Online Consultant

What are you going to find here? Well you will get my insight to my random thoughts about the online world, along with some of my other interests, vego cooking, skateboarding and the journey to get fit.

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  • Evo and I watching another awesome Perth sunset

    Evo and I watching another awesome Perth sunset

  • Source unknown

    Source unknown

101 Web Technology

101 Web Technology

An online consultancy specialising in usable and accessible solutions that achieve maximum return on investment ensuring your website and web applications work for your business.
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iApp Marketing

iApp Marketing

iApp Marketing comes under the 101 Web Technology banner and is the arm of the business providing mobile application design/development. The business is based on the ethos of collaborative application development. We work with people to develop their ideas.
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Lets Skate

Lets Skate

I'm a big fan of skating, the art on the boards the extreme nature of the sport. So after a bit of a hiatus from skateboarding, I'm getting back onto the board to shred it up again. Not really too hard any more, after a couple of falls I realise I don't bounce like I used to. But its fun and the fitness is improving, bring it on.
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Your Online Consultant

Your Online Consultant

Working with small business owners, I see too often the need for an independent source to get information regarding their online business. Your Online Consultant is a new service I'm launching to help businesses to succeed online. As Your Online Consultant I assist to ensure your online presence is working for your business to get the best bang for your buck.
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5 Reasons Enterprise Marketers will love Drupal 8

Im really excited about the release of Drupal 8, in this eBook from ACQUIA “5 Reasons Enterprise Marketers will love Drupal 8” ACQUIA explore and promote the key features which get us excited about the platform. It is interesting to note that out of the box Drupal 8 is mobile ready, this is a major feature and shows that the guys behind Drupal are paying attention to the market. Drupal 8 is moving away from being a Web Content Management System and into a Web Experience Management tool. This means its providing a robust framework for integrating with existing systems, being extended to deliver high value web applications to the enterprise.

Drupal 8 is based on five key premises marketers will love:

  • Software for the real world—use the best tools for the job at hand
  • Mobile and beyond—embrace mobile technologies
  • Intuitive site administration—make managing your website easy for everyone
  • The right content at the right time—deliver more relevant content
  • Performance is everything—emphasize performance

Read more about the key features and find out why you should be excited by visiting Acquia.

Did I mention that 101 Web Technology is a ACQUIA Foundation Partner, with all our developers certified in the Sales, Training and Development tracks. If you are looking for a Drupal development firm with the backing of industry leading technology and system architects, you won’t go too far wrong with getting in touch with 101 Web Technology.

3 Lessons from presenting my Web Optimisation Workshops

Photo of presentation slide and view from the Narooma Golf Club

Last week I travelled from Canberra to the South Coast of NSW to present 3 x 3 hour workshops on the subject of Web Optimisation on behalf of the Eurobodalla Shire Council, the sessions were in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma and we had great attendance over 140 poeplwith lots of attendees ready to participate and get the most out of the sessions.

I learnt a lot about the approach to presenting technical information to a mix of technical and non technical people and as a result my presentation style evolved from the first session to the last where I found I had the format and timings down to a tee. In Batemans Bay I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with a person, who had many years experience in presenting workshops and courses. He gave me some great tips which allowed me to adjust for the following sessions and I think the subsequent groups really benefitted from it.

Here are a couple of the tips which I applied and which I found worked really well.

1) Popcorn style is hard to control

Popcorn style is likened to having un popped kernels of corn in amongst the group and applying the heat (in this case start presenting) and waiting to see which pops, often if you have watched popcorn being cooked, you start to notice the result is a process which is chaotic and uncontrollable. I opened the session with an open invite to ask questions through the session, what I found in the first session was these questions were sometimes so specific to the person asking I quickly became involved in a 1 on 1 conversation, leaving the rest of the group behind and not involved.

Lesson – The style worked and got people feeling comfortable, though if the question does not benefit a majority of the group, take it offline. I also recommend setting a context for the questions up front, this sets expectations of what you will and won’t cover. If a question is covered later in the presentation, park it until then.

2) Prizes can distract

I offered bribes to get people talking in the form of chocolate, and the game was who collected the most chocolate at the end of the session would receive a 2hr consultation with me. First session – Offered chocolates in the popcorn style and it was very hard to control. Prizes were awarded to people who asked a question or interacted. This meant questions sometimes were not relevant though as I hadn’t set context, I was obliged to give the prize otherwise my integrity would be lost. Second session, I didn’t offer any. Not by design, purely because I was thrown by IT issues and I had to present the first 1hr of the session, without slides and illustrating the points on the white board. I simply forgot that component, however it did not distract and people were still very engaged and did participate in a very positive way. Third session – Chocolates came back, I controlled the questions a lot more and found this was productive, though still very hard to keep on track.

Lesson – The prizes were a major distraction and a lot harder to control then I anticipated. Questions were varied and took me on many tangents and off the lesson plan I had set. My suggestion is to offer incentive points, or knowledge checks in the form of questions to the group. This allows you to keep on point, control the group and promote active participation.

3) Set goals and targets

I had prepared my slides around the topics I wanted to cover through the night. Though I had no set target or end game. What did I want people to learn?, what were the key takeaways? I knew I wanted people to learn from me, but what? I found this evolving as I got to know each audience.

Lesson – Have a clear set of targets and goals defined. They will help you to stay on point, and take the participants on the journey with you. People don’t want a set of facts thrown at them, they want to consume knowledge and how you present that knowledge is key. In my last session, I set knowledge checks where I would get everyone on the same page before stepping into the live demo. For instance. Who understands how a search engine works? A very simple check to see if the next chunk of information is going to make sense. I found in each session, over 70% did not know how a search engine worked, therefore it would have made jumping into Google Webmaster Tools to explain how Googles sees their site (index stats, keywords and density, sitemaps, crawl rates) was going to a lot harder without some foundation knowledge.

I hope these help you when your presenting your next topic, if you have any tips yourself please feel free to share Im always learning.

Orange and Raspberry Dairy Free Smoothie

orange raspberry dairy free  smoothieThis dairy free smoothie turned out great, I have actually made it a couple of times since. The tweak that I made after I took the photo was to use frozen oranges. The photo used for the post was with the fresh oranges. Tastes mostly the same though with the frozen fruit you tend to make a more creamier smoothie.

Tips:
If you plan on using frozen oranges, I strongly recommend peeling before you place in the freezer. It just means you don’t need to stuff around with the whole peeling process when the fruit is frozen.

If you have fruit that is not that great for eating, maybe a little over ripe. If you’r not going to juice it, peel it and throw it in a zip lock bag and place in the fridge. I do this will all my fruit. Reduces waste and really extends the life of your fruit. I haven’t found a fruit yet that doesn’t freeze too well, though if you have please add your comments below.

Ingredients:

3 oranges
Cup of frozen raspberries
Half a standard cucumber (skin on)
1/2 cup – 1 cup of water (filtered is best, you could go a raw organic coconut too as a variation)

Throw these into the blender and smoothie away. For me I like a thick smoothie, so I tend to use a smaller amount of water first and its really there to help my crappy blender to do its job.

Hope you enjoy it

Fruit Salad Dairy Free Smoothie

fruit salad dairy free smoothie

What a great dairy free smoothie. This one was actually destined to go in to the ice block moulds, though I made a little too much so it went into the cup and we had a refreshing drink with breakfast. In fact I think if you were running a little late you could add some hemp seed for a hit of protein and this could be a great light breakfast.

  • 1 Frozen Orange
  • 1 Cup Frozen Raspberries
  • 1/4 of Honeydew Melon
  • 2 Cups of watermelon
  • 1/4 Cup water

Throw into your favourite (or in my case my make-do blender) and mix up a storm. The two frozen fruits make this a creamy smoothie and add a real freshness to it.

If you want ice-blocks for the kids, here are a couple of tips.

Use your ice cube tray, fills each spot with the blended fruit, place in freezer for about 1hour take out and now put in your sticks. I used wooden skewers which I cut to a 2.5-3inch pieces and just simply push through the mix. The fruit should be quite firm at this stage, so you will be able to easily stand up the sticks.

If you don’t have the time to wait for the partial freeze or you want a set and forget method, cut a piece of A4 paper the same size as the try put it over the top of the ice tray and put your sticks though the paper. The paper should help them to stay straight.

We have these Wistix Frozen Pop Makers from Howard’s Storage World. They are great, though we have moved recently to Perth and had 8, but now have 5. Im sure the ones which are MIA, are just in some random box. #hatemoving :)

Love to hear how you guys like the smoothie or ice pops, leave me a comment or two.

 

What is the return on investment (ROI) of User Experience?

As a consultant Im always working with the best intentions of my client and their users. Working to achieve their goals and make the product a success. In business it is imperative that everything you do has a positive return, from advertising, internal processes, etc etc..

Investing in user experience is no different, if your not investing in the experience that your product or website is offering, how can you expect to have the users embrace your business? All too often UX, usability, accessibility is lumped into the “nice to have” or in the case of accessibility “tell me it meets WCAG, and I will be happy”

Measuring ROI of User Experience

  • Efficiency time on task
  • Satisfaction
  • Change / Training
  • Maintenance
  • Dollars in increased sales

The $300 million dollar button, is an article from Jarad Spool a well respected usability consultant, who worked with Amazon and in turn added $300M to the bottom line investing in UX to address Amazon’s check out process. In pure sales increases those numbers are hard to beat.

