A new year already

How is it even possible that it's not only 2017 — it's February! HI has been working hard .. harder than we anticipated, to tell the truth. Some of our clients have leveled up and are tackling bigger and more ambitious projects, and we're there to help every step of the way. Everything from setting up an email drip marketing and smart email system to developing a knowledge base and determining how to best deploy it. It's fun though, and our clients are making real progress and it's great to see businesses move into the next tier of professionalism and success.

And if our regular work wasn't enough, Tom is in the drone game! He's wanted one forever and has recently obtained an entry level model for flight training. Clearly it won't be long until he's moving on to an industry-standard model and getting his pilot's license. We can't wait to offer drone surveillance services as well.

Looking forward to another excellent year! We'd love to hear from you.

j+t

Variety and brain health

The back yard of Hasselbeck Industries. No, not really ... but we're so lucky to have our offices in this beautiful desert.

The back yard of Hasselbeck Industries. No, not really ... but we're so lucky to have our offices in this beautiful desert.

Summer has come and gone ... well, not really. Here in sunny Palm Springs. The summer is still in full force, but it's clear that the rest of the world is wrapping up vacations, sending the kids back to school, and gearing up some big projects. HI has been a part of these plans for several new companies, and we're thrilled about the wide variety of clients and workloads that are in front of us. Not only does it keep tedium away, it's been proven that challenge and variety are good for the brain.

On some days, it's all about marketing for a client who is working hard on rebranding for a new generation of clientele. This is great, and we work through the tough decisions about web presence, social advertising, and defining the real goals of the company. On other days it's nose-to-the grindstone and determining how to set up a single HTML document so it can most easily be repurposed for several outputs. And of course, there's the days that go totally sideways when a last-minute project just has to be done before noon tomorrow. That always gets the adrenaline pumping and, to be honest, is that pure problem-solving that we love to do.

Yes, we're busy. Yes, there's days that we wish we could just go for a drive and leave the work alone ... but not many. We really enjoy the work we do here at HI and we absolutely feel responsible for putting in however long it takes to get the job done right. Our clients appreciate the effort, and our brains certainly do too.

Some other things we do to keep our brains healthy and happy?

  • Play an instrument
  • Learn a language
  • Play a strategy game
  • Have a meaningful discussion about a many-sided topic
  • Laugh
  • And don't forget to eat your coconut oil!

Happy autumn from

Tom and Jen

 

Learning how to learn

Primitive children learning with rudimentary instruments such as paper and rulers. Source.

Primitive children learning with rudimentary instruments such as paper and rulers. Source.

I read today that Millennials are the first generation that have been coached through virtually every aspect of their lives. Music lessons, organized sports, clubs, classes … they have had an instructor, a leader, for pretty much everything they’ve attempted. This really struck me as unfortunate, somehow. It’s different from they way I grew up where, a lot of the time, I was encouraged to “figure it out.” I daresay I’m biased and think the old way is the better way, and that these “kids” have had it easy.

But in the car, with nothing but my brain for company, I pondered this and realized I was being pretty narrow minded. I came to the conclusion that a generation that has been coached, presumably by people who are more experienced, have learned from the get-go that there’s always somebody who can do it better, whatever it is. And I think that because of these examples, perhaps they have learned to strive for better results, stronger careers, different solutions. It’s pretty cool.

And, it is totally natural that this Millennial generation approaches their work differently, and part of this new thinking is to expect help when they need it. Wasting time on learning a new software doesn’t make sense when we all want these bright young minds working on bigger things, really important problems. We want them coming up with innovative solutions, not laying bricks. And the preference for quick solution learning makes perfect sense—everyone has checked youTube for a solution to just get through this one project.

Video learning is here to stay. The Millennials expect it, and the rest of us are catching up. It totally makes sense—watching a video walk you through the steps is the next best thing to a tutor. However, there is a huge range in the production and quality of instructional videos out there in the wild. Some are excellent, some are clearly quick-and-dirty, some are flat wrong.

Quality instructional offerings are an important way to show that your company is dedicated to the success of your user base. Take a minute to think about how your customers learn and ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Is my learning material complete?
    2. Is it organized and simple to follow?
    3. Is there training available for different kinds of learners?
    4. Do my customers have a clear learning path to expertise?

