than Amazon S3. You know upfront what you get and what you’re expected to pay for it. It’s not really intended for using as a CDN, but it’s still possible to do it.
If you’re a WordPress user, you may prefer to use Amazon S3 because there are tools especially designed to help you do that through Amazon CloudFront. The complexity of setting that up is going to be beyond the scope of this article, so look for a dedicated article on exactly that topic coming up soon.
Google also has two options available: Google Cloud Storage and Google Drive. If you’re a Gmail user, you already have Google Drive.
Google Cloud Storage is intended for enterprise level use, and as such it requires a certain amount of technical ability to configure it and fine tune it. Google Drive is consumer-grade, but very easy to use with its simple web interface.

Google Drive starts you off with a generous 15GB of free storage, which is way more than most average small business websites will ever need. Should you find you need more, you can upgrade to:

All is not as it seems with these storage limits, however. Google Docs, photos other than full resolution (if stored using Google Photos), and any files shared with you by someone else don’t count toward your storage limit. Unfortunately emails (and attachments) do take up space if you’re actively using the Gmail account.
To give you an idea of how much you can store in 15GB, that is approximately 30 to 40 videos (m4v / mp4) at 1080 x 720 and 90 minutes duration, or about 88,235 photos at 800 x 600 and optimized for the web. It would be unusual for the average small business to need that much for its website.
Google Drive is much less expensive than Amazon Drive. In terms of performance, Amazon may have a bit of an edge, and the documentation with Amazon is better. Head to head, Google is offering better value overall.
Which should you choose? It depends whether you consider performance to be more important than cost.
Hosting images, CSS and JavaScript from Google Drive
This is not a lot more complicated than hosting video. In fact, it may even be easier. Here is what you need to do:
1. In your Google Drive, create a special folder that will store the files

2. Make sure the name you give it helps it stand out from other drive folders

3. Upload all the files to that folder (you can also create subfolders)

4. Select the folder that will be shared and click the share button

5. When the sharing dialog appears, select “Advanced”

6. On the more advanced Sharing Settings dialog, select “Change”

7. Now change the setting to “On – Public on the Web”

8. You will need to repeat the above process for every individual file as well
9. Copy the link for each resource and paste into a text editor

10. Delete everything except the file id

11. Now add text “” in front of the file id

12. Now you can modify your HTML. For CSS:

For JS:

For an image:

13. Upload the a test version of the HTML file and speed test this vs the original file

Updated test version with CDN from Google Drive:

Something very important you need to notice here is that with CDN enabled, the performance was actually degraded. This happened because my own web server automatically compresses everything, but the resources transferred to Google Drive are not automatically compressed.
That’s a topic for another day, but the real lesson here is that CDN isn’t always going to be an improvement for page loading time. Where it can still be useful, however, is by reducing disk space and bandwidth on your own server, allowing Google to shoulder the load for you. In most cases, that’s not going to hurt your loading times too much.
Streaming video: Google Drive vs YouTube
Google is the owner of YouTube, so either way you are using the same technology. Performance will be about the same, and the quality will be exactly the same, so why bother comparing? There are some small differences between streaming from either of these two sources.

When your video is hosted on YouTube, it doesn’t cost you anything, and doesn’t take up any storage space you personally own or rent. Videos on YouTube are ad-supported, allow viewers to comment by default, and show a bunch of links to other videos at the end of the video. Users can also find a link to view an embedded video on YouTube instead of on your site. Both of these behaviors are highly undesirable.
Hosting videos on Google Drive means there are no ads, no suggested links at the end of the video, and no option to view the video on YouTube (since it’s not hosted there). Otherwise there are no visible differences.
Hosting on YouTube can lead to greater exposure, if that’s what you’re after. Hosting on Google Drive gives you more control, more exclusivity, and helps keep the viewer on your site without the temptations offered by YouTube.
Both are better than alternatives such as Vimeo, because it is easier to include subtitles and the streaming quality can be adjusted by the viewer to suit their connection speed.
Streaming video from Google Drive and from YouTube uses very similar processes.
1. Upload the video to your Google Drive or to YouTube.

