Healthcare Mobile Apps: Its Importance During COVID-19

Healthcare Mobile Apps: Its Importance During COVID-19:

Healthcare Apps: The current generation is a victim of the pandemic, as well as infodemic. You know well which pandemic am I referring to- Covid 19. But, are you wondering what is this “infodemic”? It is nothing but the widespread information as well as misinformation associated with novel coronavirus circulated on the news, print, and social media. 

Well, a year ago when the lockdown was announced for the first time, I am pretty sure, you wouldn’t have thought it would run so long. While everyone hoped for a normal life, the second wave stepped in. However, with the modified version of CoronaVirus, we too have modified our way of dealing with the pandemic outbreak. Technology has essentially turned out to be a boon.

Mobile Apps and its Applications during the Pandemic

Though misconceptions were spread through different media platforms, mobile applications and social media have turned out to be helpful too. This includes software as well as apps concerned with tracking the spread of COVID-19, provisioning remote healthcarecontact tracing, vaccine management, and much more! And all you need is a smartphone to access it. According to mobile app development companies in the USA, the mobile app industry experienced a boom like never before during the pandemic. It was mainly because of the increased use of mobile phones and mobile apps. 

The smartphone leaders, Apple and Google, have their ways of ensuring secure access to the software. Apple checks against malicious software. It allows apps recognized by institutions like the government, healthcare providers in the app store. On the other hand, Google has dedicated a section titled “Coronavirus: Stay informed” in the Play Store. This contains all the certified apps to help you stay prepared along with being informed. 

The Rise in Demand for Software and Mobile Applications

Did you know that there are more than 325,000 mobile health apps in the Play Store and App Store?! Yes, you heard that right.

In the crisis of COVID-19, many sectors have been hit drastically. However, the demand for the software, mobile apps, and AI sector has increased significantly. The need to work remotely has created this demand. The restrictions to move out of the house have resulted in people spending time on apps. 

Coronavirus has created an urgency in global healthcare. The need is to ensure safety and reduce risks concerned with the disease by creating awareness. Also, provide facilities at the doorstep through mobile apps.

Having the right application can be a tool at the right time. It serves the utilitarian purpose, social needs, as well as entertainment. Similarly, it makes sense to have a mHealth app that caters to various needs such as staying fit, tracking Covid-19 status, knowing safe and unsafe zones, getting telehealth support, getting medicines, and much more.

What are healthcare mobile apps?

While technology has taken prominence in our lives, the healthcare sector has entered this sphere with telemedicine. Mhealth is inclusive of gadgets like smartphones, tablets, wearables, and others. These provide services related to health and wellness. It is handy for the users as they can access it anywhere on the go. 

Health apps are useful in diagnosis, treatments, and tracking the health conditions of the patient. The doctors and patients can communicate with each other remotely. 

Wellness apps too come under MedTech. Here the app supervises the user’s overall health. It enhances both the physical and mental health of the user.

Importance of mHealth apps:

  • A bridge that connects people, healthcare professionals, and health systems
  • Online expert advice avoids the need of stepping out in the pandemic
  • Home delivery of medicines ensure you never run out of them
  • A reliable and personalized source of information
  • Patient care at fingertips beyond the boundaries of the clinics 
  • Monitor patient health constantly and track symptoms
  • Get real-time notifications about COVID-19
  • Ensure self-care measures to reduce the spread of the virus
  • Get statistics on vaccines

Types of Healthcare apps

Let us know the types of healthcare apps. It is widely classified as apps for healthcare providers and users. 

MHealth Apps for Healthcare Providers

The apps that are developed for doctors and other healthcare professionals come under this category. Here, the app will have customized features that a clinic needs. Thus, these apps are sophisticated. Some of the purposes are:

  • Patient Monitoring– Track patient’s condition and report the progress, storehouse of health records. 
  • Healthcare reference apps– Latest data on diseases and medicines.
  • Professional Networking– A platform to share knowledge and interact within the professionals’ community.
  • Doctor’s appointment– Keep a track of your appointments with notifications of checkups and schedules.
  • Telehealth apps– Provide online consultations with telemedicine apps, especially during emergencies.  
  • Vaccine Management– Administer vaccines and notify the patients of their next dose. Monitor the health after the vaccine administration as well.

Mobile Apps for Users

  • Reminders- Set reminders for medicines, tests, exercises, etc.
  • Educative apps- Information on health conditions.
  • Mental Health- Ensure mental health with meditation, stress relief, sleep patterns, etc.
  • Healthy Lifestyle- Have a healthy life with fitness, weight loss, exercise, etc.
  • Nutrition- Get a balanced diet with healthy recipes and clean eating guides. 

Pharmaceutical Apps

Healthcare and medicine are complementary to each other. Pharmaceutical companies have entered the digital sphere with medicine sales with the facility of home delivery and online transactions. 

Ensure these Key Features in your Health App

Easy signup and logins

Registration as well as the sign-in process must be quick and easy. It should ask for minimal personal details of the mobile app user. Ensure easy logins with the phone number or email ids.

Profile access

The profile of the patient and doctor should have all the necessary details. It should be easily accessible. For the patient, it must include the health records, whereas for doctors it must reflect their expertise. It should provide details such as specialization, experience, contact details, etc.

Searching the physicians

The app must provide filters to the user. It should recommend doctors as per the needs of the patient. It should consider factors such as experience, expertise, reviews, charges, as well as location. It should provide smooth in-app communication.

Appointment

After shortlisting and selecting the doctor, the patient should be able to book appointments. Doctors have to confirm the appointment by confirming or modifying the time. Also, it should provide lab booking. 

Reminders

The app should provision to create a plan. Accordingly, it should remind the users about the appointments. Pill administration, and other check-ups. 

Remote Consultation

The app should provision in-app consultation through voice or video calls. It is beneficial in case of emergencies. It should provide a facility for prescriptions too. It should have online payment gateways for the same. 

Privacy and Security

It should adhere to the legal requirements. Besides, all the personal information of the patient, doctors, and the agency should have privacy. It should eliminate risks of any type.

Easy Dashboard

The dashboard should have a clean layout. It should provide a summary of the overall health status of the user. It should also provide sharing options for the reports.

Integration with wearables

The apps must be able to integrate with the smart bands and other devices. This helps to keep a constant record of the health conditions.

Cloud integration

The integration with the cloud enables data access anywhere, at any point of the time. It should be easily accessible.

Let’s wrap up: Mobile Health Apps and Pandemic

(Number of mHealth apps on Play Store over the years- Source: Statista)

In the era of the pandemic, it’s necessary to pay attention to health. Staying fit is the need of the hour. You can read more about the Internet of Behavior for better understanding.

The estimated mHealth global market is said to be 189 USD in 2025! Well, that says it all. The demand for healthcare apps has risen since the pandemic outbreak. We can essentially say that mobile health apps have not only helped in administering care to patients but also in providing the necessary information. Ensure the right use of mHealth apps. Let us stay fit with health apps and join hands in fighting against the virus.

from Tumblr https://generouspiratequeen.tumblr.com/post/647159057283694592

A Beginner’s Guide To Website Penetration Testing

A Beginner’s Guide To Website Penetration Testing:

In today’s digital world, more and more web applications are being developed and released to users each day. This is obviously great news for consumers and for those who rely on these applications. 