If you answered no to any of those questions, you need a plan for retooling your materials. Successful customers are key to a successful business. If you could use a trained and unbiased eye, contact us for an evaluation of your instructional and explanatory materials.

 

When terminology attacks: What we mean

"It says to flip the red switch, then push one of the giant yellow buttons. Did you try that?" (source)

"It says to flip the red switch, then push one of the giant yellow buttons. Did you try that?"
(source)

One thing about the internet is you can find ten definitions for the same word. Add in technical jargon and marketing terms and you’d be hard-pressed to find even one matching explanation. But since we’re using some of these words ourselves, we thought that it’s only fair to spell out what these terms mean here at HI.

e-Learning is a very broad term. The basic accepted definitions explain it as an umbrella category that covers a huge variety of electronic-based educational platforms, applications, processes, and deliveries. So basically, anything that isn’t in a print book.

Here at HI, we provide instructional screencasts as a primary e-Learning tool. They’re hugely popular, and it’s easy to see why … the interface looks like yours and you can follow right along. We use them for task-based instruction, and quickly teach a user how to complete a task. We also use workflow animations that guide a user through the bigger steps of a project without diving into how to do the actual steps. Instructional videos are a hybrid of these approaches, explaining a workflow or situation, and guiding the user through it without digging too deeply into the actual pointing and clicking.

When we talk about traditional training, we mean the stuff that you’re used to getting when you are first introduced to a software product: a guide, maybe some documentation, a quick-start brochure. User guides are the print equivalent of the workflow animations mentioned previously—they give an overview of some of the primary uses of a software and the steps to get things done, but not too detailed in terms of performing that function step-by-step. Documentation is where you get into what tools do what, how, and when to use them. This is a serious undertaking, but most companies already have a form of documentation, even an informal one. The good news is once it’s created, it’s easy to update and stay current. We also recommend training plans for different user groups— beginner, advanced, and administrative groups. These outline the skills and workflows that are useful for performing specific and common tasks, and help the users to be successful right away.

Sales support is a specific kind of marketing and can be created to compliment the marketing you’re already doing. We like to create support materials that really show what the software can do. A very popular way of doing this is through a product demonstration video—a couple of minutes showing your software in action. Video is the fastest growing segment of the internet, and the best way to grab a potential customer’s attention. Branded, custom slide presentations that reflect your training helps to give you the cohesive look that oozes professionalism to clients and customers.

Many businesses don’t have a dedicated marketing team or agency, and create their plans and materials themselves. If you’re in this boat, no worries—we can help with that too, creating the basic brochures and ads that every business uses at some point. One of the most effective ways to get the word out about your business is to submit an article to an industry publication. We call these advertorials.

Perhaps the most overused term on this page is usability. Part science, part psychology, part art, usability is something everybody knows something about, because we’re all consumers of technology in some way. That said, sometimes you can be too close to your product and it can be really helpful to have an impartial party click through and give you feedback. To that end, we offer what we call interface evaluations, where we use your product from standpoint of a new user and see if the interface is intuitive and easy to figure out. We also do usability testing where we make the software perform critical tasks and report on the quality of the interaction. And because your website is often the first thing people see about you, we do website evaluations as well, to make sure you’re appealing to your target customer and putting forth a professional, quality web experience.

Hopefully that clears up some of these vague terms and gets you thinking about the way you appear to your audience. As always, we’re happy to talk about it!

Welcome to Hasselbeck Industries!

Image of sunrise photographed from the International Space Station. www.nasa.com

Image of sunrise photographed from the International Space Station. www.nasa.com

Tom and I are thrilled to re-launch Hasselbeck Industries! Long overdue, I suppose.

We were chatting one day and came to the conclusion that our backgrounds are really pretty unique. How could we put our skills together to make something great? Turns out, after a lot of pondering and bag of Fritos, we figured out that what we like to do is actually what we're really good at: providing evaluations for software and creating tailored training and sales materials. Tom particularly is so well connected in the GIS and public safety arenas that we thought that might be a good place to test the waters. And the more we thought about it, the more it seemed silly not to go for it! So here we are.

Welcome to the new HI! Feel free to connect—we're both on LinkedIn, and there's a company page too. A Twitter link is around here somewhere. We look forward to hearing from you.

    -Jen