Home Work

How to work from home and still stay productive during the pandemic.

Okay everyone, your assignment this month, maybe next month, and who knows for how long, is to work from home to avoid spreading the Coronavirus. Sound familiar? 

Thanks to technology, we can now work from home as long as we have a good Internet connection. But it takes far more than large data transfer, cloud access, and backup servers. It takes commitment, willpower, focus, and planning.

Since our humble beginnings as website designers in 1995, we’ve worked from home. Excuse me for sounding a bit too much like Farmer’s Insurance, but “we’ve seen a thing or two” so we know what we’re talking about. Working from home is convenient and saves a ton of gasoline and lunch money, but it has its challenges. With most of our friends and clients also working from home this month, we thought we’d share our wisdom with other suffering souls of social distancing.

If you are working from home:

  1. Stay close to a routine
    Remember how you’d wake up, put on the coffee, shower, dress, then grab a mug for the drive to the office? By the time you got to your desk you were ready to work. At home, use a similar routine but in lieu of the commute, take 15-minutes to check the news online and respond to business emails. Handle personal texts and emails during a mid-morning 15-minute break or at lunchtime.
  2. Look good to yourself
    Leave the nightwear in the bedroom. Puffy pants are OK, but only the nice puffy pants, with a coordinated shirt. Better yet, wear comfy pants that you wouldn’t mind wearing in mixed company outside of the house. We feel like we look; look sharp, feel sharp. Shower, shave and brush your teeth and hair.
  3. Work like your boss is watching
    Without the daily structure of scheduled meetings and routine tasks, it’s important to keep a list of tasks (when you check them off as complete, it feels good) and learn how to shift gears between work and personal. Create white noise with your favorite music, but except at noon or in the case of a national emergency, leave the television off.
  4. Create a work space
    Avoid any work space that closely resembles a couch, La-Z-Boy® chair, pool float, or kitchen stool — places you associate with leisure time. There’s something about “down time” seating that makes eyelids start to close. If you don’t have a home office or desk of some sort, designate a specific room or surface in your home from which to work.
  5. Set boundaries
    Unless your job is working for yourself, your company, or others’ social media platforms, it’s best to stay away except during short scheduled breaks in the day. Creating boundaries for the easy things makes it easier to focus on the more difficult tasks that may lay ahead. 

At the end of the day, log off from your laptop and say “I’m done!” Saying it out aloud signals to your brain that it’s the end of the day, time to stop thinking about work. Once you commit to the workday’s end, the stress will drain away. It’s common that a relaxed mind will discover solutions to nagging problems, and fresh creative ideas form out of nowhere. Jot it down. Go play.

Website Design Trends 2020

Every Christmas season, bloggers in the website design space love to write about “Website Trends for [fill in the year].” ActiveCanvas pays attention, learns new things, and sometimes we adopt a trend—if it’s the right thing for the clients we serve. Because we specialize in custom websites, our design goals are simple: know our client, understand our client’s audiences. Then design to increase their value to their customers and drive operational effectiveness.

That said, here’s a collection of the more interesting trends for 2020 in website design:

Minimalism—sites that are clean and simple with plenty of white space and easy navigation that make for a better user experience. In our opinion, your message and resulting customer engagement has always been the main focus.

Unique color stories—lighter shades with a pop of color that allow users to focus on the main purpose of the website rather than be distracted by design.

Rich content—dynamic content such as sound, video and images, e.g., a countdown timer that offers visitors a limited-time offer. A key attractiveness of websites is the rich multi-sensory experience potential.

Accessible design—use ADA-compliant standards to enable people with disabilities (such as blindness or even color-blindness) to have better access to your message. 

Voice technology—accessible design that enables voice-activated searches, making it easier for visitors with physical disabilities to engage your brand.

Mobile-first to Mobile-Only design—because a lower percentage of people are accessing the web on big screens.

Which trends do you like, or think you could use? Share your comments on our Facebook page.

5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Website Needs

Your website is your face to the world and business decisions will be made in milliseconds when it’s visited. Your site can be a game-changer or an also-ran. Take a look at your site now to see if it’s good-to-go on at least these five things: 

  1. HTTPS—Every website URL should start with the letters https, not just http, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information. If you don’t do it for yourself and your company, do it for your visitors. The world is full of “bad guys” who want to exploit every opportunity to maliciously hack or install malware on an unprotected site. It will soon be mandatory to be HTTPS, which is Secure HTTP, so if your website URL is still simply HTTP (without the S for secure), fix it now.
  2. White Space—White space is a term used for empty space in a website. It doesn’t need to be white. It just needs to be empty. White space around paragraphs and between sentences increases comprehension and encourages reading. White space helps guide a user from one idea to the next… increasing the chance of contact, interaction, or a sale.
  3. Color—Similar to the power of white space, color is critical. First, limit the palette to 2 or 3 major colors, a single background color (white is best), and one accent color. Use a link color that is visible to the color blind. Choose colors that complement your brand image (logo) and your brand identity (who you say you are). Explore the psychology of color here. (spoiler alert: blue is safe).
  4. CTAs—Calls to Action are things such as email or newsletter subscription forms, free downloads, contact links, social media sharing, videos to be viewed, or prompting for a question. A CTA creates a connection between you and your visitor. In all business, relationship building is the key to success, and strong CTAs can help get you there.
  5. Clean Code—You can’t see it, but it’s probably the most important element of a great website. If you’ve never used your browser to view a website’s code, you should try it. Template-based sites tend to have hundreds, even thousands of lines of code, most of it unused. But every line has to load. A well-coded site has only the code it needs. It’s lightning-fast and provides the ultimate user experience every time. To check your site’s code in the Chrome browser, open your website; in Chrome’s navigation bar, click View, Developer, View Source.

But what about SEO, navigation, site maps, action buttons, optimized images, web fonts, responsive design, and you name it? Well, there’s always another day for another helpful blog about user-centered websites. If you can’t wait, call us. (772) 936-7969.