2. Upload or create any required subtitle files.

3. Test your video. Don’t skip this important step.

4. While the video is open, select the three vertical dots in corner of screen, then select “Share” from the menu.

5. Click on the “Advanced” link in the dialog that appears.

6. Click on the”Change” link.

7. Select “On – Public on the Web”

8. Then copy the link location and follow steps 9 to 13, except you’ll be using video HTML instead of image HTML, so your could will look something like this example:

The cc_load_policy property determines whether subtitles / closed captions should be visible by default. It’s good practice to set this to on, but Google applies the policy inconsistently anyway, possibly due to cross-platform complications.
Make sure you really need CDN
Most of the time CDN works fine, but there can be times when a page hangs up because it’s trying to fetch a remote resource that simply won’t load. Google fonts, and certain other Google APIs, are notorious for this.
If you’re hosting your site on servers located in your own country and most of your traffic is local, using CDN may create more problems instead of less.
In any case, always check the results of modifications you make and be sure they’re really beneficial. If they’re not, rewind back to the point where your site was operating at maximum efficiency or try another strategy.
Using a CDN lets you create smaller websites, so even if there’s a slight performance price to pay, it may still be to your advantage if you host multiple sites from a single hosting account.
header image courtesy of Alexandr Ivanov
This post Cloud Storage as a CDN Option was written by Inspired Mag Team and first appearedon Inspired Magazine.

New in Highrise: Auto CCs, Clear all, and more…

We just celebrated our 3 year anniversary since spinning off from Basecamp! Thanks to all of you for helping us get here. Read more about: how far we’ve come. And today, we have another couple improvements to mention.Auto CCsFor those of you who use our Gmail or recent Outlook integration to send emails from Highrise, we have an exciting announcement today.You’ve been able to add a CC (or BCC) to an outgoing message for some time, but now that field has gotten a lot smarter. It will automatically populate from CCs in your previous message, and will automatically fill from your contacts as you type:Read more about the auto populated and auto complete CC’s: here.Clear All from Good Morning Group InboxesAlmost 2 years ago, we launched Good Morning, your Highrise group inbox. It has literally changed the way we work and our support team clears the queue by answering each item every day — in record time I may add! :)But in other group inboxes we manage (like my personal one) items can collect to the point it becomes overwhelming… so today we announce the ability to clear everythying from your Good Morning inbox!:Read more about Clearing Good Morning inboxes: here.PieSync launches IF-THIS-THEN-THAT contact syncsPieSync, one of our integration partners, consolidates contacts located in disparate cloud applications and synchronizes them 2 ways and in real time. Today PieSync releases an all new & improved way of setting up two-way contact syncs with their IF-THIS-THEN-THAT filters:These filters, on top of the already powerful custom fields feature launched last quarter, allow you to segment and create workflows in one app, to other apps, giving you even more in-depth sync possibilities than before. Register for PieSync’s upcoming Webinar on Wednesday, Sep 27 on using the new IF-THIS-THEN-THAT filters: here.Highrise About TownAnd finally, if you want to hear and read more about how we run Highrise, you can read from a few places we’ve been spotted in the wild recently.If you’re a Highrise user, I hope you enjoy those. Please let us know if you ever need anything — Highrise related or not. We’d love to help.And if you aren’t a Highrise user, now’s the time! :) If you need a no-hassle system to track leads and manage follow-ups you should try Highrise.You should also follow my YouTube channel, where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life.New in Highrise: Auto CCs, Clear all, and more… was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Highrise — Three Years Later…

