Help! I Can’t Stop Wasting Time…

There are so many distractions when you are a freelancer. From kids coming into your home office or time sucks like Facebook, you need to focus and be more efficient. The key is arming yourself with the right tools for the job.

Here, we’ve gathered a list of online time savers (productivity tools for the win!) plus tips for managing distractions.

Create the Right Working Space

Freelancers, if you want to work from home, you need an actual work space. Using the kitchen counter or just putting a desk in your bedroom is a recipe for distraction. (You’ll see the dishes piled up or find 10 other things that need your attention when what you should be doing is working.)

  • Create a dedicated workspace—preferably one with a door and that isn’t used for anything else.
  • Look for a room with a window. Natural light will keep you feeling refreshed and focused.
  • Make sure you have an ergonomic setup with a good chair, appropriate desk setup and comfortable temperature.
  • Keep your work space clean and clear from clutter. Spend the last few minutes of each day tidying up so that every day starts with a fresh place to work. Dirty spaces are not productive spaces.

Set Office Hours

You need to set office hours and enforce them to family, friends and clients. Put a sign on the door if you have to.

Office hours don’t have to be a standard 9-to-5 workday (that would take some of the flexibility out of freelancing), but you should have some work hours that fall during the work times of your clients so they get information and can communicate with you easily.

Set a workday schedule and honor it. That means kids and spouses need to stay away from your work space during posted office hours unless it is pre-planned or part of a break or lunch time. Creating this flow will help give you the space you need to focus.

Set additional office hours for times when you actually answer the phone. A staff of one can get overwhelmed with phone calls. Set a schedule for answering and returning calls each day and let everything else go to voicemail. (You can even post phone hours in your email signature so clients know the best time to call.)

Turn Off Push Notifications

The easiest way to avoid distractions is to remove them from your devices. From mobile push notifications to pop-ups on your desktop, these tiny distractions eat away at the day.

  • Freelancer rule No. 1: Turn off push notifications.
  • Freelancer rule No. 2: Turn the volume off on mobile devices.
  • Freelancer rule No. 3: Use a blocking app if you can’t do it alone.

Tool to try: Freedom allows users to schedule the amount of time on specific apps and websites. If you have a bit of an “addiction” to Facebook, give it a try and put some real limits on usage.

Put on Headphones

Block out the world with a little white noise. Invest in a good set of headphones and use them to help avoid noise distractions.

Find music that fades into the background. (Something without ads is best for most people because you won’t hit periods of loud sounds or over stimulation.) Avoid podcasts or audiobooks that can actually become a distraction while working.

There’s another bonus to headphones as well: When you are wearing them people immediately think you can’t hear them or are busy and they might be less likely to disturb you.

Use a Time Tracker

Do you know exactly how you are spending time or where those distractions are coming from? Do you ever ask where the day went? (And why you don’t have anything to show for it?)

If you want to get a good handle on what you are doing—particularly for designers and developers that spend most of the day on a computer—enlist the help of a time-tracking app or tool.

There are two categories of time trackers:

  • Time tracking apps that help you manage tasks and billing for your freelance business. These tools help you know exactly what time you spend on what projects (and who should get billed.) Look for a tool that will track across multiple devices (if you tend to lose time in sneaky places or work from more than one place) and one that offers reporting that’s easy to understand. Tool to try: TopTracker is a free tool designed for remote workers and comes with productivity reports.
  • The other type of time tracker really gets to the root of what you are doing and when. It’s less for billing clients and more for helping you manage your time for efficiently. Most of us don’t even realize how many distractions are keeping us from our best work. Tool to try: RescueTime runs in the background of your computer and on mobile devices and then provides a report of what websites and software you are using and how much time is spent with each. (The number of hours on Instagram might be a little shocking.) Plus, you can use it to help limit time on websites or with apps that you need to avoid a little more.

Use More Visual Tools

Freelance designers can spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to explain the way something looks to clients or other team members. Cut out all that wasted time and effort by using a tool that allows you to collaborate visually.

