Sarah Jedrey

Junior FED

The Inaugural Code(Her) Conference

DCWW Code(Her) Conference
September 13 was just amazing. The whole weekend was dense with events and what seems to be the Real Arrival of Fall, complete with a drizzly, cool, gray weather pattern outside the Microsoft office in Chevy Chase. Inside, it was alive with a sea of excited tech folks and DC Web Women’s chosen neon-green color scheme. It was like they knew how the weather would be and were combating it with design.

Here we were. A hugely, gloriously diverse crowd of people who make things and services for a connected world, all prepared to learn more – and to celebrate the people blazing trails and the people following the trails that they’d never before been able to access. Needless to say, Twitter was humming all day.

After DCWW President Sybil Edwards executed her duties regarding introduction and gratitude, we got to enjoy the first of our keynote speakers.

Great keynotes are more than speeches

Bonnie Bogle, COO of Mapbox, told us about Mapbox, her role in it, and the kind of culture they have there. And, yes, she did that – the stuff Mapbox does is simply amazing, including painting in a city’s streets with the not-entirely-wise habits of people who tweet and drive – but what she really did was give a masterclass in storytelling. It was not merely a talk about business philosophy or statistics. It was a demonstration of why letting collective and individual passion thrive can reach and influence millions and result in a business that is a success by all measures.

Immediately after lunch, we got to listen to Clarissa Peterson speak (slides). She’s co-founder of Peterson/Kandy, a UX expert, and the author of Learning Responsive Web Design. What she gave was the crashiest of courses on responsive web design – a compelling, bite-size reason to buy her book and find her wherever else she chooses to speak – but what she was was an example to those who are too aware of their status as students. The story of Clarissa’s growth from “just” a basic developer to an expert speaking on RWD was a roadmap for those of us new to anything. It yielded bumper sticker-worthy maxims like “You learn more by teaching others” and, when it comes to content (I’m mangling it, but the gist was), “Is it easier to move from a house to an apartment or from an apartment to a house?”

What a talk covers and what it’s about – what it is – can be drastically different in all the important ways. Hire these women to talk for you. They get it.

More information than you can fit in your head

So, if you’ve never been to a conference, let me tell you what’s difficult. Parking. Finding a seat in a crowded room. Finding an unoccupied power outlet.

The hardest part: Figuring out which of the amazing talks you’re going to attend.

After days of agonizing, I figured out which three to attend. My only regret is that there aren’t 12 of me.

Infographics Everywhere

We’re swimming in an ocean of data, and we’re increasingly capturing, analyzing, and taking advantage of that data. The problem is so few of us know how to effectively translate it all into the popular and super-useful infographic. As Laura Larrimore said, ‘The less you know about design, the less you should be designing.” This is especially true for business on a very tight budget. So few of us are designers; so few of us should try to be.

Some low-cost or free tools included Piktochart and Microsoft Office. She walked us through the one and gave us the pros and cons of the others, and I think we all left a little less scared of Big Data and Making It All Look Pretty.

Accessibility Testing

David Kennedy, Theme Wrangler for Automattic, talked to us about testing for web accessibility with free tools. Full disclosure: He’s a friend of mine. He’s knowledgeable and passionate as heck about keeping the web accessible to every person who can get onto the internet.

Accessibility is, unfortunately, foreign to too many of us. It’s not that scary, after all. Dave gave us a crash course on the main difference between Section 508 compliance and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (short form: WCAG is a bit more thorough) and shared resources we can use immediately to make our work more accessible – a11y.me is a fantastic place to start.

Some key tools that are both cool and easy to use are this infographic on Accessibility for Designers, Wave, the Color Palette Accessibility Checker, and The Readability Test Tool.  Do yourself a favor and go try each of them.

The New Word-of-Mouth

The Social Media Trainer and Consultant at Admin Tech Consulting, Romona Foster is a woman of many talents. Due to the laptop and projector refusing to talk to each other for a half hour, we learned that one of her talents was to memorize the name of 30 people in a few minutes. What could’ve been a dull disaster became a high-energy exchange of ideas about the role of social media and how to convince clients reluctant to change.

The room, with those 30 attendees, represented a range of experience from novice to master. The conversation we had brought home the fact that “social media” is as big and complex a subject as you could imagine. We touched on strategy, platforms, engagement, content sourcing, ethics and laws, time-savers, and stereotypes, and we still hadn’t exhausted ourselves when it was time to depart. But before we did, Romona left us with a good, actionable list of tips and tools especially useful for the less-experienced.

So, same again next year?

DCWW Partner AwardThere was an afterparty where DCWW honored several people and businesses for being, I believe, excellent examples of what women in tech can do for women and for tech. The party was so hearty that it was a bit difficult to hear.

All I know is I went up to the stage to accept the DCWW Community Partner of the Year on behalf of Matrix Group!

The conference was fantastic. I left dazed by the density of information I’d absorbed during the day. I can’t wait for next time!

Sherrie Bakshi

Director of Marketing and Social Media

Why Is NOW the Right Time to Upgrade to Universal Analytics?