Three years ago today, Basecamp announced Highrise was spinning off as our own company. We knew we had a good tool on our hands that was already well loved by tens of thousands of users (some of whom are celebrating 10 year anniversaries every day!). So we had to make sure any changes we made simplified people’s work or gave them powerful new tools instead of ruin their current workflows.We took great effort to roll changes out gradually. But over time you can see how far we’ve come:Three years ago vs Todayicons defined below from top to bottom and left to right across the image… icons not part of Highrise, though emojis definitely are available :)🐷 — Latest activity filters so you can get to what matters to you quickly whether it’s notes, emails, files or team stats.🐶 — Good Morning (or Evening), our Group Inbox, so whether it’s your incoming leads, your existing customers or even incoming job candidates, you can collaborate as a team to address, assign, and prioritize inquiries as needed.🐱 — So much on contact filters… a whole new UI:Three years ago vs TodayYour ability to filter down to the exact data you need is so much more powerful with everything from combining field filters with tags, to NOT tags and Company tags, to new view filters that allow you to find contacts without tags or notes or emails in a certain period of time… and more.🐭 — Recurring tasks remind you to follow up with your most important customers on a regular basis.🐹 — Deal custom fields, filtering and exports allow you to track and report on the data you need at a whole new level.🐰 — Broadcast is simple bulk email so you can stay top of mind with your leads and customers whether through drip campaigns, newsletters, or onboarding emails without the hassle of another complex tool.🦊 — Recency search allows you to return results based on recency rather than relevancy when you’re looking for that note from the other day.🐨 — Filters allow you to drill down to a contacts activity and find information quickly.🐻 — Auto populated avatars so you can spend time following up instead of updating everyone’s profile.🐯 — Threaded comments so you can tell who said what when about whom. But also what it was related to :).🐼 — Email integrations with Gmail and Outlook so you can send email directly from Highrise without having to go back and forth between apps.🐮 — Predefined values on custom fields so your team won’t end up with twelve different variations of ‘Active’.🦁 — Additional settings like our Slack integration so you can work more efficiently between Slack and Highrise, email templates that allow you to store common messages for reuse, and a referral program where you can give AND get credit for sharing Highrise.In the last year alone we launched a brand new Android app, iOS 3.0 (rewritten from scratch), reporting and stats, autoforwarding for everyone, and even the ability to turn off features your team doesn’t use.And all that work has not been in vain:The content for the FrontRunners quadrant is derived from actual end-user reviews and ratings as well as vendor-supplied and publicly available product and company information that gets applied against a documented methodology. The results neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Gartner or any of its affiliates.Awesome CRM for a small business on a budget, or a start up like mine. Highly recommended to those who just need simple, easy-to-use, intuitive CRM. — Thomas LyonSo easy and intuative! I use it with my network marketing company and it helps me keep my tasks in order as well as remind me what and why my customers purchased before. — Kari LarnedPerfect CRM for our business. We can’t imagine our business without it! — Chris SandsOur organization relies greatly on Highrise, this CRM is superior to many we have tried in the past. There are so many great customizations that allow it to work perfectly for our business. It is very clear that the integrationteam here is very active and always rolling out amazing and useful new features. Absolutely ecstatic about our choice to be organizing our customer relationships with Highrise. — Trevor HowardBut what we’re most proud of is that even with all our improvement Highrise is even closer to our vision of the Simplest CRM. Our customers can focus on what matters, rather than learning and mastering another tool or trying to figure out a useless piece of eye candy and what it means.We’re proud that Highrise allows our customers to connect and build relationships with their leads and customers. Because business should be about people NOT tools.Want to know more? Read about how Ken Jansen uses Highrise for his real estate business.Simple Gets the Job DoneCheck it out for yourself. Sign up for a Free 30 day trial.Highrise — Three Years Later… was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Gmail Sponsored Promotions: 5 Tactics to Boost Performance by @Aimclear

Gmail Sponsored Promotions provide insight into email behavior while generating conversions. Here are targeting tactics to improve your next campaign.The post Gmail Sponsored Promotions: 5 Tactics to Boost Performance by @Aimclear appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Google to Stop Using Information in Gmail to Target Personalized Ads by @MattGSouthern

Later this year, Google will stop using information in Gmail to target personalized ads.The post Google to Stop Using Information in Gmail to Target Personalized Ads by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.


I spent the day with the fine folks at Superhuman and had the distinct pleasure of being onboarded into their new email app.
I mention this in the vlog, but, I wanted to capture this moment for posterity because if they are able to move me off of the GMAIL web app after 13 years, then, it would be a literal first!

I can’t overstate my commitment to the GMAIL web app after such a long time of using it. I’ve tried every available mail client and app out there but have yet to find a solution that matches the speed and performance of the google’s web service.
It’s not that it’s perfect, mind you… it’s just that it’s good enough to get the job done and after 13 years I’ve pretty much resigned myself to it as being the defacto email service.
But Superhuman is up for the challenge and I’m quite thankful that I’ve taken it on. Although it’s just been 2 short days I’ve been able to acclimate myself fairly quickly.
I’ve committed to use it full-time for a week (until next Wednesday) and at this point I can see myself making it without ever opening up… I’ll give it a real, true spin and provide them with feedback on the way there.
But I told them… if they are able to do this and pull it off… I will be, literally, their biggest fan. Fingers crossed…!
The post SUPERHUMAN Email…? appeared first on John Saddington.

HelloSign: The Industry’s Fastest eSignature API Integration

My favorite kind of software products are the ones that very clearly make life simpler. Being able to legally sign a document by clicking a button in an email and squiggling my mouse to make my signature is definitely one of those things.

You can provide that to your users with HelloSign! You can set up your documents there (it supports all the formats you'd need, like PDF, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, etc) and start collecting the signatures you need very easily. Set up templates of your commonly used documents. Make sure your branding is present during the signing process. Get notifications when documents are reviewed and signed.
There are a bunch more killer features you should be aware of. For example, like I mentioned, you can sign documents without ever leaving your email with their Chrome browser extension for Gmail. Same with Google Docs and Salesforce!

Perhaps most importantly, you can use HelloSign right from your own interface through their API. That's great for all us developers interested in building seamless useful experiences right in our own products. You can embed documents directly on your website with just a few lines of code!
Direct Link to Article — Permalink
HelloSign: The Industry’s Fastest eSignature API Integration is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

What is the Future of Front End Web Development?

