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.

February 2017 TMD: Customer Loyalty

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On Wednesday Feberuary 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.

Change Your Sound

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff, Professional Development, Rewarding Careers | One Comment

I recently went to Las Vegas with my fellow trainers, Kelly and Jill, for Professional Development. We attended the ATD training certificate program. There were several ATD sessions going on, so many of the rooms in Caesar’s Palace were full of people doing professional development. It was very cool to see so many people learning and furthering their careers.

For the training certificate program, we spent two days learning various training techniques from our instructor, Sardek (also known as Dr. Love, since that’s his last name). We spent a good part of the sessions doing group work, so I met lots of new people, including folks who work for Zappos and Hulu. On the third day, we actually had to give a presentation to our small group and they (as fellow trainers) gave us tips on our presentation techniques.

I learned many new ideas from the way Sardek facilitated our training and was able to think from different perspectives based on the feedback that my small group gave me. I was also able to build professional relationships and network with the new people I met, and we are all supposed to email one another at the end of March to talk about the ideas from the trainings that we’ve incorporated into our trainings.

The ATD conference taught me that pushing the envelope is important to making training unique to each attendee… which reminds me of something else – The Beatles (you know I have to put some pop culture knowledge into my blog posts!)

During our first night in Las Vegas, we went to see The Beatles: Love, a Cirque de Soleil show. If you’ve never seen it and you love The Beatles, please do yourself a favor and go see it. If you’re curious, here’s a snippet of some of the magic packed into an hour and a half of showtime.

I told Kelly and Jill that I would probably cry at some point during the show, because The Beatles are my favorite band and have been a longstanding love of mine. Abbey Road is my favorite album of all time and the first record I got on vinyl. Octopus’s Garden is my alarm song that wakes me up every morning. I’ve known the words to Hey Jude for as long as I can remember. Twist and Shout is in one of my favorite scenes of my favorite movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (see THAT blog post here).

As you’ve probably guessed by now, The Beatles are a huge part of my life. I know every song. When Paul McCartney (my personal favorite Beatle) sang Hey Jude at the London Olympics and the camera panned out to show the ENTIRE WORLD singing along with him…that’s all you need to know about the legacy that The Beatles left in their wake.

And that’s the word I’m hinging this post on – legacy. In your professional life, you have amazing opportunities to create a legacy for yourself. Legacy defines the mark that you make on your company, your team, even in just the work that you do.

When we think about The Beatles, we think about a band that changed musical history. These floppy haired boys from Liverpool sang songs about wanting to hold your hand, and everyone went wild for it. The Beatles were a phenomenon. They changed music. But, an important thing to remember – The Beatles changed THEIR music. I could find someone reading this post right now and ask them what Beatles album they prefer, and that will tell me everything I need to know. Some people want to hang on to the Twist and Shout era, some people flow along with The Beatles, no matter the sound. But what we can learn from The Beatles and their legacy (there’s that word again) is that they changed their sound. They weren’t afraid to take risks (and probably take a little more than risks, judging by the song I Am the Walrus).

The times changed. They 60s melted away from A-line dresses and perfectly coiffed hair into peace signs and bell bottoms. The Beatles changed.

We can’t be afraid to push the envelope and to change. Often times, I am guilty of wanting to stick with what is working, because I know that’s getting the job done… but what if I could get the job done better, by doing something a little differently? Circle back to what I mentioned above – I learned so many new training techniques at the conference I attended, and I know they are going to help me do my job better. Sometimes, that little difference is all it takes to both change your sound and cement your legacy.


Deeanna S. is a Software Trainer, cat mom, and Tudor history buff who loves the outdoors.

Room to Grow

By | Building a Company, Culture, Employment Brand, Grow Your Career, Professional Development, Rewarding Careers | No Comments

Every full-time team member at Daxko is given a significant stipend each year to use for their own professional development. As the leader of a growing company, it’s very important to me that each of us on the team, myself included, continue to grow personally in a rewarding career.

We don’t put a lot of stipulations on how each team member uses their professional development dollars, and that’s because every person’s career, goals, and definition of a rewarding career is going to differ slightly from the next person’s. Team members have used their professional development budget to travel to conferences, continue their formal education, take specific skill-related classes, join associations, earn further accreditations, and the list goes on. By allowing each team member to mold their own development, we allow them another degree of ownership in their career. Sense of ownership is a core value of ours at Daxko.

I recently attended a workshop in Chicago as part of my own professional development. I’m interested in how other successful companies work, so I took part in “The Basecamp Way to Work” event hosted by Jason Fried (Basecamp co-founder & CEO) and Ryan Singer (Strategy at Basecamp). They have a pretty radical work concept with most of their team being remote. As Daxko grows, it’s important to me that our remote team members have an exceptional experience and rewarding career to the same degree that our in-office team members do. So, for me, this was a valuable learning experience.

What professional development channels would be most constructive for you? No matter your role, none of us have “arrived”. We all have room to grow. I challenge you to consider your career, how you would like to see it grow, and then identify your next steps in professional development.