However, these are not without their issues. 

For every line of code that is written for a web application (or for anything else for that matter), there is a potential for bugs, which also increases the security risk of these applications. 

What’s more, these bugs can be costly to fix if they’re not detected early enough. This is where web application testing comes in. 

If you’re not sure what web application testing is or what it involves, this guide is for you. Below, we’re going to look in more detail at what web application testing entails and the steps you can take to conduct an effective assessment for your applications. 

What is web application testing?

Let’s start by building a fundamental understanding of what web application testing is. 

In a nutshell, this is a software testing practice used to test web applications for potential bugs. You can also run web tests on entire websites to make sure they are functioning effectively. 

It’s important to complete a test of any web-based application before making it live because as we mentioned above, finding bugs too late can be costly. Plus you want your new web application to be as effective and efficient as possible at all times. 

Essentially, any web application must be checked completely from end-to-end before it is made live to users. So by performing web application tests a business can make sure that everything is functioning properly and can be enjoyed and used in real-time. 

How to conduct a web application penetration test 

There are six different stages to web application testing and these can form a helpful checklist which includes:

  • Functionality testing
  • Usability testing
  • Interface testing
  • Compatibility testing
  • Performance testing
  • Security testing

We’re now going to look at each of these stages in more detail to see what is involved and why each one is important to the overall success of the web application test. 

Step 1: Functional testing

The first step is designed to ensure that all the functions of an application are tested. This part of testing is essentially a quality assurance (QA) process to confirm that all the functions of the web application are behaving as expected.

This happens in the source code where the system is tested against the functional requirements and specifications that have been set out.

What’s more, during this stage of the test process, actual system usage is simulated to be as close as possible to real system usage. This helps to create test conditions that are closest to user requirements and to achieve the most accurate results.

The functional testing stage itself can be broken down into four steps which usually include:

  • Identify what functions the web application is supposed to have 
  • Data input and entry
  • Carrying out the test case 
  • Analysing the results

Step 2: Usability testing

This next stage of the test process goes beyond simple functionality testing and involves testing for functionality alongside overall user experience.

This can be done internally by the existing team or you could even source external testers, those that fit your potential user-base, to try this out for you.

Usability testing follows a similar structure to the functionality stage we’ve outlined above and is broken down into these four steps: 

  • Developing a testing strategy that will ensure all functions related to usability will be examined. For example, navigation and content
  • Finding test participants whether you opt to do this internally or externally
  • Running the test with expert observation
  • Analysing the results and then improving the usability accordingly

Step 3: Interface testing

The third stage of the test process is interface testing which is required to ensure all interactions between the web server and application server interfaces are running smoothly. This means checking communication processes and making sure that any error messages are showing when required. Another aspect that will be tested at this stage is that any interruptions, whether from the user or server, are being handled correctly. 

Step 4: Compatibility testing

An important part of web application testing is ensuring that it is compatible with different browsers, systems, and devices. As such, there are three key elements that must be tested at this stage:

  • Browser compatibility – ensuring that the web application is functioning correctly across different browsers
  • Operating system compatibility – checking that the web application is functioning correctly on different operating systems
  • Mobile compatibility – ensuring the web application runs on different devices and functions equally as well on Android and iOS

There are cross-browser and other tools that can be used at this point to determine the compatibility of your web application. 

Step 5: Performance testing

Once you know that your web application is functioning properly and that it is compatible with all browsers, you need to truly test how it will perform. This means testing the application against a number of different factors, including different internet speeds and loads. It is recommended at this stage to put the application under increasing pressure until it can no longer function. 

This will determine its breaking point. 

This is important for assessing the resilience of your application and seeing how it performs in different (and sometimes stressful) situations. By testing its functionality under different scenarios and configurations, you can also see how well it is able to recover from crashes. 

Step 6: Security testing

Last but certainly not least, you need to test the security of your web application. This is done to ensure that your application is protected against unauthorised access and malicious actions or attacks. 

In order to effectively test the security of your web application you must conduct the following steps: 

  • Testing whether secure pages can be accessed without authorisation
  • Determining whether open sessions are being closed after user inactivity and ensuring this happens 
  • Verifying the application’s secure sockets layer (SSL) for encryption and verification 
  • Ensuring that restricted files cannot be downloaded without authorisation

from Tumblr https://generouspiratequeen.tumblr.com/post/647159056997449728

Explain API in Plain English

Explain API in Plain English:

What is an API?

It stands for Application Programming Interface. This sounds scary and fancy at the same time! What does that mean? What exactly is an API?
Like most places, I won’t give you a vague definition, full of technical jargon.

So, here it is:

In a nutshell, API is some code that you didn’t write yourself, and that code has some methods that you are allowed to call. It could be something that you download and run from your computer or it could be something that’s someplace else on the web.

That’s all an API is, in its essence.

Don’t think anything else, when we say an API just stick with the definition mentioned above!

Is that’s all it is? In its essence, Yes.

Then why such a fancy name?

Lets find out!
Let us build an API in JavaScript that will enable us to cook our dinner 🍜(virtually ofc).

Our API Code that is stored in the computer

As I said, we can have APIs that are local on our computer or saved in a remote server, or it could be something that you can download. We have made one locally and named it API, but it can be named anything.

It is a JavaScript file that I’ve downloaded and saved into a local folder.

When I run my webpages, I’m able to use this piece of code:

There is an immediately invoked function expression(IIFE) that is going to run itself.

At the very bottom, it’s going to return an object, and the object that it’s returning has three properties.

We can call these methods using a dot operator.

Calling methods described in our API.

When will call these methods in a row, we get an output like this:

We have function steamVeggies() that calls other function addSpices()

Here addSpices() can’t be called directly but I can call steamVeggies() which will then run the function addSpices()

Now what this is doing is just console logging out some messages, it’s not important what’s being done, what is important is that I have an object with a name. This would be one file that I can download and use, or it could be saved on a remote server, or it could be something that I download and keep with my files, then in my script file, I can use that.

So, I could say API then dot, and here are the things that were returned from this function.

These are the methods that we can call:

We could say, alright I’m going to call the function step1() and then I need to call the function step2()

There are other ones in the API like addSpices() that we can’t call one directly.

calling this one would give us an error

So there’s code inside there that’s hidden away from us. We don’t know what it is doing, but some things are exposed to us, which are public . We can access those in our code. I can use a step1()step2() and step3(). These are the things that are available to us from the API.

In the Application Programming Interface, the Interface part of it is these three methods:

This is the Interface part of the code

Those methods are the interface for me, to interact with this API

This is our Application Programming part of the code

Now, does it make sense why it is called Application Programming Interface?

Now, above we have used the name API, but it doesn’t have to be called API. It could be called anything. You can call it Som if we want.

What you need to understand is that there is this black box hidden away from us. What we know is from the documentation. It says these are the things that we could use and we use those in our program.

That’s all an API is. Code that somebody else has written, that I have access to, that I can use in my code to accomplish some sort of task.

