My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #34

My name is Mason Ellwood, and I’m currently working on Flatiron School’s Online Full Stack Web Development Program. Each week, I’ll be writing about my experience, what I’m learning, and tips on learning to code.

Today I would like to deviate from code review and talk about something a little more important, time management, and how I have been able to envision an end point with the school. The Flatiron school, in a simple sense, is huge especially the online course that I am involved in. It is very expensive and you have to be very involved in the school to really be invested and take full advantage of the extent of knowledge that is available to you. I did not realize this until I officially began working full time in the school.

With this understanding of what was to come, I was able to provide myself with safe goals to complete per day to view an endpoint in the future. This was going well, I did not set goals that were too high, but were tangible to compete with everything else going on with work and so forth. Upon finishing the material that was mandatory to enter into the full school lesson program I was ready financially to begin working through the course material full time, all day every day. But then, as it always does, life happens….

Around this time, I had received a phone call from my mom and she told me she was diagnosed with cancer. Because of the severity of this cancer that she was diagnosed with, they said they would begin chemo that night. So off to Tucson I went, scratching all my study plans. For the next week, I stayed at the hospital with her, all day for roughly 15 hours per day. Only leaving to eat and sleep at my parent’s house. Through this time, it was hard…. And if anyone of you has had this happen to you I know from a viewer standpoint of how nasty cancer and treatment really is. Once the initial shock of the stark turn my life just took, I began thinking about school again. I began taking my laptop to the hospital every day with me.

My mom was unable to really talk through this time, it gave me a large window to make real progress with the coursework provided by The Flatiron School while being able to be there for the family to do whatever they needed me to do for them to help in any way I could. So this was my new normal, living in Tucson, Arizona hanging out at a hospital all day, helping with my mom and setting aside anytime I could to be there for her.

This was the next 5 months of my life, working and caretaking. Being there for my mom, while working through this cancer together and working through school when I had the time. This set me back in school quite a bit. I was not making the progress that I had, but still slowly inching my way forward.

During this time we got connected with M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. So off to Texas we went. This past month and a half I have spent in Houston, preparing for the stem cell transplant that was approaching.

Every day in Houston I would wake up, pack a lunch, be at the hospital from nine o’clock to three o’clock. Then head to the gym, eat supper, and head back to the hospital until 12 o’clock. My time spent at the hospital I would work on school, it being really the only time I had. On July 4th, 2017 was the big day, my mom was ready for her stem cell transplant, her new birthday. If any of you know this is a big deal. Basically, it is a restart of her immune system, so when she gets to come out of the hospital she will have the immune system of a child, no vaccinations, and susceptible to anything that the average person would be able to fight off with a built up immune system.

For the next 15 day, she was unable to eat and could not leave her bed. So I sat with her, day after day, working on school, and helping with mundane things like plugging in her phone or ordering food on the phone. Things that you don’t think about until you are unable to do them. As well as making sure she was all caught up on the new season of The Bachelorette, which I hate to say, but it’s actually pretty addictive haha.

Though this time, I completed Ruby, built my first gem, ran business meetings, as well as had interviews with the school upon completing a major portion of the class work all from a hospital room at M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas.

On July 20th we found out that is could be the cure, and she could possibly be cancer free and was released from the hospital.

We were headed home!

I do not mean to write a post about how I was able to complete all this school work, how I am this great guy, or a sob story. And I hope you don’t take it that way because that is not how I intended it. But things happen in life and you have to adjust. I set aside this time for myself to really progress in school, and with one phone call that all changed. I did not plan on moving to Houston for a couple months, nor spending long extended time in Tucson, but life goes on. This time with my mom has given me the strength to push through emotionally, has created a closer bond with my family than I have ever had. It has given me the time management skills to always know that I actually do have time to get what i needed done, even though it’s not quite the way you wanted that time to look.

My mom is cancer free, and I am more than halfway done with school. Which in a warped way, feels pretty good.

Read More at My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #34

from Web Design Ledger

How to Create a Spring Header in Adobe Muse

Creating a Spring Header in Adobe Muse - Adobe Muse CC - Muse For You

How to Create a Spring Header in Adobe Muse. No Coding Skills Required.

 Muse For You - Adobe Muse CC Adobe Muse CC Logo

The warm weather is finally here! Being a resident of Wisconsin you have no idea how grateful I am for that. Yes the days can be muggy and humid at times but I’ll take that over 12 inches of snow any day :P. With that being said I’ll segue into today’s article.

Lately, I’ve been creating different headers in Adobe Muse to showcase how to use Adobe Muse and to give ideas for building your own headers. The theme of this week’s header is Spring.

Creating a Spring Header in Adobe Muse - Adobe Muse CC - Muse For You

The tutorial is composed of 8 steps. They are:

1. Setting Largest Breakpoint

2. Adding Spring Text 1

3. Adding Spring Text 2

4. Masking Image in Photoshop

5. Adding Paragraph Text

6. Adding Contact Button

7. Adding Logo and Menu

8. Finishing Touches

We use various tools in Adobe Muse to create this header. For the fonts we use the text panel to set the font type, size, alignment, tracking, leading, and line height. These options are very useful when getting the text just how you want it.

For the image we use Adobe Photoshop to mask the image within an abstract looking image. This lends itself to a unique visual for the header.

We also use other tools, like stroke, the built-in menu widget, along with the Adobe Muse pinning options.

Adobe muse is very powerful tool and my goal is to make it easier to use by demonstrating fun, easy to create headers :).


For more video tutorials and widgets for Adobe Muse visit

Happy Musing!

Read More at How to Create a Spring Header in Adobe Muse

from Web Design Ledger

10 Business and Startup WordPress Themes For A Better Website

Today, we live in a highly competitive world. Thus, it is very important for your business to have the advantage to survive.

How to make your startup or small business stand out from the competition? One sure way is to have an award-winning website to promote your goods or services.

Building a business takes careful planning in many different areas. Moreover, executing those plans can take time. Yet, once a content of a company’s website has been determined, building the website can be done in short order. This is quite easy when the right tools for the job are at your fingertips.

Whether you’re simply looking for inspiration, or ready to get started, you are in the right place. You’re sure to find one or more out of the following collection of WordPress themes to be helpful.

