Social Media: Getting Your Employees Involved

Social media is an essential part of running a successful business. However, a business can only be as strong as its weakest link. What this means is that it is not enough to use social media yourself; your employees must be involved as well. These people are the glue that holds your business together and like the secret sauce of successful business social media use.

Mixing Business and Pleasure

Chances are good that the majority of your employees already use some form of social media for personal purposes. This makes it all the easier to get them involved in your company’s social media sites. Ask your employees to advertise for your business on their personal pages. If possible, offer incentives for them to do so. In fact, many businesses have found success in turning employee social media use into a contest. Here is an example:

Whoever gets the most friends to connect to the company page wins <insert prize>

Not only does this boost employee morale, it get everyone to work harder for a common goal.

Building Customer Friendships

Encourage your employees to be active on the company social media page. You can do this by making some or all of them administrators of the page. This way they can interact with customers one on one. Depending on the type of business you run, you can also require your employees to open their own social media page just for company use. For example, if you run a salon, have your hair and nail technicians open their own business page to advertise their services. For personal care service businesses, people usually choose their favorite artist and stick with them. If they have their own personal business page their customers can go there to get deals, make appointments, ask questions, etc.

Team Building

Maintaining a social media page for a business takes time and effort. For these reasons, it is not feasible to make your social media platforms successful on your own. This is where your employees come in. Build teams to work on different aspects of the page. For instance, customers enjoy looking at photographs, so put together a team of employees to work solely on graphics. You can also build a team to update the page with new sales, discounts, contests, etc. By team building you can make sure that every employee gets involved in the success of your social media platform(s).

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/social-media-getting-your-employees-involved/

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3 UX Tools You Should Be Using Right Now

By Sandra D’Souza

1. POP Prototyping on paper

POP is a mobile app for Android and iOS that lets you import your sketches by taking a picture. POP automatically adjusts brightness and contrast to make sure your sketches are legible and clear. Create wireframes on your favourite notebook.

2. QuirckTools

QuirckTools helps you to collaborate with clients and coworkers. From helping you share your creative compositions, to building prototypes right in your web browser, we’ve got you covered.

3. Solidify

Solidify lets you create clickable prototypes from sketches, wireframe, or mockup. Validate user flows on any device by performing user tests in person, remotely or on your testers own time to get the feedback you need.

This article originally appeared in http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/3-ux-tools-you-should-be-using-right-now/

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How Do You Know Which Social Network is Right for Your Company?

By Pat Gudhka

If you are a business owner it is very likely that people have told you a million times that you should be using social media to help boost your business and drag it into the 21st century. If you have not done so yet you should be taking this advice very seriously. Social media not only increases sales, but it also increases customer retention. These things are true even if you run a small business. This is something that many companies make incorrect assumptions about. In this case, size really does not matter. Social media platforms are not just for large businesses; they work just as well, if not better, for smaller businesses. They even work well for mom and pop companies. Now that you know this and are (hopefully) ready to dive into the world of social media, how do you know which network is right for you? Read on to find out!

Calling in the Professionals

I want to start with this option because not everyone is familiar with the aspects of using social media for business or personal reasons. If this is you and you don’t have anyone to turn to, calling in a professional can do you a great service. There are people who specialize in social media networking for businesses and they will be able to tell you just what platform(s) are the best for your type of business.

Facebook

We begin by discussing Facebook since it is hands down the most popular form of social media with Twitter following in a close second. Facebook is by far the most popular social media network for all sorts of businesses and thus can give your brand the most exposure online. Even if another platform may be best for your particular company, using Facebook too certainly cannot hurt you. Now keep in mind what products or services you offer though. The top Facebook users fall into two separate categories; people between the ages of 25 and 34 and people between the ages of 45 to 54. The amount of men and women who use Facebook is a pretty even split, plus the majority of users have some form of higher education.

Twitter

If your products and services are targeted towards the younger urban type of crowd then Twitter is perfect for your business. Demographic information shows that the largest number of Twitter users is African American and this can be helpful to your company depending on what you are offering. Again, it all depends on your target audience. Also keep in mind that the majority of Tweeters live in larger cities, so if your company is located in a large city Twitter may be your best plan of action.

Other popular platforms are LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each has its own upsides and downsides. The bottom line though is why chose? When it comes to marketing and social media, it is best to use all of the above. From there you can chart the results. Once you see what works best for your business you can focus more energy on it. It is all about testing and tracking. Open up accounts on all the top social media platforms and reassess the results in thirty days to see where you stand.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/how-do-you-know-which-social-network-is-right-for-your-company/

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The ‘Flat’ Look – Passing Trend or Strategic Move?

