The Tax Bill Has Passed. Do You Know How It Will Impact Your Business?

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — better known, generally, as “the tax bill” — was signed into law on December 22, 2017, there was a broad spectrum of reaction.
Many people were worried. Even more were angry. A small percentage were pleased — and most of all, it

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14 Best Material Design UI Kits & Frameworks For Designers

The incredible material design library is awesome for designers. It might be the most famous design language ever and it fits well with all devices.

And with the large following behind material design, we’ve also seen dozens of frameworks hit the web. Many of these are half-baked or partially finished, but there are some good ones in the mix.

For this post I’ve curated my top picks for the 14 best material design kits you can start using today. These work for all types of websites and, even though they follow a similar design language, they all have unique features that make them valuable.

1. MUI

MUI Framework

I recently stumbled onto the MUI framework and really like it so far. I had never heard of this before – but I have a feeling it’ll be around for the long haul.

It’s a material design framework built around Google’s guidelines for great websites, clean code and native device support from smartphones to desktops. This includes all the standard material UI elements like appbars, tappable buttons, and custom panels.

The introduction is pretty clean and easy to follow regardless of your coding background. Even if you’ve never used a framework before, this one should be a piece of cake.

2. Material Design Kit

Material design kit

The infamous Material Design Kit is perhaps the best digital design freebie out there. It comes as a full package for Photoshop, Sketch and Adobe XD. This makes up about 90% of the design community’s preferred software. So regardless of how you craft mockups – you’ll be good.

It comes with 60+ different interface components and it’s pretty darn easy to work with.

Be warned that the full kit comes at a price. So while the free version is fantastic, it shouldn’t be the only kit you use for mockup design work.

3. Materialize.css

Materialize.css

Materialize.css is another personal favorite that’s been around for a few years. This one’s definitely stable and should be good to run on any site.

Have a look at their startup guide to get a feel for how everything works. You can include optional JS files to add components to your page or just use the Materialize stylesheet.

Most developers want a lightweight CSS framework, so it makes sense to focus primarily on Materialize as a frontend HTML/CSS structure.

4. Material Design Lite

Material Lite

The Material Design Lite framework avoids any reliance on external JS libraries or CSS files. It’s a completely self-supporting framework that runs on modern coding standards and even supports graceful degradation for older browsers.

However, this MDL library has officially merged with the Web Components project – so it’s no longer in active development.

But I still included it here because it’s a great starting point for new projects. You won’t find many (or any) bugs in the code and it should work as expected.

5. Surface

Surface CSS

Surface is a general CSS framework that doesn’t exactly clone Google’s material guidelines. However, it is inspired by them.

The entire library is 100% CSS-based and uses zero JavaScript. This means no scripts weighing you down and all the components run in pure CSS.

In total, the stylesheet measures just over 5KB – which is pretty reasonable considering what you get.

Have a look at the getting started page for more details.

6. MD Bootstrap

MD Bootstrap

MD Bootstrap is one of the few freemium libraries out there. It does cost money for the pro version, but you can use the free version indefinitely. This makes it perfectly suitable for most projects.

Not to mention this library runs on Bootstrap 4, which makes it fully compliant with the newest updates. Pretty cool!

There are quite a few Bootstrap frameworks that use material design, but the MD Bootstrap kit is my favorite.

Browse their tutorial to learn more.

7. Bootstrap Material Design

Bootstrap Material framework

This is one other Bootstrap add-on that really takes material design to the next level. With the Bootstrap Material Design framework you have the option of using the older version (3.x) or the newer Bootstrap 4. Both choices are fully supported and this library is completely free regardless.

While I think both material BS libraries offer value, I think this one’s a bit more customizable from the get-go. But that also means it takes a little more work to learn the internals.

Have a look at their GitHub page if you would like to learn more.

8. Material UI

Material UI

If you’re building modern webapps then you’ll probably know all about React. It’s one of the largest JS frameworks on the web and it’s growing larger every year.

The Material UI framework brings material design into the React.js ecosystem. This lets you build custom material-styled webapps while coding on top of a React.js base.

It’s currently in development for a v1.0 release and you can expect that update very soon. Have a look at the GitHub repo for more information.

9. Vuetify

Vuetify

Another fast-growing JS framework is Vue.js. This works like React, except it feels more like a traditional templating library for all types of sites – not just webapps.

The Vuetify library offers a material design UI kit on top of the Vue.js framework. This project started a little while back and it features a pretty dedicated support base.

There’s a fantastic user guide online you can check out if you’d like to see how this works in action.

But I can’t say this is the perfect solution for all Vue.js projects, so keep that in mind before launching this on a live site.

10. Bulma

Bulma CSS

Love using CSS flexbox? Then the Bulma framework is for you.

