Month: January 2015

Luna: The World’s First Smart Bed

Well, we’ve spoken about how 2015 will be the ‘Connected’ everything year, and here’s another one to hit the market, this time, it’s LUNA, a smart bed that learns how you like to sleep, helping to manage temperatures between the sheets and for both sides of the bed, along with heart rate and breathing patterns. […]

Digital Buzz Blog

Theories of Psychology and their Application in Designing

For all marketers, it is obligatory to do the prerequisite courses in psychology. Why is that so? They prepare you for even more courses of psychology that follow basic marketing courses. So, there comes a point when you’re learning highly advanced theories and models such as the VALS and LOV models, conditioning theories, or the impact of reactance and dissonance that are all based on human psychology and its implications on marketing.

Marketing has a lot to do with the human psychology . How do consumers behave? What motivates them to buy something? How do they make decisions in the market? What defines their personality? To answer questions like these, marketers have to conduct thorough research into their target market’s psychology.

So, if psychology has implications in marketing, what does that mean for graphic design? Graphic design, branching from the media or marketing fields, has been operating in conjunction with psychology to create amazing work since Day 1!

The Relationship Between Psychological Theories and Design

In The Olden Days


Notice how the contrasting colors (black and white) make the borders of the page pop out. This is known as the “simultaneous contrast effect” in perception. This book was printed in 1892. The same concept is used in the second picture on the Iranian bowl design crafted in the 4500 B.C.

The artists of prehistoric days probably didn’t even have a whole set of theories of psychology to look into, or advanced courses in marketing, that would assist them in fashioning the most beautiful art piece known to history. So basically, they didn’t even know which theories or models of psychology they were using!

Today, however…
We have plenty of resources available to guide us and give us hints about perception, cognition, and common human behavior to use the right elements in our designs. Here are some psychological theories that will help the artist within you to make dazzling designs that will captivate that customer.

Pavlovian Theory of Classical Conditioning

This is probably the one used most commonly in marketing. The theory is based on an experiment in which a dog was given a bone after a ringing bell. After several such repeated acts, the dog was “conditioned” to associate the ring of the bell to the bone. For him eventually, the ringing bell meant tasty bone. This is exactly why the ice-cream truck jingles can never change! Similarly for you, that song always meant tasty, refreshing ice-cream throughout childhood and even now!

Implications in Designing:
Classical conditioning can influence the behavior of observers who believe that an action or image work to associate an idea with an emotional response.”-Wikipedia

Mc Donald’s is one such organization that managed to use the theory of classical conditioning in their graphic design to stimulate an immediate emotional response in customers. Why does every single McDonalds branch HAVE to have that big yellow M (The Golden Arches) which is visible from far away? It should be obvious by now. That “M” is not just a letter! It’s a letter that has been linked to all your memories of McDonalds including the smell, the taste, the memories, laughter, and all other emotions you may have associated with that big yellow letter. Just like the ice-cream truck!

The Von Restorff Effect

This is the theory of absurdity. The Von Restorff effect, also known as the isolation effect, says that if something is distinct, absurd, or completely unusual, it is more likely to be remembered than other items.

Implications in Designing
This billboard ad uses the Von Restorff effect by spelling “chicken” and “more” unusually and the cow statues that appear to be painting on the billboard. Now, who wouldn’t remember this odd ad?

Balloon Chef
Designed by Michael Spitz
A chef hat as a hot air balloon! That’s new.

Designed by Gavster
Another spelling mistake?

Subliminal Messaging

Subliminal stimulation is a rather controversial technique often used by marketers trying to explore the potentials of their target audience’s brain. This technique refers to presenting a stimulus that is below the absolute threshold (or conscious awareness) of the individual. So the viewer is seeing something he sees, but doesn’t “consciously” notice. The intention is to influence the behavior or feelings of the target audience. Whether or not this is effective is still a debate and no conclusive evidence proves this theory.

Read more about the Vicary Experiment, who initiated the concept.

