All the time, we’re seeing more and more CSS features that are giving us capabilities much more inline with what designers are able to achieve with Photoshop. Blend modes are one of these, we have had blend modes in Photoshop and other image editing software for decades, but only relatively recently have they been added to the CSS Spec. This excellent CSS-Tricks article covers the different properties in detail – but for this specific post I’ll be using mix blend modes – written as the declaration “mix-blend-mode”.
Specifically, mix-blend-mode describes how an element should blend with the element below it and its background. Background blend (background-blend-mode) is different as that describes how multiple backgrounds, including colours, of the same element should blend.
I stumbled upon a post on Dribbble by a designer called Balraj Chana. The design clearly uses blend modes heavily to achieve its visual look. Normally, this would have been difficult to achieve in browser – perhaps you’d need to use multiple layered PNGs with transparency. Or you may have had to just splice the images. Whatever technique you’d have used though, I’d say that achieving his level of design would have been nigh on impossible. Perhaps with Flash…
I set myself the challenge of re-creating Balraj’s design, in browser, with CSS only using the new mix-blend-mode property. Without access to the original file, there was a lot of guesswork involved. To keep the challenge reasonable, I only set out to recreate the second panel “Compare”. I also didn’t have any of the original images, so I had to source and cut out my own. Sadly, Balraj also appears to be using a font which I’d have to pay to buy and use. For the purpose of what I was trying to achieve, I skipped this and used Lato.
The design uses a lot of gradients, so this was the first part I looked at having set out a structure:
With help from a Compass mixin, I started adding them to each element. I then had to experiment with the different mix-blend-mode properties to get the closest look to the original design I could manage. Unfortunately, there are still some that you can use in Photoshop that are not available in CSS yet. Altogether, throughout the code I used five different blend modes. Without them, the design ends up looking extremely flat and doesn’t have any of the depth or visual detail of the original design.
With a little jQuery help, I then animated the progress bars, using a data attribute to control their widths.
Check the codepen (only tested in Chrome) and you’ll see how I achieved the end result, and how close I got to the original design. What this challenge really goes to show is how close CSS is getting to Photoshop – and it’s possible that the new blend properties will usher in the next design trend, shunning the flat feel of recent years for a more colourful and vibrant look much like Balraj Chana’s design.
In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.
By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.
In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.
At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.
There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).
They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.
The free version of this software lets you:
Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.
But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.
We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.
By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.
There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.
Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.
Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.
Hotjar tools include:
Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.
While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.
For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.
Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.
What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.
If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.
Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.
Stay up to date with the latest marketing, web design, and branding tips and news.