Browsing articles tagged with "Terralever Archives | april.holle.blog"
Feb
18

Changing Gears: Career Move

I’ve left my position at Terralever as a front end architect to explore other opportunities within the Phoenix area. Over the last few months I’ve developed an interest in other aspects of the web industry, not just xhtml/css. I’d like to expand my abilities in areas such as web marketing strategy, seo/sem, design and other areas in web design and development. Terralever is a great company that provided me with spectacular opportunities to work with big name brands and cutting edge technology. However, each employee is very specialized and a very T shaped professional, while this position allowed me to become very specialized in XHTML/CSS, I didn’t find the flexibility I required to delve into other areas I was interested in.

I have accepted a short term contract with Drawbackwards, a smaller strategic design and interactive marketing agency. I will be filling several roles at Drawbackwards that will enable me to have the flexibility to explore the other areas of the web industry that I’m interested in. Over the last week I’ve been able to create information architecture, SEO/SEM suggestions, project plans, etc. I’m sure this is just the beginning.

I’ve realized that I’m interested in more than just how the web is created. I want to know how people make the web great. Focusing on strategic approaches to connect great companies and services with customers and users whose lives will be enriched by these products, services and relationships.

Look for the tone of my website to change a bit, perhaps less technical and more theoretical. With the career change I’ll have more mobility, working from home three days a week, so I hope to be able to post more often. Also, in early March I’ll be attending the South by Southwest Interactive Conference, so I look forward to posting regarding all the exciting ideas I get from there. 🙂

Nov
17

Facebook Developers Garage Recap

I keep forgetting my notebook at work, so eventually you’ll have some good quotes and stats to go along with this post, but I wanted to get it up here before the content became stale.

I attended the Facebook Developers Garage in Phoenix, AZ on Wednesday. Overall it was extremely informative. We’ve been on a big facebook app kick at work lately, so the timing couldn’t be better.

It was great to hear Dave Morin speak, it’s not often you get to meet a driving force behind a cultural phenomenon. The amazing growth that Facebook has encountered in the last year is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is the amount of return traffic they continue to receive, about 50% of their user base return. Also, the user base isn’t a set target market, it seems everyone is getting value out of the social graph. Dave stated that the 25+ population is seeing rapid growth. And there isn’t an age limit to Facebook users, Dave mentioned that in international terms 50-70 year old users are booming user base as well. Over 50% of the Facebook social graph is international users, and is the top social network in England. The facebook developers platform is a remarkable way to continue the interactivity of the website, making sure there’s always something new to do, add and get value from each time the user visits.

Dave was clear in the honest reason why Facebook was created in the first place. To be able to share and communicate information through a one to many conversation platform. Being able to share information to a large group of people in your networks at the same time, allowing for communications to be timely and all inclusive to your network base. It’s interesting how the new platform and applications have twisted this exchange of information into all kinds of venues, from comparing your friends to sharing your interests and photos.

The real power of Facebook is the social graph, how people are connected through friends, locations, similar interests and other social networks. To make an amazing application it has to really link in and harness the power of that social graph, both in virility and  in activity. Users need to be able to easily share the application with friends and the more you have activity with friends the more chances you have to introduce the application for install. Chris Johnson cited in his presentation that for an application to exponentially become more popular you need to have AT LEAST a 1:1.1 install ratio. That means for every install you have one or two installs of the application. Facebook gives you many many opportunities to become viral, your application appears in the applications list, user profiles (in two different locations, the quick bar and the profile view), invite friend controls, notifications sent to friends when interactivity is created, mini feeds when the user uses the app, and news items if the application becomes a large enough force within the community. However, having these entry points doesn’t spell success alone.

You have to build virility into  your application, brainstorm ways your user base can connect with their social graph through your application. Share photos, tag friends, send gifts, link them together and create value through their communications. Give users a chance to share, compare and talk to their friends about the information your application provides. Again, this all comes back to communication, make sure you give your users a chance to communicate with their social network why this information is important to them. Not only is it important to be able to allow your base user to communicate to their network, it’s equally if not more so to support communication from their network BACK to the base user. Dave cited that to when a user receives feedback from their network on an application use, they’re TWICE as likely to reuse the application.

Reuse is extremely important!  Chris Johnson cited attrition by uninstall as the number one killer of application success. You must create your application with value to the user that is ever-lasting, something that they will want to continue to use not just install once and forget about it. Because when that other application comes around that DOES provide that value, yours will be uninstalled or hidden to make room on their profile for the other application. An uninstalled or hidden application isn’t very viral is it? So make sure you add continued value for your users.