If you need to have a quality website up and running in nothing flat, you need to look no further.

Be Theme

How is Be Theme good for building startup or small business websites?

Being the biggest has its advantages, and Be Theme is the biggest WordPress theme to date. Bigger means having more tools (features), ideas, and concepts than the other guy.

One of the things that makes Be Theme ideal for startups and small business is its selection of 260+ pre-built websites that address every nook and cranny of the business world. Most pre-built websites are multi-page affairs, all are customizable, and it’s not at all difficult to find one that has the functionality you want your website to exhibit.

Be’s Muffin Builder and Options Panelmake building a website a piece of cake, and having more than 200 shortcodesto work with means there’s no need for coding. A pre-built website can also be used to rapidly create a prototype to share with a client for feedback.

If the thought of being able to start from scratch, and get a website up and running in 4 hours appeals to you, give Be Theme a look.



Why is The Core a good choice for startups and small businesses?

The Core is a multipurpose WordPress theme that promotes different themes or website examples for different uses. One of these themes, Cribs, is dedicated to creating small business websites. Thus, if you or your client is a small business owner, it makes good sense to invest in a theme that focuses on providing the basic layouts and functionality your business’s website requires.

The Core comes with a visual page builder, and tons of design options. Your website will be fully responsive, WooCommerce ready, and via a WPML plugin, translatable into the most commonly used languages. Discounted purchase plans are available for building a single website, or an unlimited number of websites. For the latter, you can pay either a one-time fee or an annual fee. Either way, you can expect dedicated support along with free updates.


What makes Oshine a good choice for small businesses and startups.

Oshine is a creative, multi-layout WordPress theme that comes with 27 striking demos featuring clean and modern designs that are applicable to building any type or style of website. The demos are customizable, and since they can be installed with a single click, you can get started immediately.

Oshine has its own, unique visual page builder, Tatsu. Since it’s a front-end builder, building and editing pages is a snap. The powerful options panel gives you total control over the layout design process, plus you’ll have more than a dozen menu and header options to work with.

For creatives, Oshine offers unlimited ways to create a stunning portfolio, and if you have products to sell, or a service to provide, the theme is WooCommerce and WPML compatible.


Why would Uncode be a good choice for small businesses and startups?

Uncode is a popular creative WordPress theme that was handcrafted by an experienced and award-winning team of designers and developers. Uncode is pixel perfect and ultra-professional in its presentation. It’s clean, modern layouts will satisfy almost any need.

Whether your intent is to produce a highly qualified e-commerce website, a magazine-style website, a corporate website, or simply a portfolio, Uncode will be an excellent choice.


What makes Ultra by Themify a great choice for startups?

Whether it’s to create a rapid prototype layout, or to build the final product, Themify’sdrag and drop pre-made row designs provides a super-fast and efficient way to build your pages. This modular approach also provides an easy way to update a page in an existing website. There are currently 34 editable pre-designed rows to select from, including FAQ, Banner, and Testimonial sections.


How is Houzez good for small businesses?

Houzez may not be the best fit for some small businesses, but this specialized WordPress theme is the best possible choice for creating a realtor’s or real estate agency’s website. The functionality most agencies need is already there, including property search, rate, and review, custom workflows, private messaging, and more.

Add content, and you can have a website up and running in hours, or even sooner.


KLEO – Ready To Go Theme For Your Business

How is KLEO a good choice for small startups?

KLEO is a community-focused, multipurpose BuddyPress theme. This is exactly the type of theme for creating websites that many startups, and more than a few businesses, could put into play to grow their customer or user base.

KLEO has plenty of demos, and it’s easy to install the plugins you may need. You can try KLEO for free, and test its options before you buy.


What does Kallyas have that startup and small business websites need?

Kallyas’s reputation speaks for itself. This nearly 5-year-old responsive theme, created by an experienced, customer oriented team, has been a top 15 best-selling WordPress theme since day one.

Kallyas is loaded with features, including 50+ pre-built websites, a simply amazing visual website builder, adaptive images, video tutorials, and dedicated support. Kallyas is a WordPress theme you can have fun with!


What makes Infinite the right choice for a small business or startup?

Infinite is a multi-purpose WordPress theme. It was created with a goal of providing a website solution for everyone. All the needed tools are there, so it’s simply a matter of checking out the pre-built website demos.

The demos fall in 4 categories: WooCommerce, Creative, Corporate, and Niche Retail and Services; one of which should fit a small business or startup nicely.



How is TheGem good for small businesses and startups?

Equipped with flexible features focusing on business, corporate and startup websites, delivered with outstanding designs for 50+ business concepts, and carefully developed by the best designers of the Behance network, TheGem will make your online brands stand out, and take your business to the next level.

The best thing is, it’s extremely easy in use. No coding is required. You can freely combine the pre-made demos per drag’n’drop with one another to create your own unique layouts. The 250+ content element styles, designed to cover the goals of any business or startup website make TheGem a reasonable investment.

To Wrap It Up

Finding the right theme for your small business or startup project can be difficult. However, no with this list of winning WordPress Themes. If there is a problem, it’s that of having to choose among several themes that are obviously just right for the job.

The good news is, you’re unlikely to make a poor choice. We’d like to hear what you have to say, or if you feel we’ve left something out. Happy website building!

Read More at 10 Business and Startup WordPress Themes For A Better Website

from Web Design Ledger

How We Increased the Readership of Buffer’s Blog to Over 1.5 Million Visits

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Every company is a media company these days, and Buffer is no different.

We started the Buffer Social blog in January 2011 and since then it has been a key component in the success of the company. We have published more than 1,000 posts—and we’re honored to receive more than 1.5 million visits every month.

It’s been a long, challenging journey, though.

We first hit one million sessions in a calendar month during March 2015—a full 4 years after launching—and after months of floating around 1.1 to 1.2 million sessions, and struggling to break out, we hit 1.5m sessions in May 2017.

You can check out our growth below:

During our journey from zero to more than 1.5 million monthly visits, we’ve learned a ton and would love to share some of our lessons with you today.

Ready to jump in?

run buffer blog header image

The 3-step system behind our blog growth

In this post, we’ll draw back the curtains and share the three step process we use to grow this blog:

  1. Audience
  2. Cadence
  3. Promotion

Feel free to click on the bullet point that interests you the most to skip to that step.

