Beyond the Website – Small Businesses and WordPress

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At 9:15am on 4/28/2018, I attended the Beyond the Website – Small Businesses and WordPress, Presented by  Adam Sewell, of MyGeek Technologies, at the 2018 Raleigh Wordcamp Convention in the Engineering Building I of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Beyond the Website – Small Businesses and WordPress

In this talk, we discussed several other uses a small business can have for WordPress rather than “just a website”. The WordPress ecosystem has grown well beyond a blogging platform and informational websites. It’s now possible to run an entire business off of WordPress.

Intended Audience: Business

We began with funny cats being scared by cucumber compilation and then cat jump fail with music by awolnation.

Adam introduced himself. and provided a link to the slides: http://cl.ly/3s1P1D47011t

Several of us use the wordpress to blog, others as brochure sites, ecommerce, teaching and classes, etc. The obvious platform is using it to build e-commerce websites. Most clients are unaware that you can use e-commerce with wordpress. WooCommerce is a nice adjuster, as is EasyDigitalDownloads. WooCommerce blew everyone out of the water when it came out.

Non-Profits and Non-Profit board managment

In Management, he discussed transferring away from ChamberManager to WordPress. WordPress is a fine way to work with non-profits to keep all management activities under a single roof.

Business Directory

One of the issues is the creation of the Business Directory Plugins. The re-entry of all business data through a plugin was better than using iframes. GeoDirectory also works.

Support Ticketing

Awesome Support and Support PLUS for wordpress also work. Rather than an email system, there are a few items available to you. SimpleDesk was an older system you might find on GitHub. For anyone like plumbers, etc who use on a one-off business, this might be a great system to use those tickets, work orders, and service calls. In this section, we extended several Q&A items about whether the AwesomeSupport system could be used with quickbooks, etc. One question about project management divided the group. Most use Trello and some use Project Panorama.

Event Ticketing/Management

Tickera, events manager, modern tribe… several of these exist. Plenty of these out there. There are thousands of wordcamps and they all use plugins in wordpress. While you’ve heard that there’s an app for that, but there is a wordpress plugin for everything.

The easier it is for the customer, the easier your life will be.

You can use the modern tribe plugins to create the events and sell the tickets to the events. It works well. They have events tickets and event tickets plus. With the base plugin, its RSVP. People are not interested in giving away information. If people pay, they feel like they can give more information, and they are also more likely to show up. Sending reminder emails and telephone calls are very important to ensuring the connection remains.

One item which was discussed. Product Camp had an idea for the conference. They charge for the ticket, but when they showed up, the option existed for the attendee to have their fee returned. Most people would choose NOT to have the money returned. Its a great way to have non-profits keep their money.


Adam Sewell

Adam Sewell is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. Most of his time is spent with his IT support company, MyGeek Technologies. Though he is also known to develop WordPress sites and plugins as well as providing high performance hosting specific to WordPress. He is also very involved in his local community serving on boards and volunteering for events.

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Keynote Presentation with Bridget Willard: Wordcamp Raleigh 2018

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At 9:15am on 4/28/2018, I attended the Opening Remarks, Presented by   ,  of , at the 2018 Raleigh Wordcamp Convention in the Engineering Building I of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Opening Remarks: Wordcamp Raleigh Convention 2018

WordPress is awesome. Open Source is great. But what does that mean? It means that this free and open source software is maintained and written by a volunteer labor base. When you contribute to WordPress, that’s you.

With now 30% of the market share, WordPress is scaling fast — as a software and as a community.

In this talk, Bridget Willard will give actionable tips to help us be mindful of our entire health: physical, emotional, and financial.

Bridget Willard

Bridget Willard is a marketing consultant and educator with a passion to help small businesses. She began in construction, and worked in franchise development, nonprofits, and tech. She is known for her brand building for Riggins Construction and GiveWP.

She is the co-host of WPblab, a show on the WPwatercooler network, co-organizer of Women Who WP Meetup, and Marketing Team Rep for Make WordPress.

She writes about social media and WordPress on her site at bridgetwillard.com and teaches social strategy on her YouTube channel.

We Like Big Buttons & We Cannot Lie: User-Friendly Design Tweaks for Your WordPress Website

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At 9:15am on 4/28/2018, I attended We Like Big Buttons & We Cannot Lie: User-Friendly Design Tweaks for Your WordPress Website, Presented by Andrea (Andi) Ferguson of AndiSites in Chapel Hill, at the 2018 Raleigh Wordcamp Convention in the Engineering Building I of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

We Like Big Buttons & We Cannot Lie: User-Friendly Design Tweaks for Your WordPress Website

Whether you’re designing a new website or updating an old one, user-friendliness is key. Large fonts, big buttons, and strategic color motifs make calls to action obvious.

