As a web designer, you should also devote yourself to managing the accounting affairs of your business. You may feel that you’re in a strange territory.
You may or may not be a “numbers person”. But, there are various tasks that you need to do. For example, submitting quotations and invoices. You might also have to provide information on discounts, and even track the time spent on various tasks. This seems far from what you do best – design.
Time tracking and invoicing go hand in hand; and having a good method for tracking your time, will save you time. By investing in a high-quality, easy to work with time tracking app, you find you have more time to do what you do best. You will also have more leisure time as well.
There’s plenty of time tracking, invoicing, and other project and business management software products on the market. Here are 10 of the best; guaranteed to give your productivity a definite boost.
FreshBooks is a cloud-based, intuitive invoicing app designed for use by small business owners. It is an effective tool for freelancers as well. FreshBooks does more than collect the details you need to include in your invoices. You can add your brand’s color scheme and logo; thereby giving each invoice a unique, professional look. When you submit an invoice (via email), this app informs you whether your client has seen it; obviating the need for a follow-up query.
FreshBooks even goes a few steps further. In fact, it has numerous features that will help you streamline the business side of your work. You can set it up to receive online payments, you can check the dashboard for an overview on how your business is doing, and late payment notifications can be automatically sent out. You can even use the FreshBooks mobile app to take pictures of receipts on your phone to better keep track of your expenses.
One more thing; FreshBooks also manages your invoice time tracking needs.
Memory by Timely
It’s human nature to forget when you did some of your past activities. This is especially bothersome when trying to track time. In such cases, no wonder why Timely has become one of the best-loved time tracking apps on the market. Its new feature, Memory, automatically tracks every file you work on, the start and end times of your tasks, the websites you visit or apps you use. All this information is organized and presented in an intelligent timeline.
Memory by Timely can tell you what you work on and for exactly how long. It also captures all you do in Trello, Gmail, Office365/Outlook Calendar, Github, etc. Best of all, no one, including your boss, a colleague, or anyone else but you can see your timeline. Read the rest of this entry »
Your website’s performance depends largely on the hosting service you’ve selected. If the service turns out to be inadequate, you may have to put up with slow page loading or capacity issues. Even downtime more than what you’re able to tolerate.
More and more business owners are becoming aware about the need of creating quality content.
Few of these owners understand the impact a hosting service can have on their website’s performance and uptime.
It’s natural to take pricing into account when selecting a hosting service. Still, pricing should always take a back seat to performance. It should never be the primary driver behind making a selection.
There are plenty of options hosting companies that would like to offer their services to you. This week, we’re going to take a close look and 5 of the very best.
SiteGround has grown from a 3-person startup in 2004 to a hosting company that currently employs over 400 people in five data centers located on three continents. They are pioneers in the art of developing own advanced web hosting security solutions. The result is extreme data and website protection that guarantees 99.99% uptime. SiteGround have also developed their own backup system that creates backups with minimal resource usage which allows rapid restore in times of need.
Their always run the latest software on their servers (Apache, PHP, MySQL etc.) and provide the latest speed and performance technology: SSD drives, NGINX, hhtp2, PHP7. On top of their in-house WordPress caching solution – the SuperCacher manages to improve a website’s performance. Their platform is built on top of the cutting edge LXC (Linux containers) technology. The overall effect from a customer’s standpoint is exceptional performance and stability.
SiteGround’s customer support team is available 24/7 with literally no hold times, and it helps resolve questions that go beyond web hosting. There is no coincidence that their overall service is officially recommended by WordPress.org. Read the rest of this entry »
Freelancing is not always a bed of roses. Freelancers enjoy more freedom in terms of their work habits, but that freedom can come with a price. They often face challenges that office-bound workers tend to avoid. More specifically, distractions and occasion lapses in discipline and self-control.
If these challenges are not faced head-on, a lessening in productivity can result. And this can lead to extended work hours, reduced income, or both.
Today, we are offering tips designed to help a web design freelancer meet and overcome these challenges, while enjoyiing a boost in productivity.
Tip #1) Get your projects off to a quick start with the latest Be Theme pre-built websites.
Don’t start from scratch like these guys who invented a new way of designing websites.
Be Themes’s pre-built websites make it possible for you to turn out work of the highest quality, and save a ton of time in the process. You can, for example, skip wireframing, prototyping, and best of all – coding.
