Twenty20 Joins the Envato Family

We’re excited today to announce that stock photo subscription service Twenty20 is joining the Envato ecosystem!

For seven years, the team at Twenty20 have been helping leading brands and agencies get a fresh, authentic alternative to traditional stock photos. The library of millions of images is by turns, beautiful, bold, candid, raw, and natural. That’s why creatives from companies like Google, Hulu, Vice, and more have been regular clients of Twenty20 for many years.

Later in 2019, we’ll be making the Twenty20 subscription a part of our market-leading Envato Elements creative subscription – an offering that has just passed 1,000,000 templates, project files, and stock media. Supplementing our signature Envato Elements photo collection with the Twenty20 authentic media library will give Elements subscribers even more ways to get their creative projects done.

Ready to see some photos? Head over to Twenty20’s Discover to explore hundreds of collections of amazing images.

Curated collections are at the heart of Twenty20’s offering.

 

A sampling of the authentic stock photos available as part of the current Spring collection
A sampling of the authentic stock photos available as part of the current Spring collection

Introducing Twenty20 to Envato’s ecosystem also means we’ll be welcoming a whole new cohort of creative photographers to our community. Many of Twenty20’s photographers have joined through their Instagram presence, are users of the Twenty20 iOS app, and shoot both royalty free and editorial photography.

We have an immediate earnings boost for Twenty20 photographers and the prospect of much more to come as they join the cohort of creatives earning from Elements’ subscriber-share revenue model.

“At SmarterTravel we have loved our experience with Twenty20 as one of our main stock photo sites. The selection of diverse, relatable, and inspiring photos is the perfect visual complement to our expert travel content.” ~ SmarterTravel, A Tripadvisor Company

“What I like best about Twenty20 are the photos – since they are user-generated, they feel extremely authentic, they are not primarily staged and they feature real people. This enhances our brand identity making the execution of our marketing channels more relatable. I would highly recommend Twenty20 because their wide range of images appeal to our audience, they continue to increase the supply of photos, and the cost associated with their stock photography is affordable, as compared to other stock photography companies I have worked with.”  ~ 24 Hour Home Care

“Great quality photos combined with accurate search. I almost always find the photo I need. I love the inclusion of diverse groups of people without looking hyper staged. They have a great collection of abstract photos – the “Insta” aesthetic translates well to slides and sales enablement.” ~ Coursera

That’s the announcement, now here are the details!

For customers, you’ll be able to log in to Twenty20 as before. We have an updated set of Envato terms and privacy policy to accept, but otherwise, you should see no interruption to the service. As soon as we’ve developed our Envato Elements <> Twenty20 integration, we’ll be back in touch to give you the low-down on how to access not only your regular image library but all the Envato Elements creative assets (at no extra cost – yay!)

For photographers, this month, we’re paying out an additional bonus equivalent to your earnings for March as a “Welcome to the Envato community”. Additionally, next month onward we’re doubling the portion of revenue going to photographers on Twenty20 to create a nice sharp bump in earnings for all of Twenty20’s community!

Next time you log in to Twenty20, and before your first payment, you’ll need to review and accept the updated set of Envato terms and privacy policy, and update your details so that we can process payments. You should see no other interruption to your service.

Aside from doubling the commissions for photographers, we’re aiming to bring a lot more customer dollars into Twenty20. Envato Elements has well over a hundred thousand subscribers and we expect they will bring a dramatic increase in downloads (and a corresponding surge in earnings!) This will happen once we merge the subscription access later in 2019.

Finally, the Twenty20 team in Los Angeles is continuing on with Envato, and we’re excited to welcome some fresh faces to our growing company.

We hope you’re as excited as us to see Twenty20 joining Envato!

Curious to hear more about Envato’s vision and performance?  Read our 2018 Public Impact Report



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Photoshop Action Tips From Envato Author Gianluca Giacoppo, aka Giallo

If you’ve ever sat and wondered how to make your design workflow much easier, then let me be the first to introduce you to the wonder of Photoshop actions. Designed to give creatives access to phenomenally intricate effects, these step-by-step functions play out high-quality results with the click of a button.

So how do you get this design sorcery to work? And where can you find some cool actions? Today, we’ll be exploring this topic with one of our very own authors from Envato Market.

Meet designer and Photoshop action creator Gianluca Giacoppo, aka Giallo.

Gianluca Giacoppo

Gianluca Giacoppo’s skills for post-processing photos and illustrations have definitely paid off, making him an Elite author with many highly rated products. This visual effects specialist from Italy knows how to add eye-popping photo effects to any portrait or composition with the help of custom-made Photoshop actions. We spoke about how he originally got into these tools as well as what it takes to sell high-quality premium products.

Let’s take a look at what he had to say.

How did you get into Photoshop actions initially, and where did you learn to create them?

Working for various advertising agencies, I realized that every now and then we were required to modify multiple images at a time and that’s where I started to explore Photoshop’s automatic processing capabilities.

Animated Pencil Sketch FX
Animated Pencil Sketch FX Photoshop Add-on

His first action, a tool used to increase the size of smaller images, is still available on Envato Market with over 1,000 sales. Gianluca notes that by looking at other designers he was able to come up with his own useful products.

Where do you obtain inspiration for your creations?

I just recently got into photo effects so I look for artistic inspiration of any kind, from digital to traditional art. The most common websites to find fresh and trending art are Dribbble, Behance, DesignInspiration, and Abduzeedo.

Ever wondered about creating your own action? Gianluca lets us in on the process.

How long does an action take to create? Could you take us through a bit of the process?

Creating a good Photoshop action requires a considerable amount of time and experience. The developer has to consider multiple factors, from size to resolution and depth.

The amount of tuning and experimenting I’m able to achieve will determine the quality of the action created.

Asset creation and transformation into Photoshop add-ons. Recording the action. Transforming it into JavaScript code and adding manual adjustments. Then setting up the final presentation and previews.

Some of the best tips come from fellow creators. Here are his tips for newbies to digital products like Photoshop actions.

Do you have any tips for creators that are looking to get into action creation?

Yes, several. Here’s what I consider the most necessary. I often see that Photoshop Actions work only if:

1) Photoshop is in English.

2) You meet certain preferences in your settings and control panel.

3) The image is in RGB, and also set to 8 channels.

4) The starting layer needs to be selected and named properly.

5) Consider the layer ordering and final document setup.

He continues his advice with a few more notes about coding actions.

Recording an action is a fairly simple task. Photoshop has a built-in recording tool that allows you to record a certain process. But an action developer has to consider the image being processed on different operating systems and with different Photoshop versions, taking the precautions previously explained.
There are also many limits and things that can’t be done in the actions panel. That’s why it is optimal to implement JavaScript code, and to “retouch” our Photoshop actions. The possibilities with Photoshop scripting are endless. Since it uses JavaScript, we can set up conditions and react to them using variables and much more.

Geometrical Dispersion FX - Photoshop Add-On
Geometrical Dispersion FX – Photoshop Add-On

So what’s his final verdict on creating high-quality actions? Well, there are many important factors to consider.

In your opinion, what makes a good action?

The final result, originality and compatibility. If there are too many conditions for the action to work, or the user has to take too many manual steps, that devalues the overall product. I always consider the user’s point of view, and a good add-on for me is the one that provides the best user experience.
A good action means also great customer support from the author. Some customers might not be Photoshop experts and therefore require support, which is one of the factors that others look for.

Among the many creative projects in his Envato Market profile, Gianluca also creates amazing mockups, various templates and animated effects. So what does he have in store for the next product?

Do you have any notable projects in the works?

I’m currently working on another photo effect—I’d like to create a realistic charcoal visual effect. I don’t think our community reached the realism and material feel that real charcoal and pastel create on canvas, so I’m looking forward to improving this type of artistic effect.

Sounds like we’ll be enjoying more fantastic artist effects to come. He also lets us in on his favorites.

Which are your favorite creations and why?

My favorite plugin at the moment is Real Paint Fx, which creates a realistic painting effect from any image. One of the main reasons is that the script was challenging to develop and the customers’ reactions were great. I also want to thank the photographer M.Rezania who allowed me to use his fantastic photos.

Design is destined to see an incredible shift towards more thrilling visual effects.  So what does this action developer have in store?

What do you think is the future of Photoshop actions?

The future of automatic processing with Adobe Photoshop is in the hands of Adobe. Hopefully they will provide more tools and options for developers of automatic effects. Adding more filters and tools to Adobe Photoshop would unleash the creation of a new array of tools and plugins for the community.

Any more hopes for this area? He continues.

Another hope for the future is related to the market that we generated with these automatic effects. As we increase the value of our plugins, we should also implement their price increases as well. The average price of $7 doesn’t reflect the amount of effort needed to create such a complex tool, so my hope for the future of Photoshop actions is that authors will feel less scared of offering their products at the prices which reflect the amount of time spent.

Animated Real Paint FX - Photoshop Add-On
Animated Real Paint FX – Photoshop Add-On

Are you inspired to create your own action? Use these incredible tips from Gianluca to ensure success with your next project, and take advantage of all that Photoshop actions have to offer to expand your online business.

If you want to learn more about how to customize a photoshop action, follow this tutorial and checkout more Photoshop actions tips and tutorials over on Tuts+.

We’d like to extend a thank you to Gianluca for participating in this feature. Feel free to find more of his work at the links below:

Gianluca Giacoppo


I’m a digital artist with a love of all things Photoshop. Check out my tutorials for great tips on digital painting, photo manipulation, and photo effects on Envato Tuts+!


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Themefusion’s Avada Sells Its 500,000th Licence

Themefusion, the genius’ behind the storied WordPress theme ‘Avada’, have just passed their most significant milestone to date.

On April 3rd, at approximately 1.05am AEST the 500,000th copy of Avada was sold.

This means that at any given moment, the template that was dubbed “The Swiss Army Knife of WordPress Themes” by Envato CEO Collis Ta’eed could be powering up to half a million websites worldwide.  Amongst it’s star-studded user-base are websites for properties such as Microsoft Visual Studio, The San Diego County Fair and comedians Russell Brand, Frankie Boyle and Jack Whitehall

Since its introduction in 2012, Themefusion’s Avada launched like a rocket to become the single most popular WordPress theme of all time. In less than twelve months following its release, Avada had brought in a million dollars in sales for Themefusion. Barely two years later, that figure had multiplied to over ten million dollars. Today, Avada remains the highest selling WordPress theme on the planet with over twenty-five million dollars in total sales revenue.

