Monthly Archives: September 2017

Uber's Kalanick says he appoints former Xerox, Merrill bosses to board

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] co-founder Travis Kalanick on Friday said he had appointed two new board members, challenging Uber shareholders who have asked a court to stop the former chief executive from naming directors.

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SpaceX designs smaller rocket in continued effort to put humans on Mars

To keep his deadline of humans on Mars by 2024, Elon Musk has announced a sleeker rocket design. NASA, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin are also part of the growing effort to colonize the red planet in the next decade. 

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Oracle's board will unanimously reject a shareholder request for a gender pay gap audit (ORCL)

Et tu, Safra? 
When Oracle meets for its annual shareholder meeting on November 15, the board of directors will vote to reject a shareholder proposal requesting that the company do a payroll audit to check for a gender pay gap. 
In a filing

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Asia shares recuperate after rough week, dollar firm

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares tried to regain some poise on Friday after a tough week in which the gathering risk of a U.S. rate rise lifted Treasury yields toward nine-year highs and boosted borrowing costs across the region.

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Amazon's barrage of new gadgets shows why it's the most dangerous and relentless company in tech (AMZN)

In the span of about an hour on Wednesday morning Amazon went on a hardware rampage, unleashing four new Alexa-powered smart gadgets and a handful of new accessories. 
It’s a sign of Amazon’s relentless pace: Already this year, it launched the

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Stocks, bond yields, dollar up after Trump tax plan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares were firm on Thursday while U.S. bond yields and the dollar held sizable gains made the previous day after President Donald Trump proposed the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in three decades.

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How to Create an Agile UX Workflow

Agile used in sports means athletic, energetic, and limber. It is applied to gymnasts and Olympic athletes at the top of their game. It can be used to describe mental processes that are fast, flexible, and acute.

In the world of user experience design, agile refers to a number of processes that start with minimal overhead and combines teams of collaborators to complete a fluid sequence of tasks. The agile approach values interactions and individuals, customer collaboration, and a quick response to change.

Scrum Methodology

An agile workflow based on the Scrum model started out in software design. It starts with a team planning meeting in which all members break down processes and decide how many each member can commit to. They create a list of tasks that can be completed in a specified length of time, usually between two weeks and a month.

The scrum team codes and tests features for functionality during the first agile sprint, a brief time frame for intense work. They attend brief, daily scrum meetings facilitated by the ScrumMaster, who is like a coach. Team members share progress and brainstorm solutions to problems. Daily meetings keep the team synchronized throughout the sprint.

Image via prosoftnearshore.com.

At the end of the sprint, they review what they’ve created with stakeholders, receive feedback, and plan the next sprint. Feedback suggests revisions or changes that drive the next phase of development.

An agile workflow helps teams complete projects quickly, so industries like law and marketing have adopted similar methodologies. A UX workflow diagrams the steps from research and gathering user data, through usability testing just ahead of development.

Currently an estimated 69 percent of UX practitioners use an Agile UX workflow. Google’s methodology allows professionals to move from designing to testing in as little as a week, but each organization can modify stages to fit the best time frame for their project.

Transitioning to Agile UX Workflows

Teamwork speeds the process. Designers, developers, and managers create cross-functional teams so everyone is working on different aspects of the same problem concurrently. As a group and as individuals, each segment focuses on user activities, needs, and interactions, and studies every aspect through that lens.

The process is seen as a series of stages or increments. At each stage, development can loop back to correct problems or misconceptions, or move forward to the next stage.

Chunk UX Design for Agile Planning

When teams move quickly to see a project from start to finish in a very brief period, it’s tempting to shift focus from meeting the user’s needs to completing the task. A finished product is worthless if doesn’t accomplish the goals for which it was designed.

Chunk design work into smaller tasks so you can continually refocus on user research. First, define your intent, then plan UX activities that will support that intent. Break activities into smaller tasks, then use agile software or sticky notes to create user stories.

Decide in what order requirements should be accomplished and who will be responsible for each. Every decision must be directly related to a user story.

Sprint Like Google

Strong design processes follow a systematic plan, but there’s always room for iteration. If an idea doesn’t go as expected, take a step back to re-iterate before moving forward. Google’s Design Sprint involves five phases, but designers are free to loop at any point.

Let’s look at the steps, each of which is designed to take one day. Organizations that don’t follow Google’s timeline can still use the same sequence to make their UX workflow agile.

Image via zapier.net

Unpack the Project. Google’s Design Sprint starts with a team meeting that includes all relevant individuals from throughout the organization. Designers, sales staff, customer service representatives, marketers, and senior management should all provide input from the beginning.

