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Technology

This was my first time attending the Gilbane Conference, the conference solely devoted to all things content related. Gilbane gathers technologists, marketers, consultants and usability experts from near and far and takes place over three days annually each year in Boston. As the website reads, “The Gilbane Conference is all about helping organizations apply content, web, mobile, and marketing technologies to increase engagement by improving the digital experiences of their customers, employees, and partners.”

There was a lot to takeaway from the conference this year. So, here’s a quick overview of what I learned:

You could barely sneeze [and that was a lot considering the bad head cold I had] without hearing omnichannel discussed in almost every session I attended. There was a lot of debate during the content marketing panel over what the definition of omnichannel is versus multi-channel. Omnichannel argues for a shift in thinking – arguing for the seamless customer/member experience. This idea takes marketing one step further than the older multi-channel viewpoint that focuses on the delivery of content via multiple channels – push notifications and blasts of content. Reminds me a lot of what user experience professionals are after, only from a content perspective. Omni hopes to understand the customer, his/her interests and location (whether online or in-person), and to deliver the right content to the customer via the right channel at the right moment. Not an easy feat.

Personalization is harder than you think. While we’re all eager to use the data we’re able to collect on site visitors, uniquely and accurately presenting targeted content continues to be a real struggle for even the biggest brands out there. There isn’t a magic wand (whether through a CMS and/or a marketing automation tool) that exists to perfectly target and execute content. Much of this effort still requires significant manual effort and time.

gilbane

My favorite session was the “Wearables and The Internet of Things” session where presenters Raimund Gross of SAP and Adam Buhler of DigitasLBi reviewed some the latest technologies they’ve tested and gave their predictions on tools to come. From insect cyborgs (neural implants in cockroaches) to discussion around universal wi-fi, this was a really fun session. Here are just a few nuggets from that session:

Wearables are still very much an extension of mobile devices. There is a unique intimacy that exists with a wearable that doesn’t exist with a mobile phone. A watch can take your pulse and communicate to its wearer via “Taptic” feedback in a way that your phone or glasses can’t. Buhler gave the example of getting directions via pulses on your wrist (reminded me of the way you might guide a horse when riding) that lets you know when to turn and in which direction, subtly. This is a form of communication that is new, the features are new, and that means the need and opportunity exists for a new form of content delivery and design.

Buhler predicts that we will hear from Apple in 2015 on what they’ve learned from Google Glass. Neither presenter thinks it will continue to exist for the public in its current form, but is a stepping-stone for improved products, especially for the workforce.

Discussion around virtual wallets took place. Will ApplePay and Google Wallet continue to achieve adoption? ApplePay, GoogleWallet, Venmo – lots happening around digital payment and the death of cash. [There’s a recent article in Bloomberg Businesweek I read this week – Cash is for Losers – that is worth the read.]

There is great buzz around Apple’s HomeKit that is launching at CES 2015. Get ready for your fridge to tell you when your milk has expired and for your lights to dim and thermostat to adjust when you casually voice command “It’s time for bed.”

All around, there is a lot to get excited about. What are your tech predictions for the coming year?

Hello, my friends! It’s been a long time since my last post and with good reason. My husband and I are expecting our first child!! I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant and if you’re curious what the gender is, you can probably guess based on the random craving I’m having today:

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Yep, it’s a girl!

I’m told from this Ted Talk by Ina May Gaskin that Amish women normally make loaves of bread after going into birth. While I don’t plan on suddenly becoming Martha Stewart, I have been experiencing an odd cooking interest over the past week, so I’ll let you know if my cupcake recipes pan out.

Other than that, I just returned from ASAE Annual 2013 (#ASAE13) in Atlanta, Georgia where I was able to catch up with many of the association pals that I love, attend fantastic sessions, and present my session with David DeLorenzo, CIO, National League of Cities on Future Proofing Your Association’s Technology. A marvelous write up on our session by Ernie Smith is in Associations Now). I also contributed a few takeaways from my visit to the DelCor blog.

Here’s a fun photo from the Memberclicks Small Staff ShinDig at #ASAE13

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What are you celebrating this summer?

What were your favorite moments from #ASAE13?

 

We couldn’t decide on a color for the sitting room. Finally my husband and I, after much debate, 8 paint samples, and many trips to the local hardware store (shout out to Annie’s Ace for their help!) – we discovered the perfect shade called Blue Toile. Then more debate ensued: to high gloss or not to high gloss? After contacting friends and family with design and interior decorating backgrounds, we were still confused. Questions like “Can our 83 year old walls ever be perfect enough for high gloss?” to “What if we want to repaint it after and all millions of unknown paints that existed prior to us purchasing this house peel off?” Nevermind the fact that every single hardware store employee looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned painting our living room in high gloss, a paint which seems reserved only for trim, bathrooms, and the great outdoors.

We turned to our friends on Facebook and Instagram and 97% of our friends warned us not to do it. Still, the glamour and dramatic appeal of high gloss called to me. So, after my husband sanded much of the wall, we went with a flat paint because all the research told us to  and at the end of the day, I wanted the room painted.

BlueRoom1

All of this made me feel better about not going into a creative route for my full-time career and made me feel an extra appreciation for my friends and family who are designers, contractors, and architects. Oh, to deal with clients like me… 

There’s a certain amount of uncertainty with everything and differing opinions. For a room, it’s what you and your family like, ultimately – that’s the color that should win.

Not so for a website redesign.

For a website redesign, it’s what your members and users want and so much more. If only it were as simple as choosing a color or “look.” I was reminded of this again when perusing some of the recent responsive web designs within the association community. While designers seem to be moving in the right direction with designing for many devices, there’s one large area they’re missing: touch features. I was surprised to see homepages with photos and headers that were both lacking hyperlinks, instead forcing the visitor to move a mouse to a tiny hyperlink at the bottom of a block of text (which translates to mobile users having to pinch and zoom in with a fat finger to click a link). Here we have desktop computers now able to support touch screen and some designers & their clients are still out there designing for soon-to-be old school desktops, even while going responsive.

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Are we truly designing for the user experience? Do we put as much thought and precision into designing “the experience” of our website as we do for areas of our houses and homes – each room serving a different experience and function?

Responsive Design has been the buzz word along with “Big Data” in the association community for the past year and there’s a good reason why. With 2013 deemed “The Year of Responsive Design” by Mashable.com, as well as forecasted by many to be the year that mobile browsing surpasses desktop browsing, associations need to have a solid mobile solution.

As all of us have now become comfortable with carrying and relying on multiple devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops) to tackle our work and manage our communications, we will no doubt embrace even more as new and evolved products continue to infiltrate the market. Just consider the tabtop and phablet.

If associations want their content to be consumed, then they must think beyond traditional mobile sites and native apps as there one and only mobile solution, and really look at their website.

In a recent interview with ResultsDirect’s Cecilia Satovich on DelCor Sweet Spot Live, I asked her the big questions surrounding responsive design, the triumphs, challenges, and reasons why she considers it a solid solution.

Is your association considering moving to a responsive web design? What are the questions you still have?

“The main purpose of science is simplicity and as we understand more things, everything is becoming simpler.” — Edward Teller

If you’re feeling anything like me, the rush of new projects and goals in 2013 to accomplish jumped upon you in January and now you’re trying to catch your breath. You see, I’ve been having incredibly creative moments and ideas that pile upon me faster than what I know to do with them, but invariably, there are the other unplanned instances in life (meetings, emails, dramatic phone calls) whether in business or in life that creep in and before you know it, you’re scrambling again and those ideas are pushed aside or quickly forgotten.

After some recent family events, I’ve been reminded of how easy it becomes for many of us to get lost in the details. And it doesn’t help that in America our average “options” resemble something like this:

photo from CreationAgency.com

photo from CreationAgency.com

 

In this time of information overload that we live in, we are seeking quick, clean lines and the information that we need delivered quickly. I’ve been working a lot recently on online strategy projects, where often times we evaluate the clutter at hand on a website, define the objectives and needs of an organization, and understand the needs, language, and lifestyle of an organization’s members in an effort to bring a balance of efficiency and elegance to a client’s new online adventures.

Today, I am reminding myself that the answers are simple. A project can be complex, but don’t let distractions do their part to create overly complex situations. Stay on track and run the course. Break your project into many parts. Don’t let the clutter (phone calls, emails, Tweets, and G-chats) sway you or interrupt your most productive moments.

How are you “staying the course” and finding simplicity in your life?

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

Last week the annual ASAE Technology Conference took place in Washington, DC, as well as the Higher Logic User Group (HUG) and DelCor’s first ever user group, DUG. As an outgoing three year member of the ASAE Technology Council that helps choose the sessions for #Tech12, it was feeling of accomplishment, as well as reunion of sorts for the bustling association tech community. My overview on the Conference will be posted to the DelCor blog tomorrow, so look there for more details from the event! 

However, one moment worth mentioning twice was meeting the opening keynote of #Tech12, Brian Solis. A big fan of his books and blogs, it was an honor shaking his hand and grabbing a quick photo with the business analyst.

For more on the Conference, as well as my interview with Craig Sorrell, the Project Coordinator at AIHA, please read my post on the DelCor blog tomorrow.

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Wowser, It’s been a busy few months and my goal of blogging more is well, suffering as you can see. I’ve been a horrible blogger on my own personal site, as well as on DelCor’s, although I’m making one hell of a blog coach to the DelCor staff as our blogger competition ramps up. Whistles up!

So, in case you didn’t know, I host this little bi-weekly show for DelCor called Sweet Spot Live where I get to cover association and tech-related topics of my choice for an 30 mins to an hour every other Friday from 12:30-1:30pm ET. This Friday I just happen to be attending The Washington DC Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association event, so it’ll be an extra little perk to share some of what I’ve learned during the morning sessions. I’ve had the opportunity to interview some outstanding guests from the National Association of County and City Health Officials  as well as Dave Coriale, my boss and the President of DelCor, on his travels to Dreamforce 12. Definitely check out the archived shows if you get a chance and join the next live show, which just happens to include a live chat too which goes great with a bagged lunch. *hint hint*

One thing I love about being a consultant is constant learning, and I recently just interviewed Vivian Zhang and Sammi Liu, organizers of the Council of Tall Buildings & Urban Habitats World Congress in Shanghai, China. Our podcast is on MCI Group’s blog if you get a chance to read the full post.  

Podcast – Council of Tall Buildings & Urban Habitats World Congress Shanghai – Part 1

 

Please share your blogging secrets with me if you got ’em! What are your tips for blogging on the run?