Pre-built websites are quick and super easy to install, as you can see by watching this cool 40-second video.
One more advantage: you won’t end up looking like these guys!
15 new pre-built websites for small businesses
This Craftbeer pre-built website features large, attractive images on every page. A parallax effect ensures that the emphasis is always on the product. The Muffin Group team knows how to attract customers. It shows!
eLearning has become super popular the last few years. If you have a business in this rapidly growing niche, depending on a so-so website would be a shame. This pre-built website design is fresh looking and easy to navigate.
This pre-built website looks as if its designer had a degree in architecture. The product is front and center, and the unique value proposition stands out clearly against the semi-dark background. Read the rest of this entry »
Multipurpose WordPress themes are typically quite versatile and flexible. Using them you can create any type of website, ranging from corporate and e-commerce sites to blogs and agency portfolios. Specialty themes also have their place. Sometimes they are a better choice for creating a specific website type or filling a specific need. You’ll find excellent examples of both types here.
Be Theme, the biggest WordPress theme ever, is packed with too many powerful and useful features to mention here. The short list includes a superb collection of 250+ stunning, customizable pre-built websites to act as excellent starting points for your design projects. Pick one, install it with one click, and let Be’s Muffin Builder and Options panel take it from there.
Did you know it’s possible to build a ready-to-go website in 4 minutes! Click here to find out how working with Be Theme can make that happen.
If you want to start a page from scratch, the Layout Configurator will get you started. Be is not only big in terms of its 250+ pre-websites, and its core features (40), but also in terms of the virtually unlimited variety of design options it provides. This premium WordPress theme is easy to learn, and easy to use; but should you have a question, or need a little assistance, Be’s world-class support team is there to help.
Pro is the most advanced website creator for WordPress. If you’re a pro, Pro is for you. If you’re not a pro, but aspire to be one, Pro is also for you. Pro can be described as powerful, modular, scalable, fast, optimized, extensible; or all the above.
Features include a trio of powerful, interconnected builders (Header, Content, & Footer). You can build simple to exceedingly complex header styles with ease.
You can rely on Pro’s drag and drop interface, optimized workflow, and other powerful content-building features to help you realize your website layout potential. As far as the often- neglected footer is concerned, this amazing multipurpose theme makes it oh so easy to create a footer that is a thing of beauty.
Pro is easy to use, but fasten your seatbelt. It’s a game changer!
The Core is big. It’s 20+ themes in 1, and growing. This multipurpose WordPress theme is packed with cool features, including the Advanced Visual Builder, plenty of shortcodes, multiple slider, header, and footer options, and 700+ fonts. And, that’s just for starters.
Its 20+ hand-built website demos addressing a variety of business and industry niches. Demo content is easy to auto-install, and when you purchase The Core, new demos will be yours to use, as they appear.
The Core is responsive, retina ready, and WooCommerce ready as well. There are plenty of animations you can use to add zing to your sites; you’ll find many uses for the custom Google Maps feature; and, there’s even a module for saving your work in the event of a system crash.
The Core is well documented, and the support is superb. Take it for a free test drive in the Test Lab! Read the rest of this entry »
UI Design – UX Design: Tightly Coupled, But Not the Same
User interface (UI), and user experience (UX), are both critical elements in website design. The two terms are often confused, and are even used interchangeably by some; but they are not one and the same. Sure, it’s important to understand the differences between these two design elements when selecting tools to incorporate their features and attributes into your websites. Yet, many premium website and mobile application design tools take both into account.
The two can be summed up thusly:
The UI is a website’s presentation, and focuses on its look and feel. UI design is digital in nature, and may even involve coding in those cases where the boundary between design and development has become blurred.
The UX gives the website life, with a focus on usability and customer satisfaction. UX design is more closely related to market research. It does not involve digital techniques or coding.
More than a tool, InVision is a complete digital product design platform, with features and capabilities tailored to each stage of the design process. Brainstorm with Freehand, a limitless whiteboard for creative exploration. Test your UI with real users and get real-time, live feedback. Share your screens and prototypes with your entire team for centralized commentary, and integrate it all with your favorite tools to create a seamless, efficient workflow.