It can be sitting on a remote server,

It can be sitting on my own computer,

It could be something that I have to use HTTP to talk to, I have to make an AJAX requests to the API to get information back.

You may encounter the term RESTful API while doing web development. Don’t get confused, It is also a code but it follows a certain architectural style and uses HTTP requests to access and use data. That data can be used to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data types, which refers to the reading, updating, creating and deleting of operations concerning resources.

But in a nutshell, It is just code that somebody else has written to make our life a little bit easier!

APIs in the context of Web

APIs are to the Internet what switchboard operators were to early telecommunications!

Like how switchboard operators used to connect calls, APIs enables communication between applications or software. An API or application programming interface is a part of a remote server that receives requests and sends responses when you navigate to a website in your browser.

Take medium.com for example, A request for data goes out to Medium’s remote server. Once your browser receives the data and processes the code response, the browser displays Medium Page. In this case, Medium’s server is the API that enabled communication and allowed you to access the webpage.

What is happening here is that your request goes to a code that someone else wrote and stored on the server. It provided you access to the current page that is stored somewhere in the remote server.

Your request doesn’t go to the server directly! It goes to an API, and that API decides what to do with it.

Client(left), API (Blue bolt), and Server(right)

API are also enables interaction and data alteration between two sites like when a webpage has a share to Twitter button, clicking this button triggers communication with your Twitter account, and alters your account by adding a new Tweet.

Now, this code or API can take many forms depending upon where it is being used. It will get a name respective to that area. To name a few, we have

  • Open APIs or Public APIs: These are publicly available to developers and other users with minimal restriction.
  • Partner APIs: These APIs exposed by/to the strategic business partners. They are not available publicly and need specific entitlement to access them.
  • Internal APIs or Private APIs: These are hidden from external users and only exposed by internal systems. It is not meant for consumption outside of the company but rather for use across different internal development teams for better productivity and reuse of services.

Bird’s eye view 🦅

Beyond the difference between internal, partner, open APIs, we should mention another approach to categorize APIs:

  • Data APIs provide CRUD access to underlying data sets for various databases or SaaS cloud providers.
  • Internal service APIs consist of exposing internal services, reflecting parts of internal processes, or some complex actions.
  • External service APIs are third-party services that can be embedded into the existing services of the company to bring additional value.
  • User experience APIs leverage composite APIs to help app developers provide the right experience for each specific device (desktop, mobile, tablet, VPA, IoT).

APIs may be further classified as local, web, or program APIs:

Local APIs is the original form, from which the name came. They offer OS or middleware services to application programs. Microsoft’s .NET APIs, the TAPI (Telephony API) for voice applications, and database access APIs are examples of the local API form.

Web APIs are designed to represent widely used resources like HTML pages and are accessed using a simple HTTP protocol. Any web URL activates a web API. Web APIs are often called REST (representational state transfer) or RESTful.(We discussed it above)

Program APIs are based on remote procedure call (RPC) technology that makes a remote program component appear to be local to the rest of the software. Service oriented architecture (SOA) APIs, such as Microsoft**s WS-series of APIs, are program APIs.

API examples in the developer community

Companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo publish APIs to encourage developers to build on their capabilities. These APIs have given us everything from new internet features that browse the sites of other services, to mobile device apps that offer easy access to web resources.

New features, such as content deliveryaugmented reality, and novel applications of wearable technology, are created in large part through these APIs.

Next time, Whenever you hear of the word API, Think of it as a code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other by running back and forth between applicationsdatabases, and devices to deliver data and create connectivity.

What we have learned

  • API is some code that you didn’t write yourself, and that code has some methods that you are allowed to use.
  • In context of web, an API is a part of a remote server that receives requests and sends responses when you navigate to a website in your browser.
  • API can take many forms depending upon where it is being used for example Open APIs or Public APIs, Partner API, Internal Or Private API.
  • It can further be classified into Local API, Web API, Program API.
  • In short API is code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other.

Now, I hope you have a clear understanding of what an API is and its various nuances. I have seen people struggling with this term. Looking at it from a broader perspective will put an end to the struggle, that people have while learning this fancy term, which they call an API.

from Tumblr https://generouspiratequeen.tumblr.com/post/647159056632561664

15+ Useful Web Development Tools That You Might Not Know

15+ Useful Web Development Tools That You Might Not Know:

 Web development tools help developers to build a website or an application easier and faster. It simplifies the development process from design to coding and anything in between.

As you might have noticed, web technologies are changing rapidly, especially in the front-end. Every year, there will always be a new web technology released. This is also the case with web development tools.

With so many new tools out there the web development workflow is also changing. It’s getting easier and faster. We, developers, should take advantage of these tools to work more efficiently.

TL;DR;

  1. Quarkly (design tool)
  2. Budibase (low code platform)
  3. Undesign (design tools & resources)
  4. Chrome Dev Tool (debugging tool)
  5. Codekit (compiler configuration)
  6. Zeplin (collaboration tool)
  7. Lighthouse (testing tool)
  8. Selenium (testing tool)
  9. Docker (deployment tool)
  10. GitLab CI/CD (deployment tool)
  11. Devdocs (documentation)
  12. Can I use (documentation)
  13. Sourcetree (Git client)
  14. Postman (API client)
  15. Webcode.tools (code generator)

Useful Web Development Tools That You Need to Try

In this post, I’m not going to show you the essential web development tools that you already know such as code editor, git, and popular frameworks. Instead, I will list some useful and unique tools that you might not know yet.

Most of these tools (if not all) are free to use. You can try them all and decide if they are fit your projects or not. So, let’s check them out!

1. Quarkly (design tool)

At a glance, Quarkly is just like another no-code website builder that helps designers build a website. Well, in fact, it’s more than that.

Quarkly is a free tool created both for web developers and web designers. It helps not only designers but also developers to build websites and web applications. The workflow speed is faster at that, all the way from design to deployment.

You’re not only able to design dragging and dropping elements, but also edit, customize, and manage the generated codes with the built-in code editor.

You can add logic, connect external APIs and add any codes that can’t be generated by the visual builder. Not only that, but you can even add npm packages to your project.

This way, you have full control over the generated code and can maintain the code quality. It’s not something you can do in regular website builders.

The code generated by Quarkly is based on React, a popular javascript library. So, if you already know React,  you’re going to feel at home in Quarkly.

To learn more about Quarkly, check out this article: How to Speed Up Web Development Process Using Quarkly, or try Quarkly directly here.

2. Budibase (low code platform)

Budibase is an open-source low code platform that helps you to build internal apps on your own infrastructure. It claims to be able to build internal tools 50x faster than building internal apps from scratch.

Budibase builder comes in a desktop platform that allows you to build your web app and preview it.

With Budibase, you can create a web application using drag’n’drop technology, integrate it with your own database, create automation tasks, and more.