I was asked to do a little session on this the other day. I'd say I'm underqualified to answer the question, as is any single person. If you really needed hard answers to this question, you'd probably look to aggregate data of survey results from lots of developers.
I am a little qualified though. Aside from running this site which requires me to think about front end integrationevery day and exposes me to lots of conversations about front end development, I am an active developer myself. I work on CodePen, which is quite a hive of front end developers. I also talk about it every week on ShopTalk Show with a wide variety of guests, and I get to travel all around going to conferences largely focused on front end development.
So let me take a stab at it.

Again, disclaimers:

This is non-comprehensive
These are just loose guesses
I'm just one dude

User expectations on the rise.
This sets the stage:
What websites are being asked to do is rising. Developers are being asked to build very complicated things very quickly and have them work very well and very fast.
New JavaScript is here.
As fabulous as jQuery was for us, it's over for new development. And I don't just mean ES6+ has us covered now, but that's true. We got ourselves into trouble by working with the DOM too directly and treating it like like a state store. As I opened with, user expectations, and thus complexity, are on the rise. We need to manage that complexity.
State is the big concept, as we talked about. Websites will be built by thinking of what state needs to be managed, then building the right stores for that state.
The new frameworks are here. Ember, React, Vue, Angular, Svelte, whatever. They accommodate the idea of working with state, components, and handling the DOM for us.
Now they can compete on speed, features, and API niceity.
TypeScript also seems like a like a big long-term winner because it can work with whatever and brings stability and a better editor experience for developers.
We're not building pages, we're building systems.
Style guides. Design systems. Pattern libraries. These things are becoming a standard part of the process for web projects. They will probably become the main deliverable. A system can build whatever is needed. The concept of "pages" is going away. Components are pieced together to build what users see. That piecing together can be done by UX folks, interaction designers, even marketing.
New JavaScript accommodates this very well.
The line between native and web is blurring.
Which is better, Sketch or Figma? We judge them by their features, not by the fact that one is a native app and one is a web app. Should I use the Slack or TweetDeck native app, or just open a tab? It's identical either way. Sometimes a web app is so good, I wish it was native just so it could be an icon in my dock and have persistent login, so I use things like Mailplane for Gmail and Paws for Trello.
I regularly use apps that seem like they would need to be native apps, but turn to be just as good or better on the web. Just looking at audio/video apps, Skype has a full-featured app, Lightstream is a full-on livestreaming studio, and Zencaster can record multi-track high-quality audio. All of those are right in the browser.
Those are just examples of doing a good job on the web. Web technology itself is stepping up hugely here as well. Service workers give us important things like offline ability and push notifications. Web Audio API. Web Payments API. The web should become the dominant platform for building apps.
Users will use things that are good, and not consider or care how it was built.
URLs are still a killer feature.
The web really got this one right. Having a universal way to jump right to looking at a specific thing is incredible. URLs make search engines possible, potentially one of the most important human innovations ever. URLs makes sharing and bookmarking possible. URLs are a level playing field for marketing. Anybody can visit a URL, there is no gatekeeper.
Performance is a key player.
Tolerance for poorly performing websites is going to go down. Everyone will expect everything to be near-instant. Sites that aren't will be embarrassing.
CSS will get much more modular.
When we write styles, we will always make a choice. Is this a global style? Am I, on purpose, leaking this style across the entire site? Or, am I writing CSS that is specific to this component? CSS will be split in half between these two. Component-specific styles will be scoped and bundled with the component and used as needed.
CSS preprocessing will slowly fade away.
Many of the killer features of preprocessors have already made it into CSS (variables), or can be handled better by more advanced build processes (imports). The tools that we'll ultimately use to modularize and scope our CSS are still, in a sense, CSS preprocessors, so they may take over the job of whatever is left of preprocessing necessity. Of the standard set of current preprocessors, I would think the main one we will miss is mixins. If native CSS stepped up to implement mixins (maybe @apply) and extends (maybe @extend), that would quicken the deprecation of today's crop of preprocessors.
Being good at HTML and CSS remains vital.
The way HTML is constructed and how it ends up in the DOM will continue to change. But you'll still need to know what good HTML looks like. You'll need to know how to structure HTML in such a way that is useful for you, accessible for users, and accomodating to styling.
The way CSS lands in the browser and how it is applied will continue to change, but you'll still need to how to use it. You'll need to know how to accomplish layouts, manage spacing, adjust typography, and be tasteful, as we always have.
Build processes will get competitive.
Because performance matters so much and there is so much opportunity to get clever with performance, we'll see innovation in getting our code bases to production. Tools like webpack (tree shaking, code splitting) are already doing a lot here, but there is plenty of room to let automated tools work magic on how our code ultimately gets shipped to browsers. Optimizing first payloads. Shipping assets in order of how critical they are. Deciding what gets sent where and how. Shipping nothing whatsoever that isn't used.
As the web platform evolves (e.g. Client Hints), build processes will adjust and best practices will evolve with it, like they always have.

