Elaine Heinzman

Content Strategist and Information Architect

3 Last-Minute Holiday Tech Gifts

We acknowledge that it’s late in the gift-buying game, so if you procrastinated on your shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Three Kings Day, Matrix Group has got you covered with three options for the gadget geek in your life.

Nixplay Iris digital picture frame

The Nixplay Iris is a sleek, high-resolution digital picture frame that you can update from your smartphone. It connects to Dropbox as well as the major social-media and photo-gallery platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr).

If your parents love to see the most current photos of their grandkids, you can use the Nixplay Mobile app to update the images they see on their Iris. Bonus: Click the Nixplay link above for a voucher code to get free delivery in time for the holidays.

 

Nonda ZUS phone charger and car locator

The Nonda ZUS looks more like something out of the new Star Wars film than a phone charger, but it has another, even better superpower: It automatically saves your car’s location whenever you park.

Are you the kind of person who can’t remember where you left your car? Use the ZUS app to find your vehicle, and connect your phone to the ZUS so your phone can recharge. 

Rocketbook WaveThe Rocketbook Wave is a traditional spiral-bound notebook with some pretty unconventional twists. It comes with a Pilot FriXion pen, which you use like a regular pen to take notes (and which you can buy in office-supply stores everywhere). The Rocketbook app lets you scan those notes and upload them to whichever cloud service you use (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Evernote).

The coolest part: When the Rocketbook Wave is filled up, you microwave it to clear out all the pages and use the notebook over and over.

Elaine Heinzman

Content Strategist and Information Architect

3 Must-Haves for Creating Content That Counts

4 reasons why content mattersI love content in all its forms and formats: Video, audio, animation, news articles, op-ed pieces, how-to columns, tweets, Facebook Messenger, and so on. And I love working with clients to help them surface the best of their content, from the newest publications to trusty standbys that members always need to access.

Along with Matrix Group CEO and Chief Troublemaker Joanna Pineda, I recently co-presented a webinar about content marketing. Content is so crucial to connecting people to your organization and brand that we wanted to share a quick-hits list for those who didn’t attend the webinar.

  1. Insight sets you apart.We talk to a lot of website and mobile-app users across industries, from longtime association members to disgruntled former members. These users keep telling us that they want insight: Insight into the future of their particular industry, into how the industry interacts with consumers, and into trends currently affecting your organization and industry, including legislative and market forces. You can best serve your members if you provide them with regular, thoughtful analysis to help them learn, grow their businesses, and stay out of trouble.
  2. Video gets people’s, and platforms’, attention. Inc. reports that people are 85% more likely to make a purchase after viewing a video about the product, and posts with images get 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are on Facebook, where image- and video-focused posts appear more prominently. So there’s no excuse not to incorporate more video into your content strategy. It’s as simple as shooting a 30- to 60-second how-to video or interview with a conference attendee on your smartphone. Also make sure to post plenty of member photos on Facebook, and tag the people in them.
  3. Plan it out. You need an editorial calendar to produce and publish content throughout the year. You can establish content themes by month or by quarter, depending on how much content your organization is able to create. If your industry or organization publishes a trade magazine, you can follow that editorial calendar.The content schedule also depends on what I call “the best talkers”: These are employees and members within your organization, along with your industry’s leaders, who are knowledgeable, opinionated, and skilled at explaining things in an engaging and easy-to-understand manner. Get those people to blog, shoot video, or record podcasts for you. If they don’t have time to do so, interview them and ghost-write a piece for them.

When interacting with your organization, members want to know: “What’s in it for me?” Your website content answers that question by showcasing what you know and why it matters. It reinforces your mission to members, and to the search engines they rely on to find your site. Content allows you to demonstrate why your organization helps members and the industry do better and be better.

What tips and tricks do you have for creating content? Where do you feel you need help with your content strategy? Tell us here or talk to us on Twitter (@matrixgroup).

Elaine Heinzman

Content Strategist and Information Architect

World Usability Day 2016 is All About Sustainability

World Usability Day logo

www.worldusabilityday.org

The intersection of sustainability and user experience (UX) is where you’ll find the theme for 2016’s World Usability Day: Sustainable, or green, UX. Green UX involves creating the best experience for people in ways that make the most efficient, environmentally friendly use of products, services, and processes.

The WUD 2016 sustainability theme dovetails with the public and private sectors’ work on 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Established last year, those SDGs include benchmarks to be met by the year 2030 “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.”

Regardless of scale, any kind of UX work has to be rooted in user-centered design. This means getting into your users’ environment, daily routines, and thought processes in order to provide practical, viable solutions to their problems. Effective green UX should make eco-friendly behavior easier and more affordable to incorporate into your life. It’s better living through recycling, reuse, and redesign.

So how do we unite these UX principles with these green/sustainable ideals? It’s a complex question, but here are a few thoughts:

  1. Make it easy for the disadvantaged to get a seat at the table of policy decisions, especially when outsiders are tempted to prescribe their own remedies. Those living in the communities of need know what they need best and have a greater understanding of their communities’ habits, knowledge, and biases. This insider knowledge about problems on the ground lets these populations determine what solutions and ideas are possible – and sustainable.
  2. Make it easy for those affected to be informed. This could mean mobile campaigns that engage the Opera-only users in Central Africa, for instance, or campaigns based on SMS technology or messaging apps. Focusing on available and commonly used technology makes it easier to educate communities about the policy decisions that affect them. What about ways for those users to speak up? They need to know about public meetings and online surveys, as well as ballot measures and pilot programs, that give them a voice.
  3. See how far you can push ideas and technology in a green or sustainable direction that, in turn, doesn’t make it harder for people to use what you create. This is crucial among populations that, say, rely on fossil fuels or mining for their livelihoods and to provide energy to their communities.

These three points only scratch the surface, and that’s what WUD2016 is about – discovering the meaning of sustainable UX and learning how stakeholders and makers can work together on real-world applications of sustainable UX practices.

Check out this database for global World Usability Day events and other info about how to get involved in bringing usability practices into your work.

Have any ideas of how the user experience can go green? Share here or mention us on Twitter (@matrixgroup) and be sure to use #wud2016.

No-Cost Tools for the UX Pro (Who Wants to Save a Buck)

Man with headphones on using computer inside at standing deskOur user experience (UX) team has weekly meetings, and each of us takes a turn sharing something useful. Since I came from a freelancing background, and because some of our clients like to get more involved in their websites, I thought I’d share some free resources that are hanging around on the internet.

Typography

Don’t know how to choose fonts? Do all those fonts start looking the same after while? Finding the right font can be a hassle. Why scroll through a long list of fonts when you can use any of these three sites to help find the right font for you?

  • Wordmark takes the fonts on your device and displays them all in a word of your choosing, allowing you to preview fonts quickly and easily.
  • Finding one font is hard enough; with Typegenius, you can find the right accompaniment to your current font in just seconds.
  • Don’t know jack about typographic hierarchy? Use Type Scale to make you look the part without missing a beat.

Mockups

Maybe you have a client or a stakeholder (hi, Board of Directors!) who need to see how the website will look on their giant monitor or their phone but the site isn’t fully built. Use these professional-grade photos to make your site comp pop. With more than 100 free mockups (smartmockups), you can’t go wrong.

Image editing

  • These are for the light Photoshop user who doesn’t want to pay a subscription to crop some photos or edit some vector graphics every now and then. These apps will cover most of what you need.
  • Have you tried your hand at using the pen tool in Photoshop or Illustrator and made a mess? Learn how to use the pen tool like a pro while having fun! With the Bezier Game, feel the hours melt away as you master the pen tool in this thrill ride of a game.

Sounds

Is dead silence driving you bonkers? Is your playlist distracting you from achieving an optimal productivity level? Use Noisili to get you in the zone.

Images

Many times stock photos look like a bunch of actors smiling at something off camera, here’s a list of free, high quality photos to avoid that.

What are some free or low-cost tools you use? If we haven’t heard of it before, we’d love to give it a shot!

Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

Using UTM Codes for Better Google Analytics Reporting

URL-smIt’s no secret that we’ve been seriously geeking out about everything Google Analytics here at Matrix Group. We’ve been endlessly exploring, experimenting and testing and have been blown away by the amount of invaluable data we’ve been able to collect for our clients, down to the granular who/what/when/where/how/why. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keeping saying it until we’re blue in the face: you simply can’t afford to ignore your analytics reporting!

Want to start digging deeper but not sure where to start? You’re not alone! Our clients frequently ask us for one or two simple things they can do to get started, and our No. 1 answer is: start with UTM codes.

UTM codes are code snippets that you can attach to custom URLs that track a source, medium, and campaign name. This information gets passed to Google Analytics and identifies where your traffic is coming from and what campaigns are driving the traffic. Invaluable data!

Here are a few of our top tips for using UTM codes:

    • Create a spreadsheet to track codes and campaigns. Having everything planned out and stored in one place will not only help you visualize your whole campaign, but it will also ensure more accurate reporting, especially if you have multiple staff members working on one campaign.
    • Keep your tags consistent. UTM codes are case sensitive, so make sure you stick to the same permutations of upper and lower case!
    • Use dashes, not spaces, to separate words. While a UTM URL builder will allow you to use spaces, it makes the URL look a lot less clean. Example: “CEO blog post” will become CEO%20blog%20post. Instead, try CEO-blog-post. Doesn’t that look better?
    • Use a URL Builder to create links. These tools are very easy to use and will save you time and heartburn over building the URLs yourself.
    • Use a URL shortener, where appropriate. When you use UTM codes, the URLs can get quite lengthy and ugly. Use URL shorteners to make the links more visually appealing. There are tons of easy-to-use URL shortener tools out there (we like goo.gl), so make use of them!
    • Never send out a link to your site without a UTM code in place!

Looking for other Google Analytics tips and tricks? Check out CEO Joanna Pineda’s recent blog posts on Google Analytics. There’s some great info there! If you want a little more hands-on guidance and assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to help you in any way we can.

Have any other tips for getting started with Google Analytics? What are your favorite reports and hacks?