Katie Holmes

Content Manager and Tester

Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the Techie Mom

Moms love tech. Not sure what to get mom for mother’s day? Flowers are always nice, so are candles and perfume. However, moms want those cool tech gadgets that streamline their hectic, schedule driven lives. Here are my recommendations:

(And if you’re curious as to why I’m an expert, my almost three year old is proof that I’ve earned my mom card….)

  1. The Tile Mate – WE CAN NEVER FIND OUR KEYS. This little Tile Mate is an affordable gift for any mom. If you can’t find the item, the bluetooth connection will alert you to it item’s location. It’s like deep-sea fishing radar. Just think of the entertainment (read: extra work) you can convince your children to do by playing, “who can find where the noise is coming from???” If only I could strap this to my Sunglasses, or my patience.
  2. PopSockets – Show me a mother, and I’ll show you a family photographer. The PopSocket allows you to hold your phone easily and securely while you take 58 photos of your child’s silly lunchtime faces, or their last homecoming game. They come in a number of styles, and won’t break the piggy bank either.
  3. Echo Dot – While I have some issues with this device, mostly Orwellian dystopian fiction induced issues, people swear by these little hockey pucks. Order paper towels, set timers, some up with answers for “why the sky is blue” and play Sufjan Stevens all with a gentle, “Hey Alexa…” Anything that makes life easier, eh?
  4. https://www.borrowlenses.com – So you bought a DSLR when your wife was pregnant with your first child, and haven’t upgraded from the stock lense? This service within the Shutterfly, tinyprints, and wedding paper divas umbrella allows your to rent different lenses to try out before you make a hefty purchase. While this isn’t exactly a techy gadget gift, it’s a pretty great resource to have around. Going on a romantic vacation to Montreal? (You know, the poor man’s Paris?) This site gives you the tools to allow Mom to get her full Ansel Adams on.
  5. Spotify.com – Just go ahead and bite the bullet. Give her a year of music. You’ve been listening to Frozen for four years now. Let her drive around blasting 90’s Hip Hop, remembering the times she thought she knew exactly what she was doing with her life. Nothing cooler than arriving to school pick up while listening to A Tribe Called Quest.
  6. Hydroponic Herbs – No not that kind. We don’t have the time to keep anything else alive, but we need mint for our much deserved mojitos. Two words my friend: self watering
  7. Philips Somneo – Who are we kidding, if we didn’t set the alarm, no one in the home would wake up to make the school bus in the morning. With built-in white noise, we can all sleep a little deeper and awake a little more refreshed to the simulated sunrise happening on our night stand.
  8. FRENDS Headphone –While I cannot attest to the speaker quality, or to the longevity of these, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. When in doubt, choose rose gold for an on trend look. She’ll walk the dog in style with these luxury headphones. There are several styles, and colors as well. There are additional plates for purchase if she wants to coordinate looks. Feel free to email me if you need help deciding. (If my husband is reading this, I want the ones make in partnership with Dolce & Gabbana. I want to wear the headphone equivalent of a crown! Our daughter doesn’t need to go to college… )
  9. Wireless Photo and Video Printer – Have you noticed how your image never comes out the way you thought it was when you use the pharmacy photo printing app? This printer takes all that guesswork out of the equation. Using some kind of Apple magic, you can print your photos from anywhere, like directly from your vacation in Bora Bora, or your bathroom when you remember that that birthday card needs to go in the mail today and you should include a picture of the kids in it.
  10. ANYTHING SHE ASKED FOR IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS – The best gift is the gift she’s asked for. Does she need a night out with her girlfriends? Does she need a spa day? Does she just want you to replace your bald tires before you have a blowout on the interstate? Listen to her, she’s either been dropping hints, or has explicitly told you what she wants.

If the mother you’re honoring is no longer with us, we acknowledge that this might be a tough day for you. Perhaps donating to an organization that supports mothers in conflict areas would be a great way to participate in the holiday. Organizations like Nurture Project International who provide maternal care in places like Syria, Iraq, and Bangladesh,  Save the Children who help families in the US and abroad or the International Rescue Committee who helps to serve and resettle refugees fleeing war and famine.

I hope this little guide helps steer you in a direction. It might not be the right one depending on your circumstances but I thought I would get the ball rolling for you, because forgetting to acknowledge the work, sacrifice, and love mothers give every day is worse than getting the wrong gift.

Any other fun ideas you have for the mother(s) in your life? I’d love to hear!

Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

5 Favorite Free Stock Photography Resources, Part II

There’s no doubt about it: finding good stock photography can be tough.  And when it isn’t tough, it’s expensive. When I scroll through images on the popular stock house websites looking for images for our blog posts or newsletters and see how much they’re charging for their stuffy, posed, man-in-suit photos I am always aghast. And annoyed. Very, very annoyed.

Thankfully, I’ve come across a few great stock photography websites recently that are completely free. While we still use many of the resources that Andi shared a few years back, the sites below have become my new go-tos. Most, if not all, of these sites are full of royalty and attribution-free photography, meaning you can use, copy, modify, and distribute these photos without the permission of, or reference to, the photographer. Yes, even for commercial use!