What is the Future of Front End Web Development? is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

Delete Google Plus

I’ve been on a really good “cleanse” recently, moving a ton of distraction from my life and even dropping entirely such services as Twitter.
The results have been great and the free space that I’ve had psychologically is too good not to repeat. I mean, if you find a great habit to kick then why not rinse and repeat?

There are two services that I still have large and “active” accounts with that definitely have a count-down clock, the first is Google+ and the second is LinkedIn.
I do not actively engage in those services other than dropping links to blog posts. I don’t have a “community” there and the value, as far as I can tell, is superficial.
With Google+ I’ve got > 4,200 friends in 3 circles…. wait… no… I have 7,000+ followers…?
Google+ Followers…?
I’m so confused. Wah…
I ‘m not entirely sure how I acquired these friends nor do I know who they even are. I recently helped my dad delete his Google+ profile and walking him through the process reminded me how easily I could do this without losing any amount of sleep.
Also, he and I do not know how he even got a Google+ profile… I think many people think that this profile is the same thing as you Google Account and it’s actually not – it’s just a social networking identity attached to a mediocre social network. Unsure? Check this:
Deleting your Google+ profile will not affect certain other Google products, like Search, Gmail, and your Google Account.
So, with that, I’ll be deleting the Google+ profile – there may be one or two posts that I wrote directly on that service that doesn’t sit anywhere else, so, I just want to copy and paste that over but only if it doesn’t take me too long to find it.
Goodbye Google+… now, and forever
The post Delete Google Plus appeared first on John Saddington.

The Tools of an HTML Email Workflow

Last week's ShopTalk Show was all about HTML Email. It's such a fascinating subject, as technically it is front-end web development, but it almost feels like a bizarro alternate universe.
We have dozens of browsers to worry about, they have hundreds of clients to consider. We worry about whether fancy new APIs are supported, they worry about whether padding is supported. We have grid layout, they have.... grid layout?!
It's tempting to make the joke: "It's coding like it's 1999!", but as we talk about in this episode, that's not really true.
Aside from all that, another thing I thing fascinating are all the tools involved. Lemme think this out.

Creation Tools: Bare Metal
You can create an email with just HTML. I'm sure quite a lot of HTML email is created this way. Open code editor, create HTML email, send HTML email. I know I'm tempted by this and go this route a lot, especially when creating an important one-off email.

Check out Really Good Emails on CodePen, where they have archived loads of the full HTML of sent email campaigns.
The builder tool in Litmus is also a bare metal editor. You see and edit the entire HTML document.
Creation Tools: HTML Templates
It's still creating by hand and hand-authoring HTML, but you can reach for HTML email templates. This is probably a very good route for most us, because of how tricky HTML email can be to get right. Fortunately, a lot of the hard work of figuring out nice and simple email templates with functional layout and type has already been done.

Lee Monroe offers a Really Simple Responsive HTML Email Template and sells a pack of more templates.
Cerberus: "A few simple, but solid patterns for responsive HTML emails."
MailChimp has Email Blueprints on GitHub. They haven't been touched in 3 years though, and I'm not sure if that means they are missing any new/big/important techniques in HTML email integrationor not.
TABLE TR TD has a build template.
If you cough up your email to 99 designs, it looks like they will send you some.

Creation Tools: Abstracted Templates
Creating an email by directly working with one big giant gnarly piece of HTML is certainly possible, but front-end developers hardly ever work that way. One of the first abstractions we always reach for is abstracting HTML into parts. You can do that with email.

You could use your own server-side partials to break up the HTML into parts, so that making new emails can re-use those parts and they are quicker to build and easier to maintain.
Dan Denney has a system called eMMail that uses Middleman, Haml, and Sass to abstract the emails into manageable parts.
Lee Monroe has a Grunt Email Design Workflow which is Handlebars/Assemble and Sass to piece emails together.
Foundation Emails uses an abstracted HTML language called Inky which compiles into HTML ready for email.
MJML is also a an abstracted HTML language designed to be preprocessed into HTML for email.

UI Builder and Sending Tools
Rather than touching code at all, you could design and write an email directly through a tool built for that. These choices are probably pretty obvious to most folks, as there is huge demand for this. Rightly so! Tools like these let you get right to writing and designing the email without getting distracted by tools.

