A Designer’s Perspective: Top Tools & Resources

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When I think about cool tech and design resources, so many options pop into my head. As a user experience designer always looking to learn something new, I have to say that there is an ocean of books, blogs, design tools, and inspirational sites out there that can help you grow personally and professionally. If you are curious, passionate about design, and eager to learn, we have already something in common.

Productivity, design thinking, behavioral change, and innovation, are a few areas of focus that have shaped the person and designer I am today. Below is a selection of tools and resources to help people like you and me:

Books:

  • Change by Design – An introduction to design thinking and how to drive innovation in organizations.

A little bit of everything:

  • Einstein window – Identify which is your most productive time in the day and get the most out of it.
  • Bullet Journal – A straightforward and productive way to design your to-do list.
  • Toastmasters – Improve public speaking and leadership skills while meeting new people.
  • Leadercast – Leadership event to get inspired and learn from top leaders in the world.
  • Pomodoro technique – The best productivity tool that helps you prioritize and time yourself.

Community:

  • AIGA (The American Institute of Graphic Arts) – Excellent professional organization for design, especially around graphic design.
  • IXDA – Interaction Design Association
  • Code for America – If you are interested in civic projects, open data and, helping your community, I highly recommend finding the Brigade chapter in your state.

Trend, news and, inspiration:

  • Website Awards – Recognized web designers and agencies in the world.

Webinars, blogs, and podcasts:

  • Mural.com blog – Mural is an awesome tool for remote collaboration and documentation. They also have really good webinars.
  • UserTesting.com – Test your designs and sites with this tool. They also provide webinars with top leaders.

Prototyping tools:

  • Balsamiq – Create quick mock ups, and wireframes
  • Invision – Build web and mobile prototypes to share and to gather user feedback.
  • Axure – Create highly interactive prototypes.

Design resources:

  • Codepen – Front-end inspiration
  • Usability Hub – Use this free service to get quick user feedback

I hope you find these tools useful, regardless of whether or not you are growing a design career or a career in another field. Do you have other exciting tools and resources? I am always looking for new things to try.


Erika B. is a multidisciplinary designer, thinker, researcher and strategist from Caracas, Venezuela. She is an alumni of Savannah College of Art and Design where she studied Industrial Design and Service Design. She works at Daxko as an Interaction Designer and during her free time, works as a community organizer at Code for Birmingham.

Haters Gonna Hate

By | Culture, Employment Brand, Free Career Advice, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko | 3 Comments

Last week I received an email notification about a review of Daxko on Glassdoor. After reading the review, which turned out to be a negative one from someone who identified themselves as a former team member, I actually felt somewhat personally offended. It’s a feeling I have yet to shake, and it has made me want to put another perspective out there. I don’t think what I am going to say will sway anyone’s already-formed opinions (as the title suggests – haters gonna hate), but I would like to put my voice out there as a positive reinforcement for a company that I believe in and devote my time & energy to each day.

The line the reviewer wrote that struck me the most was, “Everyone is happy ALL the time despite them working until 11 at night…” Wow! What is possibly wrong with everyone being happy all the time? This part of their statement baffles me so much that I don’t really have much else to say about it except that I think it is a testament to the people we work with and for. Was that supposed to be an insult? I like happy people. I like working with happy people, too!

What has me pondering more deeply is the part about working until 11 at night. I actually worked until nearly 11 on two nights the week before this post was made, so it made me wonder, “Did someone overhear me grumble about this, and then they added it to their negative review of our company?” Possibly. But you know what, when I work late, that’s on me. I do it because I want to catch up, I want to get ahead, or I simply want to GSD (get “stuff” done – keeping it G-rated, folks!). I don’t work late because I feel obligated to or because someone has asked me to. One of the projects I was able to complete definitely could have been put off to another time, but I knew it would be helpful to some of my team members, so I took personal time to take care of it, and that makes me feel good. I wish I could do things like that more often, actually.

However, the statement also made me realize that I need to watch my attitude about the things I choose to do, because it can easily rub off on others. As they say, it is much easier to drag someone down than it is to pull them up. I vow to try to be more positive about the opportunity I have to spend my time doing work that helps others. I vow to try to be that person that is happy ALL the time despite sometimes voluntarily working until 11 at night.

That brings me to another point. No matter what your role is at Daxko, we get to come to work daily doing tasks that directly or indirectly help others. One may argue that we are now more heavily in the for-profit member-based health & wellness industry, which doesn’t necessarily have the same mission as our non-profits – still, their customers are bettering their lives, and what we do affects their ability to serve them. How awesome & how rewarding?! Daxko prides itself on providing rewarding careers. We work hard. Sometimes we even work late. But how rewarding is anything if it isn’t hard work?


Christi B. is Daxko’s Sales Maestro who only gets going in the mornings after a generous dose of coffee & eyeliner.

February 2017 TMD: Customer Loyalty

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On Wednesday February 22nd, our Senior Vice President Molly Harrison kicked off our 2017 Team Member Development series with a presentation entitled ‘Why Customer Loyalty Matters & How We Measure It.’ She spoke to a packed room, occasionally handing off to other leaders in the company for other perspectives.

