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Digital Journey

Lighthouse

A strong light guides visitors in unfamiliar waters. Provides infrastructure, experience and best practices.

Audience identification, "setting the table"

Harbormaster

An experienced Project Manager can assess needs and provide the right skill for each situation

.Planning, digital strategy, understanding challenges, matching resources with the job. Matrix management, indeed.

Harbor Pilot

A nimble pilot has a can-do attitude. Experienced and flexible. Competent and ready. Ready for anything.

Executing and anticipating new issues. Smoothly, calmly delivering the product. 

Harbor Sights

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Working on this project was like jumping onto a moving train; what a great ride. I was hired as a contract business analyst midway through the project. SXM leadership was challenging, but gave plenty of time to complete the projects. Eventually, I was charged with gathering requirements for the mobile website while assessing the legacy CMS.

I worked in New York City with the home office, New Jersey with the developers and Washington, D.C., with the web team. I ran meetings with 12 people in the room, 12 on the phone and only four of us talking.

Takeaway: Be expert in several areas.

Sometimes when you go fishing for whales, you catch a whale. Ben Cadbury, then running a temp company, landed the Haircuttery website redesign. It was the first time the company was leaving the black-and-white palette for sepia tone images and they had a large budget for the redesign.

,p>Ben hired me for the project. After our first client meeting, I told Ben: We need a better designer than me. I became the project manager, wrote content, managed a mighty designer and fired a coder who wouldn’t test his work.

We formed a weather idea for the website: what should I do with my hair this morning? Depending on where the website visitor lived (according to zip code), and a scrape of the NOAA weather site, we devised six scenarios on what do with your hair – and whether to bring an umbrella.

Sometimes you draw inspiration from the client. My friend, Gerry Dunn, was re-inventing himself as a Potomac, MD realtor after 10 years as a mortgage broker. It’s a tough market to crack, but Gerry knew he could sell houses more quickly at a reasonable listing price. So we created a blog (potomacsecretagent.com) and Gerry would publish reviews of the open houses with a realistic list price

We knew that Gerry’s true audience wasn’t the Maryland homeowners looking to sell, but the national audience moving into this area. We focused on SEO for this area, the blog provided plenty of good, local content and Gerry established a Potomac real estate practice.

Gerry had some wicked marketing ideas of his own and by Memorial Day weekend he was on every local TV news show as the Potomac Secret Agent.

Frontpoint Security

Dream Big. Be Awesome. Build Trust.

Working at Frontpoint was like a bottle rocket, each day trying to match your boss’ energy. We whiteboarded, wrote strategy documents, received quick approvals and built the first responsive design website in our industry,

I had read the Ethan Marcotte book, proposed responsive design to our execs, repurposed the mobile website budget and we were off.

National Zoo

I was contracted to scope and build the first new website in 13 years. Discovery and requirements were large efforts and yielded interesting user information: Visitors were drawn to live streaming video of animals, especially pandas and cubs. The site’s largest challenge remains: How to turn watchers into park visitors and donors.

We broke the audience into three target use cases: visitors, potential donors and educators.

We partnered with an internal digital agency to build a Drupal site that could present short stories and entice website visitors with dynamically-delivered related content. 

Project management documents

Vovici
Washington Speakers Bureau

The company's product was outstanding people with an  authoritative message and engaging experience The speakers presented to staff once a year and I was able to ask one question of each of them:

Takeaway: Make an impression every day by asking good questions.


James Carville
James Carville

How can Obama lose?
(2 months before Barack Obama’s first presidential election)
Carville said, Obama can get tired. Someone could irritate him and it’ll be on a cell phone. He can say or do something nasty. And that’s why his staff has shortened his workdays closer to the election.


Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice

I don’t remember my question. Following the session, she walked through a group of people, up to me and said, I’m Condoleezza Rice and thank you for your question. She shook my hand, smiled and left, and reminded me how to treat a client – with respect and my full attention.


Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

A history professor, Gingrich drew impressive graphics, demonstrating the different depressions and recessions in American history, and the importance of a slow recovery.

Who is your favorite Shaara, Jeff or Michael? Gingrich returned to this question four times over the next 10 minutes. He was pleased to see another history buff, and we kept discussing different parts of the Shaara books.

ESI International

In my introduction to Google Analytics, I did a three-month study of internal clicks on the website home page. The home page was three screens deep, with so many sacred cows. I created a mockup of the page on one screen and showed everything below the fold was getting miniscule traffic, except for the GSA logo in the bottom row. We moved that GSA logo above the fold and cut everything below the fold.

With a globalization consulting team, we built a website for an international audience. We were able to serve different content to different parts of the world based on a drop-down and a cookie. Also, I built four mini-sites for Asia — three using Mandarin Chinese!

Takeaway: Always be learning. You’re never done.

Visual Networks

Sometimes your company just wants to be acquired and it needs to look … better. As the Webmaster, I redesigned the website and the intranet.

What I enjoyed most was creating an educational series in Captivate: Got a Minute? Most tech sales people want to get prospects on the phone and they can close the deal. In Marketing, we thought we could draw more prospects by telling the story sooner. I created a series of 60-second product demonstrations, using Flash, Captivate and salespeople voiceovers to entice prospects.

Takeaway: I was tasked with search engine optimization and getting our keyterm (NAI – Network Application Integration) to #1 on Google. An hour later, I returned: the keyterm wasn’t in our website, only our print material. But I had a plan. Six weeks later, we were #1 for NAI in Google.

USA TODAY

Working in baseball as a newspaper design editor, I had the opportunity often to work with the best newspaper design staff in the world. When I had really good ideas and could convey them to these designers, we built outstanding work.

Bring your "A" Game. Every day. Places like USA TODAY have the talent, the resources and the initiative. Be ready to be your best every day.

Takeaway: Want to stand out? FedEx your resume. Mail goes to the corner of the desk, but Fedex envelopes go to the center.