Help users take the actions you want them to. Help website users be happy. Happy website users convert to happy customers. Happy customers help your business thrive.

Keep It Intuitive

Websites should be user friendly to keep sites intuitive. Remove frictions

“Don’t make me think “Steve Krug

A very short, user friendly book. Lots of photos and an easy read. There is an updated book as well as “rocketsurgery made easy”. People don’t want to think and suss things out. make them happy to like more and communicate more.

3 Easy Tweaks

  1. color tweaks
  2. call to action tweaks
  3. font tweaks

How to watch paint dry. It doesn’t matter for the content, applies to all websites. What is it you really want? On this page, download the e-book. True, everything is interesting. So GET THE GUIDE will be importatn

Color Tweaks

color is emotional. it gives us looks and feels, and color attracts. Our big, beautiful monitors can show it all. In bird world, the boys get the colors to attract the ladies. Ladies protect, so they need to be not noticed.

see color emotion guide graphic

There are also other reasons- facebook is blue becasue founder is color blind. It does matter on the site.

Slides will be online

Start with one color

use one color and be consistent. that way when one color is shown, we know that we should be doing something. so how to come up with that? start with a color logo. The logo is at the top and sets the page.

our logo is big, but non-colored. So, we are freed. Images are the next step here. We see color and lots of variety. consider starting here and using the steps as a way to begin. Powder blue here is nice, but does not call us enough. We see orange in the dress and paint, let’s use that!

Find accessible color.

http://colorsafe.co

Allows us to see the colors against the backgrounds. You can begin with default options and generate a color palette. We choose orange, and a red-orange #ff4500. Red is the first color we see as babies, and the first color received to those recovering with brain injuries. When we return to the site…

color change slide

Applying the color to the click button, the links, and the navigation bar. Everywhere you see the orange you have a job to do.

tools

  1. coolors.co/app generate palettes
  2. http://www.canva.com/color-palette  create palettes
  3. color.adobe.com enter colors and rules of creating color materials

Calls To Action Tweaks

these are essential to convert customers. Consider the Hot Now sign at Krispy Kreme. The website will show you where stores are but also which ones are Hot Now. We want to be that enticing.

Why size matters

57 pixel touch target is the suggestion, but 72 pixel touch target is the minimum size to search. Google touch target smashing magazine. Thumbs are bigger than fingers, and your website should be thumb-accurate. the point is not the size as much as the idea- make thing bigger than you think they need to be.

4 Rules of Easy-to-Click Calls to Action

  1. Make it Big
  2. Make it Bright
  3. Give it Room
  4. Make it Obvious

Change the button text on any item. Submit isn’t bad, but if you have the opportunity to label the button with exactly what will happen, that’s the goal

Font Tweaks

Typography Tweaks are essential for professionality and in websites to ensure that sites are quick, easy to understand, and accessible to viewers.

  1. Choose two fonts: heading and body
  2. Make body text big enough for older eyes and smaller screens
  3. Make headings noticeably bigger than body text
  4. Keep case consistent

Keep your items, even your tags in the same case. Things in different cases are inconsistent. Any “hey, that’s weird” thinking keeps viewers from engaging fully in your site. You may tell your client “Trust me, this is what you need”, but you have to deal with that.

Fun With Fonts

  1. http://www.myfonts.com/whatthefont this can identify fonts in a logo, or get close with font matching suggestions
  2. http://fontpair.com this has great google font pairings that you can use
  3. https://fonts.google.com 877 font families that you can easily use without download.

Sometimes searching in google fonts on your own is the warmest, snuggliest rabbithole you can every find yourself in. Google fonts can grant access to many fonts with just a minor bit of code. Theme options allow google font usage now. Take the extra step in the theme options and find the font dropdown. Its worth your time.

Google fonts can also be downloaded to your computer to use in your print branding as well.

APPLY TYPE PHOTO

All we’ve done is change type. By raising the nav size, we have visibility. by using the heading fonts, we have a cooler, curvier text font, and its applied all over the site consistentyly

FROM THIS

TO THIS

This will not assure that people are more excited about watching paint dry, but they’ll like it more

This site is live at http://howtowatchpaintdry.com and the ebook is about best practices

 

Q&A

Black backgrounds and white text? Federation for the Blind tell us that white type on black background  is good. Users find this to be tiring.

Color Wheels, how can I use them? nature is a great way. Though you may not be the best person to discuss that, the decision for color use and how should be a big conversation. Colors which replicate the logo is great. Those off will seem jarring at least a little. Color is subjective, but there are rules. Look to where the eye lands first. Make time to change the colors, but in the end, keep it simple. Consider lighter color for hover (20% opaque)

Popup Calls to Action- What’s your thought? The ones which appear at the bottom. The ones which block the sites are annoying, everyone hates them- except clients. Bars which show up, and slide ins for the corners (bloom by elegant themes) are surprisingly effective. They can be triggered at 60%. The chat boxes are pretty effective and can be called to stop those from leaving the site.