AnalyticsAs companies invest in new products and services to better meet their customers’ needs and improve their bottom line, they’re looking for one thing to help them make decisions: data!

Many of you are aware of Google’s latest version of the popular web tracking system, but do you know why there’s so much hype about it? Let me explain.

Classic Analytics provides a wealth of information. You can slice and data by demographics, location, new versus returning visitors, hostname, etc. You can track how visitors come to your site and campaigns, conduct A/B testing on specific sections and more. There is so much you can do, but there some problems when it comes to reporting data that Universal Analytics addresses.

When looking at number of new visitors, you may notice a large number of them and thinking, “Great! I am reaching more of the market.” Stop there. In the classic version, the:

  • Number of total unique visitors is overstated
  • Percentage of new visitors is overstated, and
  • Percentage of returning visitors is understated

This happens because Google cannot tell if it’s the same user if they’re not using the same device to access your site. For example, if a user accesses a website from his/her laptop in the morning and then later that day accesses the same website from his/her phone, it’s tracked as a separate visit and user.

This is not the case in Universal Analytics.

What Makes Universal Analytics Awesome

Universal Analytics loads faster because it will only use one cookie and focuses on users, not visits. You can integrate Google Analytics into your CRM, import data, and much, much more. Here are a couple things that you can discover about your users:

  • Their behaviors across multiple sessions and devices, including mobile apps, store checkouts, etc.
  • Insight on who your users are and their interests based on data from your CRM. Custom dimensions allow you to gather more insight on your users, allowing you to create new reports to view and analyze your site’s activities in multiple ways. NOTE: You must have this info in your CRM gather these details.
    • Some dimensions worth tracking are demographics, job title, (B2B businesses, associations or professional societies may be interested in this) and income

Google is planning to roll out additional features in the future. Stay tuned!

Setting Up Universal Analytics:

Once you’ve upgraded to Universal Analytics, you’ll need to set up a UserID. The UserID allows you to capture data of logged-in users and their behaviors on different devices.

Once you have set up your UserID, you’ll want to make sure everything is working properly.

Even with all these new features, you’ll also still have access to your classic analytics data.

If you haven’t upgraded to Google Analytics, definitely make some time to do so.

Have you set up Universal Analytics? What are your favorite features and reports?

Kevin VanEvery

Technical Sales Consultant

The Best of the Sitefinity 7.1 Upgrade

Sitefinity logoThe best part about working with an established CMS product like Sitefinity is always the support and upgrades. Every quarter, Telerik releases a new version of Sitefinity with new features and bug fixes. The latest, Sitefinity 7.1, was released at the end of July. You can look at the full release notes here.

But there are a couple items here worth talking about specifically: related content and sitemaps.

Related Content

Related Content is one of the new features that really makes this release an important one. This opens up so many possibilities for contextual publishing that just weren’t possible before.

Consider this simple example: Let’s say we publish a news item announcing our new organizational goals for 2015. We want to reference previous years’ goal documents, as well. In the old versions, we’d have to set up a category just for “Organizational Goals” and use a separate, heavily customized widget to pull news items with the same category onto the page as Related News. Now, if we want to link up two news items so they always display together, it’s as simple as picking the related item out of the list and displaying it. No double widgets, no heavy code customization, no weird categories.

That’s a simple example, but there’s lots of room to explore with this new tool, like:

  • Reuse locations for your events? Create a separate “locations” module and link it to events. Never type in the same address info again.
  • Want to promote a product in a news item? Now you can link directly to the product from the e-commerce section.

Sitemaps

The other key item is sitemaps. A lot of the time, you never notice the sitemap for a website. You navigate using the site navigation and site search. But Google notices your sitemap. Being able to generate a sitemap for all your Sitefinity content is a huge upgrade that will improve your site’s SEO and site search solutions.

On top of all of this are the standard bug fixes, patches, and a significant increase in performance and speed from the admin side. 7.1 is an excellent product release, and we’re helping clients get on it every day.

Hassan Elhassan

Front End Web Developer

GistBox

gistboxGistBox is a free web application that  helps web developers store and organize their code snippets or gists, in a way that is so easy to manage and navigate. There are several tools and features to keep your gists organized, including:

  • Color-coded labels
  • Code libraries
  • Real time push updates  and so much more!

Have you tried GistBox? Share your thoughts

Learn more about GistBox

 

Sarah Jedrey

Junior FED

GoodUI: Great site, great ideas

Home page of goodui.orgPeople love lists. And listicles. A lot. Let’s just accept and appreciate it. Especially because this website presents its excellent, bimonthly brainstorm of user-interface ideas in list form.

I’m pretty darn impressed with GoodUI.org because:

  1. It makes it easy for visitors to navigate and to understand
  2. It lives its recommendations
  3. It can trigger inspiration and conversation.

Even if you don’t agree with all of the suggestions, this is a fantastic resource for user-experience teams. Even arguing over the relative merits of pushing a product rather than letting the customer make their own decisions is a productive exercise for your team. Check it out.

How awesome or useless are these ideas? More importantly, what are your ideas?