When to Use rel=”nofollow”

Assigning the rel="nofollow" attribute to a link informs search engines that the link is commercial in nature, or that it’s a link you don’t endorse.

Links that have the the rel="nofollow" attribute are often called nofollow links.

Just so we’re on the same page, here’s an example of a link that uses the rel="nofollow" attribute:

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://example.com">nofollow link</a>

The concept behind nofollow links came about in 2005, as a way of discouraging comment spam in blogs.

You might already know this if you’re familiar with SEO: One of the factors search engines take into account when ranking a website is the number of other websites linking to it (referred to as the site’s inbound links).

If there are many links from other sites pointing to your site, and those other sites are reputable, then there’s a good chance your site is also reputable.

To artificially boost their clients’ search engine rankings, spammers will try to place as many links as they can on other websites. An easy target for spammers are the "comments" sections of reputable blogs.

To help address the spam issue, the rel="nofollow" attribute was introduced.

The thinking went like this: If comment spammers didn’t get credit for their nofollow links, then they’d be less likely to waste their time posting those links on blogs.

Today, the purpose of rel="nofollow" has evolved slightly. It’s now also supposed to be used on links that are commercial/for-profit in nature. Links that fall into this category are:

  • paid links
  • banner ads
  • sponsored content
  • text link ads
  • affiliate links

The rel="nofollow" attribute started off as a microformat. However, the HTML attribute is now in the latest W3C HTML specification, in section Link type “nofollow”.

Here’s how the attribute should be used in accordance to specs:

The nofollow keyword indicates that the link is not endorsed by the original author or publisher of the page, or that the link to the referenced document was included primarily because of a commercial relationship between people affiliated with the two pages.4.8 Links — HTML5

So, When Should You Use rel="nofollow"?

Based on the specs, the two cases in which you should use rel="nofollow" are:

  1. When the link is something you don’t/can’t endorse
  2. When the link is primarily commercial in nature

Let’s talk about these two cases.

Links You Don’t Endorse

A typical example of a link you can’t endorse is one that was placed on your site by someone else.

For example, if you have a blog, the comments on your blog are posted by your readers. Those comments often contain links. It’s not practical to review each and every link commenters post on your site. Using the rel="nofollow" attribute in the "comments" section of your blog essentially tells search engines, “Hey, I haven’t reviewed, and therefore can’t vouch for, any of the links you find here.”

That’s why, by default, WordPress (1.5 and above) automatically sets the rel="nofollow" attribute on user-generated links in the "comments" sections of WordPress-powered sites.

Wikipedia uses the rel="nofollow" attribute on all external links. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. And because of the sheer volume of content on the site, it’s not practical for Wikipedia to verify, review, and endorse each and every external link posted on their site. So Wikipedia decided to categorically assign the rel="nofollow" attribute on all external links, much like how WordPress categorically assigns the attribute on all external links it finds in the "comments" section.

On Wikipedia, notice how an external link that goes to w3.org — which you and I know is a pretty reputable site — is a nofollow link.

External links in Wikipedia have rel="nofollow"attributes.With Chrome DevTools, we can see that external links in Wikipedia have rel="nofollow" attributes.

On Reddit, new link submissions are nofollow.

On Reddit, new link submissions are nofollow.

What’s interesting with Reddit’s implementation is that when an external link has been voted to the front page of the site, its rel="nofollow" attribute is removed.

On Reddit, front page external links do not have a rel="nofollow" attribute.

Reddit’s system of assigning rel="nofollow" attributes is clever because it’s democratic. Reddit makes the hypothesis that if a submitted link gets the required votes needed to propel itself to the site’s front page, then it must mean enough people have reviewed the trustworthiness of the link, and thus the link’s rel="nofollow" attribute can be safely dropped.

Links That Are Commercial in Nature (Paid Links)

When a link exists on your site primarily for profit, it should be assigned a rel="nofollow" attribute.

Simply put: If you publish paid advertisements on your site — banner ads, text links, sponsored content, affiliate links, etc. — the links going to your advertisers’ sites should be nofollow.