With now over half a million customers worldwide, the ThemeFusion team cites both customer support and taking full responsibility for the end-to-end experience of their product as some of the key reasons for their success.

“Avada is exclusively built and maintained in-house, guaranteeing a reliable experience for the end user. We do not rely on or are influenced by 3rd party tools to provide functionality, and that frees us up from external hindrances. Add to that a passionate approach to customer support and detail, and you have an amazingly flexible design tool that is continuously evolving.” 

The Avada theme was first conceived by Luke Beck, a Florida-based Designer and Muhammad Haris, a freelance WordPress developer based in Pakistan. Today, ThemeFusion is comprised of a global team of upwards of 20 people, working across a mix of customer support and ongoing theme development to ensure the template remains on the cutting edge.

“Our team (has a) relentless dedication to what they do and whom they do it for… We pride ourselves in the fact that we have very low staff turnover, many of our 20+ team have been with us for 4/5 years +, and our policy internally has always been to treat each other as family and to carry that mindset into our daily work.”

On behalf of the entire Envato staff and broader community, we’d like to extend a very hearty congratulations to the entire ThemeFusion team.

To mark the occasion, the team at ThemeFusion have let us know that they will be running a celebratory sale over the course of the next week. At the time of writing, the ThemeFusion team team are promoting a massive 35% off their standard price. So whether you’re a seasoned Avada user or just looking to get your hands on your first licence, now is a great time to snap up a copy of a WordPress theme that’s become the stuff of legend within the Envato community.

For a quick overview of Avada’s incredible history, check out the infographic below.

A history of Themefusion and Avada’s achievements


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Why Good Designers Are Like Crocodiles

Crocodiles adapt. They learn the movements of their meal and strike at just the right moment. It’s this mix of immersion in scenarios, research of their environment, and instinct, that make them the perfect analogy for a good designer.

However, while crocodiles aren’t known for being particularly empathic, for a designer, empathy is crucial.

Finding empathy through experience

Books or running on-screen interviews aren’t the only way to establish empathy. As a designer, I’ve found the best way to do so is through experience, which means working with a broad range of people, including people outside the design community. Most of all, you need to experience uncomfortable scenarios and put yourself in situations that may be way outside of your comfort zone.

The true value of design is found through experience

I’m a UI designer with a background in visual, branding, and graphic design. When I started at Envato, I was so far out of my depth I was bordering on drowning. I had no tech or product references to draw on – but it was the experience from my design career and the somewhat daunting role at Envato that ultimately shaped the way I now work on product interfaces and guidelines.

I had previously worked in local government, which moves at a fraction of the pace of a tech company. However, in government I learnt how to design for brand, wayfinding, digital, print and even experience design, for audiences who, no matter their background or situation, should be able to experience our services equally.

Working with community, indigenous and disability groups allowed me to design with respect and sensitively for the region and users of the services, meet accessibility requirements, and still strive to maintain high quality and creativity.

All design experiences impact how we make our critical decisions, how we structure our feedback and think about design as solving legitimate problems for everyone, as well as being beautiful to look at.

Design is allowed to be beautiful

Design should be delightful. People respond to good design. It communicates passion, inclusion, coherence and clarity of brand. Beautiful design shows that we care about our brand, our products and how our customers perceive us.

Aesthetics play a huge part in a designers process, just as much as interviews, budgets and business needs. It’s the aesthetics that attract people in the first place, and by balancing beauty with informed research we are able to create something attractive without detracting from our purpose.

It’s not all about you

Designing is not just about you or your customer. Design is finding the balance between what the users wants, what our authors want (in Envato’s case), what the business wants, what our design standards require, as well as the limitations of technology and timelines.

As a designer you need to learn to accept that most decisions are out of your control and that designing is a negotiation process, one that you can own and influence or one that you can shrug your shoulders at and just roll with – its important to instinctively pick your battles.

There are plenty of projects where days or even weeks of work have been wasted once the creative disappears up the corporate chain of no return. It’s these jobs that make you feel like a hack, constantly questioning design decisions no matter how much insight, feedback or research you have. But these are the projects that create resilience and build the designer instinct where with or without the insights you learn to trust your own decisions. In the end, design is about standing by your work and owning the results, whether award-worthy or dumpster fire.

Projects that create resilience and build the designer instinct where with or without the insights you learn to trust your own decisions

Muddled methods of a hack

Double diamonds, design sprints, lean startups and all the rest of the formulated design processes may never fit your mould. (I for one only learnt about these frameworks at Envato – furiously reading a stack of books after miraculously getting through the recruitment process).

Design doesn’t have to mean a prescribed process. Understand them sure, but establishing your own way of working is where you find your true happy place. Working next door to a pub like I do is also a designer’s place but anyway… Defining your own style and path will allow a greater understanding all aspects of design, not just tech or product or UX.

Design can be fluid, design can be messy and design can rub people up the wrong way. Hack, sticky tape and bleed your way through various jobs, experiences, styles, mixed teams and clients. Make a lot of mistakes, break things, drink more than you should and a lot of the time wonder why you’re doing it in the first place.

Somehow I’ve scraped through 20 years adapting and applying a mix of loose processes to what my current project requires. Its made for a hell of an interesting journey and I’ve been able to learn equally from terrible bosses who crush your creative spirit and from inspiring industry-leading mentors who make you love what you do. It comes down to learning what not to do as much as what to do. And I’m still learning.

Instinct won’t get you all the way

At Envato, we use a design framework that relies heavily on research, and with a massive community of customers and authors, why wouldn’t you? Our UX team create stories and research documentation that within the UI team, we use to inform style guides and libraries with the intention of reuse of core patterns between products.

Without the research and ability to test ideas and concepts with our community, we would base a lot of decisions on gut instinct which relies on biases, both emotional and cultural. I’ll admit, trusting your gut isn’t always the right decision, but I believe a balance of instinct and research will get you further than either alone.

Future designers

How will designers adapt to future design challenges? How do we think about designing outside of pages and screens? How do we take the experience we have in interface, UX and visual design and apply them to voice, VR or ever changing social platforms and still create beautiful and inclusive design experiences?

We swim, crocodile.


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Artistic expression at Envato Mexico HQ

It’s been almost a year since we welcomed the team from Placeit into the Envato family and it’s been a wonderful journey so far. It’s a family that’s growing rapidly too, so much so that the Envato Mexico team have recently had to move into a new office to accommodate all the new hires!

Placeit’s former headquarters was revered for its character and charm, as only a former nightclub-turned-tech hub can be! As a result, it was a challenge to recreate and expand on that character in a new location, but what better way to do it than with a generous splash of colour?

Enter the in-house design brains of Envato Mexico. From photographers to graphic designers, digital artists to painters, the team in Guadalajara are a talented bunch of creatives! A crew of 15 colleagues assembled to plan and design a series of six murals around the new office.

“We let the imagination of the creative people run free,” says Manuel Lopez, who coordinated the project. “The only guidelines were that the pieces had to reflect the creative nature of Envato and Placeit, and be related to Mexican culture.”

We think the results speak for themselves.

Not a bad transformation for a former 1970s design shop for architects, designers and painters!

The actual collaboration between the original artist and the helping hands of others across the business was a real highlight,” said Lopez. “Afternoons and weekends of beers and chips, and the good time’s everyone shared was fantastic.”

“The outcome is so awesome. Everyone loves the murals, they make all feel that it’s their space, personalised and close. A more intimate place to work and have fun!”

“It reminds us all that we have a creative family and we should have fun in the office.”


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2019 Color Trends – Envato

When Pantone announced its 2019 color of the year as the bright and vivacious “living coral,” designers and artists all over took notice. And since color and culture go hand in hand, we’ve also seen a few new colors with even more vibrancy now emerging on the scene.

The Impact of Color

Color has always played a huge role in our lives. We all know our favorites, and it’s not uncommon for us to share a few. Each hue transmits a particular feeling, energy and mood, and by learning more about these trends we’ll be able to explore exciting inspirations we might otherwise ignore.

So let’s take a look at a few more emerging color trends for 2019.

Gold

Minimal Black and Gold Flyer Template

In the creative, makeup and beauty worlds, the color gold is the champion of luxury brands. Models adjust their selfies with that perfect golden-hour glow, artists attach gold leaf to their canvases, and jewelry designers go in on fantastic gold designs.

And with an ever-growing global economy, it’s not a total shock that our tastes are becoming more expensive. The color gold is, in fact, driving this trend as we find ways to exude a sense of confidence in all areas of our lives. Psychology tells us that gold can make you feel glamorous while also inviting courageous feelings of passion and wisdom. Pretty cool!

Gold Inspiration

Are you feeling a little fancy today? Try out one of these gold design tutorials. I myself have already used this color a few times this year! Not only is it applicable across a variety of projects, but it also ranks as the top searched color on both Envato Market and Envato Elements! How’s that for gold standard?

How to Create a 3D Gold Text Effect With Photoshop Layer Styles
How to Create a 3D Gold Text Effect With Photoshop Layer Styles

Recreate the metallic sheen and luster of stunning gold letters with this text effect tutorial! Join Enrique Elicabe as he explains how to use Photoshop layer styles to achieve realistic gold textures and colors.

More Gold Tutorials

Want more gold tutorials? Jump to a few of our favorites.

Natural Greens

Natural Magazine
Natural Magazine

Artists have always been connected to nature—and therefore, the color green. Green is the color of life. It’s associated with feelings of growth, harmony, renewal, and balance. It’s the circle of life all in one color, really. We notice it throughout the seasons, and now that we’re becoming more conscious of our environmental impact, natural green colors are dominating our work spaces, creative activities, and lifestyle designs.

Natural Green Inspiration

Hunter green is one of the most common greens designers are excited by, although you’ll also find many variations. Naturally, it inspires many creative projects with nature-infused themes, but it’s also associated with wealth and finance. So you’ll find it most prevalent in design topics like stationery, websites, and more.

Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop

Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop
Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop

You can also use these colors for a brilliant text effect! Recreate this look with stellar stock images in Adobe Photoshop. Ed Lopez shows us how in this awesome tutorial above.

More Green Tutorials

Unwind and relax with a nature-inspired tutorial. Jump to a few of our favorites.

Neon Green

Green House Logo
Green House Logo

Remember the 90s TV show, Double Dare? Now you can relive all your favorite slime fantasies with one of the boldest fashion statements to hit the catwalk: UFO green. Daring and slightly unusual, this bold color choice has already been favored by fashion giants like Gucci and Versace.

So how do you stand out when everything is already so saturated? Many looking to this bright neon trend might be trying to do just that: stand out.

Neon Green Inspiration

From the catwalks of the spring 2019 runways to the fictional paradises seen in digital art, neon green is definitely a stunner. At the forefront of what you’ll see from this trend are vibrant vacation clothes, graphics, and colorful photography. But you can also check out our tutorials to find out how to use this cool color.

How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate

How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate
How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate

Procreate is the go-to digital painting app for many new artists. And now you can create epic, neon-colored hair with this tutorial from Maria Dimova. Learn how to use different brush settings and layer styles for a vibrant hairstyle.

More Neon Green Tutorials

Try out this wild color out yourself! Check out these helpful tutorials.

More Neon Colors: Pink, Orange, & Purple

Neon Sign Photoshop Effect
Neon Sign Photoshop Effect

Neon green isn’t the only psychedelic color to emerge for 2019.

And last year we called it! Many fan favorites come in the form of electric neon pinks, oranges, and even some unique purple flavors. Neon colors, after all, are an ode to the eclectic retro ambience of the 1980s. Everything certainly pops with them, and if used effectively, they can bring creative, spunky energy to any piece.

Neon Color Inspiration

Fashion designers like Jeremy Scott are also going full-on construction worker with bright, neon yellow accents for jumpsuits and other quirky designs.

Need some neon inspiration? Try your hand at a bold photo effect like the one below.

How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect

How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect
How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect

In this tutorial, Abbey Esparza shows you how to add a punk-rock pop art vibe to your portraits in Adobe Photoshop. Learn how to create the perfect neon glow and how to bring more vibrancy and brightness to any portrait.

More Neon Color Tutorials

Excited to try your hand at these colors? Check out these amazing tutorials.

Cobalt Blue

Blue Polygon Backgrounds
Blue Polygon Backgrounds

Will we ever grow tired of blue? Blue is a color you can feel and also design with. And the cobalt version refers to the extraordinary pure blue pigment discovered by chemists at the turn of the 19th century.

Cobalt Blue Inspiration

Cobalt blue was a favorite among legends like Vincent van Gogh. It also inspires a magical energy you might find in many neon-themed designs. Try out the one below for a cool text effect.

How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This insightful Photoshop lesson comes from designer Laura Keung. Follow along as she shows you how to use layer blend modes and multiple brushes for a unique neon look.

More Cobalt Blue Tutorials

Looking for something to make with cobalt blue? Check out these tutorials.

Try These Trends

How will color guide you in 2019? Explore these trends and test out new color palettes to improve your skills.  For more help, find exciting new tutorials to try over on Tuts+.


I’m a digital artist with a love of all things Photoshop. Check out my tutorials for great tips on digital painting, photo manipulation, and photo effects on Envato Tuts+!


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The Secrets of a Successful Rebrand (And Why Some Brands Miss the Mark)

No talk of successful rebranding is complete without mentioning the now legendary transformation of Federal Express in 1994.

Fred Smith, its founder, chairman, and CEO, wanted to reinvigorate the company’s image. He challenged the creative team to make the Federal Express truck recognizable from five blocks away.

The result: a shortened name—FedEx—and a bold, zippy new logo:

The new name and visual identity perfectly encapsulated the company’s value proposition: speed. Notice the hidden arrow in what looks like a simple wordmark?

The new branding catapulted FedEx into the next century and remains relevant and powerful even today.

But rebranding doesn’t always turn out the way it did for FedEx.

Take the case of Tropicana’s rebranded packaging in 2009.

What was supposed to make their brand more current and fresh soon became stale. Sales dove 20%—equivalent to $137 million—in the first six weeks after Tropicana unveiled its new look, from this:

Tropicana Original Packaging

…to this:

Tropicana Failed Rebranded Packaging

Cutting its losses, the company reverted to its old packaging, which is still in use as of this writing.

What makes the difference between a rebranding triumph and a fiasco?

We’ll explore some possible answers in this post.

The Hidden Costs of Rebranding

Rebranding entails huge costs and risks. Companies hire branding experts to conceptualize the rebrand. And then other consultants and vendors are needed to roll out the new identity.

After studying over 1,200 rebranding projects spanning 25 years, the VIM Group estimates that the cost of implementing a rebrand is 20 times the cost of developing the new brand identity.

In other words, for every dollar a company pays branding and design consultants to come up with the brand redesign, it will spend $20 to roll it out.

Not to mention the time the entire exercise takes and the potential loss of goodwill, reputation, and sales, should the new branding flop.

Yet for all its costs and risks, rebranding is surprisingly common. In the hospitality industry, for example, researchers have found that one-third of all hotel properties have changed brands since opening. And companies that have been around for decades have iterated their identities several times throughout the years.

Why do businesses make this terrifying leap? There are plenty of good reasons to do so.

Why Rebrand? Let Me Count the Ways

Whether internal to the business or coming from the environment, a number of factors may demand a rebrand.

1. Reflect the company’s new positioning

Like humans, companies change over time and, when it does, a brand redesign becomes necessary.

It’s like when children grow up into adults. They drop the silly nicknames and need a whole new wardrobe.

A variety of situations may account for this:

  • The company has evolved. It has shifted to a different market, product offering, or value proposition altogether.

Case in Point: Infusionsoft rebrands when its parent company becomes Keap to signal its expansion to a new market.

Infusionsoft Rebrand 2019
A comparison of the old and new logos on the Infusionsoft blog
  • The market has evolved. A business may need a new identity to respond to consumer demands and expectations.

Case in Point: Mailchimp makes room for customer-driven growth while refusing to grow up.

MailChimp Rebranding 2018

  • Technological advances. The emergence of new technologies can make a company’s positioning—sometimes even the company itself—obsolete.

Case in Point: Squarespace embraces a new brand that “makes sense in motion.”

Squarespace Rebrand 2018

  • Differentiation. As the market evolves and new players arrive, the company may need to reinvent itself to differentiate from the competition.
  • Internationalization. Entering a new country may compel a business to rebrand in order to better align culturally with the new market.
  • Negative image. A PR crisis, negative reaction from stakeholders, and other manifestations of a poor reputation could compel a massive identity makeover.

2. Make the branding more relevant

One of the most common reasons to rebrand is to keep current and cutting-edge. It’s like throwing out your grandma’s bell-bottoms and replacing them with bootcut pants.

Several situations may warrant a brand refresh:

  • An outdated brand. As with fashion, branding trends come and go. When a company’s brand looks old-fashioned and tired, then it needs sprucing up.

Case in Point: Bhutan gets a modern look for today’s marketplace.

Bhutan Rebranding

  • Misaligned brand expressions. Through the years, an organization’s brand expressions may have gotten scattered and inconsistent. Their website has one look and their product packaging another. A branding makeover may be called for to make everything look, not just fresh, but cohesive.

Case in Point: Slack gets its visual act together with a logo redesign.

Slack 2019 New Logo

  • Branding reset. The original branding wasn’t well-thought out in the first place, because the founder needed a brand name and logo quickly, not realizing how fast the business would grow. Now that they have the resources, they want to do branding correctly and drop the one that just happened to be the most convenient at the time.

3. Change in business ownership

Structural changes in a company arising from mergers, demergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and spin-offs often require rebranding.

Rebranding may be part and parcel of the deal. Or, it may be the logical thing to do after the ownership change takes place. Mergers may mean a literal merging of business names, for example. And acquisitions may wipe out one company’s identity altogether.

Case in Point: Hewlett Packard Enterprise brands itself as “The Machine” to launch its demerger from Hewlett Packard.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise The Machine logo

4. Meet legal requirements

The courts may require a company to change its name and/or visual branding if these are deemed to infringe on the copyright of another company. This happens when the branding is too similar to one that’s protected by law.

5. Change in leadership

The arrival of a new CEO does not always require rebranding. But if the CEO is prominent and likely to stay on for many years, then rebranding may be a good way to reflect the company’s change in direction and vision.

An example that comes to mind is the rebranding of Apple when Steve Jobs returned as CEO in 1997. However, Jobs’ return to Apple also meant restructuring the company. And so, the rebranding was more a reflection of substantial changes than simply the return of its original founder.

Types of Rebranding

Rebranding takes different shapes and forms, depending on its scale and scope, which are dictated by the reason for rebranding.

  • Visual only. Rebranding may be a simple matter of a logo redesign, a font style change, or new colors. Freshening up an established brand or adapting the logo to digital media may require little more than a visual identity change.
  • Renaming + visual. More significant rebranding involves changing the name as well as the visual identity of a business. Ownership changes, restructuring, market evolution, and legal requirements are some of the drivers of a rebranding with this scope.
  • The Works. When the very essence of a business changes, then the brand redesign goes beyond skin-deep as well. Rebranding begins from the core of the business—its vision, mission, and values—and radiates to its outward expressions.

3 Rebranding Trends in 2019

Just as there are trends in fashion, there are trends in rebranding as well. Here are the top rebranding trends we’ve noticed:

1. Simplification

Companies seeking to refresh their identities are opting to make their visuals clean and uncluttered. This may be because minimalist designs look best on digital media, particularly on mobile devices.

Minimalist designs are characterized by the use of white or negative space, sans serif fonts, and flat—not 3-dimensional—forms (although depth may be going back in style again soon).

In terms of names, simplification means short and punchy monikers, as in the case of FedEx. Mastercard seems to be aiming for simplicity with its logo redesign:

Mastercard New Nameless Logo 2019
Mastercard’s new, nameless logo

2. Un-branding, reverse-branding, or debranding

Millennials become loyal to brands, not because of their image, but because of what they stand for. And so, they reject visual gimmickry (traditional logos, fonts, colors, and imagery) and instead look at a brand’s authenticity, values, and integrity.