This runs on top of common material design features with aesthetics that can blend into any page. The design is clean, super-easy to use and the grid system is phenomenal.

This is my top choice for anything flexbox related. Even if you don’t know much about flexbox, this framework makes for a great learning tool.

11. Ionic Material

Ionic Materials

If you want to build native apps without programming, then Ionic is a perfect choice. It works like a web framework and lets you publish native Android applications that can actually be accepted into the store.

Ionic Material takes things to the next level. With this framework you can build native-looking apps that run on Google’s material design guidelines.

All you need is some knowledge of Ionic and a willingness to dive into this gorgeous UI kit.

12. Google Material Color

Google Material Color

Google Material Color isn’t a complete UI kit, but rather a color library for web developers.

This comes with a bunch of pre-built color codes that fit perfectly into Google’s color requirements. And this library runs on top of Sass, Less, and Stylus.

13. Material UI

Google Material colors project

Short, simple, and easy to setup best describes this Material UI kit developed by Balaj Marius.

It’s a super-simple concept and certainly not the largest library here. But it gets the job done – offering a solid number of material components for any project.

Most of these follow the card interface which has become popularized by Google. It’s the perfect addition to any material website.

14. Hubuntu UI

Hubuntu UI framework

Few designers mention admin themes because they’re just not as popular as frontend frameworks. But the Hubuntu UI admin kit is phenomenal for building your own dashboard, whether it’s for a CMS, a SaaS product or anything else.

This entire framework runs on the Stylus preprocessor but can be used with plain CSS. It is fairly complex so you’ll need to do some reading to get into the nitty-gritty details.

Thankfully everything you need to learn can be found on the main GitHub page, along with setup instructions for the whole framework.

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Metal wall panels offer durability for YMCA

Metal wall panels from Bossier City, Louisiana-based McElroy Metal provided an updated look to the Pickens County YMCA in Easley, South Carolina. The YMCA is adjacent to a church, which also features metal wall panels from McElroy Metal, allowing the two buildings to complement each other. 

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Puppy dog eyes influence dog choice

The frequency a dog raises it’s ‘inner eyebrow’ influences how quickly it finds a new home

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6 Expert B2B Instagram Tips for 2018

 
With more than 800 million monthly users, Instagram is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re a B2B brand, you might think the hype isn’t relevant to you — but in 2018, it most certainly is.
As it stands, there are thousands of brands and a number of

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Marketing Design Elements Every eCommerce Website Needs

When you’re setting up your own online shop, in all your worrying over the site itself, you may forget one very crucial step: marketing. You don’t need a team for DIY marketing; get on social media, start blogging, and snatch up those free ad credits from hosting providers.

But even more important than advertising is its appearance. A distinguishable logo, visually appealing marketing content, and beautiful website will set you apart in the eCommerce world. Luckily, you don’t have to be a seasoned artist to create decent designs. Get a grasp on the basics, and you’re already on your way.

The Importance of Graphic Design

Graphic design is easy to pick up though difficult to master. But when marketing an eCommerce site, or any sort of website, good composition is key. Your website, advertisements, and even the pictures you post on social media must have an appealing and original appearance, or viewers will quickly click away.

Theme

The first thing to consider is what theme you’re after. Minimalistic? Retro? Modern? Artistic? What you’re selling can play a big role here. A store that sells games or computer parts may want a futuristic, dark, or shiny theme to complement the products.

  • If you already have a website with a solid theme, you can use the same or a similar design and color palette.
  • Chose a theme that’s linked to your products, your company, or your website’s look.

Strive for originality above all else. What makes your website, ad, or email different from everyone else’s?

The minimally designed Depot WooCommerce Theme

Placement

Graphic design is not so much about art and imagery as the way the picture is put together. Placing pieces correctly and using proper spacing is essential.

  • Sketch or use an image editing program to plot out each element’s placement. You don’t need to worry about alignment and symmetry yet. Just see how it looks on paper.
  • Look at how the pieces make up the whole. Squint your eyes to see if its looks appealing without all the details.
  • Use placeholder text and pictures until you have a good idea of what the final product will look like.
  • If you’re uncomfortable starting from scratch, don’t be ashamed to use a template.

At the very least, you should study what others have done, whether you’re tweaking a website, creating an advertisement, or writing a blog post. The single rule of art: always use reference images!

Perfectly positioned elements: Grana.cc

Lines and Shapes

Despite how simple they seem, basic lines and shapes can be put to great use in a picture. A straightforward design is often better than an overly complex one.

  • Lines can separate or link content, or surround and highlight important parts of the image.
  • Simple shapes draw the eye. Combining different types can make a dynamic and appealing picture.
  • The strong imagery provided by bold and distinguishable shapes sticks in potential customers’ minds.