This is one way to discourage any site from trying to buy its way into better search rankings by paying other sites for links.

Why Use rel="nofollow"?

The rel="nofollow" attribute benefits third-party services most. Search engines, for example, can use the information we give them about links on our site as a clue that certain links might be low-quality, or commercial in nature, or both. They can then use this knowledge to improve the quality of their search results for their users.

So what’s in it for us?

By disclosing which links on our site have been paid for and which ones haven’t been reviewed, we can reduce the chances of search engines penalizing our site for publishing low-quality external links.

It’s reasonable to assume that by diligently assigning the rel="nofollow" attribute on our unverified, untrusted, and paid links we can improve our website’s SEO, and our website’s trustworthiness as a source of quality content.

Learn More About Nofollow Links

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Jacob Gube is the founder of Six Revisions. He’s a front-end developer. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Reasons You Need a Design Book Collection

While the design and art industries have quickly skewed towards the digital realms in the last couple of decades, that doesn’t mean printed work is down for the count. On the contrary, there’s just something about feeling a page in your hands and seeing a clear un-pixelated image or smelling the printer’s inks that will always be better than having a tablet or computer. No matter what happens with tech in the future, a real-life book will always have a place in the world.

Design books or art books or coffee table books — as some might refer to them — are especially fantastic. Here are a few reasons why you should start a book collection now!

1) High Production Values

Publishers of design books are notorious for their attention to detail and extremely high production values. Everything from the binding, the paper, the print finishes, and the layouts are all carefully and methodically put together to produce an extremely satisfying work of art.

Of course, sometimes these beautifully produced books come with a matching price tag like this $100, 16-pound Helmut Newton photobook:


but you often get what you pay for.

Also, having access to such beautiful materials is also a fantastic way to appreciate and learn about print design.

2) A “New” Way of Experiencing Your Favorite Designers’ and Artists’ Work

The internet is great. It has enabled us to connect, learn, communicate, and express ourselves like never before — all through our computer screens.

For a lot of us today, the internet is the only way we’ve been able to experience the work of our favorite artists and designers. Having access to art books or coffee table books (while based on more traditional media), however, offers a “new” way of experiencing the work you’ve admired through the internet for so long.

If you’ve never seen a designer’s work in anything but a computer screen, you might want to try getting one of their books.

I’ve never seen a real Ansel Adams photo even though I consider him to be one of the reason I wanted to be a photographer. This book might just be the next best thing.


3) Books Last

If you take care of them, your books can last a very, very long time. Digital resources, on the other hand, can get corrupted or they can fail for no reason whatsoever. This means that work of designers and artists that we all enjoy online on our computers are effectively impermanent. They’re only as good as the hard drives they’re stored on.

Printed works, on the other hand, allow you to appreciate and marvel at the work of designers and artists you admire, indefinitely.

Bought in 2008, holds up extremely well.


4) Inspiration at Your Fingertips

We can do hours and hours of research online and sometimes still come up with no new ideas. However, taking a little bit of time to look at a few books in the office gives us a sudden burst of energy.

There’s just something very stimulating about seeing works of art printed on a nicely done book. Reading a passage, feeling the paper, smelling the inks, and flipping through the pages of a book is an experience you just can’t get anywhere else. After a little while with your design books, your mind starts to race and suddenly you’ve got new ideas brewing in your head.

I bought this book years ago and I still flip through it today.


5) They’re Really fun.

Finally, design books are just fun. They’re fun to have. They’re fun to read; to look at; to talk about. And they often explore new ideas in very concrete and meaningful ways that just can’t be done on any other medium.

The truth is, this article is somewhat of a love letter to the printed word and the printed image. Nowadays, anyone with access to the internet has access to a very large collection of knowledge and  data. With enough of the right keywords, one can gain access to a whole lot of stuff. There’s definitely value in that.