By Pat Gudhka

Flat design is getting more and more popular with each passing day, and while people often dismiss this style of design as simply altering the aesthetic component of a digital product, take a look deeper and you’ll notice a lot more strategy behind the ‘flat’ look.

Despite the restraints of minimalism, flat design offers sophistication and complexity. It aims to embrace the limits of the screen, streamline designs, make exploring the web easier and faster, and often more functional. It trades in the gradients for plain colours, a reaction to the smothering skeuomorphic designs that we see everywhere.

‘Skeuomorphism’, in context of the digital world, is to emulate any objects in the physical world in the Graphical User Interface or GUI.  Apple products are popular for skeuomorphism – take the Apple Clock for example; the design incorporates subtle details such as the shuddering movement of the second hand that otherwise only happens on the physical counterpart.

Problems with Skeuomorphism:

  • It limits creativity and functionality when emulating components that are irrelevant in the digital format.
  • It looks inconsistent when combined with less dimensional components.
  • It can take up valuable screen space and increase load times.

Is flat design the solution?

  • Flat design embraces the limitations of the digital experience. By accepting that anything on a screen will never truly look three dimensional, it strips away the decorative illusion and uses beautiful yet simple design to create a better user experience.
  • It looks friendly and inviting, but it does this by displaying a clear, engaging GUI rather than mimicking a physical product that you are familiar with. It strips out the unnecessary visual elements but is not as restrictive as minimalism.
  • It works great for small screens, particularly app or mobile design. The Android platform and the Windows Phone both use flat design for their operating systems.
  • Through simplicity, it allows users to grasp messages more quickly. Images such as icons can indicate universal actions or purposes so that any user can easily understand them. The Noun Project is a great resource for such icons, supporting the flat design approach.
  • It ‘pops’ through the use of vivid colour – lots of it! In the example below you can see the UI aspect of searching for a flight on an app designed by Indonesian UI designer Bady and how the design relies on colours and icons to give users meaning.
  • It puts the focus back on words. The message on your site is essential, and flat design gives you the responsibility to play with the typography and layout to truly explore what works.

Because it strips away all the unnecessary components of design, flat design is often hard to achieve and requires a lot of work and attention to every detail. There are no places to hide with this approach.

That being said, flat design has all the ingredients to make a site beautiful and enhance functionality. It understands that a sense of familiarity is important to the user experience but does this via the digital medium and not through replication of the physical world. It’s adaptable and open to new ideas, and is far more than a passing fad.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/the-flat-look-passing-trend-or-strategic-move/

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User Experience: The Terms You Need To Know

By Pat Gudhka

General terms used in UX and their definitions:

Accessibility

The attributes and characteristics of a system allowing people with limited vision, hearing, dexterity, cognition or physical mobility to interact effectively with a website. Guidelines are available and certain standards can often be enforced in some markets.

Brainstorming

A method for generating ideas, with the intention to inspire a free-flowing discussion and exploration of thoughts of an individual or a team, typically while avoiding criticism in order to promote uninhibited thinking.

Braindrawing

Braindrawing is a type of visual brainstorming in which a group of participants sketch ideas for designs, icons, screen layouts, or other visual concepts.

Card Sorting

A technique for exploring how people group items represented by cards, so that you can develop structures that maximise the probability of users being able to find items easily and effectively.

Cognitive Walkthrough

The cognitive walkthrough is a usability evaluation method in which one or more evaluators work through a series of tasks and ask a set of questions from the perspective of the user.

Persona

Fictional person created to model and describe the goals, needs, and characteristics of a specific type or group of users. Does not describe a real, individual user nor an average user. Often includes made-up personal details to make the fictional person more “real”.

Scenario

A story which has the key elements of a realistic situation when the user would interact with the system being designed or evaluated. The scenario includes consideration of the user’s goals, tasks and interaction. Scenarios can be created for user groups, workflows or tasks to explore, understand and test the different types of needs and goals.

Storyboard

A technique for illustrating an interaction between a person and a product (or multiple people and multiple products) in narrative format, which includes a series of drawings, sketches, or pictures and sometimes words that tell a story.

Usability

Usability is the degree to which something – software, hardware or anything else – is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it.

Wireframe

Rough outline of navigation and content elements that make up a user interface. Typically visual design and precise layout are not addressed.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/user-experience-the-terms-you-need-to-know/

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