Here is the summary of Budibase features:

  • Build and ship real software. Unlike other platforms, Budibase lets you build and ship single-page applications.
  • Open source and extensible. Budibase is open-source. The builder is licensed AGPL v3, the server is GPL v3, and the client is MPL.
  • Load data or start from scratch. Budibase imports data from multiple sources such as MongoDB, CouchDB, PostgreSQL, mySQL, Airtable, Google Sheets, S3, DyanmoDB, or REST API.
  • Design and build apps with powerful pre-made components.
  • Automate processes, integrate with other tools, and connect to webhooks. Save time by automating manual processes and workflows.
  • Cloud hosting and self-hosting. Users can self-host, or host their apps with Budibase cloud.

3. Undesign (design tools & resources)

As web developers, we will always need design resources such as stock photos, illustrations, icons, animations, fonts, and so on which are sometimes quite difficult to find.

Now, thanks to Undesign, we don’t need to search the Net manually to find the design resources. Undesign collects free design tools and resources and sorts them by categories.

Need illustrations for your website? Select the illustration category and you will find the list of the best free illustration websites.

Looking for animations for your site? Go to the animations category and you will find the free animation websites there.

Other Undesign design resource categories are design inspirations, templates, color palettes, css generators, icons, design utility tools, stock photos, videos, audios, and so on.

Just check it out to see more.

4. Chrome Dev Tool (debugging tool)

You may be aware of this tool but do you make the most of it? 

Chrome dev tool not only logs bugs in the console tab or inspects elements but also allows you to check website performance, its responsiveness, security, memory usage, local storage, and so on.

Learn more details about the Chrome dev tool in official docs here, or read the following articles: “Art of debugging with Chrome DevTools” and “The Beginner’s Guide to Chrome Developer Tools”.

Alternatives

Other debugging tools that worth mentioning and that you can use as alternatives or along with Chrome dev tool are:

  • Firefox developer edition. A browser made specifically for developers with a lot of useful and advanced functionality.
  • CSS Scan. A browser extension to inspect and edit CSS styles (not free)
  • Responsively. An open-source tool to test web responsiveness easier and faster. Responsively can test different devices at once.

5. Codekit (compiler configuration)

If you’re a front-end developer, you might use (or at least heard of) CSS preprocessors such as LESS and SASS, or task runners such as Gulp and Grunt.

They are all great tools to make styling faster and automate some front-end tasks. But you should write the configuration code for them. Sometimes, it got complicated when you develop quite a big project.

Codekit can solve this problem. Their slogan is “Build websites, not config files”, so Codekit automates the configuration for CSS preprocessors, task runners, and other scripting languages. It can also be used to optimize images and CSS.

Codekit is available only for Mac users for $38/license for lifetime usage. If you are a windows user or just don’t want to pay for it, you can always choose the alternatives.

Alternatives

6. Zeplin (collaboration tool)

Back then when we developed a website based on a design, we should have manually sliced or extracted the assets from the design file. We should have also manually picked the colors using the color picker tool. And if we wanted to create a pixel-perfect website, we had to manually measure the element width, paddings, and margins.

With Zeplin, those manual things can be automated now. Designers just need to upload the design file (from Figma, Photoshop, Adobe XD, Sketch), select the exportable assets, and publish it.

Only invited developers can access the Zeplin project. They can export the assets and inspect elements from the project that provides color code, font style, paddings, margins, width, height, and even generated CSS styles.

Zeplin generates all of them so developers can focus more on coding.

To use Zeplin, create an account and download the desktop app version if you want to create a project (upload design).

A free account is limited: you can create only 1 project. But as a developer, you can access all projects you are invited to collaborate on.

Alternative

7. Lighthouse (testing tool)

Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for testing and improving the quality of a web page. It audits at least 4 aspects of the web: performance, accessibility, SEO, and progressive web app.

It checks page speed, responsiveness, browser cache optimization, assets optimization, etc. if we talk about performance. As for SEO, it checks general on-page SEO parameters.

Lighthouse is developed by Google and used in some google products Google pagespeed insight and https://web.dev/measure/.

It’s also available on Chrome dev tools and on Chrome extension, so you can use it to scan open websites directly, both locally and online.

Alternative

8. Selenium (testing tool)

For medium-scale web applications, an organized and automated test is necessary to make sure your applications are bug-free. You can’t rely on manual work to test all features of your web app, so you will need a tool to replace the manual test.

Selenium is an open-source framework for testing web applications. It’s a tool for automating web application testing on web browsers. It acts like a human who uses your app and tests its features.

With Selenium, you can create functional tests without learning a test language (Selenium IDE). You can write your tests in Ruby, Java, C#, Python, and Javascript.

To learn more about Selenium, go to their official website, or read this article.

9. Docker (deployment tool)

Docker is a platform for developing, shipping, and running applications. It allows you to separate your applications from your infrastructure to deliver software quickly. With Docker, you can manage your infrastructure in the same ways you manage your apps.

Docker helps package and run an application in a loosely isolated environment called a container. The isolation and security allow you to run many containers simultaneously on a given host.

Docker can package an application and its dependencies in a virtual container that can run on any Linux, Windows, or macOS computer. This enables the application to run in a variety of locations, such as on-premises, in a public cloud, and/or in a private cloud.

10. GitLab CI/CD (deployment tool)

GitLab CI/CD is a tool built into GitLab for software development using Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Integration works by pushing small code chunks to your application’s codebase hosted in a Git repository, and to every push, run a pipeline of scripts to build, test, and validate the code changes before merging them into the main branch.

Continuous Delivery and Deployment consist of a step further CI, deploying your application to production at every push to the default branch of the repository.

These methodologies allow you to catch bugs and errors early in the development cycle, ensuring that all the code deployed to production complies with the code standards you established for your app.

GitLab can also automatically detect, build, test, deploy, and monitor your applications by using Auto DevOps.

Alternatives

11. Devdocs (documentation)

Devdocs.io is a collection of API documentation from various web technologies. It combines nearly 500 API documentations in a fast, organized, and searchable interface, from Angular to Yii framework.

Devdocs can be used as your web development handbook. It can also work offline, on mobile, and as a Chrome extension.

Alternatives

12. Can I use (documentation)

“Can I use” is an open-source tool that provides up-to-date browser support & compatibility tables of front-end web technologies on desktop and mobile web browsers.

It checks browser support of CSS properties, DOM APIs, and HTML tags for 17 different browsers in different versions.

13. Sourcetree (Git client)

As you know, Git is an essential tool for web development. It helps developers collaborate with each other and manage project changes and versions. 

However, Git is originally a command-line tool as it doesn’t have GUI. So beginners should learn a set of git commands before they can use it. Thanks to Sourcetree, they don’t need to learn all of these commands.

Sourcetree is a free desktop app that simplifies your interaction with your Git repositories so you can focus on coding. It’s available both for Windows and macOS.

Sourcetree visualizes and manages your repositories through a simple Git GUI. You can run git commands with just a few clicks.

Alternatives

14. Postman (API client)

Postman is an API Client tool that used to test and document APIs created by backend developers. It’s packed with features that make it a powerful tool for API exploration and development. It also used as a collaboration tool between frontend and backend developer.

If you’re a backend developer, you can publish API documentation quickly and easily. Postman can automatically pull your sample requests, headers, code snippets, etc. to populate your documentation page with dynamic examples and machine-readable instruction.

If you’re a frontend developer, you can test API samples provided by a backend developer before you use them in your web app.