Chunking information by color? The old website for one client was info heavy. By using color systems to enhance existing sites, the journey through the sites has colors

Client wants something but it won’t work? Translate what the client says into design language. Funnel them into making a choice. Keep reinforcing at all times. Never say “what do you think” because they have to say something wrong. Keep the review team small. Remind them that the site isn’t for them, but for their customers. come armed with data. I love that the Aqua t-shirt from 7th grade resonates with YOU, but for the client audience range, this really resonates:… The more info you can provide, the stronger your position. Say “that sounds like personal preference”. Know why you’ve done everything you’ve done.

Body copy: Serif or Sans Serif ? Now that monitors are better, we can have a print-like experience on the web. We see the same research out there. Its long established that body copy on the web should be sans. If using serif, make sure your line-height (1.6em) or leading should be spread out far enough, and line width? Man, we could geek out on that all day. Traditional knowledge still applies. What’s the brand? Is it important and to what degree. What does the audience like? There is a ton of emotion in typography. Talk with your designer.If the client is snooty, be snooty.

Justification? Trends fly all over the place. Don’t center your type or I will cut you. When in doubt left justify.

Premium fonts vs. Google fonts or other free fonts. We have some that purchase them, but google fonts are free. Locally installed fonts do not show always. Google is free with fonts available anywhere. SOme clients have strict standards, such as NCSU. Anything in-house must use Univers. There is a commitment, and you could be in for a yearly fee, and the fonts could easily go away.

Body size? 16px is the standard for modern design body size, and you can adjust from there. Scale up from that point. It used to be 12 but people weren’t looking on their phones. What font looks good at 90 characters? Make a choice and stick to it. Just adding color and changing the font make a difference.

Can we cache fonts? You’re querying google, and its not slow. However, the fonts are loaded at the browser level, not the server level. If you’re finding that the websites hanging, it could be several scripts are using the same ram

Ghost buttons? unused. you can still use one as a 2nd call to action, but keep the main one at all times.

Andrea Ferguson

Andrea (Andi) Ferguson is Founder & President of AndiSites Inc., an award-winning web design and development firm based in Chapel Hill, NC. AndiSites specializes in WordPress, including design, development, support, and maintenance. With 20+ years’ experience in project management, 12 years’ experience in corporate communications, and 10 years’ experience in web design and development, Andi knows what it takes to give clients an effective website–while they enjoy the process. Andi is a WordPress expert who loves sharing knowledge; bringing technology down to earth; and making the web a friendlier, more open, more welcoming place. Andi is also a film/TV actress (as Andrea Powell) and avid world traveler with husband/writer Paul, sweet dog Teddy, and rebellious bunny Dusty.

Opening Remarks: Wordcamp Raleigh Convention 2018

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At 9:15am on 4/28/2018, I attended the Opening Remarks, Presented by Bridget Willard of Pressable, at the 2018 Raleigh Wordcamp Convention in the Engineering Building I of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Opening Remarks: Wordcamp Raleigh Convention 2018

The first part of the opening remarks were begun by Ben Silver. He began by telling a story of his first wordpress camp. In this talk, in the opening remark, a newbie interrupted to ask the main speaker “How do I FTP into my website?”. This is a major faux pas. Its important to note that you should not interrupt the speaker in a small room. You shouldn’t interrupt the keynote speaker at any time, and you shouldn’t ever interrupt a woman-his wife taught him that…

He stopped the story to let us imagine how the main speaker reacted to an almost instant interrruption.

5 Quick Things To Note

There is a code of coduct here– its on the website. Should we need this? not really, but we do have it. Make sure you adhere to it. This event is about the community, not the speaker and not you individually. If you feel the session isn’t y0ur speed, do what needs to be done and then consider visiting the happiness bar for individual assistance.

There is an After Party at the Raleigh Beer Garden. Its not a techbro spot. Why did we choose this venue? Well, it was free. The beer is great. Lots of beer, inside there are multiple floors, outside there is plenty of places. All ages are welcome, it’s all inclusive. Come join us from 7-9pm at Raleigh Beer Garden.

There is a conference tomorrow here. Its called “Wordcamp” and we encourage everyone to attend. There are donuts and other breakfast items for those not into wheat and gluten and things that are sweet. Its in EB1 where we registered for this conference. Typically the event crowd drops off drastically in the second day, but we encourage you all to attend. There are great speakers.