Some marketers, nevertheless, continue to use this technique to give their designs a hidden spark. Once known, it becomes an interesting and clever design. Designers can include hidden elements by altering the text, image, or even audio (video ads). Letters can be placed in such a way that they form another word or a picture.

Do you see the two friends sharing Tostitos with salsa? What about the dancing bear on the mountain on the Toblerone logo?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


I’m sure you have all seen this famous pyramid of “needs” at some point of your life or in academics, regardless of discipline. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is certainly useful in many, many ways and definitely a theory worth consideration for marketers and designers. The needs are what bring about emotion in a human being and cause them to behave in a certain way in hope of meeting their need(s).

Implications in Designing:
Water is the most basic physiological need. Who can live without water?

The need for safety is expressed in the ad above. The insurance ad is associating insurance safety with safety at home.

Smoking - Need
Ad appealing to the need for pleasure… (Oh, um and maybe a need for intimacy is included here)

Gestalt Theory

The Gestalt theories of perceptual organization attempt to identify how the human mind makes sense of disjointed stimuli. The Gestalt effect:

“The capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves…)” – Wikipedia

Now this theory is an asset for designers. Designers have plenty of points, lines, curves, and other images to deal with, and the Gestalt theories surely give them an edge!

Principle of Closure
The renowned WWF logo uses one of Gestalt’s principles of “closure” for a creative logo design. We fill in the blanks to “close” the picture of the Panda ourselves. Do you see that extra-clean salt shaker? What tells you it’s there?


Figure-Ground Principle
Pittsburgh Zoo Logo
Do you see only the tree? Or the animals, birds and fish as well?

Figure Ground Pants
This creative billboard ingeniously uses the figure-ground principle. We tend to pick either the figure or the background to dominate the image. Here, the busy tree-leaves help us pick the punctured pants as a figure and leave the white part as a background. How cool!

Girl Scout
Logo of GirlScouts uses the figure-ground principle.

Similarity Principle

Health Unlimited Logo
Examine the interesting typography “STAR” above that uses Gestalt’s principle of similarity in which the brain tends to group objects that share similar visual characteristics. Although the letters are disjointed, the similarities in their shape, size, or color cause our brain to join them and form the word “star.” Likewise, the famed Unilever logo does the same with the disjointed blue shapes that we group up ourselves to form a “U”.

Use of Color

This is probably one of the MOST useful ones for designers. The color you use makes a tremendous amount of difference to your design. Certain colors arouse certain common emotions among people. There are countless research reports based on the psychology of color and how it affects a person’s mood.

Color Emotion Guide

Read more about the Psychology of Color in Branding and Marketing on the Entrepreneur blog from where I picked up spectacular color-emotion guide.


There are various ways that we can use the theories of Psychology to affect our design and marketing. Have you noticed any examples of it at work? Share with us in the comments below. Share with us in the comments below.

Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

Simple CSS-Only Row and Column Highlighting

Highlighting rows of a table is pretty darn easy in CSS. tr:hover { background: yellow; } does well there. But highlighting columns has always been a little trickier, because there is no single HTML element that is parent to table cells in a column. A dash of JavaScript can handle it easily, but Andrew Howe recently emailed me to share a little trick he found on StackOverflow, posted by Matt Walton.

It was a few years old, so I thought I’d just clean it up and post it here.

The trick is using huge pseudo elements on the <td>s, hidden by the table overflow

You don’t really know how big the table is from CSS, so just make the pseudo elements super tall with a negative top value of half of that.

table {   overflow: hidden; }  tr:hover {   background-color: #ffa; }  td:hover::after, th:hover::after {   content: "";   position: absolute;   background-color: #ffa;   left: 0;   top: -5000px;   height: 10000px;   width: 100%;   z-index: -1; }

The negative z-index keeps it below the content. Negative z-index is a fun trick, but beware this table then can’t be nested within other elements with backgrounds, otherwise the highlight will go below them.