Alternative

  • Insomnia (A simpler, more lightweight than Postman. But less features.)

15. Webcode.tools (code generator)

Web Code Tools is a web code generator that let you generate HTML5, CSS3, JSON-LD, Twitter cards, Open graph, and other code snippets.

It’s a great app for beginner developers, and yet experts can also find something to use in it.

Web Code Tools available online as a website and as Chrome extension.

Conclusion

These 15 web development tools are great to help you with the web development workflow. Personally, I use some of them and find them really useful.

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Top Google Shopping Plugins You Must Have in 2021

Top Google Shopping Plugins You Must Have in 2021:

To stand out in the competitive world of eCommerce, you need to try new strategies and technologies every day. For that, you need to push your products to various marketplaces through different channels for enhancing their visibility to the audience.

Every store owner wants to show their products to potential customers to get more sales. But, it is not only limited to simply showing your products in Google search results. That is, sometimes your products may be listed on the 3rd or 5th page of Google. Those ranks would not make any great impact on your customers since they always click the first few products they see in their search results.

One of the major platforms to market your products is Google Shopping. Listing your products on the Google Shopping page provides more visibility and customers can easily compare a product with other products and choose the best one.

In this marketplace, you do not need to worry about the size or scale of your business, since you can list your products with other established competitors.

There are a number of procedures you need to follow for displaying your WooCommerce products as shopping ads. You need to create a product feed in a sheet with all details regarding your products and submit it to Google Merchant Center.

If you have a very limited number of products to be displayed as ads, you can manually type the details and upload them to the Merchant Center. But, if you have hundreds and thousands of products to be uploaded, you should use a WooCommerce plugin to generate the product feed automatically. 

In this article, we are analyzing 10 WooCommerce plugins to generate the product feeds for uploading them to the Google Merchant Center.

In this article, we will be discussing the following plugins:

  1. ELEX WooCommerce Google Shopping Plugin
  2. WooCommerce Product Feed Export
  3. ShoppingFeeder
  4. WP All Import
  5. CTX Feed – WooCommerce Product Feed Generator
  6. Product Feed PRO for WooCommerce
  7. Woocommerce Google Feed Manager
  8. YITH Google Product Feed for WooCommerce
  9. RexTheme WooCommerce Product Feed Manager
  10. WooCommerce Product Feed For Marketing Channels

1. ELEX WooCommerce Google Shopping Plugin

This advanced Google product feed plugin allows you to generate unlimited feeds for simple and variable products in XML, CSV, or TSV file formats. It allows you to choose the targeting country of your sale to generate the feed according to the requirements of the country you have chosen. Similarly, you can choose a language such as English, Russian, Spanish, German, or French to map your product categories with Google product categories properly. Also, you can map your product attributes with Google’s default product attributes for accurate feed generation. 

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • You can refresh the product attribute values on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for updating the changed attribute values to Google.
  • Allows mapping your product attributes with Google’s attributes based on conditions and rules.
  • You can add custom attribute values and map them with Google attributes.
  • Has an option to create a feed for featured products exclusively.
  • Allows creating a feed for specific vendors, etc.

2. WooCommerce Product Feed Export

This free plugin allows you to generate product feeds for the marketplace like Amazon, Snapchat, Etsy, etc., apart from Google. Its simple and intuitive interface would help you create custom product feeds according to your requirements. Its product listing optimization capabilities would open an opportunity for a higher conversion rate in your store. 

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Can create the product feed for individual WooCommerce categories as well as selected individual products.
  • Allows scheduled refreshing of products to feed updated data to Google.
  • Supports variable products.
  • Helps to map local product categories with the respective merchant categories.
  • Will generate feeds that exactly match the merchant’s requirements.

3. ShoppingFeeder

This free WordPress plugin will allow you to manage your product feed for multiple channels including Google Shopping by integrating your store data with ShoppingFinder. Also, it will help you to analyze the performance of the campaigns you have created by monitoring the traffic, ROI, and conversions. It will help you track all clicks, conversions, and referrals you got from the source in which you have submitted your product feed.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Generates daily, weekly, or monthly reports.
  • Allows to set up multi-user accounts.
  • Easy import of product catalogs for uploading them to various channels.
  • Boost visibility of your products through multiple channels.
  • Configure to grant the accessibility of product data based on the user roles in your team.

4. WP All Import

This advanced plugin allows you to generate and manage product feeds efficiently with its simple and comprehensive interface. With this plugin, you can schedule automatic updates of product attributes to feed the latest product data on Google. Moreover, it comes with almost all the features demanded by Google Merchant Center. It supports product variations, attributes from third-party extensions and other WordPress plugins. With this plugin, you do not need to worry about the file formats supported by Google, as you can simply drag and drop the option on the interface to export the feed into Google Shopping.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Provides a developer-friendly environment.
  • Efficient category mapping with Google’s default categories.
  • Supports multiple languages.
  • Seamless customization of your product feed according to specific requirements.
  • Can filter the products accurately to generate feed for the selected products.

5. CTX Feed – WooCommerce Product Feed Generator

This WooCommerce product feed generator plugin will allow you to create unlimited product feeds for unlimited products in your store. It allows you to generate a feed that is compatible with 100+ channels such as Facebook Product Ads, Instagram Shopping Ads, Pinterest Shopping Ads, etc., apart from Google Shopping. This plugin supports variable products as well.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Supports XML, CSV and TXT file formats.
  • Provides advanced filtering options to select specific products to generate the feed.
  • Easy category mapping and custom attribute mapping.
  • Compatible with other WooCommerce plugins like WooCommerce Multivendor.
  • Generate feed for a large number of products as batches.

6. Product Feed PRO for WooCommerce

This WordPress plugin helps to generate the product feeds for uploading it to Google Shopping, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, etc., for featuring your products on them. You can use the advanced filtering options to generate feed for the potential products to increase sales. It comes up with 100+ default feed templates apart from the option to create custom templates. Also, you can create feeds for unlimited products.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Can create unlimited feeds.
  • Seamless mapping of product categories and attributes.
  • Supports variable products.
  • Supports Google Analytics for measuring the performance of ads.
  • Helps to set up the shipping zone and shipping class to take the exact shipping cost on the feed.

7. Woocommerce Google Feed Manager

This free Google product feed plugin will allow you to generate product feeds for upto 100 products. And, it will make sure that the updated attribute values of your products would be updated on Google Shopping on time. Its simple interface allows its subscribers to generate feed in simple clicks even if they are not that much into the technical side. 

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Provides full control over your product feed.
  • Well optimization of product feeds.
  • Generates feed with satisfying all requirements of Google Merchant Center.

8. YITH Google Product Feed for WooCommerce

This advanced plugin will help you generate product feeds seamlessly with its simple and intuitive interface. You can create feeds for specific products using its advanced filtering options. Also, it allows you to create custom templates by letting you choose your required fields for generating the feed.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Generates feed in XML and TXT file formats.
  • Override feed general values on the product level.
  • Can generate unlimited feeds.
  • Helps to add custom fields to map with Google attributes.