Clients, team members, and stakeholders can comment directly on your prototypes for clear and actionable feedback; then, any changes you make will automatically sync across everyone’s account, so you’ll never work on an old version ever again. Read the rest of this entry »
The New Be Pre-Built Installer
The old Be prebuilt-website installer got the job done, but it wasn’t entirely free of issues. Installing a website was easy, but the actions you had to take before doing the install were not all that user friendly. Quite simply, neither the UI nor the UX were the best.
The old Be pre-built website installer lacked some important features.
- Searching for a pre-built website was manual and cumbersome; and you had to move back and forth from the presentation page to the admin area to zero in on the website you wanted.
- The old website installer didn’t tell you ahead of time which plugins you might need for a given pre-built website; or which ones were already installed.
- Insofar as importing a pre-built website was concerned, it was an all-or-nothing affair.
Muffin Group fixed all of that before releasing their new pre-built website installer.
Muffin Groups new Be pre-built website installer.
The new installer works like a charm.
Without a lot of effort on your part, there are several things you can do to increase your productivity.
Apps have been created for a nearly unlimited number of different uses. Whatever an app is used for, it often makes a given task easier. No matter what your line of work, an app exists that can make some facet of that work easier, and make you more productive.
For the web designer, there’s an app in this listing that speeds up workflow by making prototyping faster and more efficient. Project leaders will find apps that can perform mundane or repetitive project or task management activities, do time tracking, or make collaborating more efficient.
There are also things you can do to boost your productivity by changing your everyday work routine.
Active Collab is a one-stop-shop project management app for designers and design teams. With this app, you will spend less time managing your projects and more time delivering results.
Active Collab has a flexible project overview. You can lay your projects out on a Gantt-like timeline, and then organize your tasks as you would cards on a Kanban board. It lets you centralize your team collaboration activities in one place, making it easier for everyone to stay up-to-date.
With many available integrations, Active Collab can easily pull information from other apps. This means that your team members are not restricted to using a certain set of tools. You can also include clients and give them access to your design projects. Thus, they can see what you’re working on, eliminating hundreds of email exchanges that slow you down.
Active Collab has proven to be valuable to more than 200.000 users.
Have complete control over your work, keep track of time spent on tasks, generate custom reports, and invoice your work in a few seconds. Try it free for 30 days!
Wake is the fastest way for designers to share work with their team. Quickly share work, see what your team is working on, and keep the conversation going. With Wake, you can upload and share sketches, screenshots, or other work, without ever interrupting your Photoshop, Sketch, or Illustrator design flow.
For example, you can use Wake’s iOS app to capture notebook or whiteboard content and instantly share it with your team. The app allows you to share and see project feedback on the go.
This ability to share work without interrupting workflow makes the entire design process more transparent for your entire team, even those outside of design. With Wake, work can be shared publicly, so everyone knows what everyone is working on; or shared privately with selected individuals or stakeholders. Read the rest of this entry »
Given a choice, web designers prefer to focus on the aesthetics of web design. What they produce doesn’t always have to look all that gorgeous however. What’s more important is that it’s user-friendly, cross-browser compatible, fast loading, and semantic.
Incorporating these nuts-and-bolts features into a website can be tedious, and not always a lot of fun when creative design is your thing. Having a Photoshop mockup that you can hand over to a developer can be a big help. The developer can then convert your design to HTML/CSS.
If you would rather not take time to code your designs, or you don’t possess the skills to do so, it’s best to get some expert help to get the job done. While there’s no shortage of coding services, you want to choose one that will be do your design justice. And, also, give you a product that will faithfully carry out its intended purpose.
PSD to Many Things
PSD to Manythings is a team of richly-talented, highly-experienced professionals that provide reasonably priced frontend solutions. Serving agencies, design studios, and freelancers, this service will treat your designs with care, and deliver groundbreaking responsive HTML5/CSS3 websites to your doorstep.
The PSD to Manythings team will code up your website to perform on devices ranging from Android phones to 27-inch iMacs. The markup code delivered is W3C validated, and SEO friendly.
Besides PSD to HTML5 and PSD to Responsive HTML5, their services include PSD to Twitter Bootstrap, PSD to WordPress, PSD to WooCommerce, PSD to E-mail Newsletter. They also convert Sketch to HTML, and PSD to SquareSpace.