You can see that in action here:

See the Pen Row and Column Highlighting with CSS Only by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) on CodePen.

Making it work with touch

Hover pseudo classes only kinda work on touch devices. First, the element needs to be focusable, which table cells are not by default. You could certainly add a click event handler to the table cells and just do everything in JavaScript, but here’s a method to keep most of the work in CSS:

// Whatever kind of mobile test you wanna do. if (screen.width < 500) {      // :hover will trigger also once the cells are focusable   // you can use this class to separate things   $  ("body").addClass("nohover");    // Make all the cells focusable   $  ("td, th")     .attr("tabindex", "1")     // When they are tapped, focus them     .on("touchstart", function() {       $  (this).focus();     });    }

Then in the CSS you add :focus styles as well.

td:focus::after, th:focus::after {    content: '';     background-color: lightblue;   position: absolute;     left: 0;   height: 10000px;   top: -5000px;   width: 100%;   z-index: -1; }  td:focus::before {   background-color: lightblue;   content: '';     height: 100%;   top: 0;   left: -5000px;   position: absolute;     width: 10000px;   z-index: -1; }

In my final demo, I got a little fancier with the CSS selectors ensuring that empty table cells didn’t trigger anything, table headers in the <thead> only selected columns, and table headers in the <tbody> only selected rows.

You can see that in the final demo. And here’s touch working:

Simple CSS-Only Row and Column Highlighting is a post from CSS-Tricks


Sponsor: Ironhack

Ironhack is a coding school that offers full-time, immersive 8-week courses in Web & iOS development. Founded in Madrid and Barcelona, Ironhack recently launched its third campus in Miami and is accepting applications for its March 16th Web Development cohort.

Receive instruction from experts, hailing from leading technology companies such as Spotify, Yahoo and eBay, among others. In addition to teaching relevant technologies, they impart to you their methodologies for making quality software.

Ironhack provides career support to all its students and alumni through their network of hiring partners.

Note from Chris: I’m a believer. Web worker education is changing and Ironhack is on the front lines. The Miami campus looks awesome and that’s great for U.S. folks, but take note European readers, they have the same courses in Spain throughout 2015.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

Sponsor: Ironhack is a post from CSS-Tricks


Pendleton Ward Quits Adventure Time?

Well, sorta. After three years, Pendleton Ward is stepping back to simply be “one of the show’s writers and storyboard artists”. I adore Adventure Time, but also can empathize with him. This is a great interview about what it means to make something and how it can affect you. Reading this left me nodding my head, as I know how I’ve felt from time to time over the last couple of years. Ward’s words certainly ring true:

Dealing with people every day wears on you…


To spend that extra energy and time you don’t have, to make something that’s worth making, to make it awesome, wears you out…


“Whatever the next thing is, I just want my brain to be happy doing it,” he says. “My state of mind is superimportant. I’m so fried, so I have to sort of work within the confines of what my brain can handle.”

He sighs and looks down at his stomach. “It’s nice to just be sleepy and make stuff,” he says. “That’s the root of what I like doing. Make stuff on my own and fall asleep.”

Charming as hell. Whatever comes next, I’m happy for this approach, and that he was able to be so open about it.

Jason Santa Maria

Kingfisher: The Oculus Rift Beer Coaster

India’s biggest beer, Kingfisher, created the “Beer Coaster” on Oculus Rift where they took fans on the ride of their lives to score a free beer for those whose pulses raced the fastest, with the beer emerging automatically from the Good Times Dispenser during the installation. As brands and agencies around the world experiment with […]

Digital Buzz Blog

Google Analytics Diagnostics: Actionable Data Quality

A Guide to Google Analytics Diagnostics

A few weeks ago I logged in to my Google Analytics account and saw the little yellow number 1 besides the bell icon in the top-right corner of my screen. As usual, I clicked on it to check what it was about, I like to keep my “inbox zero” when it comes to my implementation!

I was surprised with what I saw, as it was a pretty major issue with the website that happened as a result of a recent upgrade: the redirection from to stopped working, meaning that every single page on the website had a duplicate page. That’s bad in many ways.

Immediately after seeing the notification (which you can see below) I sent an email to my developer asking for his intervention. One day later the problem was solved. This was definitely an actionable and timely implementation insight.

Google Analytics notification

The Power of Google Analytics Diagnostics

As shown through the example above, Diagnostics is a very powerful way to find out about issues with your configurations or settings, right in your face!

We all know about the importance of data quality, but how important is it, really? The answer to this question seems to be approximately US$ 296,477,289 only in the UK! At least that’s the estimation made by the Experian Data Quality team in a 2014 research:

86% of companies admitted that their data might be inaccurate in some way. 44% of businesses said that missing or incomplete data is the most common problem with outdated contact information (41%) being the second most problematic.

Our research also concluded that 75% of businesses are wasting 14% of revenue due to poor data quality. This equates to a staggering £197.788m wasted revenue across UK businesses.

With that in mind, it is easy to make your calculations to understand what would be the ROI of spending 30 seconds checking your Diagnostics every time you log into Google Analytics. And I write “every time” because Diagnostics is a real-time tool, it monitors your data & configuration settings on an ongoing basis; my example above shows just that. Diagnostics don’t just tell you what’s wrong today, but continually. For example, if a webmaster forgets to tag 50 new pages that launch 3 months from today, Google will keep an eye out for this.

Make no mistake, your data-driven decisions are as good as your data source, and your data source is as good as your implementation; therefore, your decisions will be as good as your data implementation – simple logic 🙂

Below I will discuss what you should be looking for and how to navigate the Google Analytics Diagnostics feature to get the most out of it.

It All Starts With The Bell (Mr. Jingles)

Analytics notification bellBasically, Diagnostics monitors two types of implementation issues: data quality and configuration settings. Each of these has a large number of criteria being checked, some more critical than others. That’s why when you log into Google Analytics you may see three types of notifications (in order of importance below):

  1. Red notification: high-priority issues including untagged pages, bad filters, abundance of self referrals, (not set) in AdWords Reports, double-tagging, and others.
  2. Yellow notification: unresolved issues including AdWords clicks vs. sessions discrepancies, duplicate campaign parameters, auto-tagging disabled, oversized “Other” channel, and others.
  3. Blue notification: feature recommendations such as creating a goal, excluding internal IPs, linking to Webmaster Tools, using remarketing, using segmentation, using annotations, and others..

Note that the number on the bell will show you only the highest priority notification when you log in, i.e. if you have 6 red, 2 yellow and 2 blue notifications, you will see only a red 6 on the bell notification, but when you click on the bell you will see all of them.

The Anatomy of a Diagnostic

Once you click on the bell you will see an interface with all your notifications similar to the image below. You will note that there are two major sections in the Diagnostics list: Active notifications and Archived notifications. You might look at the active section as your “inbox”, or “to-do list”; the archive is the “done” or “worry later” list – so the objective here is to keep inbox zero! We will talk about each of them below.

But before that, I would like to give a honor mention to a small icon in the top-right of the screenshot below, also known as the “copy to clipboard” button. It so happens that often the person viewing the message is not the one who can act on it. If that’s the case with you, this button will make it easy for you to email notification(s) to your webmaster. Or paste into a spreadsheet to assign various owners and track its course. Or to put into a notes doc, or maybe just to copy the notifications to for the pure pleasure of doing it!

Analytics Diagnostics

Active Notifications

This section, prominent by the white background, lists all the unresolved notifications. It also shows the priority of the notification (using the colors explained above) a short explanation of what is the issue and a list of links to help you take action. Since notifications have different natures, the types of action differ between them. Below is a list of the most common actions you can take.