Color

Color is one of the most essential aspects of design. Your choice of hues can create a treat for the eyes or a lurid mess. What makes a “good” color palette is debatable, but there are a few rules to remember.

  • Don’t use too many colors. 2-4 is ideal.
  • Contrast is eye-grabbing and great for adverts, but can be garish and displeasing.
  • Analogous colors are more harmonious, but can appear dull without contrast.
  • Consider the mood of the image. Are you trying to rouse excitement? A flaming red will surely draw attention. Or are you more of a chill sort of business? Gentle blues, greens, and whites are perfect. If you sell cute products like toys, pastel may be proper.
  • If you’re unsure, the safest bet is to borrow your website’s color scheme.

Typography

Arguably the most important in graphic design, typography is itself an art. Finding the right font, color, and placement is necessary if you want people to pay attention to what the words say.

  • Use different font sizes for different types of text (header, body text, buttons), but stay consistent between them.
  • Pick 1-3 fonts, and no more. Small images such as banners look best with one or two.
  • Don’t overuse stylistic or cursive fonts.
  • Make sure the text is legible. Use a contrasting color so that text pops and is easy to read.

Be mindful of the content as well. Get to the point quickly. Use short words and sentences. Include a call to action that encourages people to “click here” or “call now”.

Simplicity

In graphic design, it’s generally better to go for a more simple style. It’s easier and often looks better.

  • Don’t cram all free space with giant text, random stock images, and other clutter.
  • White space is a blessing; it draws attention towards the visual elements and causes less eyestrain.
  • Make use of basic shapes before complex images.

In general: Use as little fonts, colors, and graphics as you can. Pick a few fonts, a small palette, and a handful of images. It’s better your creation be called “plain” than “ugly”.

How to Use Design In Marketing

Now that you know the basics, how and when to apply them? Marketing isn’t all ads and email campaigns — it begins with your site, and everything you post online.

Logo and Site Design

If you haven’t begun your eCommerce website yet, these basics of design will serve you well. Usability and simplicity should be your main goal. If no one can find your shop in the clutter, you’re losing money. Instead, go with something that’s easy to navigate and isn’t an eyesore.

Using an eCommerce platform like BigCommerce may be the solution. Your website is the most significant part of your marketing strategy — what’s the use of advertising if your website isn’t up to par?

An eCommerce package has vital features like a drag-and-drop builder, a CMS with analytics and inventory management, and upselling tools. Even if you’re proficient in web development, including these can be difficult. With an eCommerce program, it’s seamless.

As for your logo, bright colors and simple shapes will be the best way to something memorable. Three colors is perfect, and some of the most recognizable logos are one color and even one or two shapes.

Don’t forget about your company blog. Posts shouldn’t just be a block of text! Use images and clever typography to create a more beautiful blog.

Advertisements

When it comes to adverts, resist the urge to make something that’s overly bright or flashing. No one likes seeing one of those pop up, and you’ll only get blacklisted.

Instead, create something simple that stands out from a typical webpage but still draws the eye. Incorporate small animations to further pull attention, without disrupting or annoying viewers.

Email Marketing

Emails may be made primarily of words, but that’s no excuse to ignore how it looks. The layout of text and images is the difference between a successful email campaign and ending up in the trash folder. Always use pictures; plain-text emails are visually boring.

Consider using a service like MailChimp to create more pleasing layouts for your mail. Sites like this contain templates you can customize and drag images into easily.

Social Media

Even on Twitter, graphic design plays a part. An account filled with nothing but links and text posts is no fun! You’ll get more followers if your social media is interesting and full of variety.

While this falls more under image and video editing, similar principles with color palettes and typography still apply.

Create Something That Stands Out

With knowledge of design and how to apply it, you should be able to launch a successful and beautiful marketing campaign. Just remember: simplicity, strong colors and shapes, clear theme, and good typography. Eye-catching, but not distracting.

Keep these guidelines in mind, and you’ll be effortlessly creating beautiful websites, eye-catching ad banners, and wonderfully laid out blog posts and emails. And you didn’t even have to hire an artist!

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Northern Forest: Plan to plant 'ribbon of woodland' across England

‘Ribbon of woodland’ will be planted, but critics say other projects are destroying ancient forests.

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45K come to Chicago for 2017 metal-forming show

CHICAGO — Organizers are loudly calling Fabtech 2017 a success, as the Nov. 6-9 event at Chicago’s McCormick Place conference facility attracted almost 45,000.

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RSES to offer NATE exam at AHR Expo

The North American Technician Excellence exam will take place at 1 p.m. in room S501 of Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.

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Florida iguanas falling from trees

They’re not dead, just chilling in cool temperatures in the US.

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