You won’t be subjected to a sales pitch to purchase something you don’t need, and the team prides itself on on-time deliveries. Deadlines quoted take into account QA, testing, and development. Their pricing is competitive, and they have a no-questions-asked, money back guarantee. Customer support is always available through live chat, over the phone, or by e-mail.
Direct Basing provides development solutions that can help you speed up your workflow. Companies and agencies will save money by handing designs over to Direct Basing rather than pay costly salaries to full-time developers. Freelancers can make more money by being able to take on additional design work instead of spending their time slicing and coding.
Services include PSD to HTML5, WordPress, Email and Joomla.
Request a free price indication, upload your project (Dropbox or WeTransfer), receive their no-obligation offer, and one of more of their 40 skilled developers, located in several time zones, will get started. Your project will be delivered on time, but only after it has undergone a rigorous check for errors.
The source code is well structured, so any customer having programming knowledge can easily adjust it when needed. Read the rest of this entry »
There are so many website builders on the market, that separating the good ones from the not quite so good ones can be a challenge. Finding the best of the bunch is an even bigger challenge. Affordability and ease of use are important. Even more important is finding a tool or platform that promotes customizability, flexibility, and guarantees you can build a site that will deliver an excellent user experience.
– You need a tool or platform that emphasizes simple and flexible content management. Doing so will allow your projects to proceed faster and more smoothly.
– You want to be able to build websites that are user friendly, and can outcompete the competition. For both to happen, they need to be responsive, and address the needs of mobile device users.
– Look for a platform that is rich in widgets. The more there are, the more functionality you can build into your sites.
– Don’t forget to insist on the ability to easily integrate your sites with social media. That’s where much of the action is today.
Take a platform that already makes building and managing a website a snap, and redesign it from the ground up, and you really have something. That’s the case with SnapPages. With its latest release, 3.0, it’s easier than ever to create and manage modern, responsive websites.
Professionally-created, customizable design templates help you get your projects off to a quick start. Once you’re up and running, the SnapPages team will attend to your web hosting and server needs.
The focus is on what users want and need most, as opposed to loading this platform down with a multiplicity of features; resulting in by most accounts, the best website-building editor on the market. The drag and drop editor is optimized for touchscreen use, so you can make quick changes while on the go with your laptop or tablet.
SnapPages works lightning fast, plus you can safely store your files in the cloud. If you’re a blogger, there’s a spam-filtering app that will save you time monitoring comments, and social plugins allow you to integrate your websites with social media. Read the rest of this entry »
WordPress has many pluses, but it’s not necessarily the most glamorous platform to work with. Still customize it with themes and plugins to fit a designer’s needs has made it the most popular CMS.
Plugins are great to have access to when you need to embed certain functions into your websites. There are a great many to choose from, and you can even have one developed that is customized to fit a particular need.
The main problem with plugins is the sheer number that are available. When you look for one to fill a special need, you may come across several that seem to fill the bill. Finding the best of the lot can be a challenge. To make life a little easier, we’ve chosen some of the best WordPress plugins out there that you can use to add key functionality to your websites.
9 Top WordPress Plugins
wpDataTables provides a host of data management functionalities. For instance, tables you create with it can be made editable. Editing in wpDataTables is no more difficult than editing in Excel, and the tables can be very large. wpDataTables can work quickly when confronted with large amounts of data. All the data management functions associated with a given table are handled by the MySQL server.
The tables you create will be natively responsive, so you needn’t be concerned as to how they will display on various device types. Furthermore, the tables you create can be used as sources for creating charts. Just as the tables themselves are editable, the charts can be changed in real time to reflect up-to-date data and results.
A truly beneficial feature of wpDataTables is the ability to highlight cells, rows, and columns of data, in relationship to their content. By visiting the website, you can view the full range of this plugin’s features and capabilities.
Content Timeline is a handy WordPress plugin to have if you want to display content in a sliding timeline. Content Timeline is responsive, and since it’s fully customizable, you can drag and drop to sort, add, or delete items of content as you like.
Should you need to edit an item in a timeline, you can edit it in its own window. 12 customizable Card Layouts are included to add a cool look to your timelines, or you can create a card from scratch.
Features you can easily incorporate into your timelines, include Swipe functionality, sorting by year, month or category (great for timelines of your posts), and dynamic loading of new posts. Content Timeline even makes it possible to display your posts in a slider. Users have given this plugin nearly solid 5-star ratings. Read the rest of this entry »