A digital whiteboard can set the tone of an in-person meeting online. (You can even brainstorm and work out solutions to problems on different schedules.) Real-time collaboration takes some of the loneliness out of freelancing and give you the accountability of working with a team—which is great for keeping projects on task and on time.

Tool to try: Mural is an easy to use digital white boarding tool that you can use to share ideas in a visual space. Not only is the space designed for quick sketching and sharing, but users can see everything in real time, plus set a timer so that meetings stay on schedule.

Browse Incognito

Most website design and development freelancers are online all the time. It just comes with the territory.

Try browsing in incognito mode (it keeps popups and notifications at bay) or use a browser add-on to take control of your productivity.

Tool to try: StayFocused is a Google Chrome extension that restricts how much time you can spend on certain websites. So while you might have to be online all day, you won’t be hanging around on Twitter. You can block websites, types of content (no more cat videos at work) or set time limits so that you are allowed some free browsing time.

Automate As Many Business Tasks as Possible

For freelance designers and developers, one of the places where distractions loom is in the management of business tasks. (Mostly because we don’t like them.)
From preparing and sending invoices to filing paperwork and contracts, try to automate as many business functions as possible so you don’t waste time avoiding these tasks. The right software and tools can go a long way to helping you stay focused and manage these chores with ease.

Tools to try: TermsFeed allows you to create basic legal documents such as privacy policies or terms and conditions; Slack is great for managing chats and sharing in one place, so that you don’t have a bunch of client text messages; use invoicing software such as Invoicely to bill clients and manage revenue and expenses.

Create a Routine

Start each day with a plan for that day. What do you need to accomplish before you call it quits?
Every freelancer will have a routine that’s slightly different, so you might have to play with daily schedules some to create a routine that works for you.
Here’s what a sample routine might look like:

  • First part of the day: Do a quick check of social media (work accounts) and follow up with posts or messages, where applicable. Check and respond to all emails that can be handled quickly.
  • Move on to bigger project work. Start with things that need the most brainpower while you are feeling fresh. Spend a few hours working through this work and plan for a break or two during that time.
  • Take a long break for lunch or to take a walk. The mid-point in the day is a good time to re-energize.
  • Check and respond to email again.
  • Use the afternoon period to finish up tasks and knock out low-hanging fruit items.
  • Dedicate some time to business or bookkeeping tasks, to returning phone calls or client meetings and check email one last time.
  • Create a plan for tomorrow as you wrap up the day so that you can leave knowing what is coming up and come into the next day ready to move forward on projects and tasks.

Conclusion

Sadly, much of the time freelancers waste isn’t even recognized. It’s spent in places that don’t really need our attention at all.

Using the right tools and creating the right work environment and habits can go a long way to helping you avoid distractions when you are supposed to be working. And if these tips don’t help you get more done, it might be time to evaluate your freelance work location. A home office isn’t for everyone; if all the little things are keeping you from work even after trying to focus, it might be time to look for a co-working or shared office space so you can jump to the next level professionally.

Remember, if you are more productive during work hours, you’ll spend less time playing catch up after hours. Making little changes can go a long way when it comes to managing your freelance design business.

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11 Secrets of Actionable UX Reports

When designers and developers work on projects, they have a lot of questions: What do our users expect to see on this screen? How are users supposed to interact with our product? What should our onboarding feel like? These questions are commonly asked during product development.

Every team wants to reduce the risk of incorrect design decisions and as the complexity of products increases, the digital product design industry puts usability practitioners in high demand. Usability practitioners are people who help product teams make informed decisions. In most organizations, the primary role of usability experts is design validation—making sure that a product is usable.

But many usability practitioners (particularly those who are new to the field) complain that product teams don’t act on their research results. While this could be due to many different issues, most often it is due to poor usability reports; if product teams have trouble understanding findings, or don’t know what to do with the findings, they’ll simply ignore them.

That’s why it so important to make reports actionable. In this article, we’ll share eleven tips that help usability practitioners to reach this goal.

1. Know Key Business Objectives

Most companies have a clear understanding of what their business goals are. The reason companies invest money in usability analysis is that they believe that it will help them reach their goals.

