Welcome Rebecca Wilmoth to the Team

Rebecca joins us as Localist’s Director of Marketing! She’ll lead our marketing efforts and oversee their continued growth and evolution. She joins us after serving as a Director of Marketing at Vocus. Coupled with her additional experience at Laureate, she’s proved that she can grow a marketing strategy and flourish in a positive environment, and we think this new role at Localist represents a great opportunity to do just that.

Welcome, Rebecca!

 

 

Designing for Grandma

We often receive requests to add “help text” near a feature to help users understand how a function works, or to clarify submission guidelines for users submitting an event. While these ideas make sense on paper, it’s worth asking a few questions first:

  1. Have you demonstrably measured where the user is getting stuck, or is it just a hunch?
  2. Is this suggestion in response to a single user complaint, or many?
  3. Is there any other way to help the user understand besides adding help text?

In our experience, a text explanation rarely solves the deeper underlying problem: confusing usability. Text should be the last resort. Lots of independent research has shown that most users skim (or don’t) read on the web, especially when it comes to instructions. Nobody should be expected to read instructions to know how something works, either. Whenever we’re testing the usability of a feature, we try to make it as intuitive as possible without using any text whatsoever. We only add text when it’s in an area where we know it will be read by the majority of users, or when text truly is the best way to convey information.

Another way to put it: we design Localist to be easy enough for our grandma to figure out. Telling each user, over and over, how to get around an interface problem isn’t a solution. We instead try to create an experience that’s so easy to use, no explanation is necessary.

The type of feedback that benefits our development team the most is simply telling us where you or your users are getting stuck. We can take it from there.

Consider the following feedback we received: “I clicked “All Events” expecting to see a list of every event in the calendar, but instead it only showed me everything coming up this month. Can we put a paragraph at the top that says ‘You are viewing this month’s events only?’” In reality, this proposed solution doesn’t solve the user’s expectation of what “All Events” means. Instead, changing “All Events” to something more appropriate, like “This Month’s Events,” solves the actual problem, without adding redundant text.

Our overall approach is to think of the top two to three things a person typically does on any one page and make it abundantly clear how to do them without any additional instruction. It’s worked out well as a whole, but can sometimes seem counterintuitive if approached as a thought exercise.

In any experience design, a simple question goes a long way: “Could my grandma figure this out?”

5 Ways an Online Calendar Boosts Church Attendance

If you don’t think your religious organization needs an online events calendar, here are some reasons to rethink how a calendar can be used: 

When you think of the word “event,” what does that mean in the context of a church, or synagogue? Masses, confession times, meetings, feast days, bible studies, fundraisers, choir or band practices, before or after service meals, vacation bible school camps, yard sales, youth group meetings, children’s services, sunday school, retreats, bilingual services, adoration hours, communion services, holidays, guest speakers, mission trips, and food or blood drives.

That’s a big list;  over twenty events categories that will thrive in an online event calendar. Even though a handful of these events are weekly or monthly recurring events, such as masses and meetings, keeping these happenings organized in one central online location will lead to:

  • Easier event management
  • Increased involvement among your parishioners
  • Higher engagement from the outside community
  • The possibility of new members or visitors immediately becoming active participants.

To make these benefits a reality for your religious organization, here are five tools that will take your calendar beyond the usual bulletins and in-service announcements: 

1. Newsletters.

Send your members a reminder or update for the future events forecast especially when there is something on the horizon that is outside the typical recurring events list. 

2. Map.

Many church-related events often happen off-site, such as at the homes of members, or volunteer locations. Provide your community with instantaneous access to a map of the location to eliminate confusion.

3. Social sharing.

Let your members take charge of promoting the events, whether it be a Sunday service or community yard sale, to their friends and family who are non-members via social media platforms. 

4. Recurring events.

Simplify how your calendar is curated so that your church’s core schedule can be put in place without creating a post for every week. By designating a recurring schedule for Sunday masses or Tuesday night choir practices, your administrators can spend minutes per week managing the calendar. 

5.RSVP functionality.

Help your members to better plan for events, such as after service meals or volunteer opportunities, by allowing RSVPs to be entered right in your calendar.

Little Things of the Week

One day a week, we dedicate our product development efforts to “little things”; feature requests, or tweaks to the system, that don’t take long to build, but have a positive impact for Localist administrators and audience members.