For those who don’t know or need a refresher, Team Member Development sessions (TMDs) are hour long sessions held every month or so in which a Daxko team member or guest speaker puts forth an idea and educates other team members about it. This can take many forms, from a discussion on how to lead even if you’re not in charge, to a presentation on how to be an outstanding presenter. These seminars are helpful in conveying information across the country, as well as developing the talent we’ve got latent in this company. We love providing professional development opportunities for our team members whenever possible, and TMDs are a convenient way to do just that.

This TMD, as you might be able to guess, is focused on why we at Daxko focus so much on building meaningful relationships with our customers and how we go about measuring it.

Why would a company care about customer loyalty? Why should a company go out of its way to build relationships with its clientele? To answer, Molly asked us to think of a time we were purchasing something online. Did we look at the reviews? When we were shopping around for a place to eat, did we ask friends their opinion? These simple interactions influence many decisions that we make: we’re not likely to eat at a restaurant that has been universally panned, while we would much prefer to eat somewhere that receives a thumbs-up from our friends.

For this same reason, we want Daxko to be well loved! We are interested in providing the best service, the best product and the best experience possible so that our customer’s lives are as stress-free as possible. Then, when it comes time for a friend to choose a ‘restaurant,’ we hope that Daxko is high up on that list.

As Peter Drucker is oft quoted as saying, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” How, though, do you go about measuring something as nebulous as customer loyalty? Charlie, our Engagement Solutions Team Lead, took the stage to explain. We use something known as the Net Promoter System (NPS). A quick survey is sent via email asking, on a scale from 0 to 10, how likely the recipient is to recommend Daxko to a friend or colleague. Upon receiving responses, we categorize customers into one of three categories:

  • Detractors
  • Passives
  • Promoters

We then find the percentage of promoters and subtract the percentage of detractors to figure out our Net Promoter Score. Always wanting to improve and searching for more details, we reach out to see what we could do to further improve the Daxko experience.

Placing a nice bow on the conversation, Molly once again took to the stage with a quote that summarizes the TMD nicely: ‘the benefits of long-term customer-centric focus are substantial, but so is the commitment.’ From a business perspective, it makes obvious sense to consistently keep the customer satisfied and to, when they are not pleased, see how we can resolve issues and fix problems. The overall goal of everyone in the company, then, must be to further Daxko as a ‘listening company,’ one that hears its customers and whose actions are not necessarily always pleasing, but are done in good faith.


McKee S. is a Project Manager who loves playing video games and kickin’ around a hacky sack.

Living Unoffended

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Healthy Stuff | 2 Comments

Offended. We’ve all been there. I’ve cried my fair share of offended, frustrated tears, and stomped my feet in anger at the gall of someone to make such an offensive comment. And the offense always comes at just the wrong moment, too. Maybe you can relate to one of these sentiments:

They have no idea how many hours I put into that! 

They have no idea how much thought I put into the planning! 

They have no idea how I managed to pull that off well with 5 other balls in the air to juggle, and I still managed to feed kids dinner when I got home!

There is an ancient proverb that rightly observes that “it is harder to win an offended brother than a strong city.” Our natural response to offense is anger and frustration. It only makes sense. But this angry, frustrated state doesn’t really do anything for me or anyone else, aside from cut down on my productivity (and it does). Lately I’ve been struck by how easily and how often I find myself offended—even if just slightly. So easily I let offense ruin my day or even my week, that I’ve decided something must be done. 

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF OFFENDERS:

1) Those who mean well.

Though their delivery is offensive, there are many people who offer their “helpful advice” because they truly believe that it is just that: helpful. Their heart in sharing this advice with us, the offended, is not to belittle us, but to add to us. In these cases, difficult as it may be, I’m learning to look past the offensiveness of the implications the offender made, say “Thank you,” and laugh it off. Most of us have been on the offending side of this— the part where the words came out of our mouths, but just as they hit the air they didn’t sound like what we we had intended. There’s really no recovery. I’ve been on both sides of this, and I’m making the decision to have some grace for the offender when I’m on the offended side. 

2) Those who are just mean.

Let’s face it: these people exist. Everywhere. These are the people who WILL say and do mean things, and likely on PURPOSE, with no regard for their negative impact on us. They may even speak offenses passive-aggressively whilst smiling. What do we do about them? Here, I think it’s important to remember that all of us operate through the filter of our past experiences (both good and bad) whether we recognize it or not. Hurt people hurt people. People who have been talked down to talk down to others. Those who have been criticized to a pulp are the nastiest of negative critics. It’s the sad reality of the world we live in. My Momma always told me, “There’s a reason everyone acts the way they do. You never know everything someone has been through.” Here is where I’m learning, once again, to implement some compassion. Is it right for these people to speak this way? No (and in the right moment, with the right attitude, I might respectfully say as much if necessary). But there is something much more important going on here than my pride or feelings being wounded. Here is a human being who has likely been treated as less than a human being at some point in their life. How will I respond? 

In both scenarios I have two choices: I can stay angry and resentful towards this person, or I can choose compassion. This is the moment where I have decided that I want to live unoffended. I know it’s not easy, but I believe wholeheartedly in the truth spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Kindness, not retaliation, is the answer. Compassion, not resentment, is the cure. I haven’t figured it out, but I want to live life unoffended. I think it’s in the best interest of my relationships, my workplace, and my own sanity. It’s going to take some practice, some encouragement, and some intentionality, but I think it’s worth it. 


Ellen D. is Daxko’s Air Traffic Controller, organization queen, master event planner, and lover of running.