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1. Audience

Understanding what content our audience craves

The content you read here is as likely to be about the evolution of social media, how to create amazing social media content, or little-known tips and tricks as it is about the latest Buffer developments and features (we also share all our culture related content on our Open blog, too).

Our hope is that these posts reflect the needs of our customers as well as the perspectives and views of the writers, editors, and strategists that make up Buffer’s marketing team. And in turn, we hope a few readers would become Buffer customers, eventually.

Before thinking of blog post ideas, it’s helpful to understand what your readers want from you. Otherwise, you’re shooting in the dark and hoping everything works out.

After several iterations of our content and through studying our blog posts data, we uncovered that our audience enjoys our long-form, educational blog posts.

Knowing that has helped us to decide what types of blog posts to write. And no matter what type of post we’re creating, the aim is to help marketers and small businesses to become more successful on social media.

Try this

To find out what your readers want, you could study the performance of your existing blog posts or ask your readers directly through on-page surveys like Hotjar Polls.

How we come up with blog post ideas

It can be challenging to continually create high-quality, valuable pieces of content on a weekly basis.

As an established blog, you can run the risk of dropping your standards or hoping that creativity can be scheduled in order to hit a certain number of posts in any given month.

At Buffer, we do our best to avoid that way of thinking.

Although we aim to publish twice per week (more on how we decided on that cadence a little later), we always strive for the utmost quality and the sweet spot between content we know will get traffic and content that delivers value to our readers (and Buffer).

For example, we might write about the latest social media trends or platform features, but you won’t see us commenting on a potential Mark Zuckerburg presidential run just for some quick traffic.

Here are the various ways we come up with blog post ideas:

Keywords: Ranking for keywords around social media marketing, such as “social media analytics”, has gradually become a top focus for us. We tend to research keyword opportunities and then come up with ideas around them.

Inspiration: We keep an eye out for popular discussions in the industry such as falling organic reach on Facebook and brainstorm ideas around each topic.

News: Whenever a social media platform launches a new feature such as Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, we like to help our readers understand what the update means for their business.

Past experience: We come up with ideas based on posts that have performed well. For instance, when our post on headline formulas performed well, we thought of ideas like copywriting formulas and storytelling formulas.

Intuition: Sometimes you just have to trust your gut. Occasionaly we’ll come up with post ideas based on the intuition we’ve built up over years of running the blog.

blog post ideas

How we decide which posts to write

We come up with many ideas but they don’t all get published on our blog.

When assessing an idea, we think about the following questions:

  • Is this relevant to marketers or small business owners working on their social media?
  • Does this help them solve a challenge they face at work?
  • Has this been written before? If yes, can we add more value to the topic?
  • Is there interest in this topic? (Sometimes, that means looking at the search volume for the keyword or Google Trends data)

When we can answer “yes” to these questions, we would pick that idea and move it to the “Pipeline” column on our Trello board.

Try this

Come up with a set of criteria relevant to your blog goals. Writing only blog posts that meet your criteria can help to keep the quality of your content high.

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2. Cadence

Finding the right cadence to meet our goals

Over the years we’ve realized the importance of editorial cadence and heading into 2017, we decided it was something we wanted to focus on heavily.

After some experimentation, we realized we needed to do the following:

  • Publish consistently: We had tried publishing four or five times per week, but found that our standards were dropping and we were on the losing side of the quantity vs quality battle. We’ve found that two new blog posts plus our podcast show notes per week feels like the perfect amount of content.
  • Plan ahead: By planning our content up to four-six weeks ahead of publishing, we have plenty of time to research and plan how each new piece of content will be promoted.

To aid us with this, we use a handy Trello calendar power-up that displays cards with due dates in a weekly or monthly format. We use the monthly calendar to help us organize our editorial schedule and give us a quick overview of the following few weeks.

Planning ahead and giving ourselves more time to edit our content has been one of the key factors in unlocking our growth and reaching the 1.5-million milestone. This has enabled us to take the utmost care with every post to ensure the quality is right when we want it to be when we hit ‘publish’.

Try this

I would recommend experimenting and finding a suitable editorial cadence based on your content goals and the amount of time you have. There is no one right editorial cadence. HubSpot publishes several articles a day while Backlinko publishes less than once a month.

2 ways we streamline our editorial communication

1. Keeping everything in one place 

Slack, email, Discourse…

Communication can get a little overwhelming at times. To counter this we have all the key discussions in the respective blog post Trello cards. Even if we discuss something related to a blog post in Slack or on video calls, we’ll make a note in the Trello card.

This serves two purposes:

  1. Single reference point: Instead of having to look through Slack or trying to remember what we discussed five days ago on the video call, we know we can find all the key information about an idea on its Trello card.
  2. Information transparency: By having the information on Trello, we can keep the relevant team members in the loop even if they missed the Slack or Zoom conversation.

key information in one place

Try this

Find a tool that suits your content system. For us, it’s Trello.

If you are already using a tool for your content system, lean into it and use it to store all the key information about your content.

2. Making time to chat face-to-face

Ash, our blog editor, and I have a weekly meeting every Tuesday where we talk about all things related to our blog.

This is a practice that content crafters at Buffer have been doing since the start of the blog. These recurring meetings encourage us to reflect on our recent work and think how we can improve.

Here’s what Ash and I usually do during our content syncs nowadays:

  • Review recent blog post performance
  • Discuss blog post ideas that are being worked on now or that are planned for the next few weeks
  • Discuss interesting social media or marketing news
  • Share well-written blog posts we read recently
  • Brainstorm new blog post ideas

You don’t have to keep to the same agenda but I would recommend at least reviewing the results your recent blog posts and refining your content strategy.

Try this

Have a content sync with your editors and writers at least once a week. If you are the only writer, you could meet with your team lead or a teammate who is keen.

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3. Promotion

Focusing on content promotion, not just creation

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers likes to spend 80 percent of his time promoting his content:

“It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more.

“Or, in other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.

We are far from spending 80 percent of our time promoting our blog posts but here are two things we do to share our content with more people.

