James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
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So we're starting to play around with the idea of posting some videos of us around the office on any given work day. We tend to laugh a lot around here, we keep a random quote board, and it seems like there's always this energy unlike any place I've known.
The question I ask myself is if anyone wants to get a look into what our work life is like at Sandstorm? So keep posted as we explore a video diary concept of our lives at Sandstorm as a social medium.
This past weekend was our 3rd annual "Sandstorm Guac-off!" and our guacamole contest results are in.
Congratulations to... ME! (OMG - this is my official first time winning and my staff now thinks I cheated). And here's why. It's all about my super secret ingredient where they think I swayed the judges and the user experience. My super secret ingredient I talked about for weeks, and tested up in Lake Geneva about a month ago with friends and family to perfect my recipe. My super secret ingredient that no one was worried about because last year it was dill and I lost miserably. My super secret ingredient was... tequila. (he he he).
The most fun thing about guacamole is that is really does taste so different depending on what you decide to put in. This year's samples included mayo and sour cream to apples and jalepenos. Zak even brought a dessert guacamole which was my personal favorite (I didn't vote for myself as I don't personally like tequila) - he added raspberries and raspberry jam to be eaten with cinnamon crisps. Yum! And Zachary made guacamole for the first time ever.
So for the next year I get to be the "Guacamole Queen at Sandstorm". A title I am most proud of considering I can't cook very well to start off with. Not sure what my super secret ingredient will be next year. Better watch out Zak.
I made blue and silver cupcakes for my staff today. To get that Sandstorm blue, I had to bust out the food coloring and mix up both the cyan and the magenta to get that silvery blue that makes up our logo. I also put the chocolate cupcakes in silver trays so the cakes look like they are silver and blue.
However, the blue is a little smurf-life as Janna said. And so far no one has eaten a cupcake but me. Hmm... Now I'm not a bad baker (I'm actually decent) as I've brought cupcakes before and they are usually gone by noon - so it got me thinking what was different about these Sandstorm cupcakes and I think it's the blue frosting? Could the blue frosting impact their desire to eat the cupcake, therefore creating a more negative user experience?
This got me thinking about our company color blue, and how blue is a color associated with a positive user experience from a web site and corporate perspective. But when it comes to food, I can't think of a restaurant or fast food restaurant that uses blue except White Castle and that alone proves my point. Color can make a big impact on the user experience. The big question now is if hunger will take over and will the cupcakes be gone this afternoon?
At Sandstorm Design, we had an incredible time designing and building the Broadway in Montgomery web site this summer! Our creative team explored a very visual, experiential design concept to draw the user into the essence of theatre - taking cues from Broadway. Adding to the theatrical drama are subtle hints of interactivity from the rotating home page show display to the interactive season ticket package selections.
Aligned with our mission, we had a great time challenging ourselves and our client to create a memorable and intuitive online user experience! Plus as an added bonus, we got the opportunity to take this brand and execute in print including ads, posters and brochures.
Everyone here has been super busy and I wanted to find a fun way to say thanks - to show the very corporate "employee appreciation". After a very informal staff meeting (this meeting consisted of me sitting on someone's desk starting with a 1-1 conversation, that eventually everyone chimes in on) we decided that a beer tasting at Hopleaf on a Friday afternoon in October would be a great employee appreciation day. We can't wait - stay tuned...
We are hiring! (Oh, I just LOVE saying that!) It's one of my favorite things to do. We are looking for an information architect that is a whiz at wireframing, understands the user experience, and can take strategic business decisions and turn them into intuitive interfaces. So that's our minimum requirement. Other pluses are whatever else you bring to the table - you tell us! Have design or photoshop skills? Great! Have experience in development? Cool. Love to conduct user research and usability tests - you're our next Sandstormer. Can't wait to meet you!
Sandstorm Design was selected as a top 65 Gen Y company by Brill Street and the GFK Group market research company! We are so honored and proud to be selected as a company that attracts, retains and leverages these top performers - who bring an abundance of energy, determination and passion to our office (in addition to random made up words, quote-of-the-day boards, and happy dances).
Plus I have all the Facebook help I need.
Wellness (physical, mental and emotional well being) is really important to us at our marketing and web design firm, so after some pretty long weeks of some exciting work, my staff really needs a break! So we developed "Massage Day" coming up for us at Sandstorm Design! Everyone is getting 15 minute massages at our office to make the day a little more comfortable and to ease the tension of yet, one last minute change to a file or tweak to a site. Maybe we'll make it an annual - no quarterly idea? Hmmm... let's see how it works out.
Our annual Sandstorm Guac Off date is officially set - Saturday, August 29th. So what's a 'Guac Off' you ask? Well, it is our official Sandstorm guacamole contest. I remember the first year that we did it, so randomly, it came up in conversation when Alma and I were bickering about who makes a meaner guacamole. I think the funniest thing about our now annual guacamole contest is that Alma nor myself has ever won.
You're ready to conduct a formal usability study and have some of your customers or potential prospects available to participate in this study (5-6 users is fine, but don't forget the gratuity). These one-on-one sessions start out with a single user interacting with a web site or wire frame completing a set of tasks, and then a moderator asking them follow-up questions regarding the experience. These sessions usually involve a quiet room, a camera and tracking software to watch a user's expressions and their navigational habits. After the study, the data is analyzed and a formal usability report with key findings and recommendations is written.
The goal of any usability test is to figure out what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong, and learn what your users want. So what are you waiting for?