In response, companies are adopting styles that may appear like the absence of branding: nondescript, generic, bland, even. Skincare brand, The Ordinary, exemplifies un-branding from its name to its visual design:

The Ordinary's Un-branded Logo

3. Throwback/Vintage

Rather than putting on modern appearances, some brands are donning vintage looks. Trend curator Rohit Bhargava calls it “RetroTrust.”

“Often unsure of whom to trust, consumers look back to organizations and experiences with brands that have a legacy, or those with which they have a personal history,” Bhargava writes in Non-Obvious 2019: How to Predict Trends and Win the Future.

This may seem to contradict the need to modernize and keep with the times. In fact, it’s the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction.

Many have become disillusioned with over-digitization, with its lack of personalization, unrelenting pace, and abstraction. They’re harking back to the “good ol’ days.” Hence, the return of vinyl records, retro gaming, and even the Ektachrome film.

Whistler Classic Soda’s retro logo embodies its 1950s origins:

Whistler Classic Soda vintage branding

5 Key Ingredients of Successful Rebranding

What can we learn from the experience of companies that have rebranded?

Success is never guaranteed, that’s for sure, but rebranding best practices help increase the chances of a positive outcome, such as:

1. Do it for the right reasons.

With the costs and risks inherent in rebranding, you better be doing it for the right reasons. Needing a fresher look, for example, is not always a good reason to rebrand.

Change for the sake of change can backfire. That seems to be the case with Zara’s logo redesign, which so far has brought out the worst in critics.

Zara's New Logo 2019
This tweet is only one of the many harsh criticisms against Zara’s new logo.

Companies may also be tempted to rebrand as a response to issues that require a different solution altogether. Low sales cycles, poor brand awareness, and dismal marketing results will only get worse with rebranding, according to Jon Simpson, member of the Forbes Agency Council and owner of Criterion.B.

2. Research, research, research.

Doing your due diligence by conducting research is the best insurance against a rebranding debacle. It begins with evaluating your current brand assets. How is your brand resonating (or not) with your customers, prospects, employees, and other stakeholders? Where are your competitors at?

Question your assumptions and examine them against your research findings.

3. Get buy-in.

Don’t rebrand in a vacuum. Involve stakeholders from the get-go and throughout the entire rebranding process, through to post-launch. Collaboration, participation, and communication are all part of rebranding best practices.

“To get [rebranding] right from the start, a mix of ‘hands’ must be on deck, from top to bottom, inside and out,” says Anaezi Modu, founder and organizer of the Rebrand 100 Global Awards. It’s not something management can simply hand over to the marketing department and its consultants.

4. Invest in implementation.

As mentioned earlier, implementing the rebrand requires 20 times the budget of the conceptualization side of it. Take this into account when allocating your resources. Sometimes, the rebrand is sound but it falls flat because not enough thought and energy was put into executing it.

5. Go deeper than skin deep.

Even a superficial rebranding is a good occasion to re-examine your essence and culture, so you can more accurately express it.

“There is often a tendency to miss opportunities for real innovation and advancement,” Modu observes, “If you must, ask others to help reveal your blind spots. This prepares you to evolve and maintain relevance even as things change—which they inevitably do sooner or later.”

Rebranding: The Bottom Line

Rebranding can be the best thing that’s ever happened to a company… or it can be the worst.

What makes the difference?

Being true to your company’s identity and making it all about the customers you want to serve.

They can tell if you’re rebranding just for the sake of change or because you want to tell the story of who you have become.

Rebranding isn’t just about changing graphic designs; it’s about making inner transformation outwardly tangible.

If you’re looking to conceptualize, refresh, or update your business brand, read about what makes a small business brand successful.

In the meantime, what recent rebranding examples strengthened your connection with the brand? Which ones alienated you from the brand? Tell us in the comments below.

 



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International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women In Design

Art has never belonged to a single type of person.

At least, I’d like to think that we can all express it—through a variety of mediums and styles. And although history hasn’t always given recognition to everyone, art can still be found in the caves, halls, laptops and devices of nearly any person wanting a voice or searching for an answer.

Over the last 100 years, the influence of women in design has especially been felt through the decades of social work and advocacy from the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Now, with the internet, we gain access to a new generation of women hoping to make their mark in design.

So to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019, let’s take a moment to highlight the remarkable work of seven women in this exciting digital field. Learn more about these Envato authors and their work and stories.

Kerry

Astrologer Kerry Kershaw is an avid artist who transports her viewers to exciting, natural worlds. Inspired by her love of travel, FortySixandTwo has become her haven for stunning flyer templates and stationery essentials. Let’s discover who has inspired her through the years.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

I mostly get my inspiration from so many different places and from listening to my heart. Anais Nin, Debra Silverman, Elizabeth Hiach are a few of the women I follow.

LUMINA Pinterest Pack

The owner of a publishing company, Kerry shares her favorite work with us.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

Creating my own brand, the Magic of I, and launching a publishing company in 2018. I self-published a completely custom, small batch 2019 Astrological Planner that I designed, illustrated and wrote myself. I also crowdfunded just over 90k last year to get it sustainably produced, and have shared the moon and stars with over 5,000 customers all over the world.
LUMINA Letterhead

Here is her advice on working in this creative field.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

Create space to listen. Create for you first—if it doesn’t light you up, excite you and make you feel alive then find something else. Life’s too short; the world needs your magic.

Juniper Flyer

Irene

Irene Demetri

Freelance graphic designer Irene Demetri loves creating patterns and digital resources for her design community. A mother of twins, wife and digital designer, she makes simplistic designs that aim to facilitate the work styles of creatives everywhere. Here are her favorite designers.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

I have gotten inspiration from so many women during my career as a designer, usually by those who were strong and driven in what they did.  As a child, I remember watching the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and being so touched and inspired by Dian Fossey’s strong will, determination and love for what she did. She inspires me to this day.

Girlboss Patterns
The owner of Youandigraphics on Envato Elements, Irene shares with us an appreciation for all the creative work throughout her journey.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

I don’t think I can single out pieces of my work that I am most proud of, I am proud of any work I put out there at the time of its release. I make sure each piece reaches the top of my capabilities and knowledge while I am working on it so I can be proud once I release it. At the same time I am always looking at how I can improve my products making sure I learn from any mistakes or feedback I get.

Boho Patterns Collection

Do you trust your gut? Irene recommends following your intuition.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

To trust their instincts and decisions! Being a freelancer means you need to make all your professional decisions by yourself and even though it is most helpful to ask for advice, at the end of the day you know what is best for you.

Graphic Flowers Patterns

Carolina

Next is Carolina, a talented graphic designer from Sao Paulo, Brazil. After dedicating herself to becoming an accomplished Envato author, Carolina has created amazing digital resources of colorful abstract backgrounds and graphic templates. Let’s hear more about her influences.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

I’d like to mention three remarkable Brazilian artists: Ruth Kedar, the woman behind the Google logo. Bea Feitler, the woman who created some of the most iconic magazine covers of all time. And Luisa Dörr, the woman who photographed Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and the other nine influential women for TIME’s magazine project “Firsts.”

Colorful Motion Square Backgrounds

Every designer remembers the feeling of their first successful product. Carolina shares her memory with us.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

Wavy Abstract Backgrounds

Are you inspired by her incredible work? Here’s her advice to other women.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

You must understand your client’s needs and do your best to match your authenticity with their expectations. I believe a good designer is essentially a very curious person and an extraordinary observer. Also, don’t forget that there is absolutely no one else in this world like you, so acknowledge your strength, work on your weak spots, trust your inner wisdom and use your uniqueness in your favor.

Tokyo City Glitch Backgrounds

Daisy

 

Illustrator, musician and game developer Daisy Ein is the lead artist of Super Retro Duck, an indie game developer that she co-owns. She’s also the artist behind our amazing How to Draw Natural, Textured Afro Hair series on Envato Tuts+. Here’s her advice on getting into the field.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

I think the biggest tip I’d give—as simple as it might sound is: just go for it. Whatever your creative or professional goals are, life is too short not to try. When an obstacle hits, refocus and keep trying. Don’t know something? It’s time to learn!

Umbrella Blue

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

One of my inspirations is a lovely illustrator named Rose—she goes by the pen name “barachan.” Her illustration skills and design knowledge are really out of this world. She’s self made and has been her own boss for at least the last ten years. I hope I can lift up and inspire someone, someday, the way she inspired me.
How to Draw & Paint a Galaxy Afro Portrait in Adobe Photoshop

So what’s it like being an indie game developer? Daisy lets us know.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

I’d have to say my indie game, Tiny Bird Garden! I co-own Super Retro Duck (the game’s developer), and we developed and published the game ourselves. We’re a team of two, so it meant wearing a lot of different hats at once. I did the branding, motion graphics, illustrations, merchandise, music… it’s been a big part of my life for several years.
You can check out our game at TinyBirdGarden.com! It’s available for Android, iOS, PC, and Mac!

Tiny Bird Garden

Laura

Laura Keung

Next up is Laura Keung, a graphic designer and publication design enthusiast based in Munich, Germany.  She enjoys passing her knowledge through Envato as a way of giving back to young designers who want to achieve their goals. Here are her inspirations.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

Throughout my studies I was lucky to attend CreativeMornings Toronto, created by Tina Roth-Eisenberg who also runs SWISSMISS.

Jessica Hische’s lettering artwork is also very inspiring. You can see her work on many magazine covers, books, and cards. She’s an inspiring woman who’s shown me that it is possible to have more than one passion project.

Playgrounds

And giving back to the community is important for many designers, including Laura.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of work that has helped raise funds for charity. As a designer, I believe we can help develop brands and create visuals that will make charities more relevant and reach their goals.

How to Create a High-Contrast Skateboard Flyer in Adobe Photoshop

Any last advice for her design sisters? Laura lends her wisdom.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

Take the leap. Whatever it is you are passionate about and scared of, take that first difficult step, run and rock it! Sometimes there’s pain and hardships involved, but it is all part of the learning process and a way to grow.

How to Create a Quick Repetitive Text Effect Illusion in Adobe Illustrator

Irina

Our next feature comes from the extraordinary city of Barcelona, Spain. Designer Irina Markevich showcases tasty restaurant menus and invitations in her shop, BarcelonaDesignShop. She makes creative food illustrations by hand and shares with us her favorite designers below.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

One of my favorite designers is Lauren How. She is so inspiring and such a positive woman. She teaches you how to start your personal projects and how important it is to push your boundaries. Her famous article “10 Things Beyonce taught me about being a boss lady freelancer” was great; she took her lyrics and disguised it as a design talk.

Food Truck Menu Template

Like many designers, Irina is a foodie at heart. Here’s her favorite work.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

During the last seven years, I’ve created a lot of menu templates thanks to my passion for food and design. Every new item that was created was a new step up for me. I use all my creativity to create each of my works so I can say that I am proud of all of them.

Seafood Menu Placemat

Procrastination is a problem for many creatives. Irina recommends taking the plunge in her final advice.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

Start today. Don’t wait for tomorrow, for the perfect moment, or for somebody that’s gonna tell you what to do. Every small step is better than nothing.

Ice Cream Menu

Genie Austin

Genie Austin

Our final feature belongs to Genie Austin, a writer and photographer whose work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Guardian and Envato Tuts+.  Here she shares with us a few of the characteristics she admires in strong women leaders.

Q: Which women have inspired your career path?

I’m inspired by all women who buck tradition and carve their own path. Women like Serena Williams, who is uncompromisingly black and unapologetically female, and who shuts out all the noise and hate around her and just plays the game of life exactly the way she wants to play it.

Native Strangers, 2018

Support and encouragement is a huge struggle for many new to tech and design. Genie explains her views on the subject.

Q: What work are you most proud of?

I’m very invested in a project when I’m working on it, but when it’s done, it’s in essence dead for me, and I don’t look back. What I can say, however, is that I’m happy that I’ve followed my own voice and embraced an eclectic approach to creativity and life which was very discouraged when I was growing up. My media of choice are writing, mixed-media textiles and photography. Sometimes I work with them separately and express myself quite differently in each, and sometimes I combine them, but either way, I’m glad I didn’t give in to the pressure to choose.

Native Strangers, 2018

Like many creatives, Genie emphasizes the importance of getting involved. Here are her final words.

Q: What tip would you offer other women looking to work in your field?

There’s a lot of advice out there for women in the creative arts already, but the one thing that is rarely emphasized is the need to be informed about and engaged with the great issues of our time. As image makers, we have an enormous amount of power and sometimes a small amount of awareness of how what we do shapes the world around us.

Native Strangers, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day!

Great advice, ladies! Today is a wonderful time to lend your voice to the new generation of design. I hope you’ve been inspired to tackle your creative projects just like the amazing women above. Thank you to all the artists who have lent their advice to this article.

Feel free to explore their portfolios by visiting the links below:


I’m a digital artist with a love of all things Photoshop. Check out my tutorials for great tips on digital painting, photo manipulation, and photo effects on Envato Tuts+!


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We Need to Talk About Copy

What is content-first design?

Content-first design is exactly what it sounds like, thinking about what content will be required and how it will be structured before launching into visual design. Content, in this case, means copy, images, videos, etc. basically, all of the textual, aural and video components that will be on the page of whatever you’re designing.

Despite the general agreement that Lorum Ipsum is now obsolete, copy is often the part of ‘content’ that usually doesn’t get the love and attention it needs early on, causing major problems further down the track.

When is the right time to talk about the design problem child, copy?

Dangers of not putting copy first

Your message will get lost

People only read around 20% of the text on a webpage. If you haven’t thought about copy before you start wireframing, you won’t be clear about what the key messages are or their order of importance. By considering this early on, the key messages will dictate the hierarchy and are more likely to get seen and absorbed by the user.

Voice and tone won’t be consistent

Even though the brand voice should always be the same, the tone must adapt to the context. By leaving copy until later in the design process, you stand a good chance of misjudging the tone of the design. At best this leaves the user with a vaguely weird, disjointed experience, at worst it can lead to offense and misunderstandings.

Just because changes can be made, doesn’t mean they should

How many times have you heard or said, “don’t worry about the text, the developers can change that later.”? This is usually said when referring to CTA’s, button text and other microcopy. It is just a good excuse to not think about something at that moment and often ends up either being forgotten or left to a developer to figure out.

Translation will be difficult

Visual design can cross language barriers, words often cannot. Leaving copy until late in the day can lead to issues with formatting and context. This will cause low-level issues for users who have the same first language but will be a nightmare for people who need to translate the copy themselves or use translation software/apps.

Content will hold up delivery

Leaving copy until later in the design process will slow things down. Agreeing on the key messages and the order of importance at the outset of a project gets everyone aligned and leaves less room for disagreement later down the track. This means that the focus can be on UI, branding, functionality, usability, visual design and all the other good stuff when it should be.

User testing will be less accurate

Copy provides context, direction and tone. You can’t expect accurate results when user testing with placeholder copy as a huge part of the experience is missing.

How to put copy first

Major caveat: this is still very much a work in progress at Envato and we do not claim to have all the answers (yet). However, here are some things we have found to be useful in the quest for content-first design perfection.

How we put content first at Envato

  • Have a content brief that is quick and easy to fill in collaboratively with your key stakeholders.
  • Get wider stakeholder agreement on the brief before proceeding.
  • Instead of launching straight into wireframes and prototypes, we start with a very basic spreadsheet which lists the page functionality, user flows and first pass at the copy. This lo-fi approach keeps the focus on the copy and the functionality in the early stages.
  • Move on to early-stage visual design, e.g. wireframing/prototyping.
  • The copy is user tested and updated based on feedback (hopefully, just small changes).

Looking for more advice from the Envato design team? Check out part 1 and part 2 of the introduction to our Design Framework.


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How Designers Are Amplifying Their Portfolios in 2019

Need advice on your portfolio?

Starting your creative business is a multi-level dance of technical skill sets, as you balance exposure, professionalism and ingenuity in this tech-driven world.

And for so many of us, business is just not familiar territory. But 2019 is showing a strong change as many turn to tech and design industries for new and empowering opportunities.

Today, I’ve gathered four wonderful designers, illustrators and artists who are sharing their methods for taking your online portfolios to new heights.

Check out their valuable advice and lessons from their life and work.

Tati Astua

Graphic Designer Tati Astua

Costa Rica-based graphic designer Tati Astua uses bold colors to stand out. She makes incredible, photo-realistic 3D scenes of clever typographical pieces and shares some of her favorite portfolio advice below.

“For me, the most compelling thing in a portfolio is consistency. I find it more valuable to create a small book with high level pieces, than one with lots of work that’s not that good.”

36 Days of Type
36 Days of Type

Is your portfolio looking a little cluttered? It’s pretty understandable. And many designers have trouble letting go of past work. Tati recommends making room for the future.

“Sometimes we get attached to old work and it creates an emotional bond. And that’s okay, but we should let go a little more and include fresh pieces in our portfolio.”

LOLA
LOLA

And learning from past mistakes is invaluable for the growth of your business. As an avid fan of online platforms like Instagram and Behance, Tati reflects on her start online as a junior designer.

“In the beginning, we try to put all of our work in our portfolio because clearly there’s not that much, but we should try to reflect on what we have and complement it with our personal work. In most cases, this tends to show our style better.”

Collection Numbers
Collection Numbers

Gabriel Alexandre Meza

Designer and Illustrator Gabriel Alexandre Meza
Designer and Illustrator Gabriel Alexandre Meza

Our next bit of portfolio advice comes from graphic designer and illustrator, Gabriel Alexandre Meza. With a focus on sports illustrations for TV and digital media, his work features colorful sports portraits with exceptionally crisp details. Here are his best tips.

“Always stay busy. Post your work often because you never know who might stumble across it.”

Champions League 2019
Champions League 2019

Creative platforms like Behance are becoming the go-to portfolio choice for many designers. Since launching his Behance portfolio, Gabriel has also seen success.

“Behance has been the best platform for me to post my work. It has given me career opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Through my portfolio on Behance I have been approached by huge companies like the NBA and Aardman Nathan Love, to name a few.”

Zion Williamson Duke Illustration
Zion Williamson Duke Illustration

Becoming familiar with multiple design trends and software is also essential to building a professional reputation and portfolio. Gabriel, himself, mentions a love for several great design tools.

“I primarily use Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, along with my Wacom tablet. But I have recently joined the iPad Pro world and am loving my Apple Pencil and working in Procreate!”

NBA MVP ILLUSTRATION
NBA MVP Illustration

Lyndi Priest

Graphic Designer Lyndi Priest
Graphic Designer Lyndi Priest

Graphic designer Lyndi Priest is a multifaceted creative who has lived and worked in San Francisco for the past ten years. With a background in multiple areas, she shares the key to balancing a versatile portfolio.

“My favorite aspect of being a designer is the versatility of work. Embracing different backgrounds while harmoniously applying my own style to everything is what drives my designs forward.”

OLLI & CO. AGENCY - Branding
Olli & Co. Agency – Branding

Does diversifying your projects affect the overall impact of your portfolio? She says:

“Quality over quantity. It’s common to hyper-focus on the sheer amount of content in one’s own portfolio. But as long as there is enough variety, the talent and skill will shine through effectively.”

Stinner Frameworks
Stinner Frameworks

Using social media to gain more exposure and business opportunities is also a must. Lyndi recommends online portfolios or professional websites for opening new doors:

“I’m very fond of the Behance network, and Squarespace makes it easy to deliver a portfolio quickly. But I’ve always been fond of pushing myself and going custom. My website—a custom designed WordPress site—sets itself apart and truly reflects myself as a designer.”