This is an all-volunteer organization. In the past we has several different tracks: developer, business, designer. The workshops were often seen as too X for the X track. Naming after flowers allows each person to gauge what’s right for them. Please enjoy the topics you like and ensure that you can have some time to meet with everyone. Ask lots of questions and contribute when and if you can.

This is a volunteer run conference, and it cannot be run without sponsors. Please visit our sponsors and see if and how you can use their services. Without their help, this conference would not be possible. Meet them, see how they can help you, and sing their praises. There will be giveaways at the closing remarks.

 

Finishing the story.

As he waited for the impact to happen, Ben was worried about the fire that might rain down. But, it turns out the result surprised him heavily and reacted in a way that no other conference speaker might.

The speaker did 2 things:

  1. The way she responded was not angry, but rather very excited with a huge smile on her face. The smile didn’t say “I’m going to enjoy ripping you apart” but more “I’m going to be the one who gets to show you how to login to your website’s FTP!”
  2. Her words were kind: “This is not the best time to answer that now, but this would be a great way to meet at the happiness bar later and I’ll show you in person on your laptop.”

Rather than focus on the negative aspect of the interruption, she focused on the joy of working with wordpress, the ease with which it could be done, and the helpful nature of this conference. The goal here is to treat everyone well.


You Can’t Have A Thriving Codebase Without A Thriving Community

The Open Remarks were completed by Bridget Willard

Bridget Willard is a marketing consultant and educator with a passion to help small businesses. She began in construction, and worked in franchise development, nonprofits, and tech. She is known for her brand building for Riggins Construction and GiveWP.

She is the co-host of WPblab, a show on the WPwatercooler network, co-organizer of Women Who WP Meetup, and Marketing Team Rep for Make WordPress.

She writes about social media and WordPress on her site at bridgetwillard.com and teaches social strategy on her YouTube channel.

 

What does code have to do with community?

WordPress is part of the free opensource software movement. There is no one paid to update, train, create, market, etc. The entire ecosystem is run by volunteers. The thriving codebase requires a thriving community. There is more than just a core.

Open Source projects depend upon a volunteer-based workforce-you

She was at wordcamp and decided to go to a movie, but she was a introduced to a marketing team. She felt perhaps she didn’t belong as a writer, but they made her feel at home and asked her to consider volunteering. They asked her to help write emails and she did. At another wrodcamp, she was recruited as one of the loud marketers. She led an event. Later, a staff member went on sabbatical and she was asked to take over a team. In this fashion, things seem to slowly snowball into greater effectiveness. This is probably very similar to the way many of you have approached your business careers.

If you feel burned out, its time to take a break. Its really ok

The volunteer community is made to ebb & flow. Its just volunteer work. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up. That is the main part of her talk.

Let’s talk about perfection

Be professional, but don’t stop and don’t beat yourself up in order to do well. This is a volunteer organization, and many aspects of what we do as designers, builders, and makers seems to point to our perfective nature. But software is agile and not released in perfection, so how can we be perfect as users? Well, perhaps we can be, but that’s no reason to drop from the face of the earth because of it.

Accounting demands perfection, and you would not believe how long they look for a penny. In perfection if something is missing, the whole thing doesn’t work and is a failure. So let things go, but understand that sometimes you cannot help yourself.

Remember this mantra:

  1. Progress is better than perfection
  2. Done is better than perfect
  3. Something is better than nothing

What Really Matters

Communication with your clients and your loved ones only matters, because of your relationships. Relationships are the only things that really matter. Communicating, doing what’s best for your client, doing YOUR BEST for the client, being there for whoever needs you- That matters.

Consider An -ER Approach

Rather than obsess over being smart, fast, etc., take an -ER approach. Work to be smartER, fasterER, etc. the suffix -ER implies that progress is being made. It doesn’t lock you into failure for reaching some hypothetical approach.

FAILURE

In times of trouble, we feel like a failure because we feel pain. Athletes are praised for enduring pain. When we feel as though we cannot go on, we feel the failure hit us like a hammer. When it happens to an athlete, you see them shake their bodies, push them to their limits and beyond, and then they collapse. And for some of us its like that. We wake up in the morning, examine ourselves, shake our bodies off and go to work with a fake face on. We work all day like its no problem and then we come home and just collapse.

We feel like we cannot feel pain, cannot get help, cannot rely or even tell others about our pain. Our bodies know what to do. Tears contain cortisol, a hormone which accompanies stress. We release it, and feel somewhat better, but we might be too afraid to do even that. Give yourself permission to feel pain, to let it go, to release it and keep going, but sometimes even that may not be enough.

If that happens or if you feel its happening, get help. Your pride could be keeping you from success.

Financial Health

Stop undercharging for your services. Raise your hourly rate. People do not know how long it takes you to do things. Breathing costs you something.