9. RexTheme WooCommerce Product Feed Manager

This plugin is another option to generate a product feed for multiple marketplaces such as Google Shopping, Facebook Dynamics, Walmart, etc., to display your products. It provides a number of predefined templates for generating feeds easily. Its auto-syncing option would fetch and upload your product data into Google Merchant Center based on the scheduled interval you have set.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Efficient filtering options to generate feed for specific products.
  • Allows creating custom fields.
  • Supports Google Analytics to measure performance.
  • Uses batch processing to generate feed for a large number of products with minimum time.
  • Supports XML, CSV, and TXT file formats.

10. WooCommerce Product Feed For Marketing Channels

This is another product feed generator for your WooCommerce store, which allows you to create a feed for upto 40 products with its free version. You can submit unlimited products if you go for its premium version. This plugin helps to map your product categories with Google’s default product categories. Also, it supports variable products.

Other features of this plugin are as follows:

  • Upload your product feed in XML file format.
  • Helps to generate category-wise product feed.
  • Requires verification from Google to upload the feed into your account.

Well, these are the 10 Google shopping plugins you can go for your online store to enhance the visibility of your products.

To sum up,

There are many more Google shopping plugins available in the market. I have picked the above plugins as I found they would be very useful for your store. Take a tour of their product pages and do a thorough analysis of their features. And, pick the one which satisfies all your requirements.

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How to Design a Stellar UX for Long-form Articles

How to Design a Stellar UX for Long-form Articles:

After putting in multiple hours on researching, outlining, writing, and editing the first draft of your article, you’re eager to press the publish button. You want to share it with your audience, and earn some appreciation.

But guess what?

Your audience won’t bother reading your article unless they find its packaging appealing. You need to ensure a robust user experience (UX) on your website for your prospective visitors. 

For one, Google is rolling out a page experience update factoring the metrics below in its algorithm starting May 2021.

But page experience is merely a subset of overall UX. You can think of it in the form of the honeycomb by Semantic Studios below:

A sophisticated design establishes your brand’s credibility and makes it more likely for a user to return to your website. Called “preconscious judgments”, these aesthetical cues happen even “before any reading or other cognitive processes.” Here are some of the UX elements you need to take care of for your long form content pieces:

Keep your website technically robust

Let’s look at the basic technical operations where your website mustn’t falter.

No dead clicks and errors

Is the navigational menu at the top of your article responding properly on clicking? Is your email opt-in form free of errors? The mismatch of expectations results in a frustrating experience for users. 

You can monitor some of these errors through Google Analytics but it helps to get some feedback from users every time you implement changes on your site.

Now, if you mess with the URLs while moving around your website’s pages, then you can end up creating a lot of 404 errors. Besides fixing these errors, you can also get creative and use a customized 404 page to re-engage a visitor.

Enough of those intrusive interstitials

When Interstitials obstruct content on a page, Google can penalize a site for making their content difficult to access.

Go ahead, and minimize the usage of other aggressive tactics, such as those popup opt-in forms. Wait But Why is one of the internet’s favorite places for 10,000-word articles. They boast an email list of 615,000+ humans. But besides the sidebar opt-in form, they only use the following humorous “scroll bar” that appears after you engage with their articles for a bit:

You can also attempt other locations and less intrusive kinds of opt ins like a floating bar. 

Keep it safe and mobile-friendly

Security and privacy have become increasingly important for consumers today. Google already uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. So ensure that your site uses secure, encrypted connections. Let’s Encrypt allows you to create a free SSL certificate for your site:

Given that mobile-traffic is approximately equivalent to half of the total web traffic, having a mobile-friendly website for your business is a no-brainer. If you’re using WordPress (or any other modern CMS), you typically have numerous responsive theme options to choose from.

Take the mobile-friendly test to identify pages that are not responsive. Then use the Noupe tutorials and mobile web design tips here to fix those pages.

Choose big and readable font combinations

Small font sizes and low contrast between the text and the background are among the most common legibility problems for web users.

What font sizes and combinations should you choose? Well, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Each font has a character and impacts the viewer’s emotional state. You can get creative while choosing fonts aiming to show your brand personality, but readability comes first.
  • Generally, bigger font sizes help speed and comprehension of text and improve your readability. With long-form articles containing a lot of text, it makes sense to test 12-point size for body copy and even bigger sizes for headlines.
  • If you’re targeting 40+ men with visual impairments, your font selection and size needs more care. Older adults prefer 14-point fonts.
  • As per psychographics of reading, an increase in line spacing to 1.5 can help the reading speed and comprehension.
  • High contrast between your text and the background aids readability.
  • Research and choose font pairings that seem to “belong to each other”, find the appropriate font size for your audience by running a test and noting the change in your performance.
  • If your fonts don’t specifically draw any attention of the readers, they are likely doing a decent job.

Embrace whitespace

If you cram your blog with a colorful sidebar, five fancy fonts, and lousy color combinations, you set yourself up for failure. Instead, provide breathing space for your audience. Take inspiration from the good folks at Medium (where the optimal reading is around 7 minutes — which can mean a long-form article of up to 2000 words).

On Medium, you always get a slick and distraction-free reading experience. So use some more of that white space, will you?

Break down the article into easily scannable and readable chunks

Web users are habitual of scanning and skimming the content — only 16% of users read word-for-word. So your long-form article faces an upheaval battle for attention. Here’s how you can aid the scanning behavior:

Use short sentences, paragraphs, and subheadings

Breaking your article down into easily digestible chunks of easily understandable sentences and paragraphs saves effort for the readers. Top it up with meaningful subheadings that coherently organize your ideas and make for a seamless reading experience.

A Medium study found that easy-to-read sentences helped an article get more recommendations on the platform.

Indeed you can use an app like Hemingway to ensure an eighth grade (or below) reading level for your articles — unless you work in a specialized industry where jargon is essential. It makes your article accessible to a wider audience and can lead to a higher engagement.

Leverage special elements

Can your article use a special summary box, a “pro and cons” table, a quote pull out, or the like? Generally, such elements provide the most important information from the article to the user. If they are interested, they can continue to read from there.

For example, in my article discussing top online course software at Elite Content Marketer, I’ve discussed fifteen of these platforms. But I’ve used a summary of the top three in a table as visible below:

These elements are to help you take the bite, snack, meal approach in your long-form article:

Help readers navigate through a table of contents

In longer articles, most readers would like to read a section relevant to them right now and walk away from your site. You should help users do that by using a table of contents (TOC) at the top of your article. Here’s an example from an article at The Creatives Hour:

Indeed such a TOC can result in snagging additional sitelinks in SERPs for your article. It increases your CTR for the organic listing and makes your long-form article more accessible:

Integrate multimedia

Visuals can increase the retention of information from 10% to 65%. Further, adding images in your articles at regular intervals is considered an SEO best practice — given they are relevant to the subject matter of the article. Here’s a video discussing SEO for Google Images:

Similarly, videos relevant to your articles (like the one above) could engage readers for a longer time as they are easier to consume than text alone.