However, a book is a much more grounded object. It exists physically and can be felt and experienced as it is, on its own. There’s a sense of finality to a book. Once it is published, it is done. There are no search engine algorithms; no updates over wifi; no loading times; no revisions. It takes commitment and conviction to publish a book — typos and all. And that really is one of the best things about them.

Tell us about your favorite design and art coffee table books in the comments below.

7 Free Books That Will Help You Become More Productive

Do you want to produce more in less time? These free ebooks contain a wealth of insights, tips, and strategies for achieving high levels of productivity.

Book cover of The Productivity Manifesto

The Productivity Manifesto

By . 24 pages.

In this short ebook, Nathan Barry — a designer, book author, entrepreneur, and Six Revisions contributor — discusses the productivity habits and techniques that have enabled him to focus and create "on another level".

Book cover of Focus


By . 121 pages.

From the book’s description: "Focus is about finding simplicity in this Age of Distraction. It’s about finding the focus you need to create, to work on what’s important, to reflect, to find peace."

Book cover of Mind Hacking

Mind Hacking

By . 112 pages.

Mind Hacking uses analogies and concepts from computer science to help us analyze and enhance our way of thinking.

Book cover of Productivity: How to Get Your S*!% Done

Productivity: How to Get Your S*!% Done

By . 47 pages.

This free ebook is a compilation of short essays about being productive. The essays are written by bloggers.

Preview of GTD For Hackers

GTD For Hackers

By . 18 pages.

Getting Things Done (GTD for short) by David Allen is a bestselling book about a personal productivity system developed by the author. GTD For Hackers, an online book by Lars Wirzenius, a self-labeled "computer geek", is a guide on how the GTD system works.

Book cover of Getting Real

Getting Real

By . 92 pages.

This free ebook discusses a philosophy for building web apps more effectively. However, I believe that the insights, concepts, and techniques found within this book can be applied to things beyond web app development. For me, Getting Real is a methodology for working productively. It’s about focusing on the right tasks and priorities. It’s about being aware of the things that waste our time so that we can improve our way of working.

Book cover of The Little Book of Contentment

The Little Book of Contentment

By . 112 pages.

From the book’s description: The Little Book of Contentment is "A guide to becoming happy with life & who you are, while getting things done."

50 Beautiful One-Page Websites for Inspiration

Here are some excellent one-page / single-page websites to check out. There are a variety of website types included in this showcase — online portfolios, restaurants, mobile apps, and more. I hope looking at these one-page sites will give you ideas and inspiration for your web design projects.

One-page website: Heart KidsHeart Kids

One-page website: Nigel Evan DennisNigel Evan Dennis

One-page website: VibrantVibrant

Café Frida

One-page website: Flavien GuilbaudFlavien Guilbaud

One-page website: Designer TrekDesigner Trek

One-page website: Jonathan David PostJonathan David Post

One-page website: The Hen HouseThe Hen House

One-page website: The WndrlndThe Wndrlnd

One-page website: Pauline OsmontPauline Osmont

One-page website: DangerousRobotDangerousRobot

One-page website: AirnautsAirnauts

One-page website: We Ain't PlasticWe Ain’t Plastic

One-page website: OxenOxen

One-page website: Adrian CabreroAdrian Cabrero

One-page website: Delhi TimelineDelhi Timeline

Urban Walks

One-page website: Bad AssemblyBad Assembly

One-page website: McWhopperMcWhopper

One-page website: Bright New DayBright New Day

One-page website: You Gotta Love Frontend ConferenceYou Gotta Love Frontend Conference

One-page website: MusicMusic

One-page website: GinventoryGinventory

One-page website: AMORIZAMORIZ

One-page website: Nua BikesNua Bikes

One-page website: BlocklevelBlocklevel

One-page website: Hound StudioHound Studio

One-page website: Jules Bassoleil PortfolioJules Bassoleil Portfolio

One-page website: creanetcreanet

One-page website: Le Tour de France - 100 ans de TourLe Tour de France – 100 ans de Tour