86% of issues can be found with a small number of users. A research paper I read recently from a leading usability firm, found 86% of usability issues could be found by using a small set of 5 participants in your evaluations. So Usability testing doesn’t have to cost a large amount of money, though the return can be great.

On a recent project for the an Australian Government Department I was responsible for the UX of a project, simply by championing and implementing UCD into the projects lifecycle, we showed at the conclusion of the project with benchmarked findings that 1200 staff were over 40% more efficient at their job. Lets examine those figures a little:

1200 staff working 40/hr week for 48 weeks a year.

That’s a combined 2,304,000 hours worked each year. By making these staff members 40% more efficient, that provided 921,600 in gained hours for the Dept. With increases in data entry accuracy and task satisfaction.

The power of the user experience should not be under estimated for any project, especially when you can see the gains like I have highlighted above.

 

Addressing RSI through Inclusive Design

RSI is a major risk for information workers and their employers. As usability practitioners we have the opportunity to shape a strong and positive connection for users with the tools we design. As you will see in this case study if not implemented correctly we have  the ability to affect people’s lives forever and sometimes not in a positive way.

Addressing RSI through Inclusive Design is a case study of a project that affected people’s lives and how approaching the re-design in an inclusive manner  made steps towards alleviating people’s conditions and reducing new cases occurring.

For me the project is a standout from my career to date, it was a positive experience to have such a complex problem to work through, which had real meaning to the end users. To them the work I did had the real to make their working life a little more comfortable.

Orange and Mango Smoothie

20131005-085852.jpg This smoothie came about when I asked my daughter what she wanted for breaky as always it was “I’m not hungry”. A smoothie was a good middle ground.

This is a really simple smoothie and just combines 3 ingredients, 2 are an all time classic, orange and mango. I added celery for the green and it’s a good source of fibre and vitamins A and K. Orange and Mango brings us the vitamin C while the antioxidants in mangos are shown to fight certain cancers and alkalise the body.

Recipe:
3 frozen mango cheeks. (Use frozen as it creams up the smoothie nicely)
6 oranges (Tip: squeeze them as they go into the blender, if you don’t have a vitamin)
2 celery stalks with leaves.

Blend away and enjoy. If you have enjoyed this recipe let me know.

My All Star LinkedIn profile and how you can get one too

I love LinkedIn, I think it is invaluable as a networking tool, a portable CV that is published 24/7 for the world to see. It creates a professional online presence for you and represents your career to prospective clients, employers, employees and colleagues. Though it is not Facebook, the amount of connections you have does not equal your popularity. I’m a strong believer in LinkedIn being a tool that you use to connect with people you have done business with and/or met them. I have read many articles on improving your LinkedIn profile and the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn and what I found is after taking on board the information from a variety of sources is I have created an All Star profile, I even had LinkedIn email to congratulate me that my profile was in the top 20% of viewed profiles on LinkedIn and I only have 140+ connections. These are genuine connections, every person on my list I can tell you where I met them, the project I was on and the work that we performed together. This is something that comes with time, experience and how much you put yourself out to the world.

Below is my tips for improving our LinkedIn profile to become an All Star.

Connect with people you know or have had frequent dealings with

In the world or contracting and consulting I work with many recruitment agents and over the years I have submitted my CV to many different agencies and networked with them to get staff myself. Though this doesn’t mean that I connect with every recruiter I meet. I have connected to a few and these are ones that I have found to be helpful and I have worked with on a number of occasions to fill positions. Colleagues past and present are always a good idea to connect with, though make sure you have a good rapport with them first, LinkedIn can help you create a bond with your team members. Though I have seen on a number of occasions people embellishing or taking credit for other people’s work, only to be called out on it. Lesson learned, be open, honest and transparent in your profile. It is important to note that once you achieve over 50 connections, your profile rating increases quite a fair bit.

Fill out the projects information

This section is for you to highlight the projects you have worked and who you have worked on them with. If you have connected with the team members their profile will be linked to the project, otherwise their name will be listed. The project info allows you to expand on your CV section of your profile and in place of filling up lot of space listing out each project against each job, you add the project in the specific section, allow your CV section to narrow in on specific roles, responsibilities and achievements.

You have skills and experience so highlight them

When this section was launched I did gloss over it to start with, however after I started to use it I listed out my skills from my Professional Strengths section of my CV. Fast forward some time, I have quite a few endorsements against the profession strengths that I knew I had and now I know others think the same. Why would you care? Often now and I have done it myself, I will see a CV and it looks good though I now also do the LinkedIn search to see what their online profile looks like. It can create a really good impression if what you are saying in your CV matches what you are saying online and your connections are people are supporting that. Don’t get too creative with your skills, though you have 50 to add so get on with the job.