4 ways we promote our content

1. Repurposing blog posts for social media

We repurpose our blog posts into content suitable for each social media platform. For instance, here’re some things we do:

  • Brian Peters, our Digital Marketing Strategist, creates Instagram stories with the key points of the blog post and invites our Instagram followers to check out the full post on our blog.
  • He also creates short videos using the content in the blog posts to share on Twitter and Facebook. We found that videos have been receiving more engagement and, consequently, more reach on social media than links.
  • I republish our blog posts on Medium, often with a different headline and shorter content.

Instead of simply sharing a link to each social media platform, we found that customizing the post for each platform such as adding videos for Facebook has generated more engagement from our fans.

While doing this might not always drive traffic to our blog, I believe it helps our followers gain trust in the content that we create. And next time, when they are looking for help on social media marketing, maybe they will think of the Buffer blog first.

2. Building a loyal newsletter following

Despite the rumors, email is not dead (and I can’t see it dying anytime soon).

Our email list is often the #1 driver of traffic to our content on the day it’s published and provides us with a way to get our content in front of our most avid readers.

We are grateful that many people have signed up to receive our blog newsletter over the years, even after we stopped growing our email list actively. We send them an email whenever we publish a new blog post or once every week.

With about 100,000 subscribers, each of our new blog posts gets about 1,000 to 2,000 visits from these subscribers on the first day alone. (The conversion rate is definitely something we can work on.)

Try this

Having a newsletter following has allowed us to share our content with a group of readers who would read our new blog posts whenever they are published. If you wish to build a loyal readership and grow your blog, consider growing an email list for your blog.

3. Paying attention to long-term traffic (SEO)

Often, our content ideas come from an amalgamation of the methods listed above. And in most cases, we aim to generate long-term search traffic for each of the posts we publish.

Our blog post on Instagram algorithm is a great example. We knew it’s a popular topic among social media marketers, and people are searching for “instagram algorithm” on Google (about 4,000 searches per month).

By understanding the term people are searching for on Google for this topic and writing a well-researched, high-quality piece, the blog post was able to rank on the first page of Google and has been bringing in 600 to 800 views per day since we published it.

Long-Term Traffic Example

We believe this focus on bringing in long-term search traffic to new posts has helped unlock growth for the blog in the recent months.

Try this

If you want to generate long-term search traffic for your blog posts, learning how to do keyword research is a great place to start. Here are a few resources to get you started:

How To Do Keyword Research – The Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz
Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide by Backlinko
How To Do Keyword Research in 2017 by Ahrefs

4. Craft headlines that attract readers

A great headline can bring people to a blog post from RSS feeds, social media, and search engines.

David Ogilvy, once wrote, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy”. In fact, we found that as many as 78 times more people read the headline on Twitter than read the blog post.

Inspired by Upworthy’s editorial process of writing 25 headlines per article, I would come up with at least 20 headline ideas for each blog post. Not all of them are great but each of them helps me come up with a better headline.

I often refer to this blog post on headline formulas to help me brainstorm. We also use YoRocket, a WordPress plugin that analyzes and suggests improvements for our blog post headline.

The 20 headlines also come in handy when we want to share the blog post on social media more than once. I would share those headlines in the Trello card with Brian Peters, our Digital Marketing Strategist, who would promote the blog post on social.

headline ideas

Try this

For each of your blog post, brainstorm at least 20 headlines before settling on one. Here are some of our go-to headline formulas:

Headline + Headline (E.g. Understanding the Instagram Algorithm: 7 Key Factors and Why the Algorithm is Great for Marketers)
Item and Item: Listicle (E.g. Optimal Timing, Videos, and More: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Instagram Reach)
The Complete / Ultimate / Beginner’s Guide to ____ (E.g. A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing: Get the Playbook That Drives Results for Instagram’s Top Profiles)

Bonus: Relaunch older posts to boost traffic

Many topics we cover on the blog such as social media tools or social media marketing budget are evergreen topics.

But as things change quickly in the social media landscape, the information in a blog post can become outdated quickly.

So instead of just writing new blog posts, we also update existing blog posts on evergreen topics that have outdated information or even more potential for traffic through search. This keeps our blog posts relevant and useful for our readers.

For example, when we updated our social media analytics tools post in March 2017, the daily traffic more than doubled from about 300 to 700:

content relaunch

(The two spikes of traffic came from our RSS feed and email digest).

Try this

Briefly, here’re the 3 steps of a content relaunch:

1. Identify underperforming content: Brian recommends looking for posts that rank 7th to 15th on Google, posts where organic traffic has fallen, posts that underperformed, and posts that are good but could be better.

2. Improve and update that content: Some of Brian’s suggestions are updating the images and screenshots, improving the post’s structure, and adding a new case study.

3. Republish your post: The last step is to update the “Published” date in WordPress to today (the day of the relaunch). That will bring the blog post to the top of your blog.

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If you’d like to get traffic from social media by sharing your blog posts there, we’d love to help you. Try our 14-day free trial and experience the difference today. 

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Thinking about vanity metrics and 1.5 million thank you’s

Having over a 1.5 million visits per month is great but you could also argue it’s a vanity metric. And you’d probably be right.

As content crafters at Buffer, we’re in the business of selling software. We don’t take a direct, hardline approach to this, but our content is essentially here to increase our reach, build our brand, and in-turn drive Buffer’s sign ups and revenue figures in the right direction.

Alongside traffic, we also pay close attention to the number of Buffer customers referred by the blog, and the monthly recurring revenue figures generated by those customers.  These metrics give us a better sense, in quantitative terms, of how the blog is providing business value.

In our case, increased traffic seems to correlate pretty well with some of our more meaningful metrics like sign ups—as our traffic grows, so does the number of signups and revenue generated. That said, we’re keen to do a bunch more to optimize these flows and see how we can maximize the value of every visit we receive to the blog, without compromising reader experience.

Overall, we’re happy with the progress of the blog, and we hope you found this blog post useful. If you have any questions about our editorial process, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

And, finally, thanks a million for being one of our readers. We truly appreciate it 🎉

from Social

Minimalist Web Design – More Effective Than Any Other Design Style In The Web Design Industry

This article is the third in a series devoted to the understanding of minimalism in web design. During the time, this trend has become very popular among the graphic designers and it will still be on top for the years that will come, regardless the influences it will have.

