Browsing articles tagged with "Integrum-Technologies Archives | april.holle.blog"
Jun
22

Band of Brothers: Building Offline Community

While there’s a lot to be said about online community and how much value it creates in the web industry, I’d like to focus on offline community for a second.

A great deal of time and money has been spent on building online communities and connecting people from one nation to another, but lately the web as a whole is becoming more ‘local’. People want to know who’s been where we are, what our real friends think, and connect on a daily basis and are using the internet to do this. Then once they’ve checked in on their mobile phone, sent out a twit about tonight’s BBQ, or uploaded the photos from last night’s drunken bash, they go back offline to continue those interactions. The internet is now bringing people together locally quicker than any networking event could have. It’s creating a depth to our online interactions that was previously overlooked, and it’s powerful.

Offline community is often overlooked as just “friends hanging out”, but honestly it’s more than that. Through offline interactions you can build respect, work together quickly, share great ideas on a whiteboard, and also enjoy a good laugh or two. Over the past few months I’ve seen a few new offline communities spring up due to online interactions and I’m loveing what they’re bringing together. I’ve been able to learn more, do more, help others find more business, and make great friends with people I really enjoy.

A few years ago I was at the first meeting of Refresh Phoenix, a local group that wanted to bring the web community together to start working together and make a name for Phoenix as a technology center in the United States.ย  From Refresh Phoenix sprung some offshoot commuities such as Refocus Phoenix (a local photographic community), Refactor Phoenix (local software developers), and Tiny Army (local illustrators).

Earlier this year I started using Twitter, but really didn’t get addicted to it until SXSW, when several Refresh Phoenix community members started using it as our primary device to stay connected during the conference. Once we got back, I started attending local TweetUps, meet ups of twitter users in Phoenix. Many of us were into social media, but just didn’t know of eachother because we were just different *enough* not to meet up through other means. Once I tapped into the social media crowd I found out about Social Media Club in Phoenix, which is a meetup of people who enjoy discussing social media, how it effects our lives, and how technology is becoming more ingrained in regular social activities.

Over the last year I’ve become part of Drawbackwards, which is one of the companies that Integrum Technologies shares it’s offices with, that includes the likes of Forty Agency and obuweb. Intergrum has since opened up the offices as a co-working space called GangPlank, where anyone can come and work. GangPlank has open house events as well, one of them being Hackmania every Wednesday night where you can come and connect with other webbies to create great applications and work on other side work that you may not have a chance to focus on normally during the week. This time has allowed new ideas to spring up all over the Phoenix valley, and I’ll be sure to show case some of them here in the future.

I’m really enjoying all the friends and real connections I’ve made through the past few years, and it’s always getting better. I really hope that you can connect with you own local community and build a niche for you to grow in within your own backyard.ย  Bringing people together can help the comunity as a whole and really bring strength to your ideas and interests. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jun
16

Links of the Week Vol. 6

Alright, so I’ve been out of the circuit for a while on these, but they’re coming back! Check out these sweet links I gathered up from the interwebs last week.

Ever wonder if your boss, and his boss, and their boss has it out for the company? Do some of their managerial tactics don’t make sense and end up wasting time and money? Perhaps their team management manuals have been switched with this 1944 sabotage manual that reads like a 2008 Management Guidebook. Download the whole pdf and share with your team mates, I’m sure they’ll agree! Thanks to Tomas from The Closet Entrepreneur for this great link.

O’Reilly Ignite is the basis of the new Ignite movement that’s been happening around the United States. Basically it’s a 5 minute talk on what ever you think is interesting enough to talk about, 20 slides with 20 seconds a slide to help demo your opinions and ideas for crowd. Ignite Phoenix has just started getting the fire started here, and wanting to know more I started looking into past talks. I found one in particular that really spoke to me, it’s a comic for kids that teaches them to be creative, inventive, and to always be thinking.

Perhaps you enjoy being in touch with nature, with all of your five senses and twenty digits. If you hate shoes and would rather go barefoot, there is another way. BrainFuel spotlighted a site last week that answers this very issue. Vibram Five Fingers is a type of foot covering that allows you to experience the joys of being barefoot without the pain of that sharp rock or twig.