Professional Headline

Here is your opportunity to tell the world in a succinct statement, what you are about, your role or your job title. I prefer to summarise my experience into a simple statement “Online Consultant” Its simple, it’s what I do and I feel it is all-encompassing of my services and skill set. I saw a profile the other day that had “If you haven’t worked with me and I don’t know you, DON’T add me” I thought fair enough (see first point), though you’re not too friendly there are you big fella? For me this created a very negative impression on this person, and if I was recruiting for a position I would gloss over this guy purely based on the attitude. While I agree with his statement, the statement is very aggressive and closed off, it painted a picture of a guy in a dark room programming and doesn’t want to be part of a team. A tough nut to crack. When I’m looking for someone to work with, I’m looking for someone I can relate to on a personal and professional level. That’s not to say we will be best mates, though I would like to feel comfortable I could ask about the weekend and not get a closed “Good”.

Your profile picture

This is a very important part of your LinkedIn profile, actually while I write this post I’m thinking of putting it at the top of my list of tips. Im going to leave it as the last item, so if you take away nothing else from this post you remember this. This is how people first identify with you, it is your first impression to people via a search, if you are submitted a CV for a job and the person on the shortlist panel, goes online to check you out. They want to see what you look like, please don’t use the default profile pic of a faceless white shape, or your pet or kids. There are various articles written on the psychology of what your profile picture says about you.

Some suggestions for good profile photos are:

  • Professional headshots, easy to have someone take them for you. No selfies, unless you are really good at them and you don’t pull a duck face
  • In action shot, one shot I have seen a lot of the time is consultants in front of whiteboards, facilitating a group session.
  • Tie or no tie, that’s up to you. Though I do suggest being inline with how you present your self at work.
  • Relaxed shots, showing a personal side. I added this one as I look at my current profile picture of my on the beach with my dog. It’s a nice shot and really highlights my demeanor as I take a relaxed approach to my roles. That’s not to say I’m a slacker, I simply enjoy a peaceful existence and nature plays a large part in my life. I felt this picture represented my well.

I hope you found the tips useful and you are on your way to obtaining an All Star LinkedIn profile. If you have any feedback please post your comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts.

The story of my first app, miBabyShots

I did it, I finally have an app in the Apple App Store after saying to an old colleague of mine before I left a previous assignment. “Im aiming to have an app in the store by 30 June 2012″ That was in December 2011 I made that statement. So why such a long time? It actually took me a long time to come up with an idea that I felt had actual merit, that would be relatively easy to design and develop. Then I had a period of some pretty new and exciting consulting roles, where I had the opportunity to hone my Drupal and Sharepoint skills in a couple of BA and consulting dev roles. It was after them that I secured a 12 month contract role with an Oil and Gas giant over in Perth which gave me the exposure to the massive resources industry.

miBabyShots Screen

Screen of miBabyShots in action

miBabyShots Title Screen

miBabyShots Title Screen

Lets fast forward 6months, I’m settling into the role in Perth and my 18month old son gives me a great idea. One morning I was watching him mimic his older sister when she was taking photos with the iPhone. After each photo session the kids would walk up and show me the pictures they had taken, however my son at 18months didn’t have much luck taking the photos. He would still come up to show me the picture, but often it was the home screen. So I thought how could I capture what he sees without over complicating the camera process and take out the fun he was having by simply pointing at what he saw and letting the device do the rest.

miBabyShots was the answer to that question, we created an automatic camera that a baby can simply point at an object and the camera does the capturing for them.

I also felt that no self respecting camera application would be complete without selfie mode. So I built into the settings a lock for selfie mode, now I would  watch Jett take pictures of himself. I did build the building blocks towards social integration and the app has the ability to share the photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allowing you to share photos with friends, family and other miBabyShots users.

I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts about the app below, or even better leave me a review on the App store.

Take a look at the app’s promo site here: http://mibabyshots.iappmarketing.com.au

Another iPhone application life lesson

So my first app miBabyShots has been reviewed and passed and is now ready for sale. Pumped, that is until the status of the app went from  In Review (nervous time) to Processing for App Store (Excellent we passed its going in) to Pending Contract (dammit).

The old pending contract status comes about when you haven’t filled in your Sales contracts with Apple. As this app is going to be sold at Tier 1 (0.99c AUD) Apple requires Bank details, ABN information and other US compliance information.

All the information is not hard to get and if you are a legitimate business or sole proprietor trying to sell apps in the Apple app store you will get through nice and easy. What I didn’t realise prior to going in is you need an Australian Business Number or (ABN), so if you are a sole proprietor, head over to Business.gov.au and obtain yourself an ABN nicely and early, that way you can be sure that you get all your paperwork sorted out prior to successfully entering the store.

An ABN, Bank Details and US compliance info is not required if you are providing free apps, as your developer licence comes with a default contact that is already entered into once you are part of the developer program.

So the lesson is here, read up on Google, check out the Apple Developer Guide and research everything you need to know outside of design and code, because that is only the part of the project.

Hope this helps.

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