One-page website: Design EmbracedDesign Embraced

One-page website: KochaKocha

One-page website: Jacks BarJacks Bar

One-page website: FlatGuitarsFlatGuitars

One-page website: The TwelveThe Twelve

One-page website: Andrew McCarthyAndrew McCarthy

One-page website: Terminal WeddingTerminal Wedding

One-page website: ArcArc

One-page website: Guilherme PangnottaGuilherme Pangnotta

One-page website: Laura BaffariLaura Baffari

One-page website: Inception ExplainedInception Explained

One-page website: Axel AubertAxel Aubert

One-page website: EskahEskah

One-page website: Pen &amp; QuillPen & Quill

One-page website: The Mohawk ShowThe Mohawk Show

One-page website: Michael SuenMichael Suen

One-page website: ÉléphantÉléphant

One-page website: MindworksMindworks

One-page website: BoldBold

One-page website: Names for ChangeNames for Change

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Jacob Gube is the founder of Six Revisions. He’s a front-end developer. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Circular Images with CSS

In this tutorial, we’ll go over some CSS techniques for rendering circular <img> elements. The main CSS property responsible for the effect is border-radius.

Though it’s quite simple to apply the effect to square images, rectangular images will require a little bit more extra work.

Examples of CSS circular/roiunded images

View Demo

Download Source

Square Images

An img element that’s perfectly square only needs one line of CSS. This technique works best on square images.


<img class="circular--square" src="woman.png" />


.circular--square {
  border-radius: 50%;

The style rule above is the shorthand for:

.circular--square {
  border-top-left-radius: 50% 50%;
  border-top-right-radius: 50% 50%;
  border-bottom-right-radius: 50% 50%;
  border-bottom-left-radius: 50% 50%;

By setting all the border-radius properties to 50% of the width/height of the square img element, we end up shaping the img element into a circle:

How to create circular img elements from square-shaped photos

Rectangular Images

Rectangular images are a bit trickier.

To render a circle, the image must start out as a square.

To work around the problem, we can wrap the img element in a square div element. We then “crop out” the parts of the img element that go beyond the square wrapper div. We can carry this out by setting the wrapper div‘s overflow property to hidden.

So that the subject of the photo is less likely to get cropped out, we also have to treat landscape photos (which are horizontally-oriented rectangles) differently from portrait photos (which are vertically-oriented rectangles).

Landscape-oriented Images


<div class="circular--landscape">
  <img src="images/barack-obama.png" />


.circular--landscape {
  display: inline-block;
  position: relative;
  width: 200px;
  height: 200px;
  overflow: hidden;
  border-radius: 50%;

.circular--landscape img {
  width: auto;
  height: 100%;
  margin-left: -50px;

The width and height property values must be the same so that the wrapper div (.circular--landscape) renders as a square.

In addition, the width and height property values must be equal to or less than the height of the img. This makes sure the img element is able to occupy the wrapper div without being stretched out.

Generally, the subject of landscape photos will — but not always — be located around the center of the composition. To give us the best chance of not cropping out the photo’s subject, we can horizontally center the img element in the wrapper div by nudging the img element to the left to compensate for the left-biased cropping.

The amount we nudge the img element is equal to 25% of the width/height of the wrapper div. In this case, we will nudge the image 50px (25% of 200px is 50px) to the left. We can accomplish this by setting the margin-left property of the img element to a negative value:

margin-left: -50px;

How to create circular img elements from landscape photos

The assumption that the subject of the photo will be close to the center of the composition is not always going to be true. It’s best to keep this assumption in mind when you’re choosing (or editing) images for this technique.

Portrait-oriented Images


<div class="circular--portrait">
  <img src="images/woman-portrait.png" />


.circular--portrait {
  position: relative;
  width: 200px;
  height: 200px;
  overflow: hidden;
  border-radius: 50%;

.circular--portrait img {
  width: 100%;
  height: auto;

The assumption we’ll make for portrait-oriented images is that the subject of the photo is at the top-center of the composition. Again, this isn’t going to be the case in every single portrait photo.

Similar to landscape photos, the wrapper div of portrait-oriented img elements must have equal width and height property values so that the wrapper is a perfect square.

This time, the width/height property value must be equal or less than the width of the img element so that the image can cover the wrapper div without being stretched out.

For portrait-oriented images, we assign a height of auto and width of 100%. (We did the opposite for landscape-oriented images.)

We don’t need to move the img element, because our expectation is that the subject of the photo is at the top-center of the composition.

How to create circular img elements from portrait photos


This technique is best used on square img elements, with the subject located dead-center of the photo. But, we don’t live in a perfect world, so if needed, you can use a wrapper div for rectangular img elements.

The main CSS property responsible for the circular shape is the border-radius property. Setting the radius of the corners to 50% of the width/height results in a circle.

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Jacob Gube is the founder of Six Revisions. He’s a front-end developer. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

20 Beautiful Examples of Modal Windows

Websites often use modal windows as call-to-action tools and for pointing out important information.

For example, the call-to-action in a modal window might ask the site visitor to subscribe to the site’s newsletter. A study by user experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group revealed that 90% of the study’s participants chose to receive updates from companies via an email newsletter, versus only 10% via Facebook. This might indicate that an email newsletter can be an effective way of developing customer relationships.

Let’s look at a few examples of well-designed modal windows. The following examples are mostly within the fashion industry because that’s the industry I’m currently working in.

Anatomy of a Well-Designed Modal Window

Seamless Design

It goes without saying that modal windows should be in tune with your site’s visual style. You don’t want modal windows to appear third-party-esque.

We follow this rule over at Mylo, a menswear mobile app that I have founded. The modal window that asks our website visitors for their email address is consistent with our brand’s visual attributes. In our case, a lot of white space, clear typography, and the copy all match up with the design guidelines of our brand.


The modal window found at Jean Stories (a fashion site dedicated to denim) also stays consistent with the site’s overall visual style. Notice their consistent application of their brand’s color scheme and the incorporation of their logo within the modal window.


Clear Purpose

Modal windows should preferably have a single objective. The objective might be to let the visitor know of a site-wide discount or get him/her to sign up for the site’s newsletter.

A well-designed modal window should only request essential information. Overloading potential customers with form fields to fill out and boxes to check off is not wise because doing so might lead to inaction.

Ecommerce websites may want to consider offering an incentive in order to compel visitors to perform the desired action, such as a discount on goods in exchange for signing up to the site’s newsletter. Below are a few examples of modal windows that offer percentage-based discount incentives:



Misha NonooMisha Nonoo


Content is King

Your modal window’s copy should embody your brand’s attitude, tone, and style.

You can also state a value proposition in the modal window. For example, DuJour magazine’s modal window states their newsletter’s value proposition to potential subscribers: "The luxe content you can’t find anywhere else."


More Modal Window Examples

Below are a few more modal windows that follow the general guidelines mentioned above.

Steven AlanSteven Alan


Stella McCartneyStella McCartney

The Prince Ink CompanyThe Prince Ink Company

Need Supply Co.Need Supply Co.


The Socialite FamilyThe Socialite Family

Thisispaper ShopThisispaper Shop

Volta FootwearVolta Footwear

Austin BeerworksAustin Beerworks

Atea OceanieAtea Oceanie

Victory JournalVictory Journal

Zurb UniversityZurb University


Modal windows can be used to ask your site visitors to perform an action (such as subscribing to your email newsletter) or for sharing an important message.

A good modal window will have:

  • a design that is consistent with your brand’s visual style
  • a clear objective
  • good content that reflects the attitude, tone, and style of your brand

Thanks to Faiz Tariq and Carolyn Buszynski, the co-authors of this article.

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Daniel Eckler is an entrepreneur based Toronto, Canada. His most recent startup is Mylo. Past ventures include Piccsy and EveryGuyed. He has a background in New Media Arts. Learn more about him by via his website, and join him on Twitter and Facebook.