I have the pleasure of working over at GangPlank at least two days a week, and every so often Derek will break out the camera and snap some footage of us. Dana then goes to town editing and splicing digital bits to make us all more amusing than we are.. wait no.. we really are that funny, Dana just makes it MORE so. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyhow, check out the new video A Day in the Integrum Lives. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wireframes and complex UI design can be overwhelming for designers, but Adobe hopes to solve some of the burden with Thermo. Adobe will release Thermo during the Adobe MAX 2008/2009 conference, check out some sweet screen shots.

Now on to mobile! With the news of iPhone 3G in hitting markets in July, lots of buzz around that of course, but check out these other mobile gems you may have missed under the roar of Apple. Modzilla Labs gave a sneak peek look into a concept for Firefox Mobile Browsing for all you die-hard Firefox lovers out there, you will soon get your alternative ๐Ÿ˜‰ . Flixwagon also gave video casters another way to get their fix by using your iPhone to stream live video.

Sometimes I find myself looking at the smaller details in life and wondering how random or perhaps meticulously designed the are. We interact with products all the time, and when the user experience is perfect, we seldom take design in consideration, take for example the car door handle. Luz, one of my brand new designer friends sent along this link last week, thanks hun for the designer touch on this week’s link list.

Onsite Insite, a local billboard leasing company, will be using their unoccupied billboard space to showcase local artists, creating community awareness and large-scale artistic expression at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tyson Crosbie, a local abstract photographer and a good friend of mine, was selected to be showcased on one of their billboards along the Santan Freeway. Congratulations Tyson. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tyson also had his Phoenix 20 book signing this weekend, where I scored three of my very own Tyson Crosbie prints!

So, what’s a link list without a good humorous video mocking a social network… which brings me to Facebook Gangsta, ’nuff said. Thanks to Beau from HLFIndustries for this fine link. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mar
11

SXSW Day 1 – Respect Panel

Alright so I thought that I’d have time between sessions and parties to really capture everything I’ve done while I was at my first SXSW, unfortunately, that was not the case. However! I took really great notes, so sit back and relax as I tell my story of one girl, one conference and thousands of geeks with great ideas.

I packed, I got into a cab, I stood in security, I boarded, I flew, I landed, what now? Taxi! Hopped in and jetted over to my hotel, while my room wasn’t quite ready I got to check in and have them hold my baggage which was nice. Stayed at the Radisson, which was alright, but next year I’ll definitely be staying at the OMNI, it’s just more… well… COOL. Anyhow, off to the conference!

Walking down to the conference center I’m already spotting people with SXSW badges and gear rolling down the street. The conference center was swarming with geeky peeps all excited and not quite sure what to do or where to go yet. Instantaneously greeted by the Integrumlins hacking in the halls already working on some new inspired SXSW twitter application. I am directed to the check in line, which spans AROUND the corner of the conference center, estimated wait time, 40 minutes. Vaguely reminded of college registration, I step in line and begin my journey to check in. The line moved surprisingly quickly and before I knew it I had a new shiny badge and my very own SXSW bag of swag.

Met back up with the integrum peeps and proceeded to elimnate about 98% of the paper products in the swag bag, poor trees!ย  Chilled for a bit before the first session, Respect! by featuring team members of Happy Cog and Douglas Bowman of Google.

Respect!

The main premise of the panel was how to gain respect in our careers, from our colleagues and our clients, by developing concepts on how we can translate what we do in a way they can understand and respect it, as well as interpreting the value of what we do.

The Client

The important message here is getting the client to understand what exactly goes into the process of great web design. As Jason Santa Maria put it, “[It’s] difficult to respect something I don’t understand, you have to get what went into it to respect it.”ย  To have the client get what gets into it, you have to involve them early, letting the client draw and express what they really would like to get out of the website and giving them ownership of ideas, making them part of the process of initial strategy.

Having all the right research of what the client really needs is important. Happy Cog conducts extensive client research, going into their client’s office and really discussing with everyone regarding what they really need. “Itโ€™s the tipping point when youโ€™re in individual meetings and they go to shut the door, you know theyโ€™re going to open up to you and trust you”, Liz Danzico stated, “creating an understanding with them that they find valuable.” If you feel you usually don’t have time to really get to know the client and their needs, start to make time within your proposals.

Another way you can gain client respect for you and the work you do is to not nickel and dime them on small changes and corrections. It’s awesome that the client wants to make it perfect, just make sure you’re consulting them through the process.

