Sarah Jedrey

Junior FED

2015 is the Ten Year Anniversary for World Usability Day

“No-one should have to suffer through products and services that get in their way. People should not be made to feel stupid by technology.”

testingviewsThat’s the key thesis for 2015’s World Usability Day on its ten year anniversary.

Your job as a tech professional is to make things that work for the intended audience. The hardest thing to keep in mind as well-educated, savvy, creative tech pros is that we are not our own audience.

The audience may be fifth graders using an app with lots of help text that’s above their reading level. The audience may be 20-year-old entrepreneurs who need no-interference, private, instant communication who’re faced only with insecure tools from five years ago. The audience might be Baby Boomers more accustomed to reading the newspaper who suddenly have to traverse a website that communicates only using symbols. Regardless of whom we’re trying to reach, if we don’t find ways to keep them from feeling stupid, we will fail them.

How do we accomplish better usability?

Innovation! Not only this year’s theme, but a tenet to live by. Don’t just keep to traditional ways of disseminating information, study your audience, your users. How do they look for information? What’s their environment like? What do they need?

By answering these and other key questions, you and other tech pros can help imagine and create better, more efficient methods of getting that information to your audiences.

The World Usability Day website has a fantastic map marking where WUD events are taking place worldwide. Our own local chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association is hosting an event on World Usability day, featuring a number of User Experience (UX) professionals. The speakers will cover everything from tools to testing to cross-cultural challenges in UX development and design.

Are you hosting or attending a World Usability Day event? How do you help make your clients’ experience with tech easier?

Maria Lima

Manager of Special Projects

Doing the Two-Step…Verification, that is

Have you seen those commercials about identity theft – you know, the ones where a petite woman is shopping, but in reality, it’s some bruiser of a guy who’s stolen her identity. Funny, right? Only, not really.

In today’s online world, keeping yourself safe isn’t as easy as having passwords to your accounts. Sure, you can use a password management software (LastPass, 1Password, etc) and have unique, complicated password for each website, but is that enough?

Not anymore.

Passwords are only the first step in keeping that gate closed. They are a single point of failure. If someone can guess (or get access to) your password, then Burly Guy is now pretending to be you and going on a shopping spree at Best Buy.

What do you do? hand holding smartphone

As with guarding your car against thieves, you want to have double protection. You lock your car and have an anti-theft system, right? To achieve this online, you should adopt two-step verification (sometimes called two-factor authentication or 2FA.) It’s a much more secure solution than just passwords.

A good example of this is your ATM card – you have the card (1 step) and you have a PIN (2nd step). If you lose your card, unless you wrote the PIN on the card itself, it’s highly unlikely that someone can use the card to withdraw cash.

That’s the point of 2FA – make it harder for potential online thieves to access your accounts.

Using Two-Step Verification

Setting up 2FA is done individually for each account and many online services offer it as a matter of course. Google, Twitter, Facebook and more are prime examples. These are all high-level targets of cyber thieves.

To set up the two-step verification, simply follow the directions provided by your online service. Usually, it’s as simple as providing a mobile phone number. The service then uses your phone to text you when you log in. They’ll send a text message with a unique code (usually a string of numbers), which you then enter after log in. Simple, right?

So, what are you waiting for? Go on, log in to your accounts and set it up. It’s an easy way to throw up another barrier to cyber criminals.

For more information:

Two-factor authentication: What you need to know (FAQ)
Here’s Everywhere You Should Enable Two-Factor Authentication Right Now

Leah Monica

Marketing & New Business Coordinator

Tips for Working From Home Effectively

WFH_horizontalWorking from home definitely has its perks: time, money, and frustration saved with no commute, fewer distractions (well, hopefully!), and more flexibility, just to name a few. However, working remotely definitely has its challenges, too.

Whether you work from home daily, once a week, once a month, or only once in a blue moon, here are a few tips to make your telecommuting days as productive as possible:

Get up and get ready for your day

Many people say one of the perks of working from home is just being able to roll out of bed 30 seconds before you need to start working. Sure, in theory that’s true, but I’ve found that if I don’t get up, take a shower, make my bed, and have my morning cup of coffee before I sign on for the day, I am much less productive. In most cases your employer is doing you a favor by allowing you to work from home, so out of respect for that, be sure to show up at your best – fresh-faced and alert.

