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Google Analytics 101

Who needs to care about Google Analytics? EVERYONE. At the outset, analytics seem like something only marketers care about, right? Wrong.

Every organization on the face of this planet has one thing in common: growth. Growth is measurable. And with websites, we can attribute growth to a variety of attributes. Did we sell more product/receive more donations from our promoted Facebook posts, our promoted tweets, or from our e-newsletters? Even if a website can’t measure revenue, it should be doing something to grow the organization, or the website/app doesn’t need to exist.

Strategists and User Experience Architects should care about analytics and start thinking about how their proposed user flows will lead to conversions (i.e. what’s the path of least resistance?). Front-end developers should care because they way they write code will affect implementation of Universal Analytics or Google Tag Manager.

People attending this seminar will come away with a basic understanding of Google Analytics (and how Classic differs from Universal), how Google Tag Manager differs from Google Analytics, and some key reports that everyone should know about. Mostly because they’ll impress your boss.

Behavioral Insights for A Better Web

Creating something that is easy to use is not the same as creating something valuable that people want to use. To create something people will keep coming back to, it is important to understand why they do what they do – their conscious and subconscious motivations – and the factors that can influence a choice, a preference, or an action.

Behavioral science offers answers to these questions and provides the foundation for any targeted research your company may undertake. A solid understanding of behavioral science can help us design better interfaces, build better products, and improve the overall experience of (and value to) our customers.

You’ll learn about universal aspects of human behavior and how they apply to the digital world. We will talk about steps other companies have taken to incorporate behavioral science into their own work, and give you tips on how you can do the same. In short, you will leave with actionable insights that will influence how you approach your work, and be provided with direction on where to go to learn more about the topic.

Steve, Trystan, and Emily are passionate about behavioral science and wanted to create a place where people could go to learn more about it. In May 2015, they started Behavior MN, a cross-functional meetup for people in the Twin Cities who want to build a practical understanding of behavioral science.

Making the Web Fireproof: A Building Code for Websites

The moment we start creating a website, we’re setting ourselves up for failure later. Bad code creates middle of the night fire drills. Lack of thinking about accessibility gets our employer sued. Not thinking ahead on mobile generates rework. We accept this as the normal course of business – but is there any way we could prevent (or lower) this cost? Is there anything we can learn from the building codes that dictate how our built environment is constructed?

We will talk about the lessons of building codes and what we can do today to build more robust web applications and sites, including:

  • The need for design patterns in websites
  • The need for patterns in user stories so that we build websites consistently
  • Baking accessibility into websites comes from putting accessibility into user stories
  • Planning a web application is different from planning a building, but it does share similar aspects of work
  • The better we can becoming at creating best practices (building codes) the better we will get at building sites, and the closer we will come to Berners-Lee’s “one web for all” dream

Getting past “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen” – Learning to design collaboratively

We’ve all heard the phrase “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth” and heard horror stories of the terrible things that result from design by committee. So when it comes to user experience design, the work is best left to the experts, right?


User experiences are complex, messy, and often have very specific needs and limitations – not unlike the people who use them and the needs they address. Learning how and when to collaborate with clients and end-users to co-create design solutions is a critical skill for anyone who designs and builds experiences – including UXers, visual designers, developers, and project managers. Collaboration doesn’t mean you give up control, or your role as the expert. But being an expert at design doesn’t make you the expert at every business, and it certainly doesn’t make you the end-user. A collaborative methodology is better than traditional methods where a team designs the solution and then gathers input. With a collaborative methodology, users and clients are co-creating the design from the outset, so you to get the right inputs, identify the faults in your thinking, and refine the solution – before you ruin the broth.

In this session we’ll talk what about it takes to be successful at co-creating a design solution, the difference between co-creating with a product team or an end-user, and how to plan, design, refine, and execute a solution successfully as a collaboration. We’ll also share tools and insights you’ll use to help collaboration go smoothly, from when to meet (or not to meet) and who to invite (or exclude).

