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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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?
Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, and thank you to my staff for singing happy birthday to me via conference call while I am out in Colorado. I loved the song more than you know - and am overwhelmed with appreciation for all of the hard work you dedicate to helping Sandstorm grow... Thank you.
The Sandstorm staff just can't stop going on vacations! It's like we're all playing tag around the office - but heck, it's the summer and we all love a vacation. I'm not sure when it started, I think it was Janna going on a long birthday weekend, then Lisa just got back from her week away in Door County, Holly went to a music festival, Alma is hitting the Harry Potter museum and movie (she calls it a Harry Potter Holiday), and I am heading out to Keystone Colorado with the family. Our marketing firm sure knows how to use our PTO days :)
We are having way too much fun with our newest web design and development project - traveling Broadway shows like Wicked, Stomp, Annie, etc. brought to smaller cities across America and in Canada. We are creating this amazing, theatrical user experience on the web utilizing almost everyone on staff from usability experience and message development, to information architecture, creative execution, web development and of course - project management.
Stay tuned for our web site launch date for city #1 coming in July. (Our web design company is so excited we can hardly resist showing you the web design comps!)
We're so honored! Our web design firm won a web design award for the National Association of Realtors Green Designation web site. It's a green industry site, an association and in real estate - three of our favorite industries to work in. As Holly would say, we heart winning!
We just recommitted to writing our employee manual (thanks Janna!). It's been 10 years since we've been in business, and we have started on this project multiple times. But as we're back in growth mode and on the rise for a few more hires this summer and fall, we've decided that we're going to actually complete it this time. Ok, Janna decided it is really way overdue and we need to get this done.
Our approach? An employee-centric model of course! Our plan is to have Mike get the rough draft done, then let the rest of the staff read, edit and add so that the employee manual is truly ours, not another boring corporate book. Wish us luck!
This weekend is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago. Volunteers walk along the lakefront 26.2 miles on Saturday, and 13.1 miles on Sunday. Part of our efforts to give back to the community include our sponsorship of local events (like this weekend). In addition, we're always in the midst of an annual report design for one of our favorite local non profits. :) I am really proud of the difference we have made over the years - humbled and proud.