Rec Club Brand Agency
Rec Club Brand Agency

Ali Taylor

Designer and Creative Director Ali Taylor
Designer and Creative Director Ali Taylor

Creative director and designer Ali Taylor is the CEO of BelMarketing Design Studio. When he isn’t pursuing his love of design, he actively participates in local business-building activities in New Jersey. Here’s some insight into his advice on creative portfolios:

“Every good portfolio should allow the person viewing it to get an idea of who you are, your style, what you’re really good at, and a sense of your approach to problem-solving. “

Choir Nation Logo
Choir Nation Logo

Which platforms have worked the best for him? He says:

“For sales, prospecting and showcasing my work, my own website is my greatest platform and asset by far. But for discovery and broadcasting to as wide an audience as possible—Instagram is definitely the champion.”

Choir Nation Branding
Choir Nation Branding

Building a strong network of creative colleagues can also help you when making important decisions about your portfolio. Ali’s final recommendation is to be open to sincere constructive criticism.

“Get feedback from your trusted colleagues—the ones who aren’t afraid to give you honest feedback with love.”

The Ross Maghan Agency Website
The Ross Maghan Agency Website

Let’s Recap

So let’s go over a quick recap of four essential portfolio tips from these talented designers.

  1. Diversify your talents.
  2. Use Instagram and Behance for promotion.
  3. Let go of past work.
  4. Embrace honest feedback.

Now is the time to make the most out of your resources. Though it’s natural to feel stressed over your portfolio, I hope these designers have inspired you to tackle the challenge.

Thank you to all the artists who have lent their advice to this article. Feel free to explore their portfolios by visiting the links below.


I’m a digital artist with a love of all things Photoshop. Check out my tutorials for great tips on digital painting, photo manipulation, and photo effects on Envato Tuts+!


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Hunting for unicorns in the local tech sector

It might not be the most obvious career transition, but for former circus performer Sunni Cooper it was a seamless step from the trapeze to the tech sector. “I’ve always been super fascinated with narrative – I read up to three books a week, that kind of love – and I’ve worked in a publishing company before, as well as the circus and various public and private sector organisations. I realised there are so many people making cool shit on the internet, and I wanted to be part of that, and Envato appealed as a leading example of this.” 

A former marketing and communications specialist for organisations like the University of Melbourne and the State Library of Victoria, Sunni initially had reservations about how her work experience would apply in a such a different setup in her role as a Digital Producer.  “I’m a language person, and I originally wasn’t sure how much of a good fit I would be. I even explicitly asked that question at my interview – I said I have a background quite different to a lot of your employees and how will that pan out?”

“The chats I had with people around the business made me feel a lot better and very comfortable with the decision to shift into tech. There were people from a lot of different backgrounds, but like me, they all wanted to work for a place where people do exciting and positive work.”

“(Envato) genuinely employ’s individuals rather than just someone who does the job. They care about you as a person, not just your job history,” says Sunni Cooper.

A fairytale come true

Sunni is just one of a handful of new starters at Envato in the last six months, part of a new generation of ‘unicorns’ in the tech sector who are choosing to take their skills and apply them at one of Victoria’s fast-growing startups. It’s part of a wider sector-push lead by LaunchVic to attract talented professionals from a diverse range of career backgrounds into a career in the local tech sector.

Concerns about not having the right skills for a job in tech were also front of mind for Envato’s new Author Communications Coordinator Steve Lamattina. “I guess my journey was never aimed squarely at working in tech, it was just an environment and topic I was interested in more generally. I’d never really considered tech at all before, as I didn’t believe I had the skills required for a tech company.”

“My fear was that I wasn’t qualified to work within tech, as my skill set was focussed on communications and media more generally. I thought that you either had to be a product manager, a developer, or a CEO.  And although I technically had a taste of CEO-life in a small arts organisation, I definitely did not consider that path!”

It took working for a small Barcelona-based startup who focussed on mobile apps and email tools to open up the door. “After working with people who have a passion for technology, I realised that this was also where one of my interests lay. These interests roam pretty far and wide, as my work history can attest, but I decided to follow this thread and see where it led.”

For Steve, the change has been a positive one “I love the people I work with and have found most people to be good collaborators who are easy to talk to. There’s a level of trust and agency that can be hard to find within other workplaces. I also find it very accepting, and being part of the queer community, I’ve felt super welcome and have joined the LGBTIQ+ committee which has a bunch of passionate, friendly members.”

Author Communications Coordinator Steve Lamattina
“I think it helped to speak to people who had worked at Envato previously, and listening to them discuss the benefits of working here,” observes Steve Lamattina.

What’s in a name

Envato’s name in the local tech sector also appealed to Product Manager Richard Burke. “(It) has a good name in the Melbourne tech community. After my role in the State government, I was looking to move to a more tech-focused and nimble organisation that has a history of delivering good products.”

“Envato is actually a bigger organisation than what I was thinking of joining, but after talking with the team I felt I had a lot to offer in terms of my Government experience and being at Internode during their growth phase.”

And Richard says he has joined at a perfect time. “Envato is investing in growing its product practice, so it’s an exciting time to join and be a part of that. I can see that my career is following a similar path as I want to focus more on the people and ensuring good product practice, and as the company grows there will be other opportunities.”

Product Manager Richard Burke
“As the company grows there will be other opportunities so it’s good to be open to change,” notes Richard Burke.

On the path of growth

Professional growth was also high on the priority list for Product Marketing Specialist Madeleine Rochecouste. While no stranger to the startup scene, having co-founded the company behind portable coffee machine NowPresso, Madeleine was keen to boost her experience and skills by working within a larger tech company.

“The first thing that attracted me to Envato was the ‘Working for Envato’ video. I was really inspired by the team members and CEO, the culture, values and work environment, and what they are looking for in someone who wants to work there. I just knew Envato was going to be an awesome place to work and grow.

“It’s turned out exactly like the video, but even better as I am now, fortunately, a part of it! From the moment I joined I have felt so welcome, respected, included and encouraged. I love the agile work culture, clear communication and our productivity working together as a team. I am so grateful for the guidance and growth I have already experienced working at Envato.”

Product Marketing Specialist Madeleine Rochecouste
“I personally really love the role I currently have and am so excited to be working on a brand new product,” says Madeleine Rochecouste.

 

For more information about the unicorns of the local tech sector, check out LaunchVic’s ScaleUp campaign.


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Flexibility at the heart of life at Envato

There’s no typical start time for a ‘normal’ day working for the staff of Envato. With staff in different time zones around the world, the day could start in a Collins Street cafe, a former night club in a Mexican university town, or even the rolling hills of the English countryside. And while one person might be starting their day by cycling into Envato’s headquarters in King St Melbourne, their team member in the United States is starting to get dinner ready while finishing up their last meeting of the day.

It helps that Envato is one of the earliest and most successful adopters of flexible working, building it into the fabric of Envato’s culture in a way that makes it appealing and accessible to every employee.

It’s not just about having a “work-life” balance at Envato; it’s about being able to build a life that you enjoy, having the power of choice over where you work and how. This is all enshrined in one of Envato’s core values, “The right people and the right environment”. It’s an approach that has inspired the company to hire people based all over Australia, USA and most recently Mexico, while at the same time, contributing to a dedication to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Work life at Envato HQ has never been about sitting desk-bound for hours at a time!

Reclaiming important time 

For Adam Noonan, Envato’s flexibility has made balancing family life with two young kids and his role as the company’s Marketing Director much easier. “Just the ability to work from home, to be there for school and kinder drop-off and pick-up times is invaluable. It’s a very family-friendly culture, our management team is very supportive of us making our employee and family life work harmoniously together, it’s terrific. And the kids always get such a huge kick out of the annual family day. ” New father and Development Team Lead  Anthony Bordonaro, a describes how Envato’s unlimited work from home policy enabled him to be more involved when his son was born. “Being able to work from home allowed me to drive and also attend maternal health nurse, immunisation, doctors and other important appointments and check-ins.

Meanwhile, on the beautiful NSW Central Coast, Ben Askins starts his day checking emails while getting his four boys off to school. A Development Team Lead, Ben is one of over thirty Envatians working remotely around Australia, and he says a commitment to remote working has simplified Ben’s home life “The flexibility to work remotely full time for Envato lets me be home for my kids when they’re leaving for school in the mornings, and when they return home again in the afternoon. Without these benefits, I’d be looking to arrange before and after school care for four young boys.”

Ben Askins and family at home in NSW
Ben Askins and family at home in NSW

Zoe Rowley, the Project Coordinator in the Customer Success Team loves the freedom working at Envato affords her. “The ability for me to work from home and around appointments and kids has meant a lot less stress in my life, and it is probably the biggest perk for me at Envato”

Zoe is also heavily involved with Envato Does Good which is the company’s fundraising and volunteer program. “I even work while  I am donating plasma twice a month. I am passionate about volunteering and Envato enables me to do this.”

Bec Covington in training
Bec Covington values Envato’s flexibility as it lets her build a work schedule around her cycling training.

It’s not just parents that utilise Envato’s flexibility. Bec Covington is Envato’s Organisational Development Consultant and a competitive cyclist and says it’s refreshing to work at a company where there is no judgement on her need for flexibility around training times. “I’m not sure many other workplaces would be okay with me starting at 10 am just because I want to go out and ride my bike for a couple of hours in the morning and enjoy a coffee with my mates afterwards. The trust Envato has that their employees will do the right thing is so valuable and truly helps me get the best out of every aspect of my life.

Under the hood

The view from the home office of Ben Askins on the NSW Central Coast
The view from the home office of Ben Askins on the NSW Central Coast

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes when it comes to running a remote office. In 2018 alone, Envato staff organised more than 40,000 video hangouts with each other, sent more than 13 million emails and uploaded more than 250,000 files to Google Drive. Not to mention all the coffee…! 

For Ben Askins, this hustle and bustle of the online environment is not too dissimilar from being in an office. “A large part of my day is spent interacting with my team or stakeholders. Much of this is done via Slack, but there is a good deal of video-calls and emails as well.”

“Slack gives me the sense that I’m working in a dynamic alive environment, so much more than email. Particularly with a healthy ratio of work-related channels and more general interest channels like #daily-fire (music recommendations) and #videogames. Whatever your interests might be, you’re likely to find someone at Envato who’s created a Slack channel to suit.”

Briany Kalms, Customer Success Manager has been at Envato almost six years and says while the flexibility is terrific, what she appreciates most is that Envato is a genuinely values-driven company. “When you can listen to your CEO address the whole company and say that he expects people to call him out if they think he’s making a decision that doesn’t align, then you know you’re onto a winner.”