Our recent “Little Things” focus on streamlining your audience’s experience. Key word? “Redesigned!”

Redesigned User Messages

Messages in Localist are used to handle friend requests, event invitations, and plain old messages, like asking a friend if they’re going to be attending an upcoming event. Over the years, we’ve seen its usage change, so we’ve adapted the design to reflect this. Friend and group requests and invites have been moved (see below), and the overall design reflects more of a “chat” interface than email. The result: very intuitive and quick messaging, with a much simpler interface.

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Redesigned User Dashboard / Unified Activity Feed

A completely redesigned user dashboard now allows users to respond to event invitations, friend requests, group membership requests, and see their latest activity, all in one feed. Users can also instantly see the status of any pending event submissions so they aren’t left wondering.

feed

Redesigned Popup Boxes

Modal (pop up) boxes have been updated for more intuitive usage. Additionally, a sign up link has been added to the login form to increase audience engagement. Localist has tons of login options; all the ones you choose will be available from this single login window.

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We’re Hiring a Director of Marketing

We’re looking for someone to lead our marketing efforts; someone with a keen interest in B2B software who understands the unique challenges and rewards that come with the space. Localist resonates strongly with our customers when they see what Localist can do, but how do we educate them on the problems we solve before they see us?

We value autonomy at Localist. We’re growing quickly, but have lots of opportunity to grow even faster with the leadership of  a fantastic Director of Marketing.

Interested? Check out the job listing.

Little Things of the Week

One day a week, we dedicate our development efforts to “little things.” Feature requests, or tweaks to the system, that don’t take long to build, but have a positive impact for Localist administrators or audience members.

Here are our recent Little Things:

Newsletter send times
We’ve added two more newsletter times. As well as sending at 9am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, you can now send newsletters to your users at 7am and 8am.

Social media integrations
You can now link to Facebook and Twitter pages on Groups, Departments, and Places. Linking to these social media profiles will display the icons and links on each respective profile page.

End-user notifications
When a user submits an event they will now receive an email confirmation.

Custom event rejection messages
If a user-submitted event needs to be rejected, admins now have the option of adding a note to the submitter to explain why their event was not approved.

New view templates
This is a more behind-the-scenes  update, but was a major project. All public-facing views on the calendar were effectively re-created from scratch using the Liquid templating language. This will allow Platform Admins to completely change all aspects of the HTML on their calendar. This was the first step, with more coming soon.

Localist in Inc Magazine

Localist was listed as a time-saving tech tool in Inc. Magazine!

Localist Spring 2014 Release

Localist, today announced the Spring 2014 Release of its expanded platform, which improves SEO and audience engagement through advancements in marketing automation, analytics and mobility. Localist’s intuitive, cloud-based calendar takes the confusion out of managing events, turning event content into a powerful marketing driver that saves time, boosts attendance and increases overall brand awareness and SEO.

Localist’s unique calendaring platform has helped hundreds of enterprise customers use events to positively impact their bottom lines in various industries, including education, healthcare, health and beauty, marketing, media, government, and travel and tourism. In the past five years, Localist has powered more than one million events and saved customers an average of 8,000 hours of work per year over other calendar software. It has shown to raise awareness and increase event attendance by up to 70 percent and web traffic more than 3,000 percent.

In a recent case study, the University of Texas at Austin found that the new Localist-powered calendar allows it to easily curate content for thousands of events promoted to more than 52,000 users, and the social media and RSVP features significantly increased the user experience. The Localist platform reduced the administrative burden and also helped the university achieve a 35 percent increase in event website traffic.

The Localist Spring 2014 Release features new capabilities that complement the existing platform, such as:

  • New calendar themes enable users to customize all aspects of the design. An enhanced, minimalistic default theme provides greater flexibility for users as a starting point for customization.
  • Updates to bulk uploading and feed importing technology enable users to add even more information to hundreds of events in one step. Each event entry produces an individual landing page for improved discoverability and optimal search authority.
  • New user-permission levels and administrative pending queues further streamline the event management process.
  • Expanded filters now provide more search options for users and SEO benefits for marketers.
  • New, downloadable RSVP reports allow calendar administrators to quickly evaluate attendee performance.
  • Analytics updates to Tailgate, Localist