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.

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.”

10 Most Common Website Design Mistakes

Because most of us use our smartphones to find products and services, all websites must now be “responsive” designed, i.e., optimized for any-sized device. If your site is not responsive, and you plan a facelift sometime soon, this list of the most common website design mistakes can make the time and thought into a redesign more productive and profitable.
top 10 mistakes

  1. IGNORING MOBILE
    Did you know that Google penalizes non-responsive sites in mobile searches? Since 75% of searches come from Google and over 90% from the Chrome browser in mobile phones, if you want your site found in searches, your website must be responsive-designed.
  2. BEWARE OF THE FREE WEBSITE BUILDER
    It’s tempting to use the “drag-and-drop” website builders that claim to give you a full-functioning, responsive website in minutes. The problem is that because they have to be “all things to all people” regardless of your unique message and needs, these time- and money-savers use long lines of code on the back end causing them to load more slowly. If budget is a problem, we’re happy to advise you on the best, inexpensive solutions.
  3. ACCEPTING BAD DESIGN
    A website’s design requires balance. We all agree that the purpose of a website is to lead a consumer toward a favorable decision: to opt in to your newsletter, request information, make a purchase, visit your store, decide to select you to solve their problem, or share your site with colleagues and friends. Over-the-top design can be a distraction. Minimalist design can be a turn off.
  4. NOT CAPTURING INFORMATION
    Every marketer knows that to generate revenue, you need to have strategies to keep your name in front of a potential customer. Remarketing and retargeting enable your website to be easily found and opened again. These are good strategies, but pale in comparison to actually collecting names and email addresses so you can send personalized emails, newsletter, coupons, or discount notices to all who sign up or register on your site.
  5. POOR QUALITY CONTENT
    Did you know that the #1 criteria for your website ranking in search results is high quality content? It’s not uncommon today to see absolutely beautiful websites with huge images and fancy fonts deliver content as though it was afterthought. For the 20+ years that we’ve designed websites, we’ve never wavered from this: content first—then design.
  6. INFORMATION THAT’S HARD TO FIND
    When a user wants to find your address, phone number, email address, or store hours, where do they go? Not the Yellow Pages; no, they bring up your website. This information must be extremely easy and intuitive to find. If you sell a product, make it easy to find directions to your store or, if an online store, return policies, FAQs, and shipping details. When designing your layout, list what your audience must know, and make this information the easiest to find.
  7. FORGETTING ABOUT UPDATES
    Does your business stay the same year after year? Probably not. Whether you add new products or services, hire new key employees, revamp your marketing message, hold an event, grow or downsize—it’s always changing. Your website needs to reflect that.
  8. HTTP INSTEAD OF HTTPS
    Check those four letters in front of your domain name! If yours is HTTP instead of HTTPS, we recommend updating to HTTPS. Why? The simple reason is, Google prefers it. The “S” stand for “Secure”. Not having that “S” makes it easier for an attacker to deliver malicious content to your website and shut it down. To avoid cybersecurity risks in general, be sure to update your site’s framework on a regular basis.
  9. NOT CHECKING YOUR SITE REGULARLY
    There’s nothing more irritating than getting a “Page Not Found” error. This happens when something is wrong in the site’s code—usually a broken link. We recommend going through every page on your website at least quarterly; weekly if it has high traffic. If you find an error code, have your developer fix it—sometimes it takes someone who knows how to find and fix bugs and problems.
  10. NOT USING OR EVEN HAVING ANALYTICS
    Google Analytics should be installed in the code of every website. It’s free and the most useful tool you have in your online marketing arsenal. It helps you find underperforming pages, know where your visitors are spending their time, and from which page (or on which product) visitors leave your site. Another mistake is having Google Analytics on your website and never going there.