It’s no secret that smartphones are playing larger and larger roles in our lives these days. So how can you make sure that your phone is working for you, and not the other way around?

Well, these apps are a great place to start. If you’re looking for ways that your phone can make your life easier, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to hear about some of our favorite innovative apps for your smartphone.

Apps to Keep You Focused

Many people see their phones as a distraction, and having the Internet at the tip of your fingers can certainly mess with your productivity at work. But did you know that your phone can actually help you stay focused, rather than being a distraction?

Take, for example, the app Forest. Forest is designed to keep you motivated and on task throughout the day. The app is like a productivity timer, but with an added twist.

Set the timer in Forest to the amount of time you want to work, and the app will plant a virtual tree for you. If you leave the app during this productivity time frame, the virtual tree you planted in Forest will die and you will be left with a dead stump in your virtual yard! It sounds silly, but this app has tons of great reviews because it helps people turn their biggest distraction into a productivity tool!

Apps to Stay Informed

Another great thing about smartphones is that they can keep you up-to-date on the latest news at any given moment. There are tons of great news apps out there for all sorts of different news stations, so you can pick and choose the stations you want to receive news from.

Then, your phone can send you notifications about breaking news. Plus, you can load up news articles to read on the go. It’s like a virtual newspaper in your pocket that’s constantly updating!

Apps to Manage Your Money

There are also plenty of apps out there to help you manage your money. For example, take Mint, a budgeting app that helps you see where your money is going every month and set spending/saving goals for yourself. Mint automatically looks at your bills and sorts out your spending habits into categories so you can see exactly where your money is going!

Another useful app to have is Venmo, which allows you to pay any other Venmo user via your smartphone. This is super helpful when splitting up a food bill or paying utilities with roommates. Even if you don’t know someone’s Venmo username, the app generates a unique QR code for each user so you can scan each other’s phones to send money back and forth!

Looking to save some extra bucks? Try a coupon app like Groupon to get the best deals on various services in town.

Apps to Manage Your Home

Smart home apps are becoming more and more popular these days. Whether it’s smart lights, smart locks, or a smart garage door opener, there’s an app for that!

Dating Apps

Meeting new people can be really difficult, especially after moving to a new town or city. But with modern dating apps, your next romantic adventure is at the tip of your fingers!

Apps like Tinder and Bumble are taking smartphones by storm as they allow users to connect with people they normally would never meet. So if you’re looking for easy ways to meet people, try one of these apps!

Apps for Your Notes

If you take notes on an electronic device like a computer or tablet, there are certain apps that will store your notes for you and sync them across all your devices to make sure you always have your most recent notes on your person. Apps like Notability or Evernote have helped tons of people keep their writings and documents organized and accessible at all times.

Apps to Give You Directions

One of the most useful things about smartphones that they can give you directions just like a GPS. While some people prefer to use Apple Maps or Google maps, there are tons of GPS alternatives that can help you get where you need to go.

For example, take the app Waze, which takes into account weather and road conditions as well as traffic that’s updated by users on the go. That way, you always know you’re on the fastest route to your destination!

Apps to Give You a Ride Home

But what if you don’t have a car, or aren’t in any state to be driving? Whether you’ve been out at the bars or are just a bit too tired to drive, apps like Uber and Lyft can be real lifesavers.

These apps also make it easy to pay your driver and can help you get home safely, rather than trying to walk too far or through an unsafe neighborhood.

Apps to Pass the Time

Sometimes, the most useful thing your smartphone can do for you is help you pass the time. Whether you’re on a long road trip or just bored at work, entertainment apps like Candy Crush or Tetris can help you keep your mind occupied.

Apps to Stay Connected

Smartphones can also help you stay socially connected to friends, even if you live far away. Social media apps like Twitter and Facebook are a great way to keep in touch with people, while texting and video calls add an even more personal touch to your virtual social life.

Innovative Apps for Your Daily Life

No matter who you are or what your daily life looks like, there’s a good chance that there’s an app to help increase your quality of life. Whether you’re looking for a more active social life or just want updates on the latest global news, your smartphone can help you save time, money, and energy on a daily basis with the help of these innovative apps. For more life hacks, check out our other blog posts!

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The Most Hotly Contested Web Design Concepts of 2016

If there’s one topic that gets people fired up it’s web design. To succeed online, a smartly designed website is crucial. Something that brings in visitors and keeps them on your page, absorbing content.

Unfortunately, what constitutes a great site isn’t always agreed upon, and there’s constant debate of best practices, what’s hot, what’s not, and what is the cancer that is killing the industry. The argument still rages on, and recently it’s moved on to these commonly used web design elements:

The Carousel

“We’re not at the park, so why are we going around and around? Because people keep designing their sites with these blasted carousels” is just one of the commonly heard gripes about this supposedly interesting design choice.

Unfortunately, we have to keep clicking left or right to get another little morsel of information that the designers have deemed us worthy to handle. Are they afraid we can’t read full paragraphs? This one isn’t just a matter being annoyed personal preference, however, Carousel designs actually harm your websites performance.

They kill local SEO efforts by starving your site of actual content, the slow your site down with huge image files and JavaScript, and they are so confoundingly bad that nobody clicks through them all the way. The naysayers might have a point on this one, Carousels are way more trouble than they are worth.

Parallax Scrolling

You’ve seen this technique on graphics heavy sites in which the foreground and background scroll at different speeds. It creates a feeling of depth, helps tell a story through visuals, and looks pretty cool when properly implemented.

Unfortunately, it comes with some (resolvable) issues that may make it a waste of time. Like the Carousel, use of Parallax Scrolling is damaging to SEO. Since there’s usually just one page and a bunch of images, there’s no text content for search engines to crawl through and rank.

The abundance of images reduces performance (and completely kills performance on mobile devices). Most damaging of all though, is that the technique can just make it confusing to absorb any useful information, which will cut your number of repeat visitors down tremendously.

Think about it, would you stick around on a website where your only navigation option was to scroll downwards through hard-to read image/text combos? Of course, there are examples of Parallax Scrolling done right, so the argument is there that it’s all about how you choose to use it.

The Hamburger Menu

That three lined symbol in the corner on most websites that you click to access navigation options is commonly known as the hamburger menu.

While it does look cool, and you can see why one might be tempted to clean up their navigation by having it sleekly displayed in a drop-down menu, many say it kills a websites discoverability.

When your navigation options are out of sight, they are also out of mind, the thinking goes. There’s also the argument that it’s less efficient, since you’re forced to go to a separate menu just to see your options, but that’s more a matter of personal taste, it would seem.

We may never get definitive answers on whether these trends are good or bad, but it seems pretty clear that if you are going to try to incorporate any of these ideas into your design, you have to do it with care.

We’ve given you an overview of the tons of free web design options out there for building a pretty good site. When you have to move up to the big leagues though, it’d be prudent to hire some big league talent.

Professional web developers like Big Drop (out of New York), or Brown Box Branding (Dallas TX) offer great designs coupled with high level marketing strategies proven to keep the visitors coming back to your site for more.

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