Some great web design tools have appeared over the last month, including a new virtual reality web browser, some useful learning resources and an app that puts your logo designs through their paces. Read on to find out more. 

01. Calibre

Calibre screenshot

Get detailed performance reports and recommendations for improving your site

Calibre is a testing suite that gives you comprehensive data on your site’s performance. You can set up automated, scheduled testing and get a timeline of performance history, and the testing simulates the real-world conditions under which users will be browsing your site – such as different CPUs and browsers. It makes it easy to identify bottlenecks, and recommends solutions to page speed problems. 

02. Logo Lab

logo lab screenshot

Discover potential problems with your logo design in the early stages of development

Put this tool to work on your logo ideas to see how well they adhere to the principles of good logo design, such as scalability, visual balance and how it’s perceived at low resolution or at a glance. The app shows you how your colour scheme looks to someone who’s colour blind, and how your logo looks inside different shaped containers and among other common logos. It’s a quick way to see how your logo performs in lots of different situations, giving you the chance to iron out any problems before it’s too late. 

03. Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

Werner's Nomenclature of Colours

Get old-fashioned colour inspiration from this colour handbook 

In the 18th century mineralogist Abraham Werner devised a scheme for classifying colours, and the guidebook based on this scheme is reproduced online at this site. The colour guide was produced with the natural world in mind, and each colour swatch is accompanied by examples of where the colour appears in animals and plants. It’s a useful source for colour scheme inspiration, particularly if natural themes are relevant to your project. Scroll to the bottom and click ‘Download data’ to get a spreadsheet containing the hex values for each colour. There is also the option to buy posters and prints created with colours from the guidebook, which are great gifts for any designer. 

04. Modular JavaScript

Modular Javascript

A series of five JavaScript books that you can read for free

Modular JavaScript is a series of books that are free to read and created through an open process in which anyone can contribute content and offer fixes via the GitHub page. The stated goal is to “improve our collective understanding of writing robust, well-tested, modular JavaScript code”. There are five books in the series which are available to purchase in digital and print formats, and available to read for free in HTML format. You have to allow the site to send a tweet in order to access the free version. 

05. Shipstreams

Shipstreams

Learn problem-solving tactics by watching livestreams of people coding

On this site you can pick up coding techniques by watching livestreams of programmers as they work. Coders stream their desktop as they do their thing, and also a webcam feed of their furrowed brow as they build software and solve problems. If you have the patience, it could be an interesting way to get an insight into other people’s processes. 

06. Luna Display

Luna Display

Use your iPad as a second screen with this dongle that promises better quality and reliability than software alternatives

Luna Display is a dongle that turns your iPad into a wireless second display for your Mac. To set up, you plug the Luna into your Mac and the iPad connects via the wifi network and is automatically recognised as a second display. If you’ve heard of Duet Display, which is an app that achieves something similar without any hardware, you may be wondering how the two compare. According to the creator of Luna Display, there are performance differences: Duet has a limited resolution, and Luna is more reliable and has a lower latency. So if you’ve tried Duet and want more, Luna could be worth a go.

07. Ferret

Ferret screenshot

Ferret makes it easier to write web scrapers

Ferret helps you to extract data from the web by making it easier to write scrapers. You might need data for machine learning or UI testing purposes, and if you’re writing a lot of web scrapers to get it, Ferret can make things easier by abstracting away much of the complexity so you can just express what you need. If you’re working on a data-driven project, it may well help you to cut some corners in obtaining the data you need. 

08. LinkSplit

LinkSplit screenshot

LinkSplit makes A/B testing easy by diverting traffic to two different test sites

This is a tool with one simple yet highly useful function – it helps you with A/B testing by creating a URL that splits the traffic evenly between two or more destinations. There’s no sign up process – just enter your destination URLs and then share the single test URL with your audience. Then you can monitor the results with your analytics platform. 

09. You Don’t Need WordPress

You don't need WordPress

Make a simple site using Google Docs as a CMS

This system provides a way for you to bring the power and convenience of Google Docs to your blogging workflow. Write your blog in Google Docs and YDNW makes it into a hosted site for you for free, and things like colours, shapes and tables will be carried over. Of course this won’t be suitable for all purposes, but for a relatively simple site, it’s a great option. 

10. Firefox Reality

Firefox Reality

Mozilla’s new browser designed specially for your virtual reality device

Firefox Reality is a new web browser designed specifically for browsing with a virtual reality device, and it’s available now from the app stores for Viveport, Oculus and Google Daydream. The two stand-out features are the ability to search the web using your voice, and the provision of a feed of VR games and environments. The feed is the first thing you see when the browser starts, so you can dive right into things without having to search around. Firefox Reality is based on the new Quantum engine for mobile devices, so has all of the performance benefits that come with that. 

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