Include a progress bar

Using a progress bar is a handy feature that sets expectations on the amount of time required for reading an article. You can use a horizontal thin line indicator like Stronger by Science does below:

Or you could even mention an estimated reading time at the top of your articles like Longreads does at the top of their articles:

Cut unnecessary elements affecting the site’s performance

Your website loading speed is an important attribute that can directly affect your conversions. It’s also a ranking factor in search. Here’s how to improve your performance: 

Compress your images

Sure having an image for every 100 to 150 words is great for visual engagement. But too many images can slow down a web page. The solution is to compress images without compromising quality. 

My article on podcast hosting had 31 images leading to a drop in the page’s performance. On installing the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin and compressing these images. I noticed a considerable improvement in its loading speed — without any noticeable drop in quality. You can use a tool such as TinyPNG if you’re not using WordPress.

Watch those video and external embed scripts

Besides images, video and other embedded scripts from third-party websites also lead to a drop in performance. You can either directly link to the videos or elements you mention in your article or use their screenshots to point them.

You can also lazy load all the iframe videos. On WordPress, these settings could be managed by a plugin such as WP Rocket.

Shift to a high-performance hosting

Ultimately, improvement in your performance won’t happen on the top of the average infrastructure — because you get what you pay for. I use WPEngine to host my site as they offer top-notch performance. What’s more? Caching, speed optimization, daily backups, and security are also taken care of in their managed hosting services.

You can learn more about improving site speed here. If you’re on WordPress, this guide could be even more helpful.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the article, I talked about Google search rankings because the main use of long-form content is getting organic traffic. But the UX implications mentioned in the article not only optimize your performance on Google but also help your bottom line. After all, a satisfied user is the most likely to convert into a paying customer.

If you want to further understand the consumer sentiment and engagement with your long-form landing pages, consider putting them through a user experience test with a session replay software (such as Hotjar). It can reveal interesting insights about your prospects.

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Generative Design Software Turns Any Photo Into a Custom Colorway

Generative Design Software Turns Any Photo Into a Custom Colorway:

Ergonomic seating generally leans towards palettes dictated by bland monochromatic options. But if industrial designer Chris Ference has a say, one day we will all have the option to customize colorways of existing products like home office seating using AI and generative software to sample any image and generate endless options using those sampled colors.

Ference’s concept uses one of the more attractive ergonomic seating options available today as a template, the Herman Miller Sayl. Designed by Yves Béhar, the Sayl’s “fewer parts, less material” form offers an ideal canvas for his explorative exercise, with a mixture of hard and soft materials that parallel that other product regularly color customized: sneakers.

“With Herman Miller releasing the 3D files of the Sayl Chair, I wanted to explore how new colorways could be created developed based on generative results,” explains Ference, “This project was created using Processing to generate the colorways and Keyshot to render out high fidelity versions of the chair. Creating the palettes is the link that connects these two programs. To quickly generate results, the program masks over specified components of the chair and fills the layers with colors pulled from the source images.”

“What makes the program so powerful is its ability to produce thousands of results in seconds.”

Ference’s generative design exploration results in a distinct variety of colorways using only three colors across the chair’s componentry, an intentional limitation. “With future iterations, I see the tool being able to choose the colors for each part of the chair,” notes Ference.

Such a generative software tool is not only envisioned to permit companies to offer customers the tools to customize their product with bespoke designs similar to existing services like NikeID and Xbox Design Labs, but Ference also imagines this solution beneficial for designers seeking a fast and accurate addition to their digital workflow for generating mood boards and trend exploration studies.

Ference is currently seeking partners interested in developing his tool, alongside developing improved methods to best filter through generated results to streamline review.

from Tumblr https://generouspiratequeen.tumblr.com/post/647068461968801792

How to debug a Github Actions’ secret

How to debug a Github Actions’ secret:

 One irritating thing about Github Actions is you can’t debug secrets. If you try to debug secrets you’ll get *** in the log.

run echo

This makes sense because Github is trying to help us keep the secret secret (ha!). But it doesn’t help when we’re trying to figure out whether there’s something wrong with the secret we provided.

There’s still a way to show this secret if you really want to show it. You can separate the characters with a space using the following code. The secret will now show up.

run: echo $ | sed 's/./& /g'
separate characters with a space

That said, make sure you’re testing a fake secret if you use this method, since this secret will get logged into the Github Actions panel for everyone to see.

from Tumblr https://generouspiratequeen.tumblr.com/post/646977868891619328

Wellness Benefits of Home Fitness Spaces

Wellness Benefits of Home Fitness Spaces:

 

Stationery cycling can benefit from a screen and nice view. \\ Photo courtesy of Technogym // Wellness by Design (Tiller Press), © J. Gold

Has your gym reopened? Have you been back yet? Or did you invest in weights and bands, yoga mats, treadmill or bike, and find that you’ve been really enjoying the benefits of working out at home?

Millions of Americans turned their spare rooms or spare corners of rooms (or garages or yards) into home fitness spaces when COVID-19 locked down their regular workout spots. Now many are planning to continue exercising at home post-pandemic. There are pros and cons to working out where you live. Let’s take a look at each.

Here are seven advantages of exercising where you live:

  • You don’t have to fight anyone else for a pair of dumbbells or a machine
  • You don’t have to hunt for parking at busy times
  • You always get the best spot in the room for a virtual class
  • There are no creepers ogling you while you stretch
  • You can sneak in your exercise while your toddler is napping or your first grader is Zooming with their class
  • You don’t have to budget membership fees – or fancy workout clothes
  • Your shower is as clean as you want it to be

Here are seven disadvantages of exercising where you live:

  • You need to have the space for home fitness
  • You have to buy and maintain all the equipment
  • You may not have enough privacy with housemates or neighbors to feel comfortable working out at home
  • Noise and vibration might be issues with the workouts you want to do
  • Your home is too crowded or full of valuable furniture and antiques for exercising
  • You need the motivation of a time and a place to go

If your pros outweigh your cons, here are some considerations for making your home fitness space more permanent. After all, the space you’ve been using was never designed to be forever; maybe your partner wants to park his car in the garage again, or you want to turn your living room back into an entertaining zone again, now that you’re all vaccinated for small home gatherings.

Plan every aspect of a workout room, from storage to flooring to the equipment itself. \\ Photo courtesy of INTER IKEA Systems B.V. // Wellness by Design (Tiller Press), © J. Gold

Space Planning Pointers

The first consideration of setting up a home fitness space is determining the type of activity – or activities – to be enjoyed there, and what it or they entail. Maybe you’ve been making do this past year, but you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level. That can involve a greater investment of both space and money.

For example, early in the pandemic, dumbbells became as scarce as toilet paper, so maybe you only got a pair of 10s and 20s; now you want to fill out your collection with 15s, 25s, etcetera, and you don’t want them sitting on the floor. In addition to a weight rack, you also want a weight bench. These both take more space than you might imagine.

When deciding where in your home to set up your permanent fitness area, there are numerous long-term details to factor in. Here are some starting points:

  • How much floor space is needed for this activity and its equipment?
  • What type of equipment does it require?
  • How much clearance does the equipment need, both around it and above, where applicable (e.g., elevating treadmill)?
  • What are its power requirements, if any, and where will the power cord not present a trip hazard?
  • What heat, noise and/or vibration does the equipment generate, if any?
  • Where can you safely use the equipment without endangering yourself or disturbing other members of your household?
  • How much privacy and climate control do you want?
  • What type of flooring is best?
  • Are there air quality issues in your preferred space, perhaps from household cleaner storage or a nearby cat box, for example?
  • What else might be required, like a barre, equipment storage, hydration station, wifi connection, sound speakers and screen for instruction?

