Mediabarn

The purpose of our blog is to provide our readers with a variety of posts that they are interested in. From our studio, research, and staffing agency, all branches of Mediabarn contribute to creating insightful and fun reads. We hope to educate, inform, and entertain with topics ranging from what's going on in our office to current industry trends worldwide.

…attending UXPA’s international conference, that is. It wasn’t too long ago when I was writing about how awesome UXPA 2014 in London was going to be…and it was. The presenters, the keynotes, the attendees, and the location were all amazing.

logo 2This June, UXPA 2015 will be held in San Diego California (Loews Coronado Resort, to be specific) and I could not be more excited. The theme for the conference is “simplicity” and the location we chose is the perfect match for that. Ocean on one side, bay on the other, beautiful outdoor spaces that are great for networking.

My co-chair this year (the fabulous Lorie Whitaker) and I are working very hard to make this conference special. Along with our committee chairs and other talented volunteers we are pulling together a program that will have something for everyone. Are you a UX professional looking for some new, innovative thinking? We have that. Are you a designer wanting to learn more about UX testing and research? Done. A student looking to network and learn about how other companies integrate UX into their processes? We have that too. Plenty of great pre-conference courses, sessions, and as always, a balance of some great receptions and activities too.

UXPA is not just for researchers and consultants. It’s for every and any professional, and every student that touches UX in some way whether it’s via design, development, product management or research. We would love to see everyone this June for the 2015 conference, so don’t forget to register!

Leave a comment

GoodGovUX’s Kickoff Event

After co-sponsoring a successful kickoff event at the Artisphere, we are extremely proud to be involved with such a great organization, GoodGovUX. If you weren’t able to make the conference, here is a quick set of talking points that we found insightful:

GoodGovUX_v1– The Mission of GoodGovUX: To drive the adoption of a common set of UX best practices within the government and government contracting communities.

– The term “UX” is defined in many ways, but more commonly:

  • “UX is not on the screen. UX is in the mind.”
  • “It’s pervasive. It’s in everything we do, not just on computers and smartphones.”
  • “UX is not a diet pill – it takes progressive change.”

– Opening marks were provided by Keith Deaven of Mediabarn and Martha Dorris, representing ACT-IAC

– Keynote speaker, Dana Chisnell, co-founder at the Center for Civic design, talked about the next generation of civic designers and the importance of good UX within the government. “Design is a beacon that can pull government to the here and now…With our help, everyone who works in gov will be the next wave of civic designers, driving the next enlightenment.”

– There was an excellent panel of UX’ers:

They discussed and provided insights and suggestions on all things government UX, including topics like:

  • What the quickest ways to improve digital products and UX are
  • How to measure successful UX
  • How to convince stakeholders that the launch is just the beginning

It’s safe to say that this was a great event filled with outstanding discussion. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation. To stay updated on future events, follow @GoodGovUX or sign up to participate at GoodGovUX.com

Leave a comment

GoodGovUX_v1

Have you heard the exciting news? Mediabarn is a proud sponsor of the GoodGovUX kick off event taking place on 2/24! If you’re interested in all things UX and how it can relate to government, be sure to check out this great opportunity to network and learn more about improving government products and digital research.

Can’t make it? Follow @GoodGovUX to keep up with live updates and for information on upcoming events soon to be announced.

Leave a comment

Keeping Up With a Speeding Train

It’s hard enough to keep up with the latest buzzwords, fashion and nutrition trends in your personal life. Add to that keeping your professional online presence and brand fresh and it becomes a full time job. It’s important for your business’s success to stay up to date with new technologies and innovation; but how do you keep your website or mobile app consistently relevant when trends come and go faster than a speeding bullet?

There is no magic trick to this, and frankly, it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve on ALL things technology and design. However, there are some suggestions that can help keep you in the mix.

– Read. Whether it’s an industry magazine, an online tech article or someone’s design blog – read something daily. Free time is rare for many, but if you have time to post on Facebook about cute puppies, you surely have time to read an article in Fast Company or Wired.

– Research your competitors. What are they doing on their blogs? On their website? Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…. The idea is not for you to duplicate their actions, but for you to use their ideas to inspire or motivate you.

– Talk to your users. What do they want? Is your site/app meeting their needs at this time? Anything missing – start there. Just because it’s new and shiny doesn’t mean your users want it, so having them as a checkpoint is an invaluable tool.

– Current events. If you have a blog, add to it often. Do you show news items on your site? Display the most up to date. When users come to your site and see an old blog post or article as the headline, they know it’s been a while since you have given your site attention, which implies you may not be up with the latest and greatest, or worse – you may not care to be.

– I have written about it before here, but belonging to industry associations is a great way to network and hear about the latest technology and trends.

Although it may be difficult to predict trends anywhere from 1-5 years from now, keeping up to date with what’s currently hot may help you become better aware with what’s to come. As more technologies evolve, it’s an even more necessary task in the digital realm to stay on top of your “A” game and demonstrate your knowledge through your professional online presence. Trust us, your users will thank you!

Leave a comment

Tips for Dealing with Office Conflict

As many of us know, the workplace can be a naturally stressful environment. Not only could your coworkers get on your last nerve, but pressure from work, stress at home, or just simple tension may lead to possible conflict in the work environment. “By understanding the issue and taking positive action, you can help solve the problem and make your office a place where you really want to be,” says Susan Lankton-Rivas, a practice leader at human resources consulting firm, Insight Performance Inc. Regardless of whom the conflict may be with, here are some tips to help effectively handle the situation and make peace rather than war.

1. Consider diversity and have an open mind

cloud-71366_1280It’s important to keep in mind that workplaces are a mixing bowl, where what is tolerable to one person may be offensive to another. It’s likely that everyone has different perspectives and perceptions, so be aware that you need to give and take in order to find common ground between you and the person you’re disagreeing with. If you consider their point of view and are respectful of the differences, you will be able to better understand them and where they’re coming from.

2. Reflect on what might have caused the conflict

Take a step back and consider what you said or did that led to the conflict you’re in. In doing so, you may be able to pinpoint the start of the issue and how circumstances could be handled differently in the future. By reflecting and communicating what upset you, you may be able to head off conflict in its early stages next time around.

3. Communicate

It’s hard not to jump to conclusions. Try to listen carefully to the person you’re in conflict with and understand the problem before reacting. Nodding your head and acknowledging their opinion and feelings will help get you one step closer to resolution. When you do respond, choose your words carefully and avoid assigning blame. Explain your position and feelings by using “I” statements, and be sure to calmly articulate your issue.

4. Reach out for help

Let’s say the conflict gets bigger and you aren’t able to find a middle ground. Ask for someone in the workplace to act as a mediator. This could be someone from HR or a manager from a different department that would be able to give you an unbiased and professional perspective on the situation.

5.  Create a Plan of Action

Communicate how you will both manage this in the future and set guidelines for how to handle a similar situation. If another issue arises, you will now have a set plan on how to deal with it.

Although avoiding conflict may be the easiest way to deal with issues at work, it can only be swept under the rug for so long before it comes up again – possibly bigger and messier. By resolving conflict when it happens, we can create a more positive and stress-free work environment!

For more tips on dealing with conflict in the workplace, check out these links:

5 Keys to Dealing with Workplace Conflict – via Forbes

Most Work Conflicts Aren’t Due to Personality – via Harvard Business Review

How to Diffuse a Workplace Conflict – via Inc.

2 Comments

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from your friends at the barn!

No matter what time of the year, the team at Mediabarn is always grateful for our family, friends, colleagues & clients. As we bring 2014 to a close, we just become a little more so :)
Whether you’re celebrating the holidays at home or traveling somewhere warm (or cold!) we wish you the brightest, cheeriest holiday season and a fantastic new year’s celebration.