It is imperative that you cover these three things

  1. Believe you are worthy
  2. understand your costs
  3. Be open to business Ideas

Say to yourself “I am Awesome. I love Me.” Know that there is a mind/body connection.

If you find that you are open to the business ideas, more business will come. If you are doing something for a client for free, give them a full invoice, but zero it out. Present them with the piece when its done along with a polite note: This item has been completed for free, THIS TIME.

For instance, Bridget Willard wanted to write for a twitter feed, but there was no content. She asked for a bio, and the client didn’t want to write one. She offered to write them a bio for  $25 dollars and now she’s done that for 16 clients. by saying “I Only Do This” you close yourself off to numerous ideas and opportunities.

Closing Remarks

Goals are massive. Make sure that you have actionable goals with incremental progress. Incremental progress is the key. Rather than say I’m going to drop to 200lbs, say I’m going to drop 5 pounds. If you want to change, change 1 thing. The future awaits, one step at a time. Its OK to fail, but push yourself without beating yourself up.

Learn It, Perform It, Display It – The Power of Digital Credentialing for Workforce Acceleration

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Learn It, Perform It, Display It – The Power of Digital Credentialing for Workforce Acceleration
Date: Wednesday, April 18th
Time: 1:00 PM to 1:45 PM
Conference Session: Concurrent Session 1
Lead Presenter: Brenda Perea (Credly Inc. & SkillsCommons)
Co-presenter: Michael Macklin (Colorado State University – Fort Collins)
Track: The Education-Workforce Continuum
Location: Hermitage A/B
Session Duration: 45min
Brief Abstract:As individuals secure their learning from multiple sources across their lifetimes, communication and certification systems are evolving to enable the efficient and reliable communication of skills. As leaders in the digital badge space, we will discuss the value of digital credentialing, help the audience develop their own best practices and showcase case how institutions and companies, are empowering individuals through recognition of achievements demonstrated both inside and outside of traditional education.

Brief Abstract

As individuals secure their learning from multiple sources across their lifetimes, communication and certification systems are evolving to enable the efficient and reliable communication of skills. As leaders in the digital badge space, we will discuss the value of digital credentialing, help the audience develop their own best practices and showcase case how institutions and companies, are empowering individuals through recognition of achievements demonstrated both inside and outside of traditional education.

Presenters

Brenda M. Perea, Director of Educational and Workforce Strategies at Credly, brings twenty-five years of experience spanning secondary, postsecondary and workforce educational fields to help learners identify and target workforce skills not apparent in traditional credentials. She successfully led CCCS to implement a system-wide badge initiative. She believes identifying competencies is critical to establish career and educational pathways in conjunction with business and industry to ensure to post-secondary education and career training is relevant for today’s workforce. She works with the international Open Recognition Alliance and IMS Global to shape the national conversation on recognizing learning where it happens, industry and business engagement in post-secondary education and workforce credentialing. Brenda is also a SkillsCommons community Ambassador whose mission is create affordable innovations in workforce education and workforce development programs to be easily and widely adopted and adapted by teachers, learners, industries, and professional organizations. Brenda also speaks nationally on open educational resources, data analytics improving student success and digital badges.
Michael P. Macklin is the Associate Provost for Workforce Partnerships/Development at the Colorado Community College System. His primary focuses are workforce development, noncredit programming, and business partnership development. Through Mr. Macklin’s work with digital badges, he is leveraging the power of digital credential opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology. He understands that digital badges are key in sustaining and expanding workforce skillsets with community and business partners as this allows for unprecedented access to affordable res-killing and up-skilling opportunities.

Extended Abstract

As individuals secure their learning from multiple sources across their lifetimes, communication and certification systems are evolving to enable the efficient and reliable communication of skills. Digital badges help connect talent to opportunity at scale, using digital evidence of achievement to build an education-to-workforce pipeline among participating institutions and businesses. Audience members will gain valuable knowledge about how their institution and companies can empowering individuals through recognition of achievements demonstrated both inside and outside of traditional education.  As we discuss best practices in the development of a digital badge ecosystem,  we will engage audience members in hands on exercises to design appropriate competencies within programs, courses and trainings which can be captured with digital badges to document skills and applied learning. Audience members will engage in discussions about the emerging role digital badges play in a learner/badge earner’s career and educational pathway. As leaders in the digital badge space, we will use examples of how 2 different institutions, a 2-year and 4-year, helped create a digital badge ecosystem model which encourages badge earners to claim digital badges and share them on social media. Our work has also helped to inform program development in both credit and non-credit course design.

OLC PPT in PD OVERFLOW

Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond

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At 10:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond”, Presented by Logan Williams Founder of Indie Wolverine, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.

Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond

Logan Williams of Indie Wolverine is a marketing & PR specialist in the video game industry. Logan has supported over 12 games in the span of 2 and a half years and has helped his clients earn coverage from the largest gaming publications around the world. Notable games Logan has supported are GRAV, Cosmic Trip VR, Heart Forth Alicia, Polygod, Reflex Arena and more.

 

More games are being released at a higher volume than ever before on the largest PC game digital distribution platform (Steam). With the mobile market and now PC games market becoming overcrowded and overly competitive, it’s feast or famine. Marketing isn’t an option and influencer marketing is no longer low-hanging fruit.

In this talk, we broke down marketing & PR in the video game industry to simple terms and begin to expand on more creative ways we can communicate the values of our games to our target market. This included ways to utilize guerilla marketing tactics and how to get the most out of our launch (Early Acess release, full release, major update etc..).

I hope to leave this talk with a new understanding of marketing and PR in the video game industry and the added creative knowledge of how to make the most of existing communication strategies.

This talk was aimed at industry newbies to professionals.

PRESENTATION

Catch the whole slide presentation at: https://www.slideshare.net/LoganWilliams2/ecgc-2018-marketing-your-game-in-2018-and-beyond

Indie Wolverine operates by default using guerilla marketing. Most customers have a few weeks until launch to gain coverage when they walk into the office.

FAILURE IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Last year, their business had a large-ish failure. They worked with a VR team with Steam Early access title, and they handled the process from early release, and they were picked up by tons of attention-getting youtubers. The attention converted into sales. Sales were great and the alunch with early access went well. rather than small updates, the teams focused on 2-3month update cycles.

Due to the large success in the past, expectations were high. Kotaku noted his game was the favorite VR game to date. They felt they could reach out to positive reviewers. A 3-week pre-release note went out with reviewers and new press. The first round went out with virtually no response. The 2nd-week pre-release note got little or no responses. People were opening the email, but there was no response. The development team was stoked, but red flags were flying all over the place. As this was a first in-studio experience he could see the excitement. On launch, only niche clients responded, and sales did not meet expectations.

On the flight home, he was disgusted, felt sick to his stomach. Mitigating the risk and stress became his mission moving forward. We’ll talk about PR but its really about mitigating stress on launch.

Steam mechanics here show that in 2017, 7,700 games were released- roughly by the numbers that’s 20 new games every single day. As noted repeatedly in podcasts by the Jimquisition, having so many products available there is no way to get your product noted and its very easy to find your materials reshuffled out of sight.

COMMUNITY BUILDING

This is something which is important and will always be important. These are your embassadors. They are ready and available on day 1. So have an incentive- give them a reason to buy your game. Engage that community- let them know and listen as they are an extension of your studio. Leverage that community- build the community and use that to make a following that uses the products, informs developers and community, and entices others to take part.

An incentive might be exclusive access to an exclusive build. Getting them in the door isn’t the last step, but rather the first step to building that community. Have team members amke contests, make them feel safe and valued and engaged. Leverage that community to validate the material you’re producing. Use the community to leverage merchandizing, partnerships, etc.

It can get worse. Self-published book authors might face 100,000 fiction books each year and they’re marketing on amazon. Building the community is the answer. How? Through mailing lists, connections, etc. The connected community are your footsoliders. They aren’t being paid, they’re paying you!

He used discord to build a dream community for our game descenders. WIth numerous options, they built a discord server with an exclusive release. They gave competition through team, protected channels, built community, and used the data to buildi nthe features which were used most by the community. You cannot depend on the game or mechanics. Community you can control

 

From the beginning of game build, you’ll have newsworthy beats for the media. Be organized. Have the ammunition and planned communication. Writers are trying to delight the reader. Give them good amunition. Be clear. Always have a clear call to action. Be clear to the media on what is new, what you’re doing, what they’ll like, where they should go, how you’d like it covered, how to contact you. This is for any communications. Have goals. What is the end goal? Organize your news feeds with a goal in mind. If the announcement gets on IGN, and you didn’t provide next steps for the readers, and the product doesn’t launch in the next month, you’ll disappear. If you have an exclusive beta on discord, include that info.

If you have a moment to shine, don’t step back and say “I’ll be back in 6 months”

EMPATHY

the abilty to understand… Empathy and creativity aligns you for success. This is especially good when dealing with the press. they have an audience. They need great content that the audience wants to know. The bigger audience the author can leverage, the more they can command value and attention. Put yourself in the shoes of the writer. not only that, but the audience of that writer. What does the reader want and how do you get them stoked toplay/buy this. What’s your value to the publisher? what’s your value to them

TARGETED OUTREACH

Google, twitter, and easily voila norbert.