You might assume minimalism is easy – after all, fewer elements mean less work, right? In fact, the opposite is more accurate. Because you are restricted to a usage of few elements, they must be chosen and used with care and thoroughness, having a specific purpose as a starting point. If it’s done properly, minimalist design can be a stunning masterpiece, in terms of UI, visual design, UX and conveying your message to the users.

It may seem ironic, but in the context of web design, simplicity is a little more complex to define. It’s not just the site looks like; it’s about the user’s overall experience while interacting with the site. From this perspective, minimal design is not made by mistake. It is intentional. It is an approach that strips the unnecessary elements from a framework to leave only what is required. Most minimalist websites will not include a lot of colors, textures, shapes or accents. They are defined by fearless usage of negative space in neutral colors, dramatic typography, large and vivid photography, very simple navigation tools and visual balance.           

Minimalism works because it does what all design should do – it puts the emphasis on content.

The advantages of minimalism in web design and the reasons for its popularity include:

  1. It’s a natural fit with responsive design frameworks;
  2. It reduces the information for browsers to process, causing faster site load times and better site performance; this leads to a better usability and user experience;
  3. It needs less CSS and Html rules and elements;
  4. The concept is content-driven, which coincides impeccably with the growth of content-first design processes and trends;
  5. It is suitable for a variety of businesses, from architecture, interior design, fashion, photography, creative studios, to e-commerce, web app development, furniture, HoReCa and so on.

Using the minimalist concept in web design represents modern design. By only focusing on the content and branding, the web design will reflect its main goal and mission without any other distracting elements. 

Below are listed some websites from different industries, which use minimalist design concept for conveying their message and provide a great UX:

Minimalism in photography portfolios

Running a photography business is not common. Beyond stunning photos, it requires much creativity and refinement when it comes to communication with the potential customers. If you want to learn more about running a photography business, you may find more information in Braveen Kumar’s article (link to

In terms of web design, minimalism is the preferred choice for the photographers who want to let their work speaking for itself. The style gives an air of elegance and sophistication that lends itself to this industry.

Christine Szczupak Photography

The stylized arrows and subtle drop-shadow are important details that increase the visual appeal of this website.

Ryan Willms

The spacing and arrangement of content here, along with the elegant typography and simple lines, give the feeling of a fresh design.

Caitlin Worthington Photography 

The white background is the perfect canvas for the large and vivid photographs that are perfectly balanced by the typography. A classic example of minimalist design.

Jonathan Glynn Smith

A dramatic splash screen and beautifully minimalist design.

Bruce Percy

A very simple design that leaves the viewer no doubt what he’s seeing. A quick glance is enough to see what the photographer does. Navigation is again clear and simple. The black background works well with the minimalist design.

Minimalism in the creative industry

Exponent PR

To highlight their video montage (and photos as you scroll), Exponent’s site features simple colors and fonts that make everything pop.

Bark PR

Like Exponent PR, the previous PR company on our list, you’ll see flat UI and bold colors. But in Bark PR’s case, the yellow is much more than a simple accent.

Oh My! Digital Design Studio

Oh My!  uses a large white background for some high-contrast effect and a very simple navigation to provide a great UX.

Brave Little Tank

Like Oh My!, Brave Little Tank also uses a large white background for getting a high-contrast effect with the website content. The accents of colors are given by pictures and the green color of highlighted text. The navigation is simple, letting the users dive in quick and easy through the whole site. With its website, Brave Little Tank has created a simple, impactful solution (what they also have promised to their clients).

Brian Danaher

Another website that opts for a single column and bold typography. If you take a closer look, you will notice the classic mix for the minimalist concept: a lot of negative space, large and vivid photos, typography that perfectly balances the images.  


Minimalism is the preferred choice for fashion websites and those selling luxury items, like Italian brand Callens. This design concept gives an air of elegance and sophistication that lends itself to certain industries.

Leen Heyne


Besides its jewelry, Leen Heyne‘s monochrome logo and company name are the only significant visual elements on its homepage. The surrounding expanse of gray space and white texts make it a safe bet, the user’s eyes going back and forth between the two core visual elements.


Italian luxury goods brand Bulgari is another company that uses creative techniques to keep its site interesting within its minimal framework. Side-to-side scrolling combines with an ingenious page-turning animation and high-quality photos.


Lots of space, soft pastels, middle to dark gray colors for text, large photos and keeping buttons to a minimum make Yield’s site delicate and easy to navigate.


Conspiracy’s homepage bundles necessary buttons on top then puts the product on a clean canvas.


This site is traditionally minimal. Design brand NTN uses the abundant white space, personality-infused typography, and a reduced number of elements that the minimalist style is known for.

Minimalism in website and app development


This screenshot from website-building service Squarespace illustrates the idea of one focal point per screen. The site explains everything it needs in screen-by-screen images, and groups together relevant blurbs on the same screen.


Scytale is another defining website for the concept of minimalism in web design. They use very large white and light gray background and big and bold typography, helping the user to focus on the main message. The red color used for some flat design and typography are the only color accents used here.


Simple design on a subtle grid. Garnished with flat design and simple bright blue color via scrolling. A fun, clean, good interaction!

iPad mini 4

Apple is no stranger to minimalism. The web page for the iPad mini 4 uses lots of literal white space to draw attention to the product’s sleek design. The clear top bar, also featuring an abundance of space, helps the user to navigate.

Château d’Yquem

Winemaker Château d’Yquem combines minimalism and subdivision in its site. Each section follows the minimalist philosophy with only a few elements revolving around a single concept. When combined, the sections’ size and location on screen create a visual hierarchy.


The website for double-Michelin-starred Norwegian restaurant Maaemo uses minimalism to create a sense of class. The visual treatment is perfect for storytelling, as the site demonstrates with HD photos used for each page.

Bottom line

We know you have a lot of information to offer to your visitors and you’d like to feature all of them on your website, but you should keep in mind that will also throw your visitors into an information overload.

Before anything else, make sure your website features only the most important information and link the additional stuff. And don’t worry, if people are interested in learning more about your company, they will look for links or they will contact you.

Most of all, make sure your brand and your target audience fit the concept of minimalism before going for this website design concept. Because unfitting use of colors, typography, and visuals will not bring the same results for your business.