It’s possible to put more weight into usability reports by creating a direct connection between solving usability issues and reaching business goals. Thus, usability experts should take enough time to figure out what the key business objectives are and make sure that the usability insights are aligned with them.

2. Be Specific When Presenting Findings

Imagine when someone opens a usability report and sees a sentence like: “The process of purchasing a product was hard,” without any additional details. With a high probability, they will consider such a finding as too vague. Vague findings don’t give product teams many insights. A lack of detail can, at best, leave teams wondering what the problem was. But at worse it can lead to an unfavorable outcome—when a product team misinterprets findings they can start solving a wrong problem.

That’s why all findings in a report need to be specific. It’s essential to write usability findings in a clear way that helps the team identify the cause of a problem and work toward a solution. Thus, instead of saying “The process of purchasing a product was hard,” provide a clear context for the issue. Say why the process was hard. Were too many steps involved? Were field labels in forms unclear? Make it clear in your report!

3. Never Blame Users

Describing findings in relation to users is a relatively common problem of many studies. “The user had to do this” or “Unfortunately, a user was unable to …” Although such statements sound innocent, they can cause significant damage to your reports. Such language switches the focus from a design and puts the blame on the user. It becomes a user problem, not a product problem. When team members and stakeholders read such findings, they might think “Well, this user wasn’t experienced. Maybe we should conduct another testing session with more experienced testers?” and can dismiss the issue.

One of the purposes of a research study is to generate empathy for the end user. Good UX practitioners always start usability testing session with words “We’re not testing you, we’re testing our product.” The same attitude should be used in usability reports.

4. Don’t Lose Sight of the Wood for the Trees

A famous Charles Eames quote: “The details are not the details. They make the design” is a bad joke for some usability professionals.

All too often they become too focused on the details, so they forget to notice huge issues. For example, when analyzing specific user flow, it’s easy to be focused on providing concrete recommendations on how to improve user experience (e.g. changing the size of the buttons, renaming labels, etc.), but forgetting to notice that the entire flow doesn’t match user expectations or doesn’t meet their needs. If users have trouble at every step, perhaps it’s the overall flow that’s to blame, rather than separate details along the way.

5. Add Redesign Recommendations to Usability Reports

The goal of user research and usability testing is not only in finding issues and defects; it’s also proposing solutions to those problems. Too frequently usability practitioners conduct usability testing, track all issues, but don’t provide recommendations on how to fix the problems. Recommendations play an essential role—they help determine next steps and make the results actionable.

Usability practitioners are the right people for writing recommendations because they have unique expertise in thinking about design solutions. They run lots of usability tests and have first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work for users.

Writing useful and usable recommendations is a skill that all usability professionals should master. Here are a few things that should be taken into account when writing recommendations:

  • Avoid vague proposals: Vague recommendations such as “Make the error message clearer” doesn’t say enough for people who’ll read reports. It’s essential to make recommendations constructive by providing sufficient details.
  • Avoid biased recommendations: Stay away from assumptions. Reference studies and best practices in your report.
  • Discuss your usability recommendations: Talk with designers, developers, sales and marketing teams to learn what works and what doesn’t work both from a business and technical point of view. The wisdom of the crowd can help you to come up with better solutions.
  • Write recommendations in the readers’ language: The readers of recommendations are not necessary usability specialists. Thus, avoid usability jargon such as “508 compliant” when providing recommendations.
  • Visualize your recommendations. A picture is worth a thousand words and this rule applies to recommendations. Visualizing recommendations doesn’t mean that usability specialists should create high-fidelity interactive prototypes. Creating a quick sketch to illustrate a point is totally acceptable.

6. Involve Teams and Stakeholders in Usability Testing

Work closely with the design and development team, rather than simply delivering a report and walking away from the project. Make team members and stakeholders contribute towards study designs.

