6 Top Web Apps and How to Make Them Work for You

Web apps can’t do all the work. They can make your design efforts easier, but you still must do the design. Web apps can manage your workflow, but you still have to define what your workflow consists of.

That’s the purpose behind these productivity tips and management principles below.

What are these tips and principles, and how might they apply to you?

Productivity Tips for Web Designers

Make Expectations Crystal Clear. Incomplete or ambiguously-stated requirements or expectations generally lead to unintended outcomes. This applies to team leaders, team members, individual designers, and clients alike.

Keep Communications Open. Team members need to feel they can talk openly and honestly to their leaders. The same is true for the individual designer/client relationship. Poor communications can lead to mistakes, lower productivity and morale, and a host of other problems.

Give Team Members Autonomy. Treat them like they want and deserve to be treated: as professionals. Designers do superior work when they feel a sense of ownership over their tasks.

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Rethink Meetings. This is easy to do, but difficult for some to follow up on. If a meeting’s agenda does not support project objectives—bag it. Meetings are cancelled all the time, and little harm is typically done by doing so.

Reserve Downtime. Some downtime is necessary. When management reserves blocks of downtime up front, it shows it has the best interest of the workforce at heart. It also suggests that management feels things are under control. Reserving periods of downtime benefits individual designers as well.

Management Principles Team Leaders Must Heed
• Block off times for work and times for downtime, then stick to the schedule.
• Keep reports current on project tasks. Doing so keeps them accountable.
• Always communicate ahead of time when there’s a need for extra hours. Also, communicate when there is no need. Unpredictable schedules can lead to performance and morale problems, should they become the norm.
• Don’t micromanage. Those doing the work are generally the experts at what they do. Instead, find out where your designers may need assistance.
• Don’t overcommit your team. If you must, make certain it will be the last time.

Although these principles primarily apply to managers and team leaders, individual designers can profit from being aware of them.

The top 6 Web Apps for Design Teams and Individual Designers

InVision

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InVision offers a full package of productivity enhancing tools, ranging from design and collaboration aids to workflow and task management utilities. With InVision, you can create a high-fidelity prototype from a static file in mere minutes. Since InVision is a web app, you can share your prototypes instantly.

Web designers who routinely create sharable prototypes for testing and review can also face workflow and task management issues. These issues can set a project back until a solution is found.

If workflow barriers and hiccups become the rule, rather than the exception, a project can face serious delays, which is why large corporations like Cisco, PayPal, and Adobe have invested in InVision; and why the same is true for startups like Evernote and MailChimp.

Give this popular web app a try, and see what it can do for you. The odds are good that once you’ve tried it, you’ll plan to stick with it. You can work with one prototype for free while you decide.

Proto.io

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Designers, entrepreneurs, and product managers have all seen their design processes enhanced when using Proto.io. This web app creates realistic, interactive, and sharable prototypes, all without code.

The reason is simple. Proto.io offers beautifully crafted iOS, Android, Windows, and watchOS UI components. You can also import your own Sketch and Photoshop designs. It’s simply a matter of taking your static designs and bringing them to life by a careful selection of animations, interactions, and transitions.

Since your prototypes are viewable on your browser, sharing them with others, including key stakeholders, is rarely a problem, since you can do so with a single click. Those investing in Proto.io include Disney, IDEO and Airbnb, plus smoking-hot startups like PayPal and Evernote.

Proto.io’s 15-day free trial should be more than enough to convince you to join with this top web app’s other 350,000 users.

Sendloop

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Sendloop is a special package that gives web designers and design agencies a set of powerful digital marketing tools that are typically found only in enterprise-level software—but at a fraction of the price.

With Sendloop, you can leverage the power of email marketing, but without any special programming or technical skills. Growing your business with email promotions has never been easier. All that is required of you is your ability to brand and customize one or more of Sendloop’s professionally-designed email templates.

Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go. You can tailor your email content based on the specific actions of your users, then watch conversion rates soar. For starters, you can send an unlimited number of customized emails to up to 500 subscribers for $9/month.

MeisterTask

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As your design projects become more complex, and as your team grows, you may find yourself struggling to stay on top of all tasks. It’s difficult to keep an eye on your team members’ progress and ensure updates are being communicated with other departments, as well as clients, on time.

With MeisterTask as your task management tool, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters—the design—while all these menial tasks practically take care of themselves.

MeisterTask is an intuitive web app that uses the Kanban technique to keep your projects on track. Its flexible project boards adapt nicely to fit your workflows, whether you are working together as a team or as an individual entrepreneur.

Paymo

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Paymo also employs the Kanban board technique; a proven work and workflow visualization method. Its target audience includes those teams working for small to mid-size businesses. Paymo provides online, offline, and automatic time management and time tracking functions.

Paymo also provides summaries of past and current workflow activities, and you can use it to highlight progress toward specific project goals and objectives. With Paymo, you can store and share project information, and even create project templates for future use.

Try this multi-purpose web app for free for 15 days.

Form Analytics

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Web designers and their clients often rely on data analytics techniques to tweak their websites in hopes of improving conversion rates.

If your website (or website in progress) contains one or more forms for users to fill out, Form Analytics by Use It Better should be in your web design repertoire.

This web app analyzes form field data, indicating which fields have been completed, and why a form may have been abandoned. It’s free for small-scale users. Since it can give you the data you need to take remedial action, it’s worth its weight in gold.

Conclusion

These web apps fill voids that are sometimes left unattended.  Web designers may not be marketers, but it’s becoming clear they need to understand more about the game. (Or at least find a tool that will give them some help in this area.)

Design teams can struggle when their project management tools are not quite up to the task. Here, an online web app can work miracles to keep a project on track. An individual web designer may not fully appreciate the need for a task management tool, but having an online task management tool in place can work wonders.

These productivity tips, project management principles, and web apps fit together quite nicely. The web apps make life easier, and heeding the tips and principles can allow us to realize the full benefits offered by these web apps.

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