Even if it’s not suitable for all business websites, minimalist design style comes with plenty of great advantages that make it more effective than any other design style in the web design industry.

Read More at Minimalist Web Design – More Effective Than Any Other Design Style In The Web Design Industry

from Web Design Ledger

The Complete Guide to Creating Effective Snap Ads with Snapchat Ad Manager

In the past, if you wanted to run Snap Ads (Snapchat’s full-screen video ads), you would need to go through one of their ads partners. Now, though, you can create Snap Ads yourself through Snapchat’s new self-serve ads tool, Snapchat Ad Manager.

Snapchat has even included a video creation tool in the Snapchat Ad Manager to make creating engaging, awesome-looking vertical videos a breeze.

We’re thrilled by the possibilities that Snapchat Ad Manager has brought about for marketers. And we would love to help you get started with creating your very own Snap Ads and measuring their performance.

Here’s everything you need to know…

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Snapchat Ad Manager

What you’ll learn in this guide

Here’s a brief look at what will be covered in this Snapchat Ad Manager guide. Feel free to click on the quick links to jump to the respective sections.

First up, what are Snap Ads?
The benefits of Snapchat Ads?
Quick overview of Snapchat Ad Manager
How to create an effective Snap Ad with Snapchat Ad Manager
Beyond Snapchat Ad Manager: Good-to-knows

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First up, what are Snap Ads?

3-10 second full-screen vertical video ads

Snap Ad Example

Snap Ads are full-screen vertical video ads that can be up to 10 seconds long.

Snapchat users (or Snapchatters) can swipe up, anytime when the video ad is playing, for more — watch a longer video, read an article, install an app, or visit a website.

Snap Ads appear in between friends’ stories and Snapchat curated content such as Snapchat’s stories or publishers’ stories.

Where Snap Ads Appear

Snapchat also offers two other types of advertising: Snapchat Geofilters and Lenses. But these cannot be created in the Snapchat Ad Manager just yet. You can create Snapchat Geofilters online or on the mobile app, while you have to work with a Snapchat partner to create Lenses.

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The benefits of Snapchat Ads

Distinct audience, powerful targeting, and immersive experience

Snap Ads are an exciting, largely untapped advertising channel for marketers.

Here are just three of the benefits that make Snap Ads attractive:

  • Active user base: The 166 million Snapchatters who use the app daily, on average, spend over 30 minutes in the app and open the app more than 18 times per day.
  • Distinct audience: Huge percentages of Snapchat’s U.S. daily users cannot be reached on Facebook (35 percent), Instagram (46 percent), Twitter (81 percent), and other major social platforms, according to App Annie. Similar trends were found in the U.K.
  • Powerful targeting: With Snapchat’s data, which includes data from Oracle Data Cloud, you can reach Snapchatters based on their demographics and their online and (even) offline interests and behaviors. You can also use your own data to reach your customers and similar Snapchatters on Snapchat.

Who Snapchatters Are

If you are still a little unsure if Snap Ads are effective, especially in comparison with other social media ads like Facebook ads and Instagram ads, perhaps these statistics could convince you.

MediaScience did some research (commissioned by Snap Inc.) and found that Snap Ads are more effective than most social media ads in several ways:

  • Persuasion: Users are much more likely to purchase a product after seeing a Snap Ad than most other social media ads — over two times more lift in purchase intent.
  • Attention: Snap Ads are shown full-screen, and as such, receive up to two times more visual attention than most other social media ads. (Instagram Stories ads were not considered in this study.)
  • Engagement: Snap Ads’ swipe up rate (or the rate at which users check out your website, video, or app) is five times higher than the average clickthrough rate of other social media ads.
  • Sound: Over 60 percent of Snap Ads are played with audio on. (In comparison, 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound.)

Snap Ads create higher purchase intent

If you are a little more interested in Snap Ads now, let’s learn more about the Snapchat Ad Manager.

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Quick overview of Snapchat Ad Manager

Before we go through how to create Snap Ads, let’s first get familiar with the key sections of the Snapchat Ad Manager.

Snapchat Ad Manager

On the left side of the screen you can navigate to the key sections of Snapchat Ad Manager:

  1. Dashboard: This is where you create, view, and manage your Snap Ads. You can also see the metrics of your ads as a graph and in a table.
  2. Creative Library: This is where you view, edit, and create ad creatives.
  3. Custom Audiences: This is where you can create lists of Snapchatters (which you can use for targeting) using your customer data.
  4. Help Center: This is where you can find guides on how to do various things in the Ad Manager and get help from Snapchat.

Now the fun part begins…

Let’s go through the steps of creating a Snap Ad and assessing its performance with the Snapchat Ad Manager.

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How to create an effective Snap Ad with Snapchat Ad Manager

Below, you’ll learn how to create a Snap Ad and evaluate its performance using the Snapchat Ad Manager in this section.

If you are familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager, the Snapchat Ad Manager is very similar. If you’ve not used Facebook Ads too much, you’ll get the hang of it quite quickly.

Feel free to set up your business account on Snapchat here, log in to your Snapchat Ad Manager here, and follow along!

Snap Ads use the same structure as Facebook ads — campaign, ad sets, and ads. To create a Snap Ad, you’ll work your way down the structure: create a campaign, an ad set, and then the ad.

Snap Ads Structure

(For now, you can only create one ad set and one ad at a time.)

If you haven’t created a Snap Ad before, a pop-up will prompt you to create a campaign once you log into your Snapchat Ad Manager. You can also click on “+New Campaign” to get started.

1. Choose an objective for your campaign

Choose campaign objective

First, decide what you want Snapchatters to do when they see your Snap ad. You have four options:

  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Drive install of your app
  • Grow awareness
  • Drive video views

Note: To take any of those actions, Snapchatters will have to swipe up while viewing your ad.

Then, set a schedule for your campaign. You can either start the campaign immediately and run indefinitely or define the start and end dates. You also have the option to set the status (active or paused).

Finally, name your ad campaign. To make finding your ad campaigns easier, you might want to think of a simple naming convention. Here’s a naming convention you could use:

(Objective) – (Schedule) – (Team member’s name)

If you manage several clients, you could also specify the client in the name in your ad campaign name.

Hit “Next” to move on to creating your ad set.