We look forward to an amazing 2015 and hope you’ll be part of ours!

bg-2

Leave a comment

Resume 101: What not to do

MessFrom the content, prioritization, layout and design, building your experience on a sheet of paper can be a daunting task. Since I’m in the “people” biz, I take it upon myself to help candidates through this pretty regularly. And having been in the staffing industry for nearly 15 years, I can confidently say that I’ve seen my fair share of resumes. One thing that has passed the test of time is resumes do make a difference to hiring managers. With that said, the number of mistakes I see on resumes (even from talented and creative people) on a daily/weekly basis is astonishing! So, if you have made some of these mistakes, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In a previous article, I focused more on how to improve your resume, but I thought it was also important to focus on things to not do!

  • Don’t lie! Enough said.
  • Don’t make spelling mistakes! Have someone else proofread your resume. Often times it’s difficult to pinpoint when you’re so close to it. Have someone go through with a fine tooth comb. I know many hiring managers who will immediately discount you. Right or wrong, it happens.
  • Don’t be disorganized. The 6 second rule for recruiters and hiring managers is real. Prioritize what you’re looking to highlight and bubble up your relevant experience for each position you’re applying to.
  • Don’t go crazy with color. However, color can be a good tool to help with drawing the attention of your potential employers. Just use it sparingly and be smart about it.
  • Don’t add your glamour shot! A resume is not the place for a selfie, people!
  • Don’t try and hide shortcomings. Feeling insecure about certain parts of your skills, qualifications or job history? A good way around that is to accentuate the positive. Focus on where you think you excel or perhaps are unique.
  • Don’t send it to the wrong person. Not too long ago, I received a resume and cover letter that was addressed to a different person and company. And although it sounded like they were a good fit for that other company, I was certain they weren’t fit for us! :)

Here’s a great list of things other things to definitely not do from Forbes: The Most Outlandish Resume Mistakes…

Leave a comment

Market Research: Code of Ethics

The spectrum of research topics we see in this industry is broad, covering all of the intricate niches of consumer products that fall in between the bookends. Clients work hard to determine what type of consumer best matches their brand profile, typically based on statistical data collected over time and evaluated prior to conducting research. So, when it comes time to test the market, it only makes sense that the strongest feedback will come from those participants with specifications that match the clients consumer base. Research firms are then given a set of criterion from which to draw against through the recruiting phase.

ethical-guide-to-market-research_698x400

We’ve seen it all, from the occasional request for participants without any specific limitations, to requests so specific that it seems nearly impossible to find even one person who might match what the clients need. Regardless of the level of difficulty, ethical values should always be followed or the integrity of the recruit could be severely compromised, resulting in thousands of dollars lost for all parties involved in the process.

In the world of market research, there are many ethical standards in place for the various phases each project surpasses. When it comes to participant recruiting, there are several main points that should be considered and closely followed, regardless of the level of difficulty a project may present.

1. Respecting Respondents: It’s important to remember that the individuals being considered for research participation have already given their valuable time and attention through the screening process. This could take anywhere from two to twenty minutes, and is time for which they are not being compensated. They are often times providing personal information, and confiding in the research firm representing the project. Research interviewers are the face of the firm, but also of the client for whom the work is being conducted. Respondents should be treated with respect and in a professional manner at all phases of every research project. Without them, there wouldn’t be market research!

2. Confidentiality: It isn’t one sided. Each client and respondent alike have a code of confidentiality that must be maintained indefinitely. Great care should always be taken to ensure that sensitive information which could potentially identify participants to third-party sources is kept secure and confidential. The same ethical boundaries should be extended to clients, as well, in order to protect the confidentiality of their studies and prevent bias feedback from respondents. In the event a client requests sensitive information on a participant (such as last name or contact information), permission should be sought from the respondents prior to the release, and if necessary, permissive documentation to keep on file.

3. Persuasive or suggestive recruiting methods: At no time during the screening interview should a recruiter ever attempt to influence or persuade a respondents answer or opinion by emphasizing words or responses, ad-libbing, changing the frame, order or response of questions. It’s extremely important to the integrity of each project that data is sourced and collected impartially so that the concluded research results are a true representation of reality.

