Updates: March '17

April 10, 2017

Thanks for Checking Out the March 2017 DesignHammer Updates!

We have a bunch of news, tools, and tips to share. Spring is in the air and projects are moving along. This month, David and I attended two great conferences: HighFive 2017 (URL) and NTC 2017 (URL). We had a great time connecting with the participants. As always, I hope you enjoy the contributions from the DesignHammer team. If you have a few extra minutes, help us out! Please complete the survey linked at the end to help us evolve into an even more engaging format.

Featured Blog Post | Recent Projects | In Production | New Clients | Awards and Recognition | Tools and Technology | Conferences | Professional Development | Community Involvement | Featured Client | Around Town | Anything Else


Featured Blog Post

sshlistconfig: a simple cli tool in Node.js

In a recent blog post we wrote about developing command line tools in Node.js. This post investigates using Node.js for command line scripting, an area of development typically reserved by older languages like BASH, Perl, or Python. Using a simple utility that lists SSH host config details as an example, the basic process of designing and deploying a new commandline tool in Node.js is covered.


Recent Projects

RTI-HS Launches New Career Section

RTI Health Solutions (RTI-HS) collaborated with us on a new redesign the careers section of their website. Before the redesign it was very basic and only consisted of an info, benefits, and job listings page. The goal of the redesign was to grab the attention of prospective employees. Now it’s filled with career stories about employees, culture, work environment, and much more. It also displays prominent photos of their people, showing the benefits of working at RTI-HS.

UNC School of Government Releases 2017 Supplement

The UNC School of Government publishes an online version of North Carolina Crimes: A Guidebook on the Elements of Crime. They regularly update the book with supplemental content. DesignHammer built and maintains the publishing tools used to manage content for the online version of the book and worked with the School of Government to complete a successful update for the 2017 supplement.


In Production

Dunbar Educational Consultants, LLC

Dunbar Educational Consultants, LLC provides support services for students in preparation for secondary school, college, and graduate school applications. DesignHammer has begun a process to evaluate their current site through competitive analysis and user testing, providing strategic analysis, and creating design concepts to redesign their existing site. The new site will provide a streamlined, responsive interface and allow prospective clients to get to know the unique qualifications and personalities of the Dunbar Educational Consultants.


New Clients

Mansfield Energy

Mansfield Energy has selected DesignHammer to provide website development and maintenance services for a suite of websites. Headquartered in Gainesville, GA, Mansfield Energy provides energy to a variety of commercial, industrial, and municipal customers across the U.S. and Canada. Mansfield’s expertise covers a broad range of transportation and facilities energy from traditional petroleum products, CNG, renewable fuels, and specialty chemicals to power and natural gas. Recently, DesignHammer and Mansfield Energy relaunched the DeliveryONE Expo website, the first of eight websites in the initial engagement.


Awards and Recognition

TBD: When Work Works

Since 2005, When Work Works has been recognizing model U.S. employers of all types and sizes for their best practices in fostering effective and flexible workplaces. DesignHammer was selected as a finalist and advanced to round 2 after ranked among the top 20% of employers in the U.S., when compared with this national data, are selected as finalists in round 1 of the prestigious award. Originally named the “Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility” DesignHammer has been an award winner since 2012. Winners will be announced on April 28.


Tools and Technology

Nginx

In important part of any website's technology stack is the webserver. The webserver is responsible for handling requests sent by browsers and returning an appropriate response. This might be an image, document or, more critically, the result of running code on the server (think Drupal, WordPress, or a custom CMS).

We have relied on Apache as our workhorse webserver for years and tend to be conservative when it comes to trying out new approaches for such a critical part of our infrastructure. Nginx is a slightly younger webserver (released in 2004 vs. Apache's release in 1995) but it has seen a steady rise in popularity and stability since that time.

We have been trying out Nginx internally for a variety of use cases, particularly in combination with our Let's Encrypt initiative. So far it has been a breeze to mirror our most complex Apache setups in Nginx and we've been very pleased with the performance (as expected) and the ease of configuration (a surprise).

MailChimp

Throughout the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about MailChimp, an email marketing platform. Before we started doing these monthly updates, I didn’t have much experience sending out marketing emails and didn’t know what were considered best practices. I read about it from several sources, and took advantage of many of the tips offered in the MailChimp resources guide. It has been interesting to learn about, especifically theming for templates and setting up and sending out campaigns.