Note: Try to finish setting up your ad in one sitting as Snapchat doesn’t seem to auto-save during the ad creation process. If you quit the process halfway through, you’ll have to start from the first step again.

2. Set the audience, budget, and schedule of your ad set

First, name your ad set according to your naming convention. Here’s a suggestion:

(Audience details) – (Budget) – (Goal) – (Schedule)

Then, there are three main sections to fill up for your ad set — Audience, Budget & Goals, and Schedule.


Set audience

The “Audience” section contains five main parts that allow you to specify the audience you want to reach:

  • Geography: You have to select a country you want to target. You can then make your location targeting more specific by including or excluding certain areas of the country.
  • Demographics: You can specify the people you want to reach by their age, gender, language, income, parental status, and more.
  • Audiences: You can even target people based on what they like, what they’ve bought, what they’ve watched, and where they’ve been. You can also target your customers on Snapchat (i.e. Snap Audience Match Audience) and Snapchatters that are like them (i.e. Lookalike Audience).
  • Placements: You can choose if you want your ads to appear in only Snapchat curated content such as Snapchat’s stories and publishers’ stories (“Content Placement”) or all of Snapchat including between friends’ stories (“All Snapchat”).
  • Devices: Finally, you can define the devices you want to target based on the operating system (Android, iOS, or both), connection type (cell, wifi, or both), and service provider (AT&T, O2, etc.)

While you are only required to select a country at the minimum, setting more specific target audience will help you achieve better results—bear in mind that Snapchat do not allow ad sets to reach less than 1,000 people.

Here are some targeting best practices from Snapchat:

  • Keep your audience size less than 20 million people for the same creative
  • Create an ad set for each unique group of people you’re trying to reach
  • Test Lookalike Audience for prospecting and finding new customers
  • Try using multiple ads per ad set so you can see how different creatives perform with the same audience

Budget and Goals

Set budget and goal

The “Budget & Goals” section allows you to state your daily budget, goal, and bid amount.

The minimum amount for the daily budget seems to be $100. Any lower and you won’t be able to click “Next”.

The delivery of your ads will be optimized for the goal and the bid amount you specified. But you will be charged based on the number of times your ad is served.

For example, you set your goal as app install and your bid as $10. Snapchat will use your bid of $10 to compete against other advertisers’ bid in an auction. Snapchat will then show your ad to the people it thinks will most likely install your app, over ads of advertisers with a lower bid.

But Snapchat will not charge you $10 each time someone installs your app. It will charge you based on the number of times it has shown your ad. So each app install could cost more or less than $10.

It is recommended that you set the bid amount to how much each goal action (e.g. app install) is worth to you. If you are not getting the results you want, you could try increasing your bid.


Set ad set schedule

The “Schedule” section allows you to set the schedule for that particular ad set (which is different from the ad campaign’s schedule in the previous step).

As you can run multiple ad sets within each ad campaign, the ad sets can have a shorter schedule than their ad campaign.

Once you’ve set the audience, budget, and schedule of your ad set, hit “Next” to move on to creating your ad.

3. Select an ad type and upload a creative

Now you’re ready to create you Snap Ad. First, you’ll need to select your ad type:

Choose ad type

Fill in the basic information (such as the creative name) and select the ad type you what.

There are four ad types available on Snapchat at the moment:

  • Top Snap only: A Top Snap is the three to 10-second video ad that Snapchatters will see. There won’t be a swipe up call-to-action for this ad type since there won’t be any video or link attachment.
  • Web view: This ad type allows you to drive traffic to your website (remember all traffic will be mobile) to take your intended action: purchase a product, make a booking, read an article, etc.
  • App install: This ad type helps you to drive traffic to your app page in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store so that the Snapchatter can easily install your app.
  • Long-form video: This ad type acts as a trailer for your long-form video that can be up to 10 minutes long.

Note: The article ad type (which links to a multimedia page) doesn’t seem to be available in the Snapchat Ad Manager yet. A workaround, for now, is to use the web view ad type.

Upload or create your content

Create Snap Ad

There are a few tiny details to complete before uploading or creating your ad creative.

  • Brand name: Enter your brand name (maximum of 25 characters, including spaces). This will appear in the upper-left corner of your Snap Ad.
  • Headline: Enter your headline (maximum of 34 characters, including spaces). This will appear right below your brand name.
  • Call to action: Select your preferred call-to-action from the list. The options available will depend on the ad type you have chosen. This will appear at the bottom of the Snap Ad.

Top Snap Example

“Media File” is the vertical video you want to use for your Snap Ad. If you have created it already or prefer to use a third-party software to create it, simply hit “Upload” to add it to your ad.

If you are not sure how to create vertical videos, Snapchat has this sorted for you! Hit “Create” and you’ll be brought to Snap Publisher, Snapchat’s online video editing app.

Snap Publisher

You can either create a video from scratch here or edit one of the nicely-designed templates. The Snap Publisher feels quite intuitive and allows you to do basic to advanced video editing. Here’s a short three-minute video by Marketing Land on the things you can do with the Snap Publisher:

As for the content of your Snap Ad, selfie videos are a great option to start your ad, according to Liam Copeland, Director of Decision Science for Movement Strategy. Perhaps because they look like stories from friends and make the ad experience less disruptive to Snapchatters.

The trick is to film videos on iPhones using the front facing camera with the talent front and center — and with no branding until three to five seconds in, according to Copeland.

“The more organic the ad feels and the later the branding appears, the more likely a user is to swipe up to view long-form content or web content,” he said.

For more tips on creating great Snap Ads, check out Snapchat’s Help Center where they listed the specifications and offered advice for each ad type. Here are just some of the best practices listed there:

  • Use voiceover call to actions to encourage swipe up
  • Three to five seconds is the sweet spot for Snap Ad length to drive action
  • Provide an offer message, if available, by second two or three

The final step of Snap Ad creation is to fill up or upload your attachment — the website, app page, or video that you want Snapchatters to see when they swipe up.

4. Run campaign

Click “Launch Campaign” and your ad campaign is ready! 🚀

If you have been following along, you have just set up your first Snap Ad campaign. Congratulations!

5. Monitor, optimize, and report

After you have launched your ad campaign, you might want to monitor its performance, edit the schedule or budget, or report your results. You can do all these easily in the dashboard of the Snapchat Ad Manager.