Last night in the AIRBnB, he searched for the google query only in the IGN website AND VR. Here’s the result

Finding writers who like the genre and game type you create can be found this way. Use the tools button to change the date back to certain dates (not more than a year ago). This is a great way to reach out to writers who will likely have well-received reviews. In this example, I might not choose Calum Marsh, as he have only 1.5 stars. Rather than a cold email, a twitter contact might be good- we have their email, but in this example:

You might get immediate feedback. If you want anything, ask immediately. Even if it says they won’t, ask anyway. You won’t get anything if you don’t ask.

I don’t know how it finds these email addresses, but it does! first 50 are free. You can always get another gmail account.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY

Dominic had roughly 2 months to lead his game. he didn’t have a website, online presence, no press kit, nothing. But, after playing the game, they chose to take it on. Barebones wouldn’t work- no press releases, and they needed a spark for the launch- some newsfeeds (3 guarantees). To take it out of the hands of the press, they needed to get creative. S-nce binding of isaac had a hug following, they chose to go for that audience.  Those who played it, and LOVED IT. Since his game was so hard, it was an easy fit.

So what did we use? WordPress website, press kit, press lists, some other tools. The headline of the writer and the audience needed to match. SO what they did was choose that if you could receive a certain achievement on another super-difficult game with a massive following: Binding of Isaac (BOI), then you can have this game for free. It had to be a timed contest. Content creators, press, etc. They earned mass cover on the first day and it snowballed. They earned a ton of attention, but people who followed the influencers found out about this. They tweeted to other game developer and major content creators, and some of them picked it up

 

Mind Mapping For Success

The creative process through mind mapping can be visualized. They worked with a developer after the early access and launch. How could they inject that spark. THey added some materials which raised and lowered the difficulty level based on bitcoin rates. Using the advanced queries in google, they found games in FORBES magazine and website which likes video games and bitcoin. This person was able to take up the idea and really run with it. Once it rolled in FORBES, a few more places immediately picked it up.

Guerilla marketing is low cost, high risk, high reward. More often than not, that brings some nice feedback

when should you present? as soon as you’re presentable. Should niche games be the next big thing? Do what you’re passionate about. if its indy, if its the best new chess game, go for it. What if you have no specifc launch date, still show? yes, not a problem. What if lauch is approaching and you have no community? put yourself in the audinece shoes and give them what they need. get creative and think outside the box. use a simple demo. It may not be a high conversion, but it may bring coverage. Organize what you have, use it, and then extend into guerrilla tactics and target the people you genuinely believe will like it. It only takes a single reviewer to see things snowball. be thorough, find the best people and make it happen.

Failing Forward: How to Find Fun In Failure

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At 9:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Failing Forward: How to Find Fun In Failure”, Presented by Rebecca Slitt of Choice of Games, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.

Failing Forward: How to Find Fun in Failure

Rebecca Slitt is an editor and partner at Choice of Games, LLC. She is also the author of the interactive novels Psy High and First Year Demons. She has also contributed to the tabletop games Timewatch RPG, Noirlandia, and Geist; and is the author of the forthcoming Dark College Years. Before joining Choice of Games, Rebecca was a professor of medieval history, specializing in the aristocratic and military culture of twelfth-century England. She has presented on game design and interactive fiction at Worldcon, Arisia, the Villanova University Popular Culture Series, and the International Medieval Congress on Medieval Studies.

Failure can be awesome

For a story to have meaningful stakes, the protagonist needs to fail. Indeed, the best stories can come from overcoming failure to fight towards a final victory. Would Return of the Jedi be quite so satisfying if it didn’t follow the end of The Empire Strikes Back, when all seemed to be lost?

It’s easy to build this kind of structure into a book or a movie, but what about an interactive narrative medium such as a videogame? First, you can’t necessarily predict when the player will fail, or at what task. Second, if the player fails too much, they become discouraged, unhappy, and disengaged from the story – but if the player never fails, the game is boring: the stakes don’t feel real, and victory doesn’t feel satisfying. Third, failure can sometimes stall the story: if the only outcome of failure is “try again,” then the player can get stuck in a loop.

As a creator of text-only interactive fiction, Choice of Games has made “failing forward” one of its core design principles. Even if the player fails at an individual task, the story must keep moving forward; even if the player has a horrible failure overall, there must still be something awesome about that failure. In my presentation, I will examine some techniques of narrative and mechanics that can help maintain narrative momentum and player satisfaction through failure, such as multi-layered success, multiple goals, success-with-complications, and more.

The player can’t doo everything. Sometimes the story requires it and building the drama of fighting back or items which can show the player they are invested, even though they’ve failed.

What is the mechanical and narrative role of failure, techniques to make failure satisfying, and then some specific examples of how to make failure move things forward with scene-specific ad game-level failures. we ‘ll see some tools and create some awesome failures.