4. Honesty: Applicable to recruiting, as well as during the analysis and presentation of findings, participant responses and feedback should be recorded and represented accurately and honestly. Adjusting responses during the screening phase in order to meet a quota or enable qualification is completely intolerable, and poorly positions the integrity of the project.

Additional information about market research ethics can be found on the MRA website at www.marketingresearch.org/code

Leave a comment

Mid-November can only mean one thing: the Holidays are rapidly approaching. With that comes feelings of happiness, joy, love, and self-giving, but it could also mean feeling a bit overwhelmed.

If you’re like me, your calendar is typically full. Between working, getting to the gym, completing your chores and errands, and making time for friends and family, your brain may be on the brink of overload. Now throw in all of those holiday parties, dinners, travels, and shopping, and they can surely add a bump to your routine.

office-419965_1280

Here are some tips on how to manage your time and remain productive at work during the hustle and bustle of the season:

Organize: Organization is key. Come up with a to-do list in order to manage your thoughts and tasks, as this will help you mentally prepare and stay productive. “The psychological relief of clearing your mental clutter and then removing some burdens is immense. It makes your holidays more joyful and energizes you to accomplish your front burner tasks,” says The Productivity Coach, Casey Moore. You can also check out Real Simple for a great list of apps that can act as your own personal assistant and help simplify your life (even year round).

Plan ahead: “If you know the week before Christmas is especially busy on the personal front with school concerts, visiting relatives or even charity work you may be involved with, anticipate and communicate this early,” suggests international business speaker, Michael Kerr. Plan your calendar accordingly so that you won’t end up working overtime. And be sure to sync your calendars to the various devices you use to stay on track!

Separate work and play: It can often times be difficult (for some of us more than others) to remain focused on just work. At the office, don’t pick up the habit of online shopping or trying to cram buying all of your gifts during your break. Avoiding multitasking will help you excel in your work-related tasks, as well as helping keep you sane.

Exercise: If there’s one thing you shouldn’t compromise, it’s your health! Exercising will help keep your energy levels up and keep you on track both physically and mentally. Even taking that extra walk during your lunch break can help boost your productivity at work. Plus, you won’t feel too guilty when having an extra holiday treat or two!

Effectively dividing your time and finding the balance between work and play is important so that you don’t burn out or fall off track. Stay organized and keep your momentum up during this season, and you’ll find that you can start your new year off on the right foot!

Leave a comment

From focusing on Facebook status updates and tone, to using the right #hashtags and keeping your tweets under 140 characters, managing corporate social media can be challenging. There are many elements to keep in mind when strategizing your next update, but there’s a science to achieving higher engagement! All you need is some good content and proper planning.

when-should-i-tweet_img

Consider these facts next time you’re posting something:

Twitter: Schedule your tweets around lunchtime. The Twitterverse is especially buzzing Monday through Thursday while you’re grabbing a bite, but once Friday afternoon rolls around, people have checked out for the weekend. Want more engagement? Add an image or video and you’re guaranteed to boost your numbers.

Facebook: Now’s your chance to use your audience’s mid-afternoon slump to your advantage. Since many people are getting back to their desks around this time, it’s likely they’re checking their Facebook too. According to Entrepreneur, the highest average click through rate is from 1pm to 4pm. Avoid posting on the weekends and between 8pm to 8am, as people are typically caught up with other things.

LinkedIn: We’re always stressing the importance of making connections on social media sites such as LinkedIn, but what good will that do if no-one is there to read it? Share your updates midweek around noon and 5pm in order to utilize it as an effective engagement tool.

Most importantly, ensure that your content is relevant, meaningful, and interesting – that’s when engagement increases. You could have mastered the science behind when users are likely to see what you’ve shared, but at the end of the day, content matters. Combine your quality content with appropriate scheduling, and your marketing efforts are sure to skyrocket.

Leave a comment