Snapchat Ad Manager Dashboard

Monitor your ad performance: The dashboard will display your overall and individual campaigns’ ad metrics. You can drill down to each campaign, ad set, or ad by clicking on its name and see the metrics for specific date range by updating the date selector.

The default ad metrics shown will change according to the objective of the campaign. You can customize the metric columns of the table by clicking on “Customize Columns” in the upper-right corner of the table.

(Here are the definitions of all the metrics you’ll see in the Snapchat Ad Manager)

Edit your ad schedule or budget: When you are viewing a campaign or ad set, an “Edit” button will appear in the upper-right corner of the page. Snapchat allows you to edit a few details of your campaign or ad set.


  • Campaign name
  • Daily budget (This has to be larger than 70 percent of the sum of daily budgets of all ad sets within the campaign.)
  • Schedule
  • Status

Ad set:

  • Ad set name
  • Schedule
  • Daily budget
  • Bid amount

Report your ad results: If you would like to report your ad results, you can click the download button beside “Customize Columns” to get a CSV file of the table you are viewing.

There’s also an option to break down your results by day, week, or month so that you can see how the ad has performed over time.

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Beyond Snapchat Ad Manager: Good-to-knows

Snapchat Mobile Dashboard

Snapchat Mobile Dashboard

Snapchat has made it very easy for you to monitor your ad campaigns — even on the go. With the Snapchat Mobile Dashboard, you can see the performance of your ads right within the Snapchat app. No additional app is required.

At the moment, it seems that you can only view your ad metrics but not edit the ads.

To access the Snapchat Mobile Dashboard, swipe down in the camera mode, tap on the gear icon, tap on “Snap Ads”, and select your account.

Snapchat Business Manager

Snapchat Business Manager

Snapchat Business Manager is where you manage your ad accounts (e.g. billing and access) and members (e.g. roles and permissions).

Each business account can have multiple ad accounts, and each ad account can have multiple members with different roles and permissions. Only the admins for the business account can invite members and assign roles to them.

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Have you tried Snapchat Ad Manager?

And that’s all you need to know to get started with creating Snap Ads and measuring their performance!

Are there any sections that you wish I had written more about? Let me know in your comments below.

If you have tried the Snapchat Ad Manager, is there anything I’ve missed in this post? What tips do you have for those who are going to use the ad manager for their first time?

Image credit: Snapchat, Marketing Land

from Social

This map uses open data to show you the safest places to park your car

The UK’s Co-Op Insurance wants you to be able to park your car without it getting stolen. The best way to accomplish that is to make an informed decision about where is safe. With that in mind, it’s released a new web-based tool called Park Smart, which uses open data published by the Home Office, in order to show you car-crime hotspots. The data covers England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, the period from November 2016 to April 2017, and is regularly updated. Unfortunately, there’s no data for Scotland. As you might expect, large cities experience more car crime than small…

This story continues at The Next Web

from UK – The Next Web

Are Bluetooth beacons the savior of local news?

Millenials are voracious consumers of news. One UK survey shows that half of those aged 18 to 35 prefer to get their current affairs fix from a newspaper or magazine. A separate Associated Press survey shows that two-thirds of those aged 18 to 34 regularly consume news online. So, why aren’t they interested in what’s happening in their local communities? Perhaps it’s the medium. Struggling local newspapers tend to be a sorry affair, with more adverts for used cars and funeral services than actual news. Like No Other founder Stuart Goulden thinks that the savior for local news is in…

This story continues at The Next Web

from UK – The Next Web

My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #33

My name is Mason Ellwood, and I’m currently working on Flatiron School’s Online Full Stack Web Development Program. Each week, I’ll be writing about my experience, what I’m learning, and tips on learning to code.

It is official! I have passed the Ruby CLI Gem Final project. If you would like to try out my gem for yourself please visit is basically the for the Ruby community. If you do not know what NPM is either then RubyGems is basically a place where you can find, install, and publish Ruby Gems that you build yourself. It is an open source project, kind of like Github, where users can store and use other people’s gems for their own purposes.

RubyGems is a package manager for the Ruby programming language that provides a standard format for distributing Ruby programs and libraries (in a self-contained format called a “gem“), a tool designed to easily manage the installation of gems, and a server for distributing them.” wikipedia

Thank you, Wikipedia.

If you would like to view the screen share of me running through my application, check out the video below.

Sorry for me speaking so quietly in the video, I was in the waiting room at MD Anderson, so I had to keep it down.

To install my Gem to your Gemfile please type into your terminal

gem install masonellwood_cli_app_two

Depending on if you have your local environment setup because most likely you will receive an error of “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE TO THIS FILE” or something along those lines. This is a mac default so unless you set up RVM or some alternative type of Gem management tool, then most likely you should not change the reader writer permissions of your lab without knowing what you are going.

If you would like to set up your own local environment, you should seriously check out the setup instructions that The Flatiron School has published, they are awesome and they are the same ones that I used to set up my machine. (

If the file installed without a hiccup then simply type into your terminal


And this should prompt you to my program which will run through a CLI or command line interface.

Through this project I have learned to speak and present code to a viewer, refactor code on the spot, build a ruby gem, publish a ruby gem, change file permissions, create a local development environment, use bundler to create a base template for gem construction, deeper understanding of debugging, require and use other gems to build projects from, and to be able to approach a problem and think through the steps to solve that problem.

The Professors that have worked with me to complete this project have been amazing, and I thank them for their time and patience with anything that I needed help with. Throughout this project I was finally able to see that I can do this, I can be the developer I want to become, and this decision to become a developer is not over my head.

Read More at My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #33

from Web Design Ledger

CashDash lets you withdraw cash from ATMs without a debit card

The act of withdrawing money from an ATM has largely remained the same, ever since Barclays Bank introduced the first “Hole in the wall” in London, way back in 1967. But now it’s about to see a radical update with CashDash — a range of ATMs launching in London where your debit card is your smartphone. To withdraw cash, you first need to download the CashDash app, and top up your virtual wallet with funds. When you get to the ATM, you key in your phone number, and authorize the transaction on your phone. The machine will then spurt out…

This story continues at The Next Web

from UK – The Next Web