Usability Week!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Usability, Web | Posted on 28-11-2007-05-2008

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So we’re hitting usability pretty hard this week.  Hard as in basically taking up my entire week.  Very enlightening stuff.  Best $150 we’ve ever spent. I’ll be compiling some general observations to share with you later next week. I’ll have a Higher Ed How-To: Usability Testing coming soon, which is the name of a new section that I am starting. It will consist of basic How-To’s, such as how to get started with usability testing, bloggers, Google Maps, Adwords, Analytics, Facebook/MySpace/etc., Wikipedia, Technorati, and more, using examples from what I have done and seen.  Looking forward to getting that started.

In the mean time, it looks like I have another session to get to.

Check out TeensTalk

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Technology, Webinars | Posted on 26-11-2007-05-2008

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Stamats has a webinar coming up a week from Friday (Dec 7th) called TeensTalk, and you should definitely check it out. Steve Kappler from Stamats does a great job pulling all the vital stats together for a very informative presentation. Here’s a little blurb from their site:

Using Stamats’ proprietary TeensTALK® (Trends, Attitudes, Lifestyles, and Knowledge) nationwide study, we’re able to segment, analyze, and interpret the data to help you understand what’s important to teenagers at specific decision points in their college selection process. This presentation will provide you with a bedrock understanding of how teen perceptions and preferences affect the national landscape, the big-picture issues, and, most importantly, the context for understanding the continually evolving preferences of your prospective students—from start to finish of their college selection process lifecycle.

I’ve listened to this presentation a few years now, and it is always great information. Not only for you to hear and know, but to have and be able to share with others. I can’t count the number of times that I have pulled out hard statistics from this survey [which is culminated from ~1000 college-bound juniors and seniors] when trying to get buy-in or approval on projects such as bloggers, use of media, email design, etc. There are all kinds of questions and statistics that sum up the incoming classes and what they expect/want/know.   Check it out!

Link: [Stamats TeensTalk Webinar: http://www.stamats.com/events/webinarstemp/teenstalk3.asp]

Sociotown: A 3D Social MMOG

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Technology | Posted on 21-11-2007-05-2008

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Looks like there’s a new game in town. Meet Sociotown.

“SocioTown is a 100% web-based 3D Social MMOG (Massive Multiplayer Online Game). The social system in SocioTown is designed to be intuitive and provide players a way to naturally distinguish between their good friends and random acquaintances. The more time you spend with someone and the longer you chat, your friendship link will become stronger. Eventually, they may become a part of your Inner Circle.”

I signed up for a beta tester spot, so if I get in I’ll let you know.  It looks pretty ridiculous.  Probably just another ‘web 2.0 social network’ that will burn out or grow way too quickly for its own good.  The graphics seem more ‘kid’ oriented.

Well, I’m heading out for Turkey Break.  President Fong closed the University at noon today.  Whoo hoo!  Enjoy your break, everyone!

ClickHeat: What do your visitors want?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Technology, Web | Posted on 19-11-2007-05-2008

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A couple of weeks ago we installed ClickHeat and put the nifty little javascript snippet on our top-level page to get an idea of what our visitors are looking for.  Three things instantly pop out:

  1. Apply
  2. Search
  3. For Parents

Unfortunately, the program doesn’t play well with our flash drop-downs, but I have no problem believing that these are the big 3, especially this time of the season. It also helps me with my case that the ‘Watch Cool Clips Now’ should be replaced by a Bloggers/Forum callout.

Pending any breaking news/stories, this will be the last post at SquaredPeg until after Thanksgiving Break.  Eat a lot and enjoy time with your friends and family, and we’ll see you next week!

Tis the season for closed doors.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment | Posted on 15-11-2007-05-2008

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When I got back to the office from San Diego on Tuesday, I noticed something odd.   Everyone’s door in my wing was shut.  We are usually an ‘open-door community’, walking in and out with questions/answers/problems/solutions all day (in addition to the occasional ridiculous 4-person conference call over our VOIP phones), but it wasn’t the case anymore.

Then around 10am I heard some loud, yet elegant singing, in the conference room at the end of the hall.  Inquiring minds need to know, so I checked out the schedule for the day:  Houston Grand Opera Auditions. All day.  And all of Monday.  And all day Wednesday.  Ah ha! Problem solved.

Then Thursday comes along. Closed. Closed. Closed. Closed. Closed. (I’m in the middle.)

Then I realized, it’s not the opera or the fact that we don’t want to talk to each other.  It’s simply that time of the year. Early Admission deadline of December 1 is eerily close, and with Turkey Day knocking out a good portion of the time left, we’re all scrambling to cover our comm flows.   I need to design/email 18 separate emails before 5pm tomorrow.  There are content updates galore on the Admission and Financial Aid pages, and we have stuff that needs changed in our visit system that we don’t have someone to do. (Note: interviews underway!)

I thought we were busy at the end of October, but I had no clue.  On a positive note, apps are up 30% for the year, and multicultural apps are up 26.5%. Top 10% of class apps are up 25%, and ACT/SAT averages are both up for applicants.  I guess I’ll go ahead and take all the credit….. :)  

Hope you are all keeping busy!
Brad

Creative Commons: What you need to know.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Technology, Web | Posted on 15-11-2007-05-2008

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I just read a good article on the ins and outs of Creative Commons, and what you need to know as a user of CC licenses.   Creative Commons was talked about quite a bit at the Stamats conference, so I thought it might be of interest to some readers.

The blog post is actually a follow up to a photographer who considered it ‘A great concept I’ll never employ’, who also brings up some good points.  It seems there are several gray areas that we (we being the stakeholders in this crazy web 2.0 world) need to collaborate and decide what is best.  Feel free to hop over to Creative Commons and become a part of it all.