The Death of Lorem Ipsum and Pixel-Perfect Content

A designer has been asked to mock up an example student profile page in Photoshop. It’s beautiful. The student’s name fits perfectly under the profile image. Their bio is split into two perfectly aligned columns. The design just feels… right. Approvals are given and the production of a website with many different profiles is started. As more profiles are added the design no longer seems to work. It’s starting to seem like the website itself will no longer work. The cold, hard reality of varied and inconsistent web content has hit the project hard. Do we make large design changes or just live with it?

To head off this question we should utilize real content as we develop mock-ups. But it shouldn’t just be one set of real content. Delivering the best possible and most robust websites requires us to design using the best-case, worst-case, and every-case-in-between content. By combining the skills of content specialists, designers, and even developers designs will be that much stronger.

How to Evaluate Web Pages for Accessibility

Attendees will learn techniques and tools for evaluating Web pages for accessibility. We begin by identifying common categories of disabilities and potential barriers the Web presents for each category. We then briefly review the Web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 and WAI-ARIA). Presentation will provide an overview of Web accessibility checking software and techniques. The majority of time will be spent learning about and using WAVE Firefox extension, AInspector Firefox extension, WCAG color contrast checker, Juicy Studio Firefox extension and ChromeVox screen reader. Participants will have an opportunity to evaluate Web pages for accessibility using their own computers.

Are You Over-Testing?

What is your code coverage? Why not 10% more or less? Is testing this feature more important than shipping the next? Many teams spend too much time and energy on testing the wrong things. In this session, an enterprise developer turned startup entrepreneur will dive into the costs and benefits of testing. You will learn about the organizational and social dynamics that drives teams to over-test. You will come away armed to convince your team, your manager, and your business to ship more and maximize test value. Check your dogma at the door and let’s ship some valuable software.

Code Reviews: That’s a Great Idea!

We all know that code reviews are beneficial. We’ve been told time and time again that they should be part of our development process. But – like most best practices – a practical implementation is challenging (and time consuming). Your team is convinced they are a great idea. You’ll have an opportunity to squash bugs in the least costly of development times, learn new things from your talented teammates, and build a stronger foundation of trust. Awesome. Everyone is on board. But now what? What tools are out there? What are you actually looking for? How often should the reviews happen? In this talk, you’ll get a practical guide to making code reviews effective. Whether you’re the reviewer or reviewee: there are ways to make sure this really is a great idea.

One Second or Bust: The Quest for Quick Page Loads

Speed matters. You can greet your guests with a gorgeous site, but if it loads painfully slow, many of them will never see it. People can have slow internet connections anywhere, but mobile connections face particular challenges. If your site takes more than a second to load, you’ll see traffic swiftly drop away. So how do we beat the one second barrier? We’ll begin our quest by dissecting the anatomy of a request for a web page. When you go to a URL, how exactly does a browser look through your HTML to determine how to display a page? We’ll see how front end assets like CSS and JS files as well as fonts and images offer some of the biggest opportunity for improving page load speeds. We will also briefly cover back-end caching tools key to a quick page load. Media heavy sites may not entirely load in one second, but there are still ways to make a site feel like it’s loading quickly. By the end of the session, you’ll be ready to speed out the door to make your site as fast as it can be.

All I Ever Needed to Know About Social Media I Learned from the Muppets

It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight. Whether or not you were a child of the 70s and 80s, you know the opening lyrics for the Muppet Show theme. You know Kermit the Frog and Fozzie the Bear, Waldorf and Statler, Miss Piggy and Gonzo. The Muppets were not human, but they were terribly human-like. The conflicts on the weekly variety show airing in the late 1970s were the stuff of legend for kids growing up at that time. What can we learn from these puppets who showed us how to be better and worse and everything in between?

In this presentation, Tonya Oaks Smith will argue that the Muppet Show is simply a display of what we see everyday when we manage our social media presence. Take a time machine back to childhood and see how various personalities interacted on the Muppet Show – and how those very characters appear day in and day out on the social web. We’ll talk about how the Muppets serve as a microcosm for the social web, and then we’ll talk about how to deal with things when they go awry.

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