“I also secretly give myself mental high fives when I hear other people complaining about their jobs!”

The day is winding down at Envato HQ and people start to head for home. While they are exiting the building they say hello to a group of people on their way in for an Elixir meetup hosted at Envato. By the time the meetup is finished, our Envatians in beautiful Barcelona will just be starting their morning. It may not be easy to make complete flexibility work but Envato shows that it is worth the effort!



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YouTube Premiere: How to Make Business Cards in Adobe Photoshop

Watch our brand new course premiere free on YouTube—join us and ask instructor Melody Nieves any burning design questions in the chat!

Learn how to stunning design business cards in Adobe Photoshop that make an impact! Our new course is premiering on Tuesday 12th at 10am EST. You’ll learn how to make three stunning designs inspired by minimalist, photographic, and artistic concepts—including all the techniques you need to design your own business cards and get them print ready. Sign up now!


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Growing a more inclusive and diverse Envato

When Envato enshrined diversity and inclusion in its values, it did so on a very clear understanding: that the company, and the people within it, will thrive if we continue to champion for positive change. Our leaders reflected at the time that it was on all staff to take up the responsibility for ensuring Envato was a place where talented, value-driven people thrive; a workplace that was welcoming, respectful and supportive.

A happy snap of some of the Envato staff at our Melbourne HQ

But such an approach still remains the exception, and not the rule. A recent Atlassian study revealed that while as many as 80% of the US tech sector believes diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an important issue, as many as 50% of those same respondents have decreased their participation in programs related to D&I.  It’s an alarming figure when all evidence points to the number of easily definable benefits a diverse workforce provides.

So while some of the biggest tech companies in the world, such as Spotify and Pinterest, took up the mantle and shared their diversity data in 2018, we continue to be served reminders of just how many challenges exist in continuing to make the sector a more inclusive place, despite the prominence of discussion around such issues.

Below you will find a summary of both new and existing activities that showcase how Envato has focussed on its commitments to growing a culture of inclusiveness and diversity across all aspects of our people experience and levels of the company, an approach that goes beyond just focussing on improved hiring practices as we scale our business.

This is now the fourth year we’ve reported on such activities, and you can read the 2017 report here.

Existing Activities

Gender equity across the business

One of the most visible and important measures we’ve set for ourselves at Envato is growing the number of female staff across all levels of the business. There’s never been a more important time to do this, with recent studies showing that while women are entering the tech force at an increased rate, the growth is still slowing (US), even if they’re able to land tech jobs at all (UK).

We need to ensure that the possible pipeline of female tech talent feels empowered about their career and that opportunities will exist for them if they go down this path,” said our Chief People Officer Michelle Ridsdale. “The most inspired and proactive young women who are keen to get involved in tech are often still finishing their education, so it’s still going to take time for a major shift to happen.”

In 2018, we saw an increase in female representation across the business, growing by 6% when compared to the year before. It’s worth noting that we are well aware that our current reporting has a binary view of gender, and is not inclusive of those who are gender diverse or non-binary. This is something we are seeking to resolve in future reporting on this subject.

All roles at Envato 2018

In technical roles – be they developers, product managers or UX and UI experts – we’ve also seen an equivalent increase.

Technical Roles @ Envato 2018


Growth in representation across all other, non-technical, roles was slower, but in line with the previous two years.

Non-Technical Roles @ Envato 2018

Finally, Envato’s leadership structure has never been more diverse, with this cohort of female staff growing by 7% when compared to 2017 levels.

Leadership roles @ Envato 2018

Developer Apprentice Program

In 2017 we launched a successful trial of a developer apprentice program targeted specifically at women wanting to enter the tech sector in a technical or development role. It was a lot of fun and we received a heap of great feedback from all involved. So in 2018, we offered it up again, with the second cohort of fantastic candidates currently embarking on their new career path.

Photo courtesy of AFR/Josh Robenstone
From left: Envato co-founder Collis Ta’eed, Chief People Officer Michelle Ridsdale, inaugural apprentice Jaime Gunther, apprentice trainer Mario Visic and Sharon Vaughan, who was another of the inaugural apprentices. Photo courtesy of AFR/Josh Robenstone

Mental health training for managers

This has been a consistent part of our inclusiveness program for the last few years, and as part of R U OK Day, we ran another two mental health awareness and resilience sessions for Envato’s people managers.

Ally and pride training

This year we partnered with Pride in Diversity to run the second round of ally awareness training. The training focused on three different aspects of being an ally, as well as the importance of LGBTI inclusion and awareness.

Envato CXO Justin French joins in the Pride Month celebrations at HQ.
Envato CXO Justin French joins in the Pride Month celebrations at HQ.

Targeted partnerships, including Code Like A Girl

One of Envato’s core values is that ‘When The Community Succeeds, We Succeed’. A big part of that is partnering with industry groups, not-for-profits and tech communities of all sizes, to try and have a positive impact in the areas in which we operate. One such partnership which entered its third year in 2018 was our sponsorship of Code Like a Girl. We love watching this organisation grow as it supports more and more girls and women to flourish in the world of coding. In turn, the team at Code Like a Girl have also provided group mentoring sessions to our own women in tech at Envato.

AWEI submission

For the third straight year we completed an Australian Workplace Equality Index submission. We’ve found that this process gives us a great guage on our LGBTI inclusion practices, as benchmarked against other organisations around Australia, both within our sector and further afield. While we have great engagement within our LGBTI community, we know we have more work to do in providing more consistent practices to build on that level of inclusion.

Supporting international campaigns through local events

Envato is very lucky to have an active and engaged group of staff, not just in our Melbourne HQ but around the world as well. As a group, we’ve thrown our support behind major national and international awareness campaigns such as Wear It Purple Day, International Women’s Day and Pride Month. 

Envato HQ was as vibrant as it's ever been for for Wear It Purple Day
Envato HQ was as vibrant as it’s ever been for Wear It Purple Day

 

New Activities

Envato Health & Wellness Expo 2018
Envato hosted a health and wellness expo at HQ for the first time in 2018.

Unconscious bias training

All new starters at Envato are now asked to complete a training program on unconscious bias as part of their onboarding program. While such programs won’t solve our problems of bias on their own, we believe it’s important that we are all aware of the effect our biases can have on who we are and how we work.

Family Violence Leave

The Australian Government has identified family violence as a major national health and welfare issue, with recent data highlighting just how prevalent and damaging such occurrences are. Envato has long supported the New Day Box project and in 2018 we introduced our first Family Violence Leave guideline, for any staff who experience a family violence-related challenge in their life. The guideline provides for 5 extra days of paid leave a year.

Updated Parental Leave

You may have seen our Chief People Officer Michelle Ridsdale talking about this issue already, but we feel like the Aussie tech sector could always do more to support parents who work in tech, especially as the number of women entering the local sector workforce increases.

Our updated parental leave policy includes:

  • Increasing primary caregiver leave from 18 weeks to 20 weeks, full pay
  • Increasing partner leave from two to three weeks, full pay
  • Providing two professional coaching sessions to the parent taking primary leave, to better assist with their workforce and professional development planning
  • All primary caregivers will also receive superannuation across both the paid and unpaid portions of their leave. For example, if a primary caregiver was to take 12 months of leave, Envato would continue to pay their superannuation contribution for the full year, even if the paid leave concluded at 20 weeks.

Safe Space Guidelines

Envato isn’t as small as it once was and we don’t always know each other well enough to know what’s okay and what’s not for someone else. We want Envato to be a place where people feel safe, heard, able to speak openly and with respect when communicating with others. Our new Safe Space Guidelines aims to ensure that as we grow, we continue to live by our values of Diverse and Inclusive, Fair Go and Tell It Like It Is.

Envato at the Tech Diversity Awards 2018
Inaugural developer apprentice Sharon Vaughan and Organisational Development Consultant Bec Covington attend the Victorian Tech Diversity Awards in 2018, where Envato was shortlisted in the Business category.

LGBTQI representation in Great Place to Work survey

We introduced an LGBTI demographic to the annual Great Place To Work survey we participate in every year. This has given our LGBTI community the opportunity to tell us how they feel about working at Envato, which will allow us to provide better awareness and support in the future.

The Future of Inclusion at Envato

Are there other areas of focus you would like to see Envato turn its attention to? Or an existing area you think we could do more in? Have your say here.


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Gutenberg: The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions

Gutenberg is the new default editor in WordPress (launched on 6 December 2018), replacing the word-processor-like TinyMCE. In a nutshell, it works by stacking “blocks” of various types of content on top of each other, letting a user create the kind of content they previously would have needed a custom theme or dedicated page-builder plugin to produce.

On face value, it sounds like a great improvement, but the launch of the new system has not been entirely smooth, with a considerable amount of negative feedback rolling in. Now, a couple of months after release, the big questions are: just how negative was the feedback, what caused it, and what can be done to see Gutenberg become a system users love?

In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of Gutenberg, including views from both users and industry experts, and we’ll look at what can be done to improve it.

User Reviews 75% Negative

 

The response to the new Gutenberg editor isn’t looking so hot from an end-user perspective. At the time of writing it’s sitting at a rating of 2 out of 5 stars, from a total of 2,438 reviews. If we consider a 4 or 5 star review as favorable, a 1 or 2 star review as unfavorable, and 3 stars as neutral:

  • 531 or 22% of reviewers like the plugin
  • 1,818 or 75% dislike it
  • 89 or 3% are neutral

In other words:

Roughly speaking, 3 out of 4 reviewers dislike Gutenberg.

It’s certainly possible that those who dislike Gutenberg are more motivated to write a review, and hence the numbers may be skewed. However, an additional point of information is that the Classic Editor plugin, which switches the WordPress editor back to its previous form, has over 2 million installs. The Classic Editor plugin is not bundled with WordPress—it has to be deliberately installed. It may be possible to infer from this that around 2 million active users have, at least for now, decided against using Gutenberg.

Why is it, then, that such a high proportion of users prefer to stay away from Gutenberg in its current form?