  • Ignore: If you are aware of the issue being reported and it is not important enough for you implement it, you can choose to ignore the notification for 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or All time. If you do that, the notification will be archived and visible on the section below, but you will be able to restore it later.
  • Check again: If you fixed the issue you can ask Google to check again in order to confirm that you’ve done it properly. This option will be available until you resolve the issue.
  • Details: Clicking on details will lead you to another screen where you can read more about the notification and how to solve it. Usually in the new screen you will also have an additional link to Learn More that will often direct you to relevant resources on the Google Analytics Help Center or Developer Documents.
  • Action links: Those links are present in diagnostics where there’s a setting that can be adjusted to fix the problem. For example, if you have a bad filter, you will see an “adjust filter” leading you directly to the filter, if you have a bad view setting, you will see an “adjust view setting” leading you directly to the view settings.

Archived Notifications

When it comes to archived notifications, you will have three types: Resolved, Ignored and Pending verification.

There isn’t much you can do with Resolved notifications, they have been resolved. You can only see the details about them.

Pending verification will be shown in those notifications where you can clicked on check again, explained above. Those issues are in the queue to be verified by Google, and when they are checked again they are either resolved (stay in the archive) or are going back to the active section.

As for Ignored notifications, you will have the option to Restore them into an Active notification or just check more details about them. This option has two major use cases that might be very handy:

  • A teammate ignores something thinking it’s not important, but you realize it is.
  • You archive something because it’s not important at that point in time. But your business strategy shifts and it becomes important in the future.
  • You ignore something believing it has been implemented, but you notice later it was not (for these cases, it is always better to click on “Check again” instead of “Ignore”).

Lesson: it is always better to resolve an issue rather than ignore it!

Concluding Thoughts

In summary, Diagnostics are great, they can save you a lot of headaches and money; it will constantly monitor your data health for you and let you know if anything strange comes up. In addition, if you are not a savvy Google Analytics user, this feature will have a huge value as it will help you prioritize your development, focusing on tasks that are more important first. And another helpful touch is that it will send you directly to whatever setting you need to change, time saver!

Data quality is an issue that affects all companies, independently of their savviness, size or industry. Even if you are a data jedi, make sure to take a few seconds to check this feature, it may turn you into a hero.

Big shout-out to Matt Matyas, Google Analytics Product Manager responsible for this feature, for his comments and insights on this post.

Google Analytics notification
Online Behavior
Analytics Diagnostics

Online Behavior – Marketing Measurement & Optimization

A Brand New Direction in Web Design

Looking back over your shoulder, it’s obvious that web design has evolved in many respects, and it will most likely continue on the same accelerated course. Next year, you’re probably going to think of today’s circulating trends as the established norm.

What are the areas where we have seen the most significant progress? With regard to website creation, it’s safe to state that device and browser responsiveness is now a rule instead of a commodity, not to mention that our overall attitude towards coding is different. Presently, well-designed WordPress themes include shortcodes, open the front office for web designers, and offer type kits.

This Year’s Trends

Web designers are bound to rely more heavily on premium WordPress themes, which are striving to present them with as many options as possible and an accessible price. The topmost themes aren’t just based on clean code, they also provide innovative functions and techniques for fast page loading.

Last year, websites that sported tremendous image and video backgrounds were a big hit. This trend is going to escalate even further throughout the upcoming year, so everyone will be on the lookout for tools that optimize new image loading and responsive re-sizing.

Imagine working with a WordPress theme so heavenly equipped, that it covers all of your demands.

X Theme, a Game Changer in 2015?


The giant marketplace for design resources, ThemeForest, has marked X Theme as the most avidly employed product on the shelves. An army of happy customers back that statement up with delightful testimonials. It seems that Themeco really has a chance of making it big with their brainchild this year, because this WordPress theme already answers to many designer-specific needs, and an expert attention to details is soon bound to produce more wonderful surprises from their 12 full time staff.

X Theme has loads of navigation and layout options, 40 shortcodes, and 600 Google Fonts with all weights and styles. Additionally, it does away with the admin panel and lets you preview your ongoing project directly. But the most attractive feat of all comes with version 3.0., which includes a wealthy set of specially devised extensions. We will come back to Themeco’s extensions later in this article.

