Over the past year or so we’ve used a number of tools, apps, sites and services here at Connected Path to make us more productive and effective in our work.
We thought we’d share a selection of these with you today.
Canva is to design what Squarespace is to website creation. It’s a free tool (with paid options) that allows you to quickly whip up great looking designs using their templates. The site offers designs for invites, posters, social media, presentations, documents and other visual content. The free templates give you options to drag and drop in your own images and logos, and change colours to fit your branding. Whilst it’s no substitute for a bespoke piece of work, it has some really great designs that you can tweak for quick pieces of work.
We use the freely available draw.io to mock up flow diagrams, which can be particularly helpful when working with technical teams to help visualise a process without having to spend ages writing it out. The tool allows you to connect and store the flows directly in office.com but also has export options such as png or pdf. Creating a process diagram is actually really easy and the way that connecting lines snap from box to box is weirdly addictive. Another option I’ve heard of but yet to try out is Whimsical; https://whimsical.co which I hear is really intuitive.
We use this to share interesting articles and links. It’s a mobile app and Chrome toolbar, allowing you to ‘point’ to any webpage and share it with your Point friends (or in my case, Point friend). You can then comment or highlight certain sections to draw attention to when you send the Point. The app allows you to message each other in specific message strings based on the Point content. It’s a really useful tool to conduct non-urgent discussions.
We originally found Point because we were regularly emailing each other back and forth with useful links and interesting articles. For me and my obsessive Inbox Zero strategy I found it tricky to deal with these amongst more pressing emails. The benefit of the app means I can choose when to read the articles that I’ve been pointed to. Whilst most companies would probably use Slack or Skype for this I personally find it helpful to store these links in a separate app that I can choose to look at or not depending on when I have the time or the inclination to read the articles.
I have a confession to make. A few years ago I used the same password for almost everything (I know, I’m going to hell). After a security scare I decided it was time to secure up my passwords. 1Password has literally changed my life. No word of a lie. It means I have a unique and strong password for every single login, but that they are all safely stored. The vaults option in 1Password is great for small businesses, as we can have our own personal vaults, and then have a separate vault for shared information.
This one might be seem as a bit odd, but mindfulness and taking time to relax has become really important to me since owning my own business.
It’s easy to never stop working, as I can work from home and I don’t have specific work hours. This can also be dangerous and I need to make sure I take some time to stop and unwind. I have the subscription to Calm, but before I purchased this I used the significant number of mindfulness sessions that are available for free.
I’m pretty sure this service has so many more capabilities than what we use it for. We’ve used Coolors to quickly create colour palettes.
If, for example, you’re designing a slide deck for a presentation and want to include a brand colour but need a complementary palette you can use Coolors to find these. Insert the HEX code of your colour, ‘lock’ it in and then keep hitting that space bar until you find a palette that you like!
This is a bit of a niche one but has been really important as part of our user testing with MenteeMe over the past year.
Mailinator allows you to instantly create a virtual email inbox and temporary email address. This is useful if you are signing up user accounts and/or email addresses that only need to be used once.
Last September we hosted The Unconference event. At the time we did a lot of research about which audience voting tools were on the market, and which would work for us. Sli.do is our absolute favourite.
The basic tool package is free and setting up a new poll is so easy. It’s a great tool to use in meetings, workshops or larger events (although you should be mindful of the user limits and make sure you upgrade to a paid version for large audiences). The tool is also useful to encourage audience participation, as people love the opportunity to submit anonymous questions!
We’re always on the lookout for new tools, apps, sites and services that can help small businesses like ours, if you want to add your own recommendations please feel free to do so in the comments box below!