Also, when you help clients through the process remind them of the WHOLE process and what they’re doing right now at this very step. We sometimes forget that clients don’t have the website on their minds at all times, they have other business issues to worry about as well, how the company is doing, if they have to hire or fire, what about those health benefits their employees want? So remember that while their website might be forefront in your mind, they have other things going on and they need you to remind them what they’re doing in the web design process and why it’s important to the website.

Also be aware of how web savvy your client is. If they’re pretty good at knowing the small stuff, don’t be lazy, use that to your advantage by being able to teach and push their knowledge farther regarding some of the more advanced techniques that are involved. Remember, understanding is the key to respect.

Copy is one thing, visual representation can be the sticking point in a client relationship. “Visual representation is VERY personal” Jeff mentioned. Happy Cog gave us some solutions on how to get over this extreme hurdle in the relationship unscathed by giving the client two completely seperate solutions to their problems offering them up as “this says this about you, that says that about you” Jeffrey Zeldman recommended. Jason Santa Maria suggested “have the client focus on the problems rather than solutions” since the solutions are your specialty and your clients problems are their specialty. This gives the client a feeling that you’re holding the keys and they have to consult you on “the best way” to achieve a solution.

Awards

Jeffrey raised the question regarding awards and whether awards reallyย  provide any metric to our clients regarding how good we are at our jobs. The panel concluded that while awards may have some impact as a metric on how clients respect you, that it’s both small and perhaps deceptive since there are so many awards out there that don’t really attest to great web design at all.

Within the Team

Within your team it’s important to have a certain amount of respect as well. To do this the panelists suggested to make sure everyone on the team was somewhat cross trained or familiar with what each staff member contributes to the project and how their job is also vital to the project completion and success. As said before, it’s hard to respect something your teammates may not fully understand.

Other Interesting Thoughts

I found that during the course of this years conference a reoccuring theme appeared with content collection and creation, lots of shops are demanding content be provided before the design process ever begins, which is great because we’re shifting focus from the aesthetics to the real reason the web began in the first place, CONTENT!

Happy Cog team members also stressed the importance of good content, they make actual editorial documents regarding the voice and use of the content throughout the site to really define and bring life to the brand. Also, the content needs to really be informative, as Jeffrey cautioned, “Sites [are] reading too marketing and not enough web.”

Overall a very interesting session and a great way to start off the conference. I’ll be posting more take aways from more sessions as I have the time today and tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I have to hop in the shower for the last day of exciting SXSW action!

Feb
6

Refresh Recap: Demo Night

Great Refresh meeting last night over at Inza Coffee. There were about 10 to 15 5 minute demos of new and exciting web projects coming out of Phoenix. Some of the highlights were:

Show in a Box – If you’re interested in starting a video blog, but you’re not technically savvy, check out Show in a Box, a wordpress based starter kit that comes with everything you need to start your very own vlog.

Square Mile Web – Ever want to see a square mile of interesting user generated photographs? Look no further than Square Mile Web, where you can broadcast your images, tag and rate them.

DurtBagz – If you need a new satchel and you have an affinity for street signs check out DurtBagz.

My Community Board – Want to get to know your neighbors, using My Community Board you can. You can also post classifieds to get rid of that old barbecue, post the new HOA regulations documents, and more.

Crowd Box – Ever wish you could revisit that great presentation you saw at that last conference? Crowd box offers conferences the ability to create social networks for their attendees and to make videos of the presentations.

Read Phoenix – Want to know what Phoenix is all about? look no further than the blogs of Phoenix. Showcasing blogs from all over the metro area you can find someone you’re bound to get along with.

XID Card – Wish you knew all the social networking sites your friends are involved in? Now you can get the skinny on where your people are at and what they’re into using XID card.

Neh ๐Ÿ™ Meh ๐Ÿ˜ Yeh ๐Ÿ™‚ – Ever wonder if you’re just having a bad day or if your life is perpetually unhappy? Now you can track your moods on Neh Meh Yeh! Each day you can select one of three happiness faces and track whether or not you’re really in a bad mood all the time. Now if only they could track it by hour…

Twitter Sign – Ever twitter when you see an awesome sign? Now start your post with sign: and it will show up on Twitter Sign.

After HalloweenSteam Crow Press is at it again! Amazing illustrator Daniel Davis graces the world with his third book, After Halloween. What’s it about? Why.. it’s about what monsters do for careers… after Halloween! Also, if you’re an illustrator, check out the new illustrators group Daniel Davis is starting called, Tiny Army.

