Monthly Archives: June 2012

Events, pigeons, and pie (not necessarily in that order)

In honor of Good Idea day, I asked my colleague and friend Brendon Woodworth from iModules Professional Services  to stop by for a visit at iModules Insider and share some of his event registration expertise. Turns out that he also has some unexpected deep thoughts about pigeons. Enjoy!

Jen: So Brendon, as a member of the Professional Services team, you build complex event registrations for our clients. Would it be appropriate to call you an Event Registration Guru?

Brendon: Wow, that’s a strong image and reputation to uphold but I humbly accept the title. The events module by far has to be my favorite tool to use and I thoroughly enjoy the challenging questions clients bring to me. Some people do crossword puzzles to keep their mind sharp, I unravel event registrations.

Jen: What do you consider to be the most valuable feature in the Events module?

Brendon: I have two. I think one of the most underutilized features within the Events module is the activity functionality. Adding an activity to a form instead of a category adds so much more functionality and can go a long way when looking at reports. The second is the ability to add HTML and custom graphics to various parts of your event form including field display names. Just a little bit of coding can turn a normal event into something outstanding.

Jen: What advice would you give our clients when they sit down to build an event registration?

Brendon: This may sound backwards, but start backwards. Think about what information you need (specific counts, break down of counts, pictures, etc.) Make a wish list. Let your mind go, erase any preconceived limitations of the software, and write down what your ideal registration form would look like. This tool is extremely powerful and the only limitation by your imagination.

Jen: Do you prefer pie or cake? Please be specific about flavors, colors, etc…

Brendon: Pie! That was an easy question. I don’t discriminate on flavor, any kind is delicious. Although if I had to choose I think any red pie would be up on my list as a favorite, not just any red but somewhere in the Pantone 485 family.
Jen: What are you looking forward to at Sizzler this year?

Brendon: Not many people know this but I work from home in Upstate NY. I absolutely love working from home but I miss out on seeing people on a daily basis. At Sizzler I am really looking forward to hanging out and meeting some of the clients that I have worked so closely with.

Jen: Any closing words of wisdom for our readers?

Brendon: Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.

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Occupy E-mail

Peter Bregman at the Harvard Business Review writes about coping with e-mail overload and has a compelling idea (heck, it’s even a good idea) for wrestling e-mail down to a manageable part of your work day.  He writes:

Instead of checking email continuously and from multiple devices, schedule specific email time during the day while you are at your computer. All other time is email vacation time.

We are most efficient when we answer email in bulk at our computers. We move faster, can access files when we need them, and link more quickly and easily to other programs like our calendars. Also, when we sit down for the express purpose of doing emails, we have our email heads on. We are more focused, more driven, wasting no time in transition from one activity to another.

I bulk process my email three times a day in 30-minute increments, once in the morning, once mid-day, and once before shutting down my computer for the day. I use a timer and when it beeps, I close my email program.

I love this idea. Now whether or not I can actually bring myself to do it, that’s another story. I find it almost impossible to resist checking my e-mail, but 99% of the time it’s not necessary to check it several times an hour throughout the work day, and I can definitely see the benefits of cutting out the endless distraction.

What about you? How are you managing (or not) e-mail overload?

Content clutter and other unfortunate events

You’re probably wondering where I’ve been all week. You’ve probably been thinking something like: “Hey, what’s with this lame blog that never gets updated?”  So here’s the story… if you have little kids at home you’ve probably heard of a pesky little virus called Fifth Disease. This highly contagious childhood disease spread like wildfire at my kids’ daycare and made a visit to our house last week.

It was a heck of a lot of fun. Fevers. Alarming rashes. Debilitating joint pain. Good times all around.  It’s now moved on to wreck some other unsuspecting family’s weekend.  And remember that lovely 5k race in the park that I was so looking forward to last weekend? Ha! Maybe next year.

Enough about me and my excuses. It’s Friday. It’s Good Idea Day. The sun is shining. And strawberry season has started in Upstate New York. What could be better?

Let’s talk about content clutter. Is your web site starting to resemble the junk drawer in your kitchen? You know that drawer where you throw extra keys, packs of matches, scissors, pens, stamps, twist ties, cat toys, paper clips, business cards, adapters of every size (mostly from gadgets you no longer own), fun size boxes of candy corn, and any other random thing you don’t know what to do with, but you’re not yet ready to part with? Now do a quick mental inventory of your site. Do you have links to giving campaigns that ended in 2009? Photos from Reunion 2008? The rainy one. Where all the photos came out blurry. How about a dozen or so dead links to the .edu “Lodging and Accommodations” page that was taken down last year? A content page for the 2011 class gift campaign still prominently placed on the Donations home page?

If your answer is “Yes” or “Ohmygod, Yes” or you just started weeping, you probably need to do a content audit of your site.  I am well aware that the idea of of a content audit is about as exciting as sorting socks, but it’s still a good idea and it’s really worth the effort. Now, I know that it’s a myth that summer means “downtime” in the world of higher ed. I’ve been there, people. I know how it is. You think you’re going to get through Reunion and the end of the fiscal year and then you’ll have all this time to get through some big projects. Then two minutes later, it’s September and you didn’t get to any of it.  But give it a shot anyway. Block out a day, put on your headphones, and start clicking away. Or you could set aside a few hours every Friday for the next month or two to look through one section at a time and find those dead links, the broken images, the never to be used again in this century content.

De-clutter your site and you’ll have a tidy place to plan your 2012/2013 communications. If you want to get really serious and do a deep cleaning of your site, you can hire the nice folks in Professional Services to do a content audit for you, and they’ll even make some recommendations. They really are lovely people over there.

Turtles are cool and so is the May product release

Hello lovely readers!

I have three exciting words for you today:  May. Product. Release.

I know, I know. It’s almost too much happiness to take on a Wednesday.

Seriously though. There are two items that brought a smile to my face which I think you should know about.

1. Form Field Sorting. Ohsweethappyday, this is so great because as a person who used to build A LOT of forms, I can attest to the incredible frustrations of sorting and deleting fields in a form. Every time you so much as breathed on a field, the system would refresh the page (argh!) and bounce you and your cursor like a rubber ball back to the top of the page (double argh!). This wonderful enhancement allows you to move and delete multiple fields on a form all at once. Begone refresh & bounce!

2. Unopened E-mail Marketing Reporting. Now you can find out who didn’t open that invitation to New York City Happy Hour and instead of sending everyone on the list the follow-up reminder,  you can just send it to the folks who so rudely ignored your carefully crafted message the first time. Added bonus is you can generate the recipient list right from the grid. Eureka!

In other news… I’m “running” my first 5k in four years this Sunday. I “ran” two miles yesterday and it took me nearly 25 minutes. Oh stop it. Stop laughing. Come on now, it’s not THAT funny. Geez.

I don’t care whether I run, walk, skip, or crawl to the finish line. I’ll be out there in the sunshine on a Sunday morning in lovely Green Lakes State Park, without a small child strapped to me. Hurray!

I hope your Wednesday treats you kindly, my friends.