Why We Like Human-Centered Design

Human-Centered Design is a creative approach that serves as the backbone of what we do at ActiveCanvas — design for the people you serve. 

Basically, it’s a design process, or framework, we use to develop solutions to problems from the human perspective. It focuses on the users of your product or service, rather than merely describe who you are, what you offer, and why people should care.

Most businesses work very hard at describing what they do, how long they’ve done it, and what people say about them. A human-centered design approach focuses on solving problems and presenting solutions. From our perspective, human-centered design is about building a deep empathy with the people for whom you’re designing and for the people you serve. It takes a bit longer to generate ideas, build prototypes, write copy, edit (then write even better copy) and search for just the right imagery and palettes. It means generating tons of ideas; sharing what we’ve made with you to be sure we’re on the right track; and eventually putting words, images, and solutions out to the world.

There are three phases:

  1. Inspiration. We listen to you describe the relationship you want considering your idea of success, your product/service, and the needs and wants of the people you most desire as customers.
  2. Ideation. Based on all that we learned, we now write descriptive copy, do a little story-branding, research your competitors and identify opportunities for design and solutions.
  3. Implementation. After we share what we’ve learned and you approve the look, feel, content, direction, and solutions we put on the table, we bring it all to life using custom designs, real coding, brilliant copy, and beautiful images.

We know our design process will be a success because we’ve kept the very people you want to serve at the center of the process. Could human-centered design be good for your business? Let’s have a conversation.

Does Your Website Pay for Itself?

When we meet with a prospect, we often ask: “What problems does your business have that a website can solve? More often than not, the response is something like, “Well, I was hoping you could tell me.” 

Everyone acknowledges that they need a website, however, many still believe that a website is not much more than a digital billboard. We know it’s much more. It’s your…

  • first impression
  • major credibility factor 
  • problem solving machine
  • extra salesperson
  • friendly receptionist
  • email marketer
  • full-time networker
  • customer support

If you sell things or hold events, it’s your ticketing agent, cashier, inventory control manager, scheduler, event coordinator, and publicity agent. 

If you think you can’t justify the cost of a professional, custom built website that solves your customer’s problems — think again. What you save in man-hours proves you can!

For example, according to digital.com, a basic informational website is $2,000 to $8,000 with very little customization. A website management firm will charge for domain name transfers/renewals, hosting fees, responsive layouts, built-in SEO, favorite icon design, images, secure shopping carts, SSL fees, selling fees, monthly email marketing campaigns, multiple-managed social media posts, and content and software updates. These, and a well-written monthly blog, add up to another $5,000 to $12,000 a year. If you pay for these services monthly, the cost per year increases from $500 to $5,000. 

So consider this: the salary for a marketing manager with digital savvy who can write and code is about $40,000 – $60,000 a year. In our Florida market, our customers pay an average of $6,000, plus $300 – $600 per month for maintenance, blogging, email marketing, social media services, and SEO. Amortized over 5 years, that’s $550 a month. 

Now think of your website as a member of your sales team, or the head of marketing, or your outside salesforce. If built and maintained well, your website can save tens of thousands per year, pretty much enough to hire that extra sales or marketing pro to close the deals the website brings in.

Color Trends for 2019

The two top trends for digital design in 2019 are bright spots of color and a new “minimalist look using bright colors, multi-colored gradients, or dark-colored overlays to help a text message pop in an increasingly crowded space.

So what does this mean for you and your brand? Unless you are due for a website makeover, spend a good amount of time marketing on social media, producing graphics for videos, or planning event mailers, probably very little. However, if you do have these things in mind, there’s some science behind new trends, so it pays to know what the experts are saying.

The new trends in digital are bright colors and overlays, like this monotone image with a bright color overlay.


Bright spots of color get you noticed in a crowded space, and color or dark-colored overlays help those bright color spots pop.

The symmetrical website is shaping up to be asymmetrical, and sometimes, without any color at all.

Bright colors aren’t suitable for every business, but we recommend their use with caution backed by purpose.

We don’t advocate altering your brand to keep up with trends — but a refreshing pop of bright color here and there when the message and marketing channel can support it? Ok! It can put a smile on your face and get you noticed.  


Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: Living Coral

Pantone says, “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity and serves as a symbol of our innate need for optimism, joyful pursuits, embodies our desire for playful expression.”