A Designer’s Perspective: Top Tools & Resources

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Professional Development, Rewarding Careers, Talent, Technology | No Comments

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.

Customer Story – Y in Central Maryland

By | Industry, Online | No Comments

We recently had a chance to speak with Sherrie Rovnan, CFO, and Jeff Mazerski, Director of Software Applications, at the Y in Central Maryland, where they’ve been instrumental in creating and piloting Daxko’s Online Move Camper functionality.

Online Move Camper allows members and program participants to make changes to existing camp registrations within Daxko Operations, freeing staff from manual camp moves, and empowering parents and other guardians to adjust camp selections at a time that’s convenient for them.

Mazerski and Rovnan both stressed that online moves are a must for their organization. “We serve a lot of two-income families, and the most convenient time for them to sign up and change camp registrations is in the evening, when our central office may not be open. Working parents need the ability to do this online,” Rovnan states.

When asked about the biggest internal impact on their organization, Rovnan explains that the amount of staff time saved cannot be underestimated. “We have thousands of online moves every summer, so to have this functionality is vital for us. Changing camps can be very time consuming over the phone, and that was something that fell onto the front desk staff. We wanted to take that transactional interaction away from front desk staff and instead have them focus on more meaningful engagements with members. We can’t stress enough the amount of time saved with online moves.”

In fact, if you consider that each move takes about 10 minutes per support call for staff to assist guardians with the request, and you multiply that by the 2,000+ moves the Y in Central Maryland records in an average summer, online functionality could save more than 300 hours of staff time.

As far as the setup, Mazerski and Rovnan both agree that it’s simple. “There is not a lot of work involved to get it set up. All you have to do is set up the dates and fees,” says Rovnan. Mazerski adds, “Really, it’s just one extra set of fields to enter when you’re setting up your camps, and there are automated controls built in so the association has the power to close online moves prior to the session and charge fees if necessary.”

“Daxko has made it so easy,” Rovnan adds. “It’s so easy for the members and participants to do themselves. It takes you through it step by step. We haven’t had one parent call and say they didn’t understand how to do it.”

Haters Gonna Hate

By | Culture, Employment Brand, Free Career Advice, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko | One Comment

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.

Marketing Your Health or Fitness Center Mobile App To Members

By | Engagement, Industry, Mobile | No Comments

Everyone understands the value of mobile. It’s rapid growth continues to surprise marketers and consumers alike. 79% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business (Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report). Mobile offers are redeemed 10x more frequently than print offers (eMarketer) and 16% of donors give from an email on a mobile device, a number that is rapidly rising each year.

So, offering a mobile app is a popular option, but, offering a mobile app at your YMCA, JCC, recreation center, or health club is more than just being “with it.” It can be a valuable way to deepen member connections and to save your staff time and effort. In order to realize all the benefits of a mobile application, you have to preach adoption to your staff and to your end users – your members.

So, how do you get members to download your app (and use it!) on their mobile phones, already crowded with apps and tools? We recently spoke with Amy Johnson, Digital Media Coordinator at Greater Green Bay YMCA, and Mary Jo Eiberger, CEO and Executive Director of Cameron Regional YMCA. When we looked at metrics from across our customers, these two Ys stood out with a high percentage of members downloading and using mobile apps multiple times over a 30-day period.
Here are three of their tips to be successful marketing your mobile app to members:

  1. Take time to plan ahead before you launch. Johnson explained that at Greater Green Bay YMCA they made sure to find out what  your members need and are looking for on the mobile app and be sure to choose administrative support for your app prior to launch and roll-out to members. At Green Bay they chose Mobile App Champions at each center to promote the app and keep everyone informed.
  2. Get staff excited about the app. It’s important to get your staff excited and comfortable with the app so that they can be the best promoters of the app to members. Both Johnson and Eiberger encourage members to sign up for the application on the spot. They even offer to download the application and walk through it with a member that isn’t so tech-savvy. Excited staff will want to show members all the app has to offer.
  3. Use your application for nonmembers too. At the Cameron Regional YMCA they encourage nonmember program participants and even movie-goers (yes, they have a movie theatre!) to download the app and they offer announcements, schedules and the information that is valuable for those users too. Eiberger explained that if nonmembers see all the valuable programs listed in the app that are available to members they may decide to join.

Check out the full webcast for more tips on successfully marketing your mobile application to members: