The Power of the Monthly Report

The Monthly Report is a lost art. We may have been too quick to abandon this artifact or, possibly, it was never a part of your company culture or personal habit.

Consider the positive returns gained from a small investment of time in creating a monthly report. As a checklist-driven person I see obvious benefits of documenting where you’ve been, even if you are the sole reader of your very own monthly report.

Benefits:
A monthly report is a report card to yourself, your management or to your company. After all, if you believe in what you are doing and that you are doing a good job at it, why wouldn’t you want to share that? By periodically looking back you can track your progress and trajectory. Are you heading in the right direction? Are you meeting goals, deadlines, and any required administrative check-offs?

People love recognition. If you can recognize the achievements of others it has a powerful effect on future performance. Recognition, especially in writing, is an awesome productivity tool in itself. The Monthly Report is a great place to regularly share team successes.

A summary of monthly reports automatically yields quarterly and annual reports. Collectively these reports are irrefutable personal leverage at performance review meetings.

And – possibly most important – monthly reports are key to updating your resume.

Format:
Keep the report format simple. A monthly report can be as simple as a list of dated entries in a journal. If the report is to be shared/upward you might establish a consistent format, with meaningful metrics and results. If monthly reporting is too frequent, consider keeping notes and creating a summary every few months.

“I’m trying to free your mind but I can only show you the door.”
~Morpheus, The Matrix

Website Activation

Where’s Waldo? How to activate a website with a contest!

I’d like to share a technique once used to activate a new website and get 100% of existing clients to happily switch over to a completely new version of the website.

  1. First we launched the new website and kept the old site running.
  2. Next we promoted the new website from the old one using a “Where’s Waldo?” contest.
  3. If you found an image of Waldo on the new site you could enter a drawing for prizes.
  4. Every day we would give hints about where to find Waldo – and over a period of time directed everyone to the major areas of the new website.
  5. Once a week we would announce the latest contest winners, which would bring more clients over to the new site.
  6. After users found their way around the new site, they didn’t bother to go back to the old one.
  7. We also discovered that our particular client base loved contests and awards.

I can’t take credit for this idea. My friend (and he paid me to add this: creative genius, wine connoisseur, dog lover, philanthropist, master of irony and all around trend-setter) David Pearson came up with this idea that we used for a large insurance agency portal implementation in 2004. In 2005, the website was awarded recognition by A.M. Best as the top Insurance Agency Portal website in the U.S. Our Where’s Waldo website launch technique was part of the presentation leading to the award.

“Sales reps are coin operated.”
~Mark Vayda

Small Screen Navigation – Ben Callahan

Breaking Development Conference – Nashville – July 2014
Conference Session: Small Screen Navigation
Ben Callahan – SparkBox

A review of current mobile design patterns for navigation and interaction. Trigger Indicators and Interaction Patterns.

My Notes:

  • Don’t assume the big companies got it right. Don’t blindly copy patterns.
  • Vast differences in nav indicators and response across sites (e.g. “>” on some sites opens/closes a menu; on other sites it takes you to a page).
  • Content First – make sure we are building the right nav.
  • Give priority to high use cases.
  • Focus – overlay content with nav, e.g. content half hidden while overlay with menu.
  • Behavior – e.g. single top-to-bottom accordion menu JavaScript – strive for a single DOM.
  • Fallbacks aren’t worth it. Start with the lowest common denominator.
  • Usability – Web Designers understand Hamburger Menu, average user does not.
  • “Familiarity breeds usability” e.g. same nav on PC and Mobile.
  • “Design without testing is guesswork.”

Other conference notes on Ben Callahan at BDCONF can be found at: Ben Callahan notes on Speaker Deck

“You cannot do timeless work on your own. It takes a team. Collaborate!”
~Ben Callahan

Embedded Fonts – How To

By using CSS, it’s possible to use a non-standard web font on your website. Your web pages can reference 3rd-party fonts from a website, such as Google Fonts or you can install a font on your own web server and reference it from there. This post describes how to incorporate a new font onto a web server and make it viewable in the client web browser.
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