  1. Pexels – Built to help designers, bloggers, and just about everyone else find high-quality, free images, Pexels is one of our absolute favorites. They recently launched a free stock video collection as well.
  2. Unsplash – Started as a Tumblr blog where a photographer shared 10 photographs that were leftover from a photo shoot, Unsplash has grown to a collection of over 300,000 photos contributed from over 50,000 photographers. They are all simply stunning (and all free)!
  3. Burst – Powered by Shopify, this free stock site was built to “empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns.” There are thousands of stunning stock photos, ripe for the choosing!
  4. Pic Jumbo – When the large stock houses turned down freelance photographer Viktor Hanacek’s photos, he decided to use his coding skills to start his own free stock website. Almost all of the images were shot by him, and while he always welcomes attribution, it’s not required. The only thing you can’t do is redistribute the photos, but if you’d like to, there’s a paid plan available for that purpose.
  5. Foodiesfeed – While this stock site may only be of interest to a limited audience, there are lots of high-res and drool-worthy free food photos on this site.

Remember that over time licensing agreements on these sites may change, so be sure to always, always read the fine print and abide by the rules!

Have you found any other great royalty-free stock photography websites? Please share!

Nick Exposito

Marketing & New Business Coordinator

10 Writing “Rules” That Are Okay to Break

Don’t begin a sentence with a “but” or “and”. Don’t ever write in passive voice. Never start a sentence with “because”. How many of you have ever heard these writing “rules” from a teacher or authority figure? My guess is all of you.

I recently attended a writing seminar hosted by Association Media & Publishing (AM&P) and the topic was “Back to the Basics: Writing for Associations.” Leslie O’Flahavan led this fun and interactive workshop, and she gave great insight on why it is okay to go ahead and BREAK all of those writing “rules” and get them out of your head.

Here are the 10 writing rules Leslie says can be broken:

  1. Don’t begin a sentence with “but” or “and”.
  2. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.
  3. Don’t begin a sentence with “because”.
  4. Don’t write a one-sentence paragraph.
  5. Don’t use contractions in business writing.
  6. Don’t use “they” as a singular pronoun.
  7. Don’t split an infinitive.
  8. Don’t write a fragment.
  9. Don’t begin a sentence with “however” or “therefore”.
  10. Don’t write in passive voice. Ever.

When writing for your organization, all of these rules can be broken. Yes, all of them. Thanks to blogging and social media, a more casual and informal writing tone is now not only accepted but often expected. So live on the wild side and break rules a little bit! Just be careful that u don’t go 2 crazy w/ it. ;)

What other writing “rules” do you think need to be broken from time to time?

Alex Pineda

Creative Director

The Inflection Point

As I write this, I’m currently watching the live event of Apple’s latest iPhone 8 event. They just announced an update to the Apple TV set top box, with support for 4K, because, according to Tim Cook, “TV is at an “inflection point” with the mainstream adoption of 4K.”

This made me ponder the implication of this term “inflection point”. By definition, in math terms, it’s “a point of a curve at which a change in the direction of curvature occurs.”  In Tim Cook’s reference, it’s when a technology reaches a certain critical mass in terms of how many people use it, hence Apple’s new product.

In larger, cultural terms, an inflection point represents a fundamental change in how people live, do business, communicate.  On the NY Times website, there is a video of all the things the iPhone “destroyed”, in terms of how it disrupted whole industries, and changed how we interact with each other:

The list of disruptions engendered by the rise of mobile technology is enormous, including the taxi industry, alarm clocks, cameras, etc. Every organization is faced with the potential of disruption, with the inflection point. The key is to anticipate this disruption, and embrace it, to evolve, rather than die. History is littered with industries and companies that could not embrace change and fell by the wayside.

Since I’ve been with Matrix Group (1999), there have been a huge number of inflection points, both culturally and technologically. Every time there is a major fundamental change, we’ve had to adapt our design process, business practices, and offerings to clients. From desktop to mobile, cloud computing, content management systems, these new technologies have all had huge impacts on our business, and how we help our clients.

Some of the new potential inflection points include the internet of things, virtual reality, screen less experiences etc.  As a company that designs interactive experiences for our clients, it’s imperative that we stay on top of these changes, embrace these changes, and think about how we can apply these inflection points to help our clients evolve and thrive, and not die.

Design Trends for 2017

While 2016 was an exciting year for design – there was a shift toward mobile-first design, video and rich imagery were hotter than ever, and animations became the norm – I’m even more excited about what we can expect to see in 2017.

 

A few weeks ago, Creative Director Alex Pineda and I held a webinar with CEO Joanna Pineda to talk about the trends that are emerging in 2017, and how you can give your members the best user experience possible by incorporating them into your web presence.

Curious about what’s in store for 2017? Check out our recap video:

 

Whether your plans for 2017 include a large-scale website redesign, building a brand new website from scratch, launching an app, or simply refreshing a few of your key pages, we’d love to help you incorporate some of these trends!

 

Which design trends are you most excited about for 2017?