The most common complaints, as you read through reviews, can be summarized in these points:

  • Automatic rather than optional switch of editors
  • Breakages in compatibility with themes and plugins, or of existing workflows
  • Difficult to use, cumbersome
  • Not production-ready due to usability issues or bugs

On the other hand, the most common points of praise are:

  • Easy to use
  • Non-developers can use it to create complex layouts
  • Makes WordPress more well-equipped for the future

Feedback From WP Devs

What do people in the industry have to say about Gutenberg? In general, there has been a good bit of discussion among industry professionals surrounding how the development and release were managed, but what of the new editor itself?

Let’s hear from some WP devs:

“The release of Gutenberg was rushed and it still has some rough edges. That said, I expect these to be ironed out over the next year or so. It’s undoubtedly the future of WordPress, so you need to get your head around it sooner or later!”

– Stephen Cronin, WordPress Specialist at Envato

 

“I’m most excited for the budding ecosystem of Gutenberg blocks and toolkits to help folks do even more with the new editor. What a time to be a WordPress developer!”

– Rich Tabor, Founder of ThemeBeans

 

“I think the WordPress editor was long overdue for an overhaul. While I don’t have an issue with the concept of the new Block Editor, I do have lots of issues with the current implementation and what’s been added into Core.

The Block Editor has extremely poor UI & UX, and as even admitted by the WordPress Accessibility Team, poor accessibility. I’m constantly finding way too many issues whenever I try to use/test it, and combined with its poor usability, it’s going to be quite a while before I even consider using this for a client site or even any of my own sites.

The other issue I have with Block Editor is the complexity that they’ve introduced for developers who want to develop anything for the Block Editor, and also with how they handle each block. You can’t just simply change the markup for a block, you have to go through a whole deprecation process, requiring developers to retain old legacy code so as to avoid Blocks from breaking. This is adding unneeded bloat to WP.

Like a large portion of the WordPress community, I believe that the Block Editor should’ve been kept as a plugin, at least for a couple of major versions, until the UI & UX has been improved considerably, and the majority of issues have been fixed.”

– Anthony Hortin, Maddison Designs

What the User and Dev Feedback Tells Us

When we look at the feedback from both WordPress reviewers and developers, there are a few clear take-aways:

  • Gutenberg has positives people do like and appreciate.
  • Gutenberg has negatives people are not currently satisfied with.
  • Gutenberg is sticking around, for better or worse.

Given these three factors, the real question is:

What are some means by which Gutenberg might become a positive in the eyes of the majority of users and devs?

Let’s look at a couple of Gutenberg’s major strengths and weaknesses to find out.

Why Gutenberg Is a Fantastic Addition to WordPress

There has been a lot of focus on the things people don’t like about Gutenberg, but given that it’s here to stay, it might be more productive to start by looking at the things it does have going for it.

Rich, Custom Layouts With No Coding

Easy for average user

Previously, if a user wanted to do something not provided for by the classic editor, they’d have to bring in custom coding via inline HTML, a custom theme, or a plugin.

With Gutenberg’s block system, on the other hand, there are effectively unlimited permutations in how blocks can be assembled, meaning the editor can empower the user in ways previously impossible with an out-of-the-box WordPress installation.

A strong Gutenberg editor means people can do more than just write articles for themselves—given a quality Gutenberg-compatible theme as a foundation, they can build entire sites without needing assistance.

Simple Process to Change Content Ordering

Example of how Gutenberg block order can be changed
Example of how Gutenberg block order can be changed

In the TinyMCE editor, if you decided you wanted to move a paragraph of text, an image, or a heading, you pretty much had to cut and paste, and then hope for the best. I lost count of the number of times I helped someone with an issue on their site that proved to have come from the HTML in their post getting messed up during the editing process.

With the block system, if you want to change up the order of your content, it’s a simple matter of clicking a block’s “Move up” or “Move down” button, or dragging and dropping the block. This can save a lot of headaches for users trying to adjust their work on the fly.

Lots of Potential for Plugin and Theme Development

Gutenote - Gutenberg compatible WordPress theme
Gutenote: Gutenberg-optimized WordPress theme

Industrious WP devs have already been hard at work creating plugins and themes that leverage and expand upon Gutenberg.

Through WordPress APIs, it’s possible to create custom blocks that will appear as options for users. We covered how you can use the “create-guten-block” toolkit to help you along with this process in our course Building Gutenberg Blocks with create-guten-block.

WordPress themes can now dig into all the different block types Gutenberg offers and provide unique styling for each. You can check out some great themes doing just that in our roundup of “The Best Gutenberg-Optimized WordPress Themes, Available Now“.

Why Gutenberg Is a Problem for WordPress Users

The most common complaint about Gutenberg seems to be that it was automatically installed without a choice being given. However, if everyone preferred Gutenberg over TinyMCE, this likely wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Why, then, do users prefer TinyMCE over Gutenberg to the point that they wish they’d been given the choice to continue using the former? We touched on the reasons earlier, but let’s expand a little.

Compatibility & Workflow-Breaking Changes

One of the strongest sources of lifeblood for the WordPress world is its massive and thriving ecosystem of plugins and themes. There are countless custom site setups today kitted out with themes and plugins from this ecosystem that rely entirely on the way the post editor, custom fields and metaboxes worked before Gutenberg. For many owners of such sites, upon Gutenberg’s arrival their experience was that the functionality they relied on for their workflow simply stopped working.

This was exacerbated by the release of Gutenberg being sprung on WP plugin and theme devs with only three days notice, in December instead of the previously indicated January launch date, and by a development cycle during which frequent changes forced theme and plugin makers to implement and re-implement compatibility measures multiple times. On top of that, at launch there was still a long list of unresolved issues that were scheduled to be fixed in a later update.

All these factors combined to make the first experience of Gutenberg one fraught with technical issues for many users.

Even when users didn’t experience compatibility issues, we saw several reports from people saying they did not appreciate the significant change to existing workflows they would need to take on if they were to switch from TinyMCE to Gutenberg.

Review describing slowed process

Sudden Steep Learning Curve & Usability Issues

From the point of view of WordPress devs and people following WP news, Gutenberg has been on the way for two years.

But for the average user who just logs in periodically to add content and update their site, the word “Gutenberg” means nothing in particular, the editor they have grown very used to over the years is gone, and the new interface is confusing and entirely unfamiliar.

The block system may well prove to be a better experience for users once they grow comfortable with it, or when enough usability enhancements and bug fixes are added, but until such time it’s a source of frustration and slowed workflow for many.

Possible Ways to Ease Pain Points

To make devs and users happy about the presence of Gutenberg, its major weaknesses would need to be remedied while its strengths are accentuated. There are plenty of ways this could be done, but here are two possible helpful additions to the current system that spring to mind.

Offer a Clear Choice Between Classic and Gutenberg

One of the most common complaints has been that people felt they had no choice and Gutenberg was pushed on them. This is a concern worsened by the fact that both users and devs feel Gutenberg’s release was rushed, and that it’s not currently ready for production use. For that reason, it seems one of the first positive things WordPress could do is introduce choice in a way that alleviates this concern, especially until Gutenberg matures into an editor people feel is stable and feature complete.

What I mean by this is doing more than just having the Classic Editor plugin available in the repository, though that’s certainly a great start. WordPress is a system renowned for being usable by people who are not technicians, and in many cases it will not be sufficiently clear to users experiencing compatibility or usability problems that the remedy is to install this plugin.

Instead, perhaps for now the Classic Editor plugin should be installed by default, and a clear choice between it and Gutenberg should be continuously offered within the WordPress interface for the near future.

The folks at ThemeFusion, makers of the popular Avada theme, implemented exactly this type of choice during content creation for their theme users. When the “Add New” button is pressed, a drop-down list appears giving multiple options for the type of editor available for use:

Editor Options with ThemeFusion

If something like this were implemented into WordPress core, it would allow people to leave their existing content just as it is, while creating “sandbox” posts in which they can learn the new system at their own pace, ensuring compatibility with critical aspects of their site, and phasing in Gutenberg in a way that works for them.

A More Expansive Interactive Tutorial for On-Boarding

It’s quite telling that one of the main complaints in negative reviews has been that Gutenberg is hard to use, while one of the main points of praise in positive reviews has been how easy it is to use. Given this, perhaps a significant portion of negative opinions could be turned into positive opinions just by giving more assistance in learning the new editor.

To this end, it would be highly useful to include a far more in-depth walk-through of Gutenberg than you currently get when you first encounter it. At present, the on-boarding tips (summarized) are:

  1. Add a block by clicking the “+” button. There are all kinds of blocks.
  2. There are more settings for blocks in the sidebar.
  3. Click “Preview” to see a preview.
  4. Finished writing? Publish your post.

Current on-boarding for Gutenberg

This is a radically new system, entirely unfamiliar to many users, and yet only two of the four on-boarding tips relate to blocks. Further, those two tips tell you very little about how to actually use blocks. A more comprehensive tutorial would include topics like using toolbar buttons and formatting settings, adding blocks above or below existing content, moving blocks, deleting blocks, changing block types, adding and aligning images, inserting galleries, creating multi-column layouts, and so on.

If there was an on-boarding tip series that took users through more of the functionality on offer and showed them how to create some cool content they couldn’t make before, they might be a lot less overwhelmed and a lot more excited for the potential of blocks.

In the meantime, we put together a guide of our own, which you follow via our course “Create Content With WordPress Gutenberg“.

Wrapping Up: The Good News

When we look closely at the situation of Gutenberg, the good news is it doesn’t seem complaints are primarily directed at the fundamental concepts underpinning Gutenberg. Rather, they tend to be about how the editor launch was handled, and about usability issues that could be remedied.

We have seen so many wildly popular page-building plugins like WPBakery, and themes with integrated page builders like Avada, that it’s abundantly clear that there’s strong demand for a flexible, rich content creation process. It just needs to be done in a way that works for end users.

If WordPress increases meaningful user choice over their editor during the transition phase, enhances the on-boarding process, and continues to squash bugs and refine the user experience, we will undoubtedly see a thriving community that loves Gutenberg, and even the most unhappy of critics come back around, in the not too distant future.

The post Gutenberg: The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions appeared first on Envato.


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