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Common Web Design Mistakes That Very Few People Recognize

Common Web Design Mistakes That Very Few People Recognize

Web designers are wonderfully creative people. We love what we do; we love to experiment; we love to put our artistic “thumbprint” on all that we do. But, it is often too easy to get carried away with the “art” of it all and lose sight of one important fact – the website is designed first and foremost for the user, not the designer. And users want very specific things when they access a site. Here are some all-to-common web design mistakes that a pro may not even notice — but an end user certainly will.

1. Failing to Use a Grid When You Design a Page

Yes, grids can be seen as “confining” at times, but without one, the page looks “off” to the visitor who may not appreciate artistic asymmetry. The vast majority of users need a visual experience that makes sense to them vertically and horizontally – it makes them feel like the company is organized and structured. Unstructured design is best left for framing and mounting on a wall.

To correct this, you may be able to take your original design, superimpose it on a grid and make some changes. If that is going to be too hard, then keep your great design ideas, get a blank grid, and start again. You want your creativity to “shine” through, but you will have to temper it with structure. And, consider using a design tool (e.g. UX Pin) for grid design.

2. Using a “Canned” Theme and Failing to Customize It

Let’s be certain about one thing. There are some really great theme kits out there, and most designers make use of them. They result in consistency of pages throughout a site, and users like consistency. In fact, when you need to get a site up and running very quickly, a design theme kit is really the way to go. But, you will want to modify in order to really customize it for your purposes after that, so it doesn’t look like thousands of other websites.

If you are a bit stuck with what modifications you might want to make, search around for customized sites that you really like, and copy their URL’s. Then go to “What Theme is That?” and paste the URL in – you can find out what tool kit was used. You want one that will let your change things like color and typography. And if you are still stuck, you can use a white label partner, that your client doesn’t even know about. These consultants assist designers when they are having difficulties and act as fully “silent partners.” An excellent way to get a second opinion or a few practical solutions to your problems. The design community is typically more than willing to help one another.

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3. Not Designing for Multiple Platforms

If you design a site with the intention of just making everything smaller for tablets and then smaller still for phones, you will lose your mobile users. They will be swiping horizontally; the pages will be too cluttered, and their experiences will be poor.

Be certain that you use responsive design or a “mobile first” strategy as you design the site. Starting with mobile is usually a good idea, because it is a lot easier to add content and media as you move to larger screens than it is to take out content after the fact. Using a mobile first strategy also forces you to focus on the really critical aspects of a site first.

4. Getting Too “Out There” with Color and Font

Designers are, above all, artists, and artists love to experiment, especially with color and texture. If, when you finish your design prototype, you get feedback that things seem “out of place,” it is probably because you have not matched color palette and typography well enough. In general, viewers like things to “match.” It gives them a sense of security and the feeling that they are more in control.

Start with a color palette and typography that matches, making only minor tweaks at first. User test it all along the way – better to know now than later when your boss or client objects. And, be certain that the color and type you use are consistent with the type of business for which the site is designed. Sophistication requires black, white, and grays, sometimes navy; entertainment, travel, and leisure require brighter colors and more “fun” type; serenity uses calm blues and greens; professional sites should use navy, blues, greens and white. And if the company has a logo (think Starbucks), use the same colors for brand consistency.

5. Loads Too Slowly

This goes for the landing page and every other page on the site. It’s fun to add animation, videos, photos, and other media, but if those things are slowing down access, visitors will be move on to another site. Remember 2-3 seconds is a good target. And loading times will vary across devices, so that has to be accounted for too.

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You will need to find the “culprits” and get this fixed. And, you may need to eliminate or really compress things in order to speed up load time on tablets and phones. Again, user testing your prototypes before finalizing a design is pretty critical. One intermediary step you can take is to use a “loading video” which entertains the visitor while the site is loading. This can only be a temporary fix, however, unless you plan to hang out that video often. People will get bored.

6. Navigation is Just too Complex

Users don’t want to have to spend time figuring out how to get to what they want, nor do they want to spend time on lengthy drop-down menus. If it takes them too long to get where they want to go, it is just easier for them to bounce and go elsewhere.

The best fix for this is to have just a few links at the top of the landing page, and other pages that will get users to the main pages of the site. From there, they may find link to sub-pages. But, a good “rule of thumb” here is 3 clicks. A user should be able to get anywhere with that number. Another pretty effective design, especially when a site has lots of pages, is to put a sidebar menu for all of your more minor pages. This is far easier than that long drop-down.

And menus for mobile devices, especially for phones, have to be simpler. Drop downs may be better for phones, but there should only be 2-3 choices.

7. Using PDF Files for Reading

Users expect PDF files when they access educational and governmental websites. And they expect PDF files for lengthy things (e-guides, manuals, etc.), but they are irritated by them because of the slow loads. In some cases, PDF is essential because it keeps the original formatting of the page you are sharing.

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This is an easy fix, and it really is only a matter of remembering – PDF only for large files.

8. Not Having Color Changing Links

One of the nice things about a Google search is that when a user links to a site and then comes back, the color on that site link has changed, telling the user that s/he has accessed it already. It saves time and irritation. If you have not put that feature in your design, you should – users really appreciate it and it helps them get to where they are going.

9. Hiding Your Prices

You are a bit at the mercy of your boss or client on this one, but you are the expert and you should try to convince them that one of the most irritating things for visitors is not to be able to find a price very early in their navigations. Check competitors’ sites, and, if they are showing prices early, then you must do the same.

10. Not Having Enough White Space Around Important Elements, Like CTA’s

Too much clutter around the really important information and the CTA buttons confuses visitors, and they will miss things.