First, we have to mention the Stacks – X Theme’s collection of complete designs that target different directions for your client projects. To this day, four Stacks have been introduced: Ethos, Renew, Icon, and Integrity. If you want an elegant, business website, Integrity will help you create it, or for a magazine website, Ethos will place images front and center. Long story short, each stack is accompanied by a number of demos, and the smooth creative process is assisted by tutorial videos.


Futuristic Extensions from Themeco


We have come to think of WordPress plugins as costly and additional functionality for a theme. Frankly, no one likes the prospect of coughing up $ 50 to $ 200 for a single plugin, no matter how proficient and necessary it is. Themeco upends that conception, by coming up with a variety of uniquely blended extensions that DON’T COST A PENNY, even though their added up value would rise as high as $ 1000.

To unlock extensions, one would have to acquire a copy of X Theme, and confirm the purchase. In addition, automatic updates for all lifetime are a given, and every time a new extension is added, you instantly get access to it. This advanced offer is bound to raise some eyebrows this year, and turn X into a favorite WordPress theme – especially since these extensions have been tampered with so they don’t affect website performance. Scroll down to read about extensions like Video Lock, Disqus Comments, White Label, Terms of Use, and Soliloquy.


Videos That Demand Attention


Care to extend a video offer to your website users? X Theme has got you covered with a marvelous extension named Video Lock. As the name aptly suggests, it helps you keep your visitor’s screens locked in and play a video for as long as you decide. Words of advice, though; don’t push your luck. Stick to sensible time limits that don’t cause discomfort.

Get a delay on that video, and lock the closing button for a few seconds – just to keep your audience hooked in for a while. Use a heading, or a footer, if you wish, and decide on the width of your Video Lock.


Meaningful Discussions


How does your website fare when it comes to user engagement? It’s a fact: a web page without comments comes across as lonely and less circulated. If you want to draw more attention to your posts, products, or services, then provide your site members with the proper setting for a cozy chat.

The comment system from WordPress falls short of inviting, so X Theme had the common sense to give its users a Disqus comments extension. People love to voice their opinions and carry out meaningful conversations on the web with Disqus.


Your Personal Touch


We believe that your brand identity should accompany you everywhere. For example, if you’re creating WordPress websites on a regular basis, then you should be able to upload a custom image with your logo on the log in page. Luckily, X Theme has the right tool for this mission: the White Label extension.

Apart from the log-in screen, you can move on to the Add-on home and set up branded thank you notes to your clients, advise them on eventual issues, share contact information, or customize any type of message for that matter.


Knowing the Rules


International laws state that every website should inform first-time visitors of what it means to access the page. In other words, they need to understand what they’re signing up for, what guidelines you have, and what they’re bound to experience on your site. Users’ consent to your conditions is compulsory.

X Theme includes a brilliant extension whereby you can insert a link to your Terms of use and a check box with native integration just below the registration form. If visitors neglect to check the box, they are instantly notified that they have to.


Easy-Breezy Content Slides


Would you like to integrate a simple photo slide on your web page, but would rather not deal with the complex functionality of Revolution Slider? X Theme has that extension, but it also gives you a lighter and more straightforward option: Soliloquy.

It’s perfect for configuring basic image slides, without further ado, and it sports the hybrid technology of dynamic asynchronous ajax pre-loading. You can use it to safely showcase images, or videos from Youtube, Wistia, or Vimeo, in a cross-device responsive slide.


We’re rooting for All-in-one Themes

2015 sets out to be an eventful year. There’s no telling what tomorrow may bring, but we’re placing our bets on complete WordPress themes like X Theme. You’ve witnessed how powerful and promising it is. Besides, the developers from Themeco are going to extend their product even further this year. We will follow their progress closely, and keep all eyes and ears peeled for any news concerning web designer resources.



The post A Brand New Direction in Web Design appeared first on SpyreStudios.