If you’ve ever tried to nap while someone on the other side of the bedroom wall was working out, or you tried sweating out your cardio routine last summer in the garage, some of these considerations may already be top-of-mind. These are all excellent questions to think about while you’re shopping, especially with regard to specifications, noise and vibration.

A professionally-installed wall mirror and barre can enhance a yoga space. \\ Photo courtesy of designer: Ana Cummings, DDA, IDC, CAPS; Photographer: Steve Dutchesen // Wellness by Design (Tiller Press), © J. Gold

A knowledgeable retailer or manufacturer’s representative should be able to answer them, but you’ll need some information of your own, too, like room size and ceiling height, getting large equipment into it, and possibly even weight issues for upper floor placement of very heavy multi-stations. If you’re planning to install a barre, you’ll want to make sure it’s sanded smooth, finished in a nontoxic paint or stain, and installed properly in wall studs for stability.

Think about your body, too. Stress injuries, like doing high impact workouts on an unforgiving tile floor, collisions with furniture during a cardio dance session, or trying to finish your virtual spin class while breathing pet fumes can be painful. Proper planning prevents workout problems!

Enhancing the Space

After you’ve nailed the planning basics, consider your space, equipment, storage and environmental needs, look at ways to make the fitness area more pleasant. You’ll want it to be an area you enjoy being in, so you don’t start avoiding workouts. You can start with the wall color and décor.

If you’re doing high impact workouts, a high energy color like lemon, lime or tangerine can liven the room; choose one that makes you smile when you see it. If you’re doing more meditative workouts like yoga or tai chi, consider soft blues or greens. If your workout is repetitive, like stationary cycling or treadmill running, you might want to take advantage of a nice view or mount a TV on the wall.

If a mirror is important to your workouts, secure it to the wall, rather than letting it stand on the floor, so that it can’t be tipped over during your workout. Look for inspiring art to hang on the wall for motivation. If you’re training for a marathon, that could be a medal rack or a collection of bibs from previous races. If you’re doing cardio for a team sport, consider vintage prints from past Olympics. Hikers can hang landscape photography of their peak bagging goals, or shots from past summits. Even if you’re working out in a garage, you can make it a more inspiring than drab space with paint and decoration.

Another way to enhance the space is with furniture placement. Depending on the workouts you have planned for the space, you might want an attractive storage piece to hold accessories in a corner and a piece to hold your water bottle close by.

You might want insulating window coverings to block out direct sunlight and peering eyes, and keep your air conditioning optimized.

To reduce noise for neighboring bedrooms, place a filled bookcase against the shared wall. \\ Photo courtesy of M Monroe Design (Interior Design); Photography by Dylan Chandler // Wellness by Design (Tiller Press), © J. Gold

Creating Comfort

Environmental control is another way to make your workout area more comfortable. That might mean the addition of a stand fan if a ceiling fan isn’t possible. It might mean adjustable lighting, so you can better see a video screen. It could entail putting down a cushioned floor covering for impact, or a vibration mat under a machine, and replacing a hollow core door with a solid model for noise reduction.

Other ways to address noise are to move a bookcase against a shared wall and fill it with books and plants, as well as to move a bed away from a shared wall. Indoor air quality management through a smart home system that monitors and adjusts what you’re breathing in while you huff and puff through your workout can also be helpful to keeping your routines as healthful as possible. If that’s not possible, you can add some plants that improve indoor air quality to the space.

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http://damianfallon.blogspot.com/2021/03/after-year-of-working-from-kitchen.html:

After a year of working from the kitchen table, stress and burn-out are increasing, giving rise to more security risks – and Millennials seem to be particularly affected

The stress of remote working for 12 months during a global health crisis unseen in a century is causing more people to slip and make basic cyber security errors, according to a newly released report compiled for security firm Forcepoint.

During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the concerns of security and IT teams focused by and large on protecting hastily installed remote work support systems and preventing Zoom-bombing.

But a year on, Forcepoint has found that more than half of remote workers in the UK are finding themselves under increasing mental pressure, and therefore more inclined to inadvertently fall victim to risky behaviours.

These could include making more mistakes such as opening and clicking on obvious phishing emails, increased use of an individual’s own shadow IT devices, or increased sharing of devices within the individual’s household.

“Lockdown has been a stressful time for everyone, and while employers have admirably supported remote working with technology and connectivity, the human factor must not be overlooked,” said Margaret Cunningham, Forcepoint’s principal research scientist. “Interruptions, distractions and split attention can be physically and emotionally draining and, as such, it’s unsurprising that decision fatigue and motivated reasoning continues to grow.

“Companies and business leaders need to take into account the unique psychological and physical situation of their home workers when it comes to effective IT protection.

“They need to make their employees feel comfortable in their home offices, raise their awareness of IT security and also model positive behaviours. Knowing the rules, both written and implied, and then designing behaviour-centric metrics surrounding the rules can help us mitigate the negative impact of these risky behaviours.”

Cunningham said that although both older and younger employees tended to report they were receiving similar levels of organisational support while working remotely, the emotional experience, and how different generations use technology, was markedly different.

For example, younger, millennial employees – currently aged about 25-40 – were much more likely to say their stress levels made it harder to focus. Younger people were also more likely to feel pressurised to be present “at work” outside normal hours and were more stressed out by competing demands from their personal and professional lives.

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They also reported more anxiety about their long-term job security, were worried about their performance and ability to do their job well, and struggled to understand their professional goals.

As a result, 41% of younger respondents reported that they were making more basic mistakes when working from home, such as copying the wrong people into emails – which can technically be a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) breach in some circumstances. More than half, 54%, said distractions in the home negatively impacted decision-making, and 46% said they were using shadow IT to perform tasks more easily – a clear risk factor in opening up organisations to cyber attack.

“Throughout the whole study, we saw that certain groups were more negatively impacted by work-from-home mandates, and the group most affected were the younger workers,” said Cunningham.

“This group also reported higher stress levels, which may indicate that they feel pressured by time or work commitments and therefore engage in riskier behaviours to get their jobs done. This can expose organisations to increased cyber security risks.” 

The other group of people feeling the pressure were parents and caregivers, who were more likely to feel stressed by competing demands from their personal and professional lives, found it harder to make decisions and, like millennials, also worried about demands on their time outside of their contracted hours.

Caregivers also tended to report that their personal responsibilities during lockdown negatively impacted their job performance and were similarly worried about their ability to do their job well, and in many circumstances their ability to keep their job.

Again, this left them exposing their employers to heightened levels of cyber risk, with high numbers admitting to minor mistakes, distractions and unsanctioned use of shadow IT.

With remote working guidance in the UK still in effect, and likely to remain so until the summer, Forcepoint warned that without additional support from employers, people were likely to continue to deviate from pre-set and learned security rules, exposing their organisations to malicious actors and other threats.

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