Nate from Red Bull candidly showcased the Roshambull application during the his presentation. It was a great presentation that reminded us to not just make an application and forget about it. Do testing, ask users opinions, they’ll tell you how to make your application even better. It was great to be able to hear from someone about what they did WRONG about and application and how they made it better, instead of just praising how amazing it was. Your application should be constantly evolving to continue to add additional value to your user base. Also, the facebook platform is far from being finally evolved, so keep in the know about the new stuff that’s coming out, maybe you can leverage some of the new additions to the platform to make your application more successful.

In addition to the keynote, marketing, technology and case study presentations there were also five minute presentations from developers in the Phoenix community to showcase their upcoming applications and brand new ideas for applications still in the brainstorming phase. These were very interesting and I really liked the energy challenge application idea. It was an idea for an application that would allow you to enter in your monthly energy consumption and challenge your friends and neighbors to competitions to decrease your energy consumption. I think applications like this are a great idea and really allow for more important information to be spread throughout the social graph and really make a difference in the world, not that fluffy friends don’t make the world a better place.

Social networking has given the web an additional depth of value in communication in our every day lives. Connecting and communicating with your family, friends and new contacts couldn’t be easier these days. With the facebook platform and applications the sky is the limit of how communication can rapidly expand the knowledge base of the entire world.

So hop on and become part of my social graph by visiting my Facebook profile. 😉

Oct
21

Local Lifestyle Magazines Recieve Facelift

I’m proud to announce that Terralever launched two new sites into the world wide web this week. We have just finished production on a redesign and large back-end content management system for Cities West Publishing sites, Phoenix Home and Garden and Phoenix Magazine.

I am really proud to have been part of this success. The website may seem large and elaborate, but with the use of themes, masterpages, and dynamic content the site itself is about 20 pages in total. This was the first website in which we were really able to experiment with large scale theme usage and I learned quite a bit about how to make the front end flexible enough to reskin.

Making sure css naming conventions were simple enough to reuse through out the process was a key piece of the puzzle. I used the content to determine the class and id naming instead of color or position since both of these could change dramatically. This was not only important to switch from theme to theme within the sections of the site, but also we chose to reuse quite a bit of code from one site to the next to save cost for our client. Thus, the reasoning in similar layout from one site to the other.

Making sure each piece of content knew what month and what section it appeared in was also a large undertaking in this process, thankfully our wonderful back end development team did an amazing job of coordinating how the data manipulated the themes and sections with in the site.

In addition to the amazing design and development that went on to create the front end look and feel, there was an amazing effort on the back end administration system. Back behind all that wonderful content is an editorial staff that needs to input it in every month in a quick efficient manner! To help them with this, Terralever created an amazing custom content management system that allows the editorial staff to select which issue an article appears, what section, enter in the content and add supplemental photos to each story.

For each story the editorial staff has full access to create and layout articles however they please. They can add as many photos, call outs, etc to make each layout custom to the story it holds. To help them with this process, we created five templates for them to start with, allowing them to enter content quickly and then make the necessary additions with more photos, more call outs, etc.

The administration also gives the staff full access for the featured flash piece on the homepage, to create and edit user polls, add events, showcase photos in galleries and have users sign up for news and emails.

While these sites were a big project and some nights were spent eating at my desk instead of in front of the TV, it’s always worth it in the end. To go to a live URL and see something you’ve invested so much and learned from is amazing.  These sites are definitely two projects I’m proud to have been a part of. I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed building them.

Oct
11

Couture Book – Build Your Own Photo Book

Terralever has recently finished a flash application addition for Couture Book that allows the user to personally design they’re own one off luxurious photo book. The books feature hand-bound stitching as well as a slue of personalized options such as torn page edges and photo framing. These books are a great way to showcase personal photography, special moments in your life, or as family keepsakes.

The flash appilcation we’ve created allows the user to pick cover options, upload photos, select personalized options, review their book and then purchase. The usability of the application makes this so easy anyone could create they’re own personalized photo book. Also, the page display for the review of your book includes turning and shadows to make you feel as if you’re really flipping through your creation, so you know what you’re getting before you buy.

Couture Book and some of the application highlights was recently showcased on Fox 10, check out the video clip. After you see it, go pull those photos out from under the bed or out of the closet and make your very own Couture Book. 🙂

Oct
10

Print Style Sheets and ASP.Net Themes

I’ve been researching printable style sheets, and came up with an issue on Terralever.com. How to make the theme stylesheets have a media type!

So I did some side research and came up with the most common answer out there: set an @media type in the css file itself. Read an article regarding @media type.

