The End

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Ahh the end of the takeaways… Tis a bittersweet moment….
Well this week we talked about browsers, html/css, web servers, and viral marketing strategies.

  1. We talked about WordPress this week and other CMS services, and Paul mentioned theming abilities and the abundance of themes available to users. In this article I learned some tips on designing themes for WordPress which is something I haven’t had any experience with yet. In the article the author gives some tips for not only creating a decent theme, but how to make it profitable as well. The first tip he gives is to find a niche which sounds familiar because its something that I have seen when it comes to selling apps successful but its still important. If you know your target audience then you can better design your app and in the end be more successful in terms of sales. Another great tip was that you should make it responsive, being responsive might as well be a standard at this point and people will look look past themes that aren’t responsive. As usual you should also make it intuitive and well documented so that the user can control it and use it with minimal assistance.
  2. In this article the author explains what viral marketing is and what you can do to actually make it work. The author says to think outside of the box when it comes to viral marketing strategies. He explains that using celebrities isn’t going to sell the product anymore, standing out and having a video getting spread around like crazy for being funny for example will do much better. The author does caution to not put the viral in front of the actual message you are trying to send, that is when the message can be misinterpreted and come around and bite you in the a**.
  3. This week we spoke about browsers and how far they have come, minus IE because in my opinion its crap but I digress. One of our classmates in the marketing program said with all the CMS out there are web developers and designers even needed anymore. It really got me thinking, because now everything is so automated compared to what developers in the past had. The article brings up a good point, we can’t just be good with HTML and CSS to be successful in this field anymore, just looking at job postings is enough to tell you that. We need to be extremely versatile, and well versed in a variety of programming languages, frameworks, and disciplines. The article says that through the advancement of browser technology and constant improvements that we wanted, it has in a way become a self fulfilling prophecy.
  4. This was an interesting article in that they talk about the origins of Facebook, Google, and Youtube and how they have become social media and marketing giants. They spoke of the “age of innocence” where these web technologies were just about connecting, finding, and sharing your videos with the world. Well that didn’t last long, money was to be made and now here we are, and as the article points out, we are all essentially marketers now, without even realizing it. The article goes into detail about an individual who took advantage of the internet in its early days because he realized the potential of the internet for marketing. Facebook for instance can be used to market anything to any demographic, and that in itself is amazing.
  5. We also talked about where technology is headed, and I was singled out because I am always on the cutting edge. Well not really but I am really geeky and I have a smart watch. Wearable tech is the future, and as this article points out it is still very much in its infancy but as technology progresses and time passes people will become more accustomed to wearable devices. From a developers standpoint it brings yet another form factor that we will potentially have to develop for and I am pretty excited for where it goes.
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Final Takeaways Before My Final Takaway’s Takaways

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This class we focused on the design of websites and user interfaces. We had some interesting discussions on what makes a good or bad website, and many things were agreed on while there were other design features that age groups disagreed on.

My takeaways from that class are:

  1. This article brought up some important things to think about in terms of the design of the site. Usability is a main factor when considering the final design but you also want to make it attractive to the user as well. The author wants you to approach it from the viewpoint of the user and try and see how they think. In the article you are shown some neat images where they did eye tracking on the users and you can see what looks like infrared heat signatures where they eyes focused on the most while visiting the site. Top left corner and left side in general had the most attention, primarily because we read from left to right, and as the author points out, we really don’t read the sites at all we just scan for words that are relavant to what we are looking for. The article also goes into detail on not making the user think, and to focus on being intuitive so there aren’t any questions on how to use the site. Also the design needs to be attractive in order to capture the attention of the users quickly because we are all becoming impatient monsters, incapable of paying any attention to anything that takes more than a few seconds of our time. The author actually brought up many topics that we as students thought of in the discussion so we are learning and making some progress as a group, not sure if society as a whole is even doing that.
  2. The topic of UX in class had me thinking alot, that is what that burning smell was in class if you’re wondering. I was looking into careers in design and UX was one of the fields that I found to be pretty interested in. I know good design, and I know that I’m pretty creative and this article was interesting because they are tips I may someday use to stand out while applying for a job. The article had some simple but great tips to consider when applying for a UX job. The first was all about connections which is a no brainer but it goes with the old saying “Its not what you know, its who you know.” Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter these days, and industry professionals are really beginning to use Twitter to stay connected, so that is something I am going to have to start doing because I personally don’t care for the Twitter thing. I don’t like limiting my brilliance to 140 characters, I can cram 20 more characters and information into a basic text message but I digress… The biggest point the author made for me though was that you need to have some real world experience, whether you volunteer or have an internship. They explain that you can use other skills from other fields which hit home for me, because I have a unique combination of skills that I have acquired throughout my short but interesting life. Seeing things from being trained as a carpenter, cnc machine operator, getting my previous degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement and graduating from the police academy I can use those experiences to put me ahead of others and demonstrate my problem solving skills. That is invaluable to recruiters, seeing someone who can be creative and solve problems for them.
  3. In this article the author explains how to construct a UX portfolio. The author says not to pretend to be a visual designer if you aren’t, which is great because I’m definitely no visual designer. While those skills are definitely a huge benefit the article explains that soft skills are also incredibly important as well. You need to be able to communicate your ideas, and display your capacity for analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and ability to plan. The article also brings up a good point when it comes to speaking to those who are interviewing you. Each person is going to be listening differently, when topics come up that they don’t understand or are not interested in they tend not to listen as well as they would have if they were interested. The author says to cater to each individual who is in the process, a programmer for example will understand things that a creative director will and vice versa. Something to keep in mind for an interview.
  4. This article is more about the design of apps before the user interface. It has some tips to keeping you on track in the design process like planning out the design before you start actually start coding the product and to consider the screen size of the devices you are developing your app for. It brought up a really good point that people seem to overlook in app design, how to display the fact that the program is doing something or loading. You need to design the app and any loading indication to mesh with the OS of the device. That also brings up another point that the article, you as a developer need to be familiar with the various operating systems you are developing for and the environments you need to use to develop them.
  5. This article is more about the visual design of apps, but it brings up man good points I wouldn’t have ever thought of. I like the tip that says to design the app or site with empty space. I was wondering why when I read it, but when the author explained that you need space for your finger on touch screens to swipe and move without accidentally activating anything I was amazed at the simplicity behind that idea. The other tips such as making it intuitive and pleasing to the eye weren’t really news to me but it was good to get it drilled in again.

Revenge of the Week 4 Takeaways

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This class focused on the client interview, both from a marketing perspective to the more technical perspective for the developers.

  1.  In this article the author spoke about questions that should be asked before we jump into creating a website. Many of these were covered in class but it was good to have them reiterated. Some were mentioned in class, but were mentioned after everything else. Finding out who is in charge, and who is paying you for example, those are incredible important because Paul gave us a real world example that happened to him over summer. I also liked the question where we should ask the client to describe their company and to use more than 5 adjectives that would effectively describe them. That would really be helpful for search engine optimization. Asking them what their favorite and least favorite sites are was also mentioned so we get a sense of their own personal tastes and design style, and what features that they should include is a good idea as well. Whether it is an event calendar or a product comparison chart, those will have to be taken into account when designing the site.
  2. Going along with the interview for the site, some clients may want a mobile app created which is a whole different can of worms, but as this article explains they may not have any idea what they are talking about. You have to understand their needs, whether they want an app, mobile site, or really any kind of mobile presence on any device. The article explains that we need to make sure we know what they want from the beginning because the end product might not be what they wanted in the first place if you don’t. Although the article focuses on covering our own asses, it has a really good message. We know what we are talking about, we need to get the needs of our clients, and explain things to them so they know exactly what they are getting. The iPhone app was a good example, if a client says they want and iPhone app, they need to know that only iPhones can run that app, so they are already cutting their audience in half, and each device Android, Windows Phone etc. all have different coding practices and languages that are specific to them. Interesting because we are working on creating apps that will be capable of running on all of these devices natively with only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  3. This was an interesting article, I was under the impression that a marketing plan was a roadmap, but I always thought it had to be more in depth than seven sentences. This article calls it a guerilla marketing plan, and want you to keep it short so that people will not get bored with all the details and detailed enough so that you can focus on it and everyone understands it. The author explains that  you should be able to do a marketing plan like this in only 5 minutes, which to me doesn’t seem like enough time. The seven sentences are really basic and they won’t cover everything that your marketing plan will have to deal with, but it will be a great start and is something that everyone can follow. You will need to know your target audience, your competitive advantage and your niche, the tools you will be using to market, and your budget. All of this will be in a seven sentence “summary” that could potentially be used for years and may be used with any product you sell. You just need that information, and 5 minutes to get started.
  4. We also spoke about mission statements in class and the importance of making it short, memorable and inspiring. In this article the author goes over simple questions to ask yourself to develop your mission statement. Many were talked about in class with Laura, this article though focuses on more the personal aspect instead of the 4 basic questions. The article had a good point, when actually writing the mission statement you should
  5. We spoke about dressing for success when it comes to a client interview and we heard some entertaining stories from the past. This is a topic I am pretty familiar with, although there is a lot more flexibility when it comes to appearance for people in this field in comparison to the Criminal Justice background I have. In this field we need to be professional but the article says something that I really think is important, we need to subtly show our subtle creative side and personality as well. The difficult part is also looking like a creative professional and not some crazy multi-colored suit wearing goofball.

Takeaways Week 4

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This week we really reviewed qualitative data and spoke about feelings. Not a fan of feelings myself, they complicate things but I know that they are invaluable from a marketing standpoint. We also spoke about how we need to utilize the 4 P’s when it comes to positioning our product.

  1. In this article the author essentially takes you through steps to create a mission statement. We need a mission statement because its what gives the company and its employees a purpose. The four steps or questions you should ask yourself are fairly simple but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. What you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and your values are what you need to ask yourself in order to come up with a mission statement that represents you and your company. The author stresses the importance of making it easy for your customers to determine what your purpose is and how you will provide them with a service.
  2. This really isn’t so much an article but part of Microsoft’s development resources, but it is still a good resource. This article shows the various ways that you can incorporate your brand into the design of your applications. They make an interesting point and show an application that adheres to their standards but doesn’t incorporate an individual brand, and an app that does use their brand. The similarities are there but simple touches really make the app stand out, different shapes, colors, layouts, and subtle designs are used.
  3. In this article the author speaks about how to build your brand and reputation, and one of the first things she says is that “brands aren’t built overnight” which I couldn’t agree with more. The author explains that brands, much like a reputation need to constantly be worked on, and you have to continually prove yourself to your customers in order to establish a trust in you and your brand. In class we spoke about brand being your reputation and brand = promise = trust. This was really driven home in this article, and step 4 was all about honesty and how being transparent with your customers and keeping your promises is what will get you those customers to become lifetime customers.
  4. We spoke about the need for corporate social responsibility in class and in this article the author tries to figure out the benefits of corporate social responsibility for the company. He describes his initial findings that most of the saintly do gooders from the companies he spoke with actually do it because they are more focused on the community as a whole instead of just the company they work for. The author explains that the companies use CSR to show potential customers and their communities that they have great values. For example one company focuses on being really energy effecient and environmentally friendly because, hey who wouldn’t want to work with someone who cares about the health of the planet right. That same company is also saving money though because of how energy efficient it is, so money is having some kind of effect on these do gooders. Employees can get behind a company that has values, especially if the company is helping out their community, and the article makes a great point when it speaks about how employees and customers want to work with a company they respect.
    1. Why CSR? The Benefits Of Corporate Social Responsibility Will Move You To Act
  5. This article has an author who doesn’t just want to sell things, he wants you to foster a relationship and create a customer who will add value to the company in the long run. He is clearly focused on the long term and in this article explains how to determine if the cost of your marketing was spent wisely and you have gotten customers, and if those customers are the customers that you want. He explains that if you look at your sales and average the total sales per customer, you aren’t really getting a good measurement of the customers you want. Some customers will have contributed and made more purchases from you than others and those are the customers that you should focus on creating value with. Essentially this article is about creating loyal customers who will contribute to your company, instead of hoping for many one time purchases. You want the people that keep coming back for more, year after year and they want you to continue to offer the service they initially fell in love with.

Takeaways Week 3 Part 2

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Last class was really about market research and we also learned all about PBR, or Positioning, Branding, and Relationship Marketing. Probably the biggest takeaway I had was that you can position your product on emotion.

  1. This article explains in very simple steps on how you can establish your brand and position yourself to succeed online. Everything from standing out with your content style and creating a unique image or logo will help differentiate you from competitors. The article tells you how important social media can be and that visitors like to know who they are dealing with, and you should show them a little transparency and introduce your team. It allows the customers to see who they are dealing with and they can then associate faces to the business and relate to the team as a whole.
  2. In this article the author really went into detail about how to make your website successful in terms of both functioning correctly and getting noticed. I thought that it was important that he mentioned doing research and all the analytics to ensure success as well as making sure your site actually worked as well. A pretty looking website that doesn’t work isn’t really worth having, and the author explains that you should run crawl simulations of your sites and that you should also test the sites in a browser emulator to ensure that it works across browsers and devices. Online usability testing is also recommended as well as setting up accounts on different social media sites for your business, Youtube if you will be having any videos, Twitter and Facebook to communicate with consumers etc.
  3. Conducting research into how users interact with your mobile site or app was something that I have been thinking about for a while. You want to get as much feedback prior to launching the app so that you can make any changes or improvements before the final release so that you have a better launch and so it is better received by consumers. This article explains steps that can be taken to get feedback from consumers/users from different stages in the development cycle. From creating paper prototypes to screen and gesture recorders, all of these are incredibly important in developing a successful product. The author also mentions that testing on the users devices is also important because experiences can vary from device to device and even certain carriers have different speeds which will affect the experience of the app or site.
  4. We spoke about how important relationship marketing is during class and this article goes into detail on just how important it is and what we can do to utilize relationships to succeed online. This article explains that you should understand your target audience and really engage them. You should take the good reviews and bad reviews and really try to satisfy the wants of your audience, and it is important to actually converse with them. It makes your business more personable and when you listen you foster a relationship. The author also explains that you should be involved in the community, and you should be answering questions and acknowledging customers. Above all you should also provide great customer service both online and off.
  5. In class we spoke about needing to differentiate yourself from the competition, which is something I have been thinking about in our mobile development class. I want to create awesome apps, and potentially make some money with them but I have noticed that there are just so many apps in every category that it seems impossible to stand out amongst thousands of apps. This article explains that competition isn’t always a bad thing, it shows that there is a demand for a product. You can see the rankings of competitors apps and see how they are doing, you can read their feedback and see what people want from them and incorporate ideas into your app or what they don’t like so you can differentiate your app from theirs. The author also explains that you can see what kind of pricing is being done to the apps so you can price your product competitively and that you can use your research into competitors to see what they are naming the app and keywords that people are using to find similar apps. You want your app to show up in searches, make it relevant so your app gets out there and people see it.

Takeaways Week 3

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During this class we learned about how beneficial it is to work with Google, how important the content is to the site, especially the homepage, and how to select a good domain name. My five takeaways in this class were:

  1. The topic of Neuromarketing was briefly covered in this class. I thought the topic sounded interesting, and in the article it makes it sound even more so. The applications for it are endless, and although quite new it is already yielding positive results in various types of marketing such as commercials and websites. The article does explain that it is new, and it does have limitations, such as the Hawthorne effect or where the subjects know they are being observed and act differently than they would if they were not, and that the test cases are from small sample groups because they cannot test large groups with the equipment. I just find it interesting because if marketers really get it down to a science or figure out ways to increase the amount of people used for the sample testing then you could potentially have a huge advantage when it comes to selling your products. If you know what people are thinking instead of what they are saying, and lets face it we say things that often don’t reflect how we really feel, your company will have a huge advantage over others if you can align yourself with the consumers interests and your product and business with their behaviors.
  2. We spoke about how each page should be optimized and that our “product” page needs to really sell the product. I have never designed a page to sell an actual product. In the article that I found the title alone was pretty enticing, Better Product Pages: Turn Visitors into Customers. That really sums up exactly what you want a product page to do, turn the visitor into a customer. The article explains how important it is to make a good first impression and it descripes different strategies to aid in selling your product. Using humor made complete sense, if you can make the visitors laugh the battle is already half won, and the features, wording, targeting, and explanation of the product are critical as well. Standing out from other products was also mentioned, if you are no different than any of the no doubt countless similar products out there, than you are not going to be successful. Lesson here: stand out, make ’em laugh, and just make your site awesome, even if the product itself isn’t you will still succeed so long as you have the best presentation of the product.
  3. Keywords for Google search was covered in more depth in class as well. We learned where we should place the keywords, and how to work with Google to optimize our website so it shows up in web searches. I found an article that was pretty interesting about the difference between search engine optimization and social media optimization regarding keywords. The article shows how to utilize different social media sites including, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flickr. The author explains that Twitter is something that marketers ignore at their own peril because it is a powerhouse of information. Hashtags are huge, and with Google now including hashtag results in its searches Twitter is something that should be utilized in seeing what consumers are interested in.
  4. I found an article that describes how you should go about making an outline for a website. It’s something we have covered in our web development classes but the article explains how we should balance the needs of the business with the needs of the users of the site. I thought that was an important point to make, the site is important but it should cater to the visitor so they become a consumer of your product. The article goes on to explain that we should know how to group the information and pages in the most efficient manner possible to develop an outline and that we should establish a sort of priority among the different pages of the site. The most navigated and important pages should come first and less important content will be below that in the outline.
  5. This article was a good reminder on how to create homepage’s that don’t suck. The author of the article compares the homepage to billboards in that critical information needs to be communicated extremely fast. You want everything to be there to get the visitors attention and want to buy your product or service. Great content is critical and i the article you need to be able to do it in a few words, and not only say it but to show the product as well. The author says to look for inspiration when designing your site because things that are creative and that truly stand out are the ones that stick in peoples minds. The article then shows a gallery of effective homepage designs, several that I have seen before such as the Evernote homepage which is always pretty engaging.

Takeaways Week 2 Strikes Back

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This week as a class we learned a lot about the importance of markets, doing research and analytics, and began to cover the importance of keywords and effective content writing.

  1. We spoke about markets and how to succeed we need to narrow our focus and find a niche. I looked for articles relating to finding a niche in the app stores because I believe they are so over saturated with apps in every category and you have to find your niche crowd to stand out and make a reputable name for yourself. In this article the author explains how important it is to find a niche so that your app can stand out. The steps he breaks it down into are fairly common sense, example “Less Competition” if there are 60,000 apps in the App store you could limit your cometion by being in a category of 6,500 apps related to health and fitness you should break that down and find a niche inside of that that has even less competition.
  2. This article relates to the first but it focuses more on how to conduct market research to find a niche and determine if your idea is going to potentially be successful. The article explains how you can browse the charts on your iPhone see what apps are doing well what isn’t and how to check trends with Google trends and to use the Google Keyword Tool. I thought that tool was really neat, and the author explains how you can use keywords to see what people are searching for and how many searches they get in a month.
  3. Cookies were mentioned in class and I’m not going to lie even though I know they are the computer cookies and not the delicious baked treats, my mouth still waters whenever the word cookie is mentioned. In this article the author shows how cookies can become an incredibly useful tool to marketers. The article explains basic code of a cookie and how to incorporate them into your pages. The article is keen on explaining that cookies are used to benefit both you and the customer.
  4. We spoke about how important it is to be analytic, and how that was number one when it came to skills that employers want us to have. I was interested in other skills that employers would want from someone in my field and this article really focuses on creating an online presence where I need to focus on displaying my skills. They say that having a portfolio is the most critical part in becoming an attractive potential employee. They stress originality, make things that stand out or that people haven’t seen before.
  5. In class we spoke about creating web copy, at first I was confused at what copy writing was I realize it is just creating the words that will essentially paint the picture for the product. This article gives tips on how you should format content based on a website, and gives an entertaining perspective into the mindset of site visitors and how to keep them on the page and interested. The author’s number one tip is to treat them like wild animals, because they are essentially on a hunt for both information and the product. Your sites should offer the information they want and it should be easily accessible to them.