Dec
8

Letters from Bar Camp…

I had a GREAT TIME at the 2008 Phoenix BarCamp today! I was a little… OK maybe more like VERY nervous about having to stand up in front of people and tell them about things that I might have some expertise in. But once I saw that everyone else was just as informal, I got into the grove of things. All the discussions were very informative, some of them so much so they were over my head, but thats ok!

I’ll just go over some of the great points some of the speakers had regarding their topics and discussions. Anyone that was there, feel free to pipe in regarding what you thought was interesting, points I missed, etc.

……………………………………………………………………

Pam Slim author of Escape Cubical Nation started off the day speaking about how growing start up companies can avoid becoming the cubical corporate environments that the entrepreneurs came from to begin with. There was a fairly voiced concern from the business owners in the room regarding how to avoid becoming that which they didn’t want to employed by to begin with.

Pam offered a simple common sense approach to really keeping the soul to your company, meet and get to know your employees. That a business owner should know what his/her employees really want to get out of their time with the company, and to realize there really isn’t any binding contract for these employees to be invested in your company if you don’t return their investment by investing in your employees. She mentions that open, honest communication is key to this relationship between employee and employer.

To really spend the time to know what each of your employees is interested in and their personal investment and interest in your company. She says to build on what your employees want to learn and do, this will enforce trust in you and foster a real value of your company to your employees instead of merely being a “job”. This will help take the pulse of your company’s true interests and values from the ground up.

Understand that perhaps some of your current employees final goals in their career may mean starting their own business, or moving away from your company in some other way. Foster this growth in your employees, perhaps once they have broke out on their own they’ll send business back your way, or other potential employees that will be a great fit for your company. Make sure you aren’t buying into the mafia mentality of you’re either with us or against us, and if you leave you’re against us for sure.

Open, honest communication allows for huge growth potential in your company when your employees are allowed to honestly express their ideas and true feelings on company projects and directions. Instead of wasting six months on a dumb idea, Fred over in development, will simply be able to express… “you know that’s not the brightest idea, but I’ve been toying around with this other thing and I think it might work…”. Don’t make yourself or your employees “check their soul in at the door”, make sure everyone is in agreement that all your companies practices align with your company’s overall goals and values.

ย ……………………………………………………………………

Derek Neighbors from Integrum Technologies spoke regarding rapid business growth and how your company can live through culture changes from creative culture to command culture and back again.

Derek started out with a recap of Integrum’s rapid growth due to new projects and contracts that they were taking on at a very rapid pace at the very beginning, and that when you loose sight of your company’s core values things can get messy VERY fast.ย  They had become a beast of command and control with sour employees.

So, once they finally realized that they had become the beast that they tried to run away from, they revisited their core company goals and values. Then they took the pulse of their employees, finding out what really motivated them every day to get out of bed and drive to work, and how those motivators aligned with the company’s goals and values. Aligning your employees goals and the company goals will make each teammate personally responsible for their part within the company, allowing for self-motivation and interest in the company as a whole. Making you less responsible to your immediate manager and more responsible to the company as a whole. Derek says, “Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s the boss when they visit the office.”

Derek sighted that these key communication between employee and employer was an extremely important part of really getting back to their creative, coordinated company that they had originally envisioned. Today, Integrum is a team of eleven VERY talented, VERY driven close-nit people that get things done and done right. But, without that reassessment of their goals and how their employees fit within those goals was key to that success.

I asked Derek, as part of a fast-growing company, what can I do as an employee to help foster that feeling of a creative culture instead of a command culture. Derek’s advice was to share my opinions and ideas candidly, build team activities that bring us closer together as a whole, and become entrepreneurial within my own company (build activities to promote and foster teams and the company within itself).

Nov
5

Refresh Phoenix: Blueprint CSS

Come on over to Inza Coffee House tomorrow night to join me and the crew of Refresh Phoenix as we discuss Blueprint CSS.

Blueprint is a CSS framework by Olav Bjorkoy, which โ€œaims to cut down on your CSS development time.โ€ Matt Heidemann & Matt Gist from Integrum Technologies will talk about their recent work with Blueprint. Theyโ€™ll show examples of the framework and a project they recently used it with.

See ya there!

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This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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