The goal is not to convie that failure happens., but rather to discuss why failure is awesome- how they fill needs. The mechnaical role of failuremechanicla role offeres constratint and boundarieis, rules, and teaches the plauer what they’re allowed to do, what good at, and what they should do. You can get better by trying and failing, and learning my experience.

Narratively, failure evokes emotions, stopping them from doing tng s they want to do and effectively making them wanting it more. Building drama makes sweeter the positive emotions of success.

All of this is caught up in stakes. IF the player cannot fail anything, the story doesn’t feel real. for the story to free real, there must be a chance to fail and also chance to succeed. If there is no success, no way to succeed, they will check out, and not be invested. As narrative designers and writers, we must communicate to the player, why they fail, what happens next, that they could have succeeded, and that there is still something to be done- a reason to continue the story.

Sometime the story line or arc requires failure. Sometimes the story suggests that success should exist, but it does not.

What comes after failure?

is it game over, is it try again immediately, is it a try again later mechanic? Must you go away, build up skills, and try again? some games have different mechanic and they aren’t the right tools for the job in particular.

 

Choice of Games

At this point in the presentation, Rebecca talked about the materials with Choice of Games. This portion of the material did not strike a chord with the audience because it seemed like product-specific marketing. she discussed her projects, the choice software that she used, and the decisions that she and her team wanted to make. As many people worked in diverse genres of gaming, talking about a pinpoint design that few if any use, it is mainly a wasted moment in the presentation.

Often, a presenter is interested in showing themselves, but the audience is trying to take the information and apply it to their industry or projects. While these items are specific to the speaker, and make the speaker feel good, the point of a presentation is to speak to the audience about a topic they want to hear about and apply. A presentation is not to pat yourself on the back.

 

Tiered success: partial success

Tabletop games make success and failure a part of the narrative function. They incorporate partial success- not either a success or a failure. One that does this wonderfully is Apocalypse World by Vincent and Meg Baker. Even without a success, you can get some success but still have a consequence of failure. Another tier success model such as found in Archipelago by Matthijs Holter is Yes, But… and No, But… These tiered success and tiered failure models are heavily used in improv.

In tabletop gaming, these items are clear. Its harder in a digital context, as the code is hidden. So we need to find ways to communicate it to the player.

Then there was an example from one of her games. At the mechanical level, the stat is tested. You can succeed well, succeed poorly, or fail. Narratively, at the top tier, you are the star, at success you get a small part, at failure you are out, but there is still a chance to get involve in an alternate fashion.

Similarly, she discussed a 2 items test: You might give bad orders and they are not followed- people die. You give the right orders but no one follows them- some people die. You give the wrong orders but they crew follow them- some people die. You give the right orders and everyone follows to the letter and everyone does well. As a result of this double-test, you may gain or lose TRUST in the crew which can be tested later.

Partial success gives you complexity in story branches. It allows for granularity in tests of character abilities- giving a greater sense of dynamism in the narrative, and a greater sense of customization.

The other major success is a yes… but result. Let the player know  the strengths and weaknesses, and how they might play to those strengths. If failing, yes, the story moves forward, but you lose resources and time. In a No.. but result, failure keeps the story moving forward, but you do not do what you’re supposed to and everyone thinks its brilliant.

Yes/No but… gives you and economy of story branches- introducing new stories through failure. It also allows for interesting tradeoffs among resources. This raises the stakes in different ways.

 

Extrapolating into long-term success and failure

While success or failure may seem as though it should happen now, digital games have an advantage in that a previous success or failure can reappear much later in a seemingly unrelated way. Rather than setting up a game where you can lose without and item from partway through the game- a 1 to 1 correspondence for satisfying failure may not exist. We need to revisit the top 4 strategies above and find new ones as needed.

Rather than failure-now or failure-later accounting, a system of “cumulative successes and failures” can be used. Small cumulative failures can add up to a point where later in the game a full failure is approached based on previous set of failures. Examples might include failed bluffs in the past, arrests, escapes when confronted, etc which might make you more known, causing you to be caught in the act due to recognition. Another example might be that a small failure might cause a guard to be more wary or more… on guard (on alert) making the chances of success lower and/or the alert levels to rise to make discovery easier.

 

Multiple goals

Having multiple goals allows for differing levels of success. It allows for strong replay value as you can try again to push a different result. You may be feared or beloved, may have many assets or few assets, may have tons of experience or lesser experience… multiple goals allow you to have specified results and a more personalized experience or also allowing a replay to include a better result at what your players truly desired.

With multiple goals, you can never get them all, you’ll have to make choices. By directing your gameplay, players will have the ability to choose the success and challenges that they wish to emphasize. Increase drama and investment by allowing your players to try, fail, and have a responsive environment which breaks out. You can always try again and succeed.