Don’t work in your pajamas

While staying in your pajamas all day and getting paid to do it may sound like a dream – they’re so darn comfortable – many studies have shown that how you are dressed impacts your productivity. You don’t need to put on a suit, but try to wear something that you would be willing to wear out in public. It will shock you how much more alert you will feel throughout the day!

Sit at a desk

…and not on your couch, in your recliner, or on your bed. Just like the clothes you are wearing, your environment can have a strong impact on your productivity. It’s tempting to let yourself get a little more comfortable when you’re working from home, but getting comfortable can be very dangerous. I had a friend who once fell asleep for a couple of hours on the job because they decided to settle in to their big, comfortable recliner for the day. Yikes!

Get out of the house

This is especially important if you are working at home for multiple days in a row. Make sure you get the change of scenery that you need, whether that means working from a coffee shop for a few hours or spending part of your lunch break running a quick errand or walking around the block.

Set clear boundaries with others in your home

If you have a significant other, roommate, kids, or other family members that will be home during your workday, make sure you set firm boundaries and stick to them. Be clear about the hours you will be working, where you will be located, and under what circumstances (if any) it’s okay to interrupt.

Leave the chores for later

While it may be tempting to sneak in a load of laundry or two, unload the dishwasher, or get dinner started, try to save your chores for outside of working hours. Take advantage of the time that you would otherwise be commuting to get the housework done so that you can focus 100% on your job during business hours.

Stay connected

Don’t let the fact that you’re physically removed from the office impact your work or work relationships in any way. Call into the office regularly, get on video chat for important meetings, and make sure to stay active on your company instant messenger. It will make all the difference!

Do you work from home often? Have any other tips to share about effectively working from home? Please share!

Telerik Rolls Out New Translation Module in Sitefinity 8.1

Last week, a few members of the staff gathered together to learn about some of the enhancements in Sitefinity 8.1. The one that got many excited about is the new translation module. This will be available in the Enterprise edition.

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The translation module will allow you to provide multilingual content to your visitors, members and other constituents.

So, how does it work?

According to Telerik (the makers of Sitefinity), this module can integrate with your third-party translating service, or you can use the CMS’s default, which is integrated with Lionbridge Freeway, a translation management portal (via Clay Tablet). Once you have it set up, and depending on your third-party provider, you can:

  • Export content as XLIFF files to your translation agency and import the translated file
  • Integrate with a third party’s translation services directly or via its FTP.

In addition, you can also:

  • Review the status of translation content in the module
  • Manage revisions, errors, etc. along with the third-party agency, and
  • Preview content before pushing it live.

Why We Are Pumped About This:

In today’s global market, organizations need to provide multilingual content to their markets in multiple languages.

As Telerik’s Anton Hristov says, “…the Sitefinity translation management solution simplifies the translation management process by eliminating the parts that are tedious, time-consuming, inefficient and prone to human error. “

To learn more about this new enhancement, check out Sitefinity’s recent blog post
For a look inside other features check out this webinar

A/B Testing: 3 Things to Test in Your Email Campaigns

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective tools. Companies send out billions of emails daily to promote their products and services, but how effective are they? According to marketing experts, an open rate of between 15-20% is pretty good.Yikes! This means between 80 and 85% of your recipients are not opening your messages!

keys on a computer keyboard So how can you improve your email marketing campaign’s open and click-through rates? Testing, more specifically, A/B Testing.

A/B testing lets you split your list and test variables to see which version works better for your customer base. If you’re using a email platform like MailChimp or Exact Target, A/B testing is a built-in feature. Here are a few things to test in your next campaign:

  • Subject Line — Your subject line is most probably the most critical part of your email. Test the number of characters, call to action versus no call to action, headlines, etc.
  • Delivery Time – Conventional wisdom tells us not to email on Mondays and Fridays after business hours, but is that right for your target audience? One Matrix Group client achieved a higher open rate when the organization began sending its e-newsletter on Sunday evening. Test day of the week and time of day.
  • Content – Click-through rates are just as important as open rates. Tweak your headlines, change the focus, include or exclude images, and rearrange stories. These little things can have a huge impact on your email’s click-through rate.

Are you conducting A/B testing on your email campaigns? What are you discovering?