Campaign Monitor

It's just not always possible to use tools like this for all the emails you send. They are usually cost prohibitive for really giant email lists, and not really built for transactional email.
These tools tend to tie together the visual building of the email along with sending and analytics. Everything in one.
Sendwithus is a little different. It is built for transactional email, and gives you a system for building and templating emails, but doesn't send them directly itself (despite the name). You bring-your-own email sending service. Speaking of which...
Sending Tools: APIs
These services actually send the email for you. You hit their API with the email itself, the subject line, the recipients, and whatever else they need and it sends the email. Here's a non-comprehensive list:

Amazon SES

Analytics is usually a feature that comes with these tools that do the sending. That's true of these email APIs along with the build-and-send apps.
Inlining CSS tools
I always assumed this was absolutely 100% required for HTML emails, but it isn't really. Most email clients support a <style> block in the <head>. That means you can ship CSS without having to inline it. Even when that is supported though, you need to think about which features are supported. Like just because a style block is supported, it doesn't mean border-radius necessarily.
Email support chart from Campaign Monitor.
Even that red mark above is out of date, as Gmail does support style blocks now. So inlining CSS might be going away ultimately, but I imagine there are some email clients that still need it, and if it's part of a build process anyway, I guess it can't hurt.
Copy and paste in-browser tools:

MailChimp Inliner
Campaign Monitor Inliner

Programmatic tools:

Node: Juice
Ruby: Roadie

Testing Tools

You could send yourself an email and look at it. Probably best to spin up as many email clients as you possibly can, across different operating systems and devices.
Litmus is the biggest player in this area. Many other tools that offer previews of your email are actually Litmus doing that work.
Email on Acid is a similar tool and a bit less expensive.

The Tools of an HTML Email Workflow is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

The 5 Best Email Tracking Tools: Know When Your Email Has Been Opened

When it comes to your business or your job, being able to monitor as many factors as possible is typically a good thing.
Google Analytics allows you to track how many visitors are coming to your site, for example, enabling you to know which channels are sending the most traffic to you and what content is performing best.

Email tracking is another great example of a tool that can give you great insight into an important part of your business.
There are a ton of tracking services available, some free and some paid for, and these are the most reliable and best email tracking tools available, so you don’t have to leave this important part of your business to guesswork.

While social media marketing is growing in importance and popularity as a medium to distribute information to users, email is a crucial form of both information distribution and personal contact on a variety of business levels (and for a variety of business models). Email tracking tools offer a wide range of features, including letting you know when your sent emails were opened and if the
Email tracking tools offer a broad spectrum of features, including letting you know when your sent emails were opened and if the recipient clicked on your links.
Whether you’re an SMB tracking newsletter opens, or a freelancer tracking invoices (cough, cough), email tracking tools can benefit your business.
1. Yesware
Yesware is and probably will always be a personal favorite when it comes to email tracking tools. It’s a great tool for SMBs, letting you do everything from track emails from clients to optimize for sales.

Their software is outstandingly user-friendly. Just download the extension, and allow it to connect to your email account. When creating a message, you can choose to track—or not track—each email. You can even choose to have it automatically loaded into the CRM software that you use.

Yesware doesn’t just tell you that your email has been opened; it tells you who opened it, what links they’ve clicked, and which attachments they’ve downloaded. This is extremely useful; you can see which leads are warm, and which have actually gotten the invoice they said they never got (even though you can see that they opened it three times). The software works pretty close to real-time, and you can access all the information through the dashboard on your email account.

As an added bonus, Yesware has other great features worth mentioning, including their email templates to speed up your outbound efforts, automatic follow up for sales automation, and scheduling tools so your emails can be distributed at any time.

Yesware is available for Gmail on Chrome and Firefox browsers (not Safari) and for Microsoft Outlook. They offer a 28-day free trial and have a variety of pricing plans once that trial is over. Their starter plan costs $12 per month.
2. Contact Monkey
Contact Monkey’s email tracking software is a great tool to use when you’re looking to track and monitor sales leads. It can integrate with CRMs like Salesforce for optimal sales potential.
Contact Monkey works in real-time, so you’ll never miss an opportunity to nurture a lead who is interested in your business. They’ll not only show you who opened the email, but also where from, when, and on what type of device. You can even get desktop notifications when your email is opened.

The dashboard lets you prioritize users by the number of times they’ve opened your email; this can be used to gauge interest and find the warmest leads. They’ll also provide you with analytics, helping you to see the big picture of what’s working and what isn’t.

Like Yesware, you can use Contact Monkey right from your inbox, making the ease of use overwhelmingly convenient.