Because so many people and levels of responsibility are involved, it’s helpful to invite a facilitator to keep discussions on track. Here are some things to cover as you unpack:

  • Present an outline for how a solution will benefit your company.
  • Provide reviews of what competitors are currently offering.
  • Demonstrate both the problem and any partial solutions that already exist.
  • Furnish user personas and analytical data
  • Summarize the proposed solution.
  • Deliver business metrics that support success.

If you aren’t using Google’s process, an agile workflow still starts by setting a vision. Designers provide the team with a starting vision, whether through customer journey mapping or sketches of page-flow.

Sketch Solutions. Everyone who was involved in the unpacking meeting separates to create a pencil and paper sketch of possible solutions. If the problem is complex, participants can break it into pieces and indicate the order in which they should be addressed. Start with a simple framework. Details will be developed as you iterate over time.

Make Decisions. List important factors like your budget, technology constraints, and user input, and then review possible solutions to narrow them down to a limited number. Create storyboards for the top solutions. Use a design wall to display solutions. Reevaluate whether each solution is focused on the user.

Create Prototypes. Groups each take one of the top solutions and get to work. Google suggests building prototypes quickly using Keynote templates or any other tool that allows models to be developed in a day. Develop a testing process for use the next day or the next stage. Invite and incorporate stakeholder contributions at every step.

Test designs. Invite users to interact with your prototype. As they do, record feedback and note what didn’t go as planned. User experience drives the next iteration. UX designers can note friction points and lags in user experience from either back-end performance issues or design flaws.

In the beginning, organizations may need longer than intended to complete some phases. Just like athletes improve with practice, design teams will develop faster sprints with repeated practice.

Whether you model your Agile UX workflow on Google’s model or develop a different pace for your organization, time management is part of what makes the agile process so productive.

Time Tracking and Time Boxing

Just like a runner has a rough estimate of how long it will take them to complete a distance, and uses regular checkpoints to monitor progress, Agile sets estimates and tracks progress through time.

Estimates help teams project how long it will take to deliver a product. At first, it can be difficult to calculate how long a sprint will take, but with practice, the work will develop a predictable rhythm. Track how long it takes to complete individual tasks during a sprint, then combine them to begin developing an average sprint time.

Time boxing involves setting a limited amount of time during which an activity must be completed. Time box UX research, and review meetings and sprints, to maximize efficiency. This forces each team member to immediately reject ideas that won’t work and focus on the ones that show the most promise.

Teamwork Drives Workflow

Just like the design process has many distinct parts that flow together, each team member has a role within the iterative cycle. Designers instinctively picture pages as a whole and set about addressing design tasks as necessary to create the whole, but that means working independently.

Instead, write tasks as individual user stories and involve the team in creating content toward individual goals. Allow the whole to evolve through input from the team.

Designers have the most input during backlog, analysis, development, and testing. When the developer is working through details, that’s a good time to collaborate. Project management tools like Basecamp< and design platforms like UXPin and Invision App can aid communication between web designers and developers.

The iterative design cycle involves designing for individual stories. Each organization goes through a unique process when transitioning to an Agile UX workflow. Be willing to compromise and adjust until your team and your product come together into something even greater than you first envisioned.

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The top three most valuable brands in the world are American technology companies

American tech products are used all over the world, and the latest estimates from global brand consulting firm Interbrand show that the top three most valuable brands in the world are American tech companies. Not surprisingly, industry

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Dollar, yields rise on hawkish Yellen; Asian shares still weak

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The dollar climbed to a one-month high and bond yields rose on Wednesday as risks grew for a U.S. interest rate hike in December, while Asian stocks hovered near multi-week lows as tensions in the Korean peninsula remain elevated.

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10 Pure CSS Call-To-Action Button Sets

Every website and landing page should have a clear call-to-action button. This encourages the user to click and perform an action, whether to make a purchase, start a trial, or sign up for an account.

There is no single best way to design a CTA and you can use many different styles, from large gradients to ghost buttons, and everything inbetween. But other factors like color, size, and position also have an affect on usability.

I’ve hand-picked 10 of my favorite CTA designs, all built with pure CSS. If you’re looking for CTA inspiration, then you’re bound to find something in this collection.

1. Floating Button

Here’s one of the most unique styles I’ve seen and it’s certainly not common on the web. This floating button could become a staple for landing pages that mesh nicely with the design.

It uses a CSS3 drop shadow along with a repeating animation to create the floating effect. This all runs through CSS which makes it even easier to replicate for your own project.

Granted, the hover effect is a bit dull, although the actual button design itself more than makes up for this. Plus you can always expand the hover effect to include other CSS3 animations if you’re willing to push the envelope.