Conferences

DrupalCon North America

The DesignHammer team will be exhibiting at DrupalCon North America 2017 in Baltimore, MD, April 24-28, 2017. We are very excited about connecting with other Drupalers and learning from the community. In addition to David and Stephen, Michael will be attending his first DrupalCon.

Submitting Sessions for NCTech4Good

The team at DesignHammer is excited about the 2017 NCTech4Good Conference, June 6-7, 2017. In addition to sponsoring, exhibiting, and funding 3 scholarships, David, Jeanette, Michael, and Stephen have submitted sessions for consideration. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with the North Carolina nonprofit community.

High Five Conference Wrap Up

Wow! The High Five 2017 Conference was a great opportunity to connect and learn from the triangle marketing community in a high-energy, fun atmosphere. We had a great time both exhibiting, attending sessions, and networking with dynamic marketing professionals from both North Carolina and all over the United States. We engaged with the marketing community by offering a survey on Marketing practices. Keep an eye on our blog for our findings in the near future!

2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference

Stephen and David represented DesignHammer at this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, March 23–25, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) is the nonprofit sector’s signature technology event, assembling over 2,000 nonprofit professionals from around the world. The conference is produced by NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network, the membership organization of nonprofit technology professionals. The “DesignHammer living room” exhibit concept continued to receive positive feedback, with the virtual fireplace being a widely used landmark in the vast exhibit hall. Look out for results from our survey of web technology use in nonprofits in a future issue.


Professional Development

AMA Luncheon

AMA Triangle, the triangle chapter of the American Marketing Association meets each month for a luncheon with a variety of compelling speakers. In March, we heard from Jackie Huba, the author of Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, on how word-of-mouth marketing and emotional connections can apply to business strategy. The AMA Triangle luncheons provide a great opportunity for professional development, networking, and socializing.


Community Involvement

Sustain-a-Bull Meeting

On February 28th I attended a meeting on Twitter and Instagram for small businesses. April Revelli and Aaron Mendell presented information on how to best leverage social media for small businesses, focussing on Twitter (Aaron) and Instagram (April). There were a total of 10 attendees, and topics included frequency of posting, quality of posting, how to handle scheduling of posting, and content of posting.

2017 AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review

I had the chance to participate as a reviewer at this fantastic event held at Centerline Digital. This event invites senior, undergraduate level students to have their portfolio reviewed in a group setting made up of a few fellow students and 3-4 design professionals in the Triangle.

Each student had 20-30 minutes to present their work, receive feedback, and have a group discussion. After all the students presented, we all had a chance to talk openly about their questions around interviews, workplace culture, valuable skills, and other concerns.


Full Frame

The Full Frame Film Festival started Thursday, April 6, and went on through to a successful weekend. This was the first festival to use the new website designed and developed by DesignHammer. One of the biggest goals for the new site was to provide a better user experience when using mobile devices. And to go along with that, a better experience with the event schedule, the most used section of the site during the festival.


Around Town

Thai 55

Thai 55 opened just down the street from our office within the past year, and we could not be happier about it. Each time we’ve been, it has been delicious from start to finish. The staff has been friendly and attentive, giving great recommendations. I’d personally recommend the Crab Angels and the Ka Proud Chicken (both of which are ordered by multiple people in our group on every visit). Don’t let the lunch rush dissuade you, it is worth the wait.


Anything Else

USA Fencing North American Cup

Stephen, Michael, and David competing at USA Fencing’s April North American Cup in Baltimore, MD on April 21-24, 2017. For Michael and David this will be the second of three events in the 2016-17 over-forty circuit. They are both multiple medal winners at this level, while Stephen, still restricted to open age group events, is still pursuing his first national medal. In addition to the events that the DesignHammer fencers will be competing in, the Division 1 and wheelchair fencing national championships will be contested. The event will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center and fencing is expected to run from 8am to 6pm each day. The event is free for spectators. If you are in town a few days early for DrupalCon, stop by and check out the competition.

Family Cruise and Beach Trips

In March, both Michael and I were lucky enough to take relaxing vacations with our families. He went to the Outer Banks with his wife and parents, enjoying a secluded beach home.

I had the chance to go on a Caribbean cruise with my husband and his immediate family. It was a great fit for our group since we have greatly varying tastes in food and activities. It was rejuvenating to “disconnect” from the Internet for a week, and enjoy quality time together.


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