This tool has a 14-day free trial and is available for Gmail on Chrome, and on Outlook. Pricing starts at $10 per user per month when billed annually.
3. ToutApp
ToutApp is another great email tracking tool that’s structured itself around driving sales and nurturing leads.
It will track engagement on all of your emails, giving you information in real-time like the other tools on this list, and let you know as soon as the email has been opened and what’s been downloaded, clicked, or viewed. They’ll also show you which emails haven’t been delivered, and why; if you’re wondering if the email bounced or was marked at spam, now you can know.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one sales analyzer, this is a great tool to use. ToutApp will actually analyze all of your emails, client calls, calendar events, and CRM data to look for correlations and generate incredible reports and insights. If you’re looking to track your emails and see how it fits into the grand scheme, ToutApp is a good way to go.

Like the other tools on this list, ToutApp also integrates with a number of different CRMs, including Salesforce.
ToutApp is available on Gmail on Chrome, and on Microsoft Outlook. It’s also the most expensive tool on this list; after the 14-day free trial is over, their most affordable plan starts at $49 a month per user.
4. Mailtrack
Looking for something really simple with no-fuss, and you just want to know when your email is opened? Mailtrack is a great tool for you. Some small businesses don’t need—or want—that extensive features other tools offer, especially at the price tag they come at, and Mailtrack does exactly what any email tracking tool promises to do.

Mailtrack’s basic, free version of the tool allows for unlimited tracking if you just want to watch for opened emails. It does attach a “Mailtrack” signature to your emails, which you have to upgrade to get rid of. You’ll see a checkmark next to emails that have been read, and if you hover over them, you’ll see the time they were opened.

For what it’s worth, even though it’s not technically “real-time tracking” (that comes with the upgrade), I got an email letting me know that my tracked email was opened pretty quickly.

If you do upgrade, you’ll also get real-time notifications, link tracking, reminders, and a dashboard to monitor the emails instead of checkmarks by the emails themselves. This plan is only $4.92 a month; if you upgrade to their $6 a month plan, you can track email opens from multiple recipients in one thread.
5. Newton Mail
Newton Mail is a great email tracking tool if you want to have a ton of excellent email features, including getting read receipts and seeing a profile of the email’s sender (which is created by pulling information from multiple sources). Newton will mark emails as read by a blue tick mark next to the email you sent—even on smartphones.

Other great features include the ability to send emails later, un-send an email (within a very short time frame after it was sent, but we’ve all had those moments of “Oh God no I spelled their name wrong” immediately after sending), and integration with multiple third party tools like Evernote and Pocket.

Newton Mail attaches a “via Newton Mail” signature automatically to the emails, so users will know that the email is being tracked if they look it up. Sometimes, that can make the reader uncomfortable, so keep that in mind. It also isn’t available yet for Windows; it is available for Apple, iOS, and Android at the moment.

Newton has a 14-day free trial; after that, it’s $50 per year, which is one of the more affordable tools on this list.
Do These Tools Really Need to be “Nosy”?
A lot of these tools (I think every single one on this list) requires access that includes the ability to “Send, Read, and Delete emails.” That sounds pretty darn terrifying, but in reality, that’s a necessary ability to give these tools; they are literally sending your emails, and the ability to track means they need to be able to read them.
Because of this access, though, you should choose your tools carefully. I’ve used and I trust each tool on this list, and most major brand name tools with tons of reviews and users will be fine; I wouldn’t trust brand new tools that don’t have a ton of users yet. When in doubt, you can always contact the customer service of the tool you’re interested in and ask about their privacy policies.
Final Thoughts
While a lot of people aren’t big fans of email tracking personally (I get it—I turned the “read” receipts off on my iMessaging, and like all technology, I’m sure this can be abused somehow), I think it does have a place professionally so long as it’s not abused.
As a freelance writer, I’ve started using an email tracking service with new clients to ensure that they’re receiving the work I’m providing, and I’ll know that they received invoices that some will pretend to never get. I also use it when distributing newsletters for a site I manage, to see what content performs best so that I can better provide relevant content in the future.
There are a ton of great reasons to use email tracking tools, no matter what job position or industry you’re in, and these 5 are among the best.
Do you use any of these email tracking tools, or have you tried any? Will you now? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think?