2. Green Circled CTA

You’ll find plenty of CTAs like this on landing pages promoting offers or ebooks. They often use the red hand-drawn circle effect to make it blend into the page and seem more natural to click.

What’s cool about this green CTA button is the hover effect animation. It works on both the button and the red squiggles in the background. Certainly not the effect you’d assume at first glance!

But for a real easy CTA, that’s sure to grab attention, you should try this out. And since the button uses pure CSS you can easily change the color scheme to match any layout.

3. Material Button

If you like working with Google’s material design then you’ll love this unique button set. It’s built in one single style but offers two different triggers: mouse hover and click.

The button snippet uses SCSS/Sass for CSS code, but you can compile it down into CSS right from CodePen. This makes it easier to copy/paste the code for personal use if you’re not a big Sass fan.

The animation effects mimic Google’s design guidelines, so this set is brilliant for any material web project you might be creating.

4. Colorful CTAs

Super small and easy-to-use best describes this button set created by developer Rohan Nair.

The color choices are made to match but you can always change the scheme in CSS. The real eye-catching effect here is the click animation that moves the button “down” into the page.

This gives the illusion of depth and helps each button stand out from other elements on the page.

Again this all uses pure CSS, so it’s a pretty easy button set to copy and customize.

5. Micro Interaction Button

If you want even greater button animation effects take a peek at these microinteraction buttons designed by Phil Hoyt.

They use Font Awesome for the arrow icons mixed with custom CSS animations. While hovering any button, the text label animates out of view and instead displays the icon font prominently.

Depending on your CTA design this may not work as well, especially if you can’t find an icon to represent the button behavior. clearly

Although if you can work this into your site, the hover effect is bound to grab attention.

6. Bordered Buttons

I found these bordered buttons while skimming CodePen and they immediately stood out from the herd.

They don’t inherently feel like CTAs, but with larger text or a larger button size these little designs could dominate a header with ease.

Each button uses the CSS translate() method along with custom background colors to create the border effect. It’s a fairly complicated technique but it’s also the best method considering a plain CSS border wouldn’t animate the same way.

If you like these designs and want to give them a shot, they should run smoothly in every modern web browser.

7. Gradient Styles

Classic gradient buttons will never go out of style and they’re used prominently in larger frameworks like Bootstrap.

With these gradient buttons you can easily update the hover & click animations all while keeping true to the color format. It uses LESS CSS which makes it easier to darken gradient colors using percentages rather than hex codes.

I always like gradient buttons so long as they blend with a layout. And these certainly aren’t the only gradient styles you’ll find so check CodePen if you’re looking for more.

8. YouTube Call to Action

Here’s a rather unique CTA that leads to a YouTube video. It’s a fixed badge in the lower-right corner of the screen and while hovering you can see the video CTA appear on top.

It’s a pretty simple design but it’s not going to be useful on every web page. It can be used to promote deals, new releases, and of course links to other sites like YouTube.

But if you’re looking for a prominent CTA button for your page header, this template won’t help much. Still a very unique idea and certainly worth saving if you could ever use something like this in the future.

9. Flip-Down Buttons

3D animations for the web are easy to create if you know what you’re doing. But even if you don’t understand CSS it’s just as easy to copy 3D code snippets like these flip-down buttons made by Arnie McKinnis.

They’re built on LESS, but you can turn that into plain CSS right inside CodePen. The buttons rely on CSS transforms to create the 3D effect which only appears on mouse hover.

It’s a pretty unique design because the CTA itself is technically “under” the button. Hovering only displays the clickable link underneath making the colorful button more of a fancy shell to grab attention.

But if you like the 3D animated effect, definitely give this a try on your own site.

10. Pure CSS Hovers

Rather than focusing on a unique design or color scheme these pure CSS buttons offer custom hover animations.

They all look similar to typical ghost buttons where you have a border color and no internal color. But while hovering you’ll notice each button’s border style animates into something new.

It’s a tricky effect to get right, and it’s not something you can just pick up and customize without some effort. Although if you know your way around CSS, you should figure it out pretty quickly.

11. Pulsing CTA

If you’re looking to consistently grab attention from visitors then try this pulsing CTA design. It uses a delay via CSS to create a repeating pulse animation with an outer glow.

But if you dive into the CSS code, you can change the pulse animation to be anything you like. It’s pretty versatile, and of course, it should blend in nicely with any design.

Also if you click the “X” icon in the corner you’ll get to see the full animation effect all over again. This loads the button into view along with the window so it even has a cool animation for the first pageload.

Most websites use pure CSS buttons these days so it’s not all that difficult to find one you like and clone the code for a kick-ass CTA.

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