[blog.epicedits.com: Creative Commons: A Great Concept I'll Continue to Employ]

[JMG-Galleries: Creative Commons: A Great Concept I'll Never Employ]

Back to the daily grind.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Technology | Posted on 13-11-2007-05-2008

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Well, it’s back to the daily grind.  I was promptly greeted by cold wind and rain the second I stepped into Indiana.  The 3rd day of the conference was a nice little recap of what all had been discussed, and Steve Kappler’s always interesting look into the data from TeensTalk. (Check out the webinar for the full she-bang.) Here are a few stats that stuck with me from the last day:

  • 92% of SOPHOMORES have discussed specific colleges with their parents, and 89% with friends.
  • 64% of Juniors still want to receive snail mail from colleges.
  • 85% of all traffic is generated from a search engine (and why aren’t you using AdWords?)

In an effort to pull some of my colleagues into the Web 2.0 world, I’ve created a group on Flickr for the Stamats conference. Feel free to post any photos in there from your trip, or start a discussion.  What a great way to get started on learning, just jump right in!

The conference also has me thinking a little more about our intentions with the blog here at SquaredPeg.  I think we will be trying to refine what exactly we want our blog to be (thoughts, how-to’s, etc.), so be prepared for some changes around here.

Back to work now, where things have massively piled up.  The lack of wireless in the conference room kept me out of my email and away from work during the presentations, which was a good thing, but now it’s time to get caught back up.

Nice to meet all of you at the conference!  Leave a comment to say hey and let me know where you are blogging/posting.

Stamats Day 2 Recap

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Web | Posted on 09-11-2007-05-2008

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It’s a packed house at the Stamats conference, with close to 180 people. That is double last year’s conference attendance. It’s been a good time for sure!

Today we got more into the ‘implementing’ side, whereas yesterday was a little more visionary. There were several solid presentations that really keyed in on some topics that a lot of people were soaking in. We had a GREAT discussion on social networking, and honestly it should have lasted a few more hours. I had so much that I wanted to say, but it wasn’t my presentation and Matt did an awesome job with it. When you only get through 3 PowerPoint slides in 70 minutes, you know the audience is captivated. I think next year it would be awesome to have a 2-3 hour panel with some younger people (or those who ‘get it’) taking questions left and right from the rest of the crowd. Stamats, if you are reading this, count me in. :)

Today’s big notes: I need to be doing more usability testing, I need to be digging in to my Google Analytics more, I need to be doing more with my AdWords campaigns, I need to be nurturing my blogger/forums/photos community more, and…. I need more time in the day.

I can’t wait to do my first presentation.  I did a lot of presenting at conferences during college but I just haven’t ‘broken in’ to the higher ed circuit yet. I absolutely love public speaking and I am so passionate about my job and higher education, and going to these conference just fires me up. If I can just get some ‘green lights’ at Butler and strike on some of my ideas that haven’t been implemented at other universities, then maybe I can be giving some ‘you should be doing this’ talks by next year :)

I skipped out on the last 1.5 sessions of the day because the sun finally came out and I needed to charge my phone (no wireless internet= no laptop = iPhone to the rescue). San Diego is beautiful! To check out some pictures that I took, just click the image below to go to my website.

Stamats Day 1 Recap

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, YouTube | Posted on 09-11-2007-05-2008

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So day 1 is over with, and it was a pretty good start to the conference.  Again, I don’t get nearly as much from the presentations as I do from talking with people, so tonight’s networking reception and the events taking place afterwards were total brain food for me.

We did hear some good presentations today.  Here are a few of my notes/takeaways:

  • Don’t just think outside of the box, DO outside of the box.
  • More kids are homeschooled (~1.2 million was the stat, I believe), than private/charter schools combined.  I think this could certainly be considered an untapped market for most institutions.
  • We need to invest in ideas that will get exposure.
  • Become as good at narrowcasting as you are at broadcasting.
  • Make the goal engagement, not exposure.

Spent most of the night talking shop with a good mix of crowds.  Special shout outs to Matt and Obie, looking forward to talking to these guys more in the future. As usual, I have so many ideas running through my head, just struggling with getting the buy-in/resources I need to make them a reality.  Just gotta keep trying.

Tomorrow’s schedule looks pretty good as well.  Topics covered will be Video/YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Brand/Print/Web, Interactive Technology, Keywords/Coding and Analytics/ROI.

San Diego: Day 1

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education | Posted on 08-11-2007-05-2008

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I have arrived in San Diego, and life is good. My room is huge, and I have a decent balcony view of the harbor. That blue awning below is where some suckers have to exit the building to walk over to the South Tower (Sorry, Jeremy). Overall, the hotel is fairly nice and has a great view, and there is also a neat Irish pub on the first floor (oh yeah, and a Ruth’s Chris… yum.)

The jet lag has gotten the best of me this morning, but hopefully that’s it. I promptly woke up at 4:30am, ready to go to work. It gave me some time to catch up on blogs, read the paper, reply to emails, etc. Things I usually don’t have time for when I am rushing out of the door to go sit in traffic.

Almost time for breakfast, I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing ideas/knowledge and hearing the presentations. I remember how re-energized and motivated I was after last year’s conference, so hopefully I can ge some ideas to run with and hit them hard all winter in preparation for ’08 yielding/Fall ’09 recruiting.

Stamats took the page for the conference off of their site, so I don’t really know who all we are going to hear today. I’ll write more later when time permits.

Take care, and don’t be afraid to say hey to me! That’s me below. Unfortunately my wife couldn’t come this year. :(