There was also an interesting article by the same author regarding how to define a particular load order.

This works GREAT for print stylesheets, but what about when we want to do IE6 specific styles? What then! If you’ll notice, when you set a theme, the stylesheet it populates at the end of the header tag, which would overwrite any specific stylesheets we would reference above it.

If we declare themes in the @ page declaration using StyleSheetTheme instead of just Theme the document is then populated with the css stylesheets at the beginning of the head declaration instead of at then end. More information regarding this and other theme and skin information. This would allow us to create javascript that would check for browser type/version and specify additional stylesheets for these versions if required.

Aug
27

Red Bull Flugtag Texas Recap

Oh my goodness! What an amazing time I had in Austin! I want to thank Aaron, Brooks, Parts, Derick, Domino, Erica and all the rest of the Red Bull staff who made this event amazing and the weekend just a blast!

Austin is definately living up to it’s city slogan “Keep Austin Wierd.” While I was there I saw all walks of life, in this great mixture of amazing harmony, culture and character. The town is eclectic and an amazing sence of charm and character every where you look. Unforunately it was VERY hot, humid and muggy while we were there.

We were staying at the Hilton in the heart of down town Austin, so if I looked out my hotel window I could see the Frost Bank Tower as well as the Texas State Capitol building. Our hotel was only two blocks from 6th St. An area of Austin that is heavily populated by bars and clubs, so much so that almost every building houses one. In fact, on weekend evenings the street is barricaded off so that pedestrians can walk into the streets to get around.  So needless to say I had a lot of fun while we were there. My favorite 6th St hangout was Red Fez. Austin, TX is also the home of the South by Southwest conference, which, after this experience, I’ll be attending, no DOUBT!

I had a few firsts while I was there, since I’m from Kansas, there are some things that I really haven’t had the experience of well.. experiencing. For instance, I went on my first pedicab ride. My second, third, forth, and fifth trip through a revolving door. I also have had my fair share of cab rides now as well.

But all of this is trivial in comparison to how much fun and craziness the actual Red Bull Flugtag Texas event was! We spent the first two days visiting the site and getting all the interactive materials ready for the big night on Saturday, and what a night it was! Gates opened at 5 pm and the crowds started pouring in. The Interactive Landing Zone was a big hit (especially in the early hours since it had AC) and Red Bull took over 600 photos of the event, participants, and spectators to post to the website. Red Bull believes this is the largest national event crowd they have had, with the headcount reaching 80,000 or so. The event park area had to be closed down at one point since it had reached capacity, and there was additional crowds located on the bridge, across the river and on the water. In the main area, people were standing shoulder to shoulder and moving through the crowd became a bit of an effort. The crafts that flew during the event were amazing and it was neat to see how much creativity and effort had been put in by all the teams participating. The winning craft, Skate and Destroy was amazing as it went off, the pilot actually stayed on the craft event after it’s landing!

So I needless to say I had a GREAT time in Austin, and I love all the charater and charm the city had to offer. Yea it was a little hot, and definately a little moist, but it was an amazing time filled with lots of great memories that I’ll keep with me for years to come. Becareful Austin, I’m coming back in March, and I’m going to rock it!

Aug
22

Flugtag Texas!

By April Holle  //  Life News  //  No Comments

Here I come Red Bull Flugtag Texas! I’m so excited!

Terralever is flying me out to Austin, Texas to do on-site web updates from the event! While I’m sure I’ll be busy with all the work that is involved with broadcasting event highlights and winner information online, I’m garenteed to have a great time as well.

This will be my FIRST Flugtag event, I’m excited to see the energy and excitement that vibes from the real event. Some of the people that build and compete to fly at these events are DIE HARD fans of Red Bull and the Flugtag event and have been either at or in several events already. I can’t wait to be emersed in this event and really get a feel for everything that goes on there.

While I’ve spent a good year or so doing updates, I’ve never personally met our Red Bull client contacts. It will be great to finally meet some of the great people that make Red Bull such a sucess, and the masterminds behind some of thier largest events.

Not to mention, I hear Austin is a rockin town with lots of great people, live music, and awesome nightlife. I’m orginally from the Mid-West but I haven’t been to Texas too many times. It will be nice to be back in that part of the country.

I’m also looking forward to my fourth round trip flight! Flying makes me so nervous, I keep thinking that my luggage is going to get lost and I’m going to be without clothes for my trip. hehe At least I won’t be taking a dive off the Flugtag platform!

 Anyhow, I’ll be sure to blog about my trip and all the fun I’m having! 🙂

What is this?

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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