The Advantage of Comparative Research

No matter how new a problem may be to us, we are never the first person to tackle it. There are always examples to learn from. That said, the way we learn from others’ examples can make the difference between uncritical emulation and a solution that fits the unique problem and context we’re facing.
Here I’ll describe what comparative research is, why it’s worth your time, and give an example of how it helped us on a recent project.
Some Fundamentals of Comparative Research
Comparative research is a way to broaden our thinking about product functionality. It answers questions like, “How have others dealt with this kind of content complexity? What is a good way to conduct this kind of interaction? How are different use cases accounted for?” This type of research is particularly useful when trying to identify best practices that haven’t yet solidified into conventions–ones that aren’t likely to be documented anywhere but in products themselves.
When doing comparative research, we’re essentially critiquing others’ product design, reverse-engineering decisions that have been made when navigating tradeoffs and complexities similar to our own. It’s an investigative process that allows us to build on the wisdom (and errors) of designs that have come before us. We figure out what works and what doesn’t, and why, and borrow accordingly.
Relevant patterns often become the basis for a common design language shared between teams and clients, which is particularly significant early on in projects when trying to manage the ambiguity that characterizes early phases of product work. The example below will make this clearer.
An Example: Researching Email Editors
When designing and developing a new email editor for iContact, we confronted a number of design challenges that we hadn’t faced before, or at least not at the same scale and density required by the project. Let it be said that designing visual manipulation products is hard. One of the challenges is determining straightforward interface patterns for content selection and manipulation. What happens if a user hovers over this, and clicks this, or drags this? What if they want to resize this and then duplicate it and move it? We had notions for how features could be addressed, but knew we had to do our homework.
We began by looking at how visual email and website editors dealt with content manipulation. We studied our the design tools we use day-in and day-out. We held a magnifying glass up to Gmail (not really). In almost every instance, a primary editing canvas is flanked by one or more content manipulation panels. Manipulation of canvas content was handled differently in each tool, yet the variations were often subtle. We picked apart these subtleties. For example, Constant Contact’s editor allows users to edit and style text directly in the canvas, while Mailchimp’s editor displays a text field in a utility to the side of the canvas. Each approach has benefits and drawbacks: direct manipulation is to be preferred, yet that can complicate the interface with WYSIWYG styling controls. The pattern in this case was to allow direct manipulation where possible and show styling controls without cluttering the content being edited.

A more complicated problem to address was how to structure email content so that users would be able to easily determine how content is nested and how to create, arrange, and otherwise edit it. To do this, we compared the interface patterns and descriptive language used across a range of tools, and abstracted what we felt was the most straightforward structure that met the requirements of the product. What resulted was a taxonomy of layouts, rows, columns, and blocks, and rules for how they relate. In hindsight, this arrangement seems simple enough, yet it was a challenging process, laying the foundation for the features and variations we knew would have to be accounted for. We argued about and scrapped an additional layer or two that, while they may have added nuance, would have sacrificed usability.

The general system taxonomy we used for the visual email editor. While the project team used these terms frequently among themselves, “Rows” is the only term that is actually displayed in the interface.

These basic terms – layout, row, column, block – became catchwords on the project, providing necessary distinctions that allowed us to move quickly. When a designer talked with a developer about row manipulation, both knew exactly what was being discussed and how the other components would be affected. When we eventually dealt with theme manipulation, we could talk about how theme attributes would cascade down to each element of the layout. These terms were reflected in the information architecture, visual design, front-end code, and the backend systems that translate the edited code into email-compliant HTML.
This language was essential to the project, and resulted from comparative research we conducted in the first weeks of our work. Instead of replicating the structure of the first product we came across, we weighed the pros and cons of various implementations to suss out an appropriate approach that balanced usability and feature-richness. What could’ve been seen as a questionably-productive phase of the project – from our own or our client’s perspective – proved to be crucial, especially given a tight timeline that didn’t afford us a chance to stumble around in the dark.
Further Considerations
Comparative research can inform projects at early stages, providing fodder and direction for initial design concepts, and in the midst of design iterations when refining content, interaction, and general architectural patterns. Some things to consider:
Comparative analyses can save time. Unless you have the time and budget to learn by trial and error or your own user research, learn from others’ experience. See what the most successful products are doing and try to figure out how they do it.
Focus on primary, complex workflows. Don’t conduct a comparative analysis on form design unless you’re designing a new EMR (which you should, if given the chance). Rely on established conventions where you can in order to devote time and attention to bigger, riskier aspects.
Gather examples widely. Study the work of obvious competitors, but also look outside of the immediate industry. Be inventive and broad-ranging as you collect examples in order to avoid provincial biases and assumptions that may be inherent to industry products. When documenting instances, consider using animated gifs to show interactivity to teammates and clients.
Consider user testing your competitors’ products. For the email product redesign, we started weekly user testing before we had a functioning prototype. Because we knew we’d be dealing with direct manipulation of content and features like drag-and-drop, which can be difficult to replicate in rough prototypes, we decided to use our competitor’s products in moderated usability tests. This gave us a sense for where people succeed – and where they get tripped up – when using industry-leading software.
Practice the habit of criticism. Design criticism ought to be something we do constantly and casually, reflecting on the products we interact with daily. Although we may treat it as a formal activity on projects, the perspective we bring (or don’t bring) to projects is formed by all that we do beforehand. Don’t forget to ask why. Not that you would. You’re a designer, after all.
Note: This article is a reflection on work done mostly by the astute and esteemed Curt Arledge.

Source: VigetInspire