Here are a couple of tips to take into account:

  • Ask designers, product managers, marketers about their expectations before conducting testing. By asking a simple question “After we conduct this research, what results would you expect?” you build interest to the upcoming test session.
  • Invite team members and stakeholders to watch usability testing sessions. Nothing beats watching how users interact with a product. Seeing how users struggle when working with a product will make stakeholders understand the value of session.

7. Keep Your Reports Short and Focused

Readers of usability reports are busy people, and it’s relatively easy to overwhelming them by putting too much information in a report. Long lists of recommendations are less likely to be read and acted upon. Remember that with each additional issue mentioned in a report, you decrease a chance that readers will reach the final page of your report. Thus, keep the report short and focused.

8. Rank Findings

No one team has infinite time to solve all possible issues which were found during usability testing. It’s vital to understand that every issue that was discovered through usability testing is not equally important. Usability practitioners should prioritize all findings and put a focus on the most important ones. Ranking findings as low, medium or high severity helps the team understand what critical issues the usability study exposed

But before assigning a priority, it’s essential to work with a product team and stakeholders to build a consensus around what is considered as a high priority usability issue vs. what is recognized as a low priority.

9. Make Your Reports Sound Human

Don’t just list your findings and recommendations; describe them in a format of a story—a story of interaction users with a product. Usability reports are the most impactful when they illustrate problems using video clips of test participants and when they contain participant quotes recorded during testing sessions.

10. Customize Your Report for Different Audiences

It’s worth creating a few versions of usability reports for different audiences. For example, when it comes to writing a report for developers, you can provide more technical details, but for stakeholders, you may only skim an executive summary of prioritized issues.

11. Actively Promote Your Findings

It’s not enough to conduct testing, send a report as an email attachment and believe that team members will read it and act upon it. Usability practitioners should actively market their findings—make sure every person who needs to know, is familiar with your report.

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ROI des médias-sociaux positif selon les entreprises

Le recours aux médias sociaux est-il rentable pour les entreprises ? Tata Consultancy Services a réalisé une enquête auprès de 655 grandes entreprises situées en Amérique du Nord, Europe, Asie-Pacifique et Amérique latine. ROI et score Pour 38% des sociétés qui mesurent le ROI de ces investissements, le résultat est positif contre 18% qui constatent une rentabilité mauvaise. A noter que 32% des entreprises du panel ne mesurent pas cet indicateur mais envisagent de le faire. Le recours aux médias sociaux a tendance a développer sur le marché une identification plus forte de la marque et une meilleure fidélisation de la clientèle. Selon les régions du monde, nous constatons des variations. Le pôle Asie-Pacifique affiche le meilleur taux de rendement. Pour 29% des entreprises européenne, l’expérience des médias sociaux est positive, contre 20% qui font un constat négatif. Roi par grandes régions monde Pour ceux qui font une mesure positive, les domaines d’activités sont plutôt dans la communication, les jeux et les hautes technologies. Roi par industrie   L’article original de MarketingProfs Etude Mastering Digital Feedback de Tata Consultancy Services: Download Report

Urgent ! Recherche #hashtag

Urgent ! Recherche #hashtag

hashtag

hashtag

Marqueur de métadonnée composé du signe typographique croisillon « # » (hash en anglais) suivi d’un ou plusieurs mots accolés (tag), le hashtag est un symbole incontournable sur les réseaux sociaux.
Popularisé par Twitter en 2009, le hashtag a été depuis adopté par Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, certains thèmes WordPress, …
Le hashtag s’est rapidement imposé comme système permettant de catégoriser les messages.
Fort de son succès le hashtag est désormais souvent utilisé par les entreprises pour référencer leurs opérations évènementielles ou leurs marques sur les réseaux sociaux.
Ceci dans le but d’apporter en temps réel une actualisation des informations relative à l’évènement, au produit ou analyser les appréciations des clients.
Pour utiliser cette méthode marketing il est important dans un premier temps d’identifier les produits, marques, évènements que vous souhaitez suivre.
Il faut ensuite nommer chaque hashtag afin que chacun soit facilement mémorisable par la population cible de vos opérations.