The fix of course is to clear things out and simplify as much as possible. Place buttons above the fold and put white space around them, using a distinctive color for them. And the button text should be a clearly contrasting color, to grab the eye. One more thing about buttons: Make the edges curved not squared off. Curved edges draw the eye in to read what the button says; squared edges take the eyes out and away from that button text.

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11. Not Having Simple, Large Registrations Forms

How much detail about someone is absolutely necessary? Users do not want to give out too much information or wait while you verify an email address; they want speed and simplicity. And mobile users, as well as most people over 40, really want larger form fields and buttons.

Be certain that you are only asking for the essential information on all forms, and make them a decent size for readability. Another thought here: It’s a nice idea to give users the option to enlarge text – “over 40 eyes” will thank you.

12. Not User Testing Every. Single. Thing.

If everything is not tested, and problems are discovered, then you have to go back and fix things while the site is already up and running. This means taking pages down as they are repaired, and it is a bit irritating for a user to link to a page, only to read, “Under Construction.”

If you user test absolutely every aspect and feature of the site, on multiple platforms, you will have a site that is “ready to roll” when you demonstrate it for your boss or client. And you should not do that user testing yourself. Ask a trusted colleague or use a white partner for this activity.

The Takeaway

Design begins with thinking like a user. S/he wants:

  • Visual appeal
  • Consistency
  • Simplicity
  • Easy navigation
  • Readable and broken-up text
  • Fast loading pages

Think like that user first and then add your creativity. You’ll have a design that users like and of which you will be proud.

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. Undoubtedly, it has allowed us to connect, perform, improve, and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

If you’re not taking advantage of some of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use?

Well, this will depend on your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 18 of the best time management apps that can help you with the most common challenges of managing time.

Let’s dive straight into the list.

1. Rescue Time – Use Your Time Wisely

    If you have doubts if you are using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. Aside from its automatic time-tracking feature, this app also has distraction blocking and efficient report tools.

    RescueTime helps you avoid being overwhelmed by too many tasks. This app also has a team software that’s dedicated to time management among team members. With this app, you may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

    2. Remember The Milk – Keep on Top of All Your Tasks

      If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool that is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc., and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management.

      This app will help you to manage your tasks easily and reminds you of them – wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others, making it a great tool for teams as well.

      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

      3. Focus Keeper – Boost Motivation to Complete Tasks

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        This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and it is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It has a simple, efficient user interface that is easily customizable based on your needs.

        Focus Keeper is designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures. This is a great app to use if you want to prevent yourself and your team from being burned out.

        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

        4. Toggl – Keep Track of Time Spent on Projects and Tasks

          Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks and through analysis – working out how you can manage them more effectively. Toggl allows you to do all this even with its simple design.

          Toggl includes great time-saving features integrated with its intuitive interface. This is a great alternative to time-sheets if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects.

          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

          5. Dropbox – Store and Send Large Files Easily

            There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices, but Dropbox is free and it is easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go. It is an easy way to share your files and documents with others for improved productivity.

            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

            6. Evernote – Keep All Your Notes in One Place

              Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts, and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes, or images). You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches, and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to better optimize your time.

              Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

              7. MindNode — Focus on Tasks at Hand With Mind Mapping

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                Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mindnode is one of the best free mind mapping apps available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

                This app allows you to customize various visual tags and templates to suit your needs. You can also easily share your documents with others.

                Available on iOS and Desktop

                8. GoodSync – Back Up and Sync Your Files Effortlessly

                  This software allows you to back up, restore, and synchronize your files easily. It supports folders from a variety of locations, and it has filtering options that let you exclude subfolders from synchronizing.

                  This app also allows you to sync files to and from your phone. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this tool.

                  Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                  9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – Manage Your To-Do Lists Effectively

                    Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, work with your to-do lists, and organize your goals. This task management software helps you target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives.

                    MyLifeOrganized is one of the best task management apps for focused work. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                    10. 1Password – Have All Your Passwords Remembered

                      1Password allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database – protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. This also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                      Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

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                      11. Pocket – Keep Your Eye on the Ball

                        When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. That’s why you need effective time management apps like Pocket. You can use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time. This prevents you from getting distracted and negatively impacting your immediate work.

                        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                        12. Focus@Will – Boost Your Attention Span

                          This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% using Focus@Will, making this one of the best time management apps available.

                          Focus@will is ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working, or reading. It also helps you control your ADD.

                          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                          13. Alfred – Interact With Your Computer in a Smart Way

                            This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want. The only downside is that it’s only available for macOS.

                            Available on desktop (macOS)

                            14. Forest – Boost Your Focus by Growing a Forest

                              Forest is a unique reinvention of time management apps. This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track by making you focus on another thing.

                              The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop (Firefox Add-on)

                              15. Trello – Track Your projects in a highly visual way

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                                Trello is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board, which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. This serves as your cue to start working on and completing the associated tasks.

                                Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                16. Quire – Unfold Your Ideas

                                  Quire is an innovative time management app that helps boost your team’s productivity. The strength of this app lies in its features for collaboration and ease of sharing. You can streamline and adjust your workflow based on your team’s needs and preferences.

                                  Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                  17. TimeTree – Have a Shared Calendar With Your Family

                                    This TimeTree app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments with each other. So, whether you’re planning a party or running a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                    Available on iOS and Android

                                    18. Todoist – Capture and Order All Your Tasks and Activities Easily

                                      Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list and one of the best time management apps out there. It’s available via browser and app, and it lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as a given due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                      Final Thoughts

                                      The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools available. And the good news is that many of them are completely free of charge!

                                      So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you, and begin boosting your productivity now!

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                                      Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

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