Choosing a #

Choosing a #

Reste ensuite à rédiger ses messages en intégrant chaque hashtag en lieu et place des termes habituels.

Exemple : « #AnkaaEngineering lance une campagne de pub TV sur #BFMTV »
Ce message sera ainsi classé sous le hashtag #AnkaaEngineering et #BFMTV simultanément.
Il sera accessible via une recherche sur l’un ou l’autre de ces mots clés.

Aujourd’hui les premiers moteurs de recherche de hashtag sur internet commencent à arriver.
Ce qui simplifie le travail de recherche et consolidation des différentes publications qui auraient pu être réalisées sur les différents réseaux sociaux qui ont implémentés ce système de classement.

Citons parmi les pionniers de ces moteurs de recherche Tagsinaction ou Tagboard.
Google est aussi présent sur cette gamme d’outil.
Après avoir implémenté l’utilisation du hashtag sur Google+, Google autorise maintenant la recherche via Google Search des posts tagués avec ce type de marqueur.

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www.seochat.com

La protection de votre marque par la TMCH (Trademark Clearing House)

ICANN publie une nouvelle liste de Gtlds et un dispositif de protection de marque dénommé « Trademark Clearing House ».

Un nom de domaine est constitué de deux éléments : un « nom », dont vous avez le libre choix, et une extension, qui définit l’origine ou la nature de votre site Internet. Le nom de domaine « google.fr» se compose par exemple du nom« google » et de l’extension « .fr »
Il est aujourd’hui capital de déposer un nom de domaine pour protéger votre idée, votre société ou votre marque.
Il est aussi judicieux d’enregistrer le nom de domaine qui vous correspond le mieux.

L’extension : Il s’agit d’un suffixe de nom de domaine, par exemple .com. ou .net. L’extension permet parfois d’identifier la nature d’un site. Le .org est réservé aux associations. Le .mobi aux sites configurés sur mobile. Il existe des extensions dites génériques, comme le .com ou le .net et des extensions géographiques rattachées à un pays particulier comme le .jp pour le Japon ou le .fr pour la France.

Les new gtlds, sont des nouvelles extensions génériques lancées par l’ICANN, et les candidatures continuent à être validées.
1400 extensions de new gTLDs pourraient voir le jour, réparties dans les catégories suivantes :
– des new gtlds géographiques tels que le .BHZ ou le .PARIS,
– des new gtlds correspondants à des marques de sociétés telles que le .APPLE, .LOREAL
– des new gtlds communautaires /thématiques .PIZZA, .MUSIC, .GREEN, .ECO, .TECH, .MEDIA…

Téléchargez ici la liste des nouvelles extensions New Gtlds

Il est donc important de réviser sa propriété de domaine internet pour protéger sa marque sur le Web.

Des compléments sont disponibles sur le site ICANN

Moyens de paiement SEPA : « End Date » le 1er février 2014

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) est le standard européen des virements et prélèvements bancaires.
Il est d’ores et déjà en application depuis le 28/01/2008 pour les virements et depuis le 01/11/2010 pour les prélèvements.
Au 01 février 2014, en application du règlement de l’UE n°260/2012 adopté le 14 mars 2012, les virements et prélèvements SEPA remplaceront définitivement l’ensemble des flux existants.

Cette mesure peut entraîner une mise à niveau des moyens de paiement de votre entreprise.
Avec notamment
– un contrôle des moyens d’échange EDI avec votre banque (webEDI, Ebics, Swiftnet)
– une demande à votre banque d’un Identifiant Créancier SEPA (ICS) et une mise à jour de vos contrats de prélèvement
– une mise a niveau des logiciels de gestion (paie, finances, crm, etc) et l’application d’une référence unique (RUM) à vos mandats signés.
– une mise à jour des coordonnées IBAN (international Bank Account Number), BIC (Business Identifier Code de vos clients et fournisseurs
etc
La migration SEPA impacte l’ensemble des services et fonctions de l’entreprise (Finances, Ventes, RH, Paie…).

Il doit faire l’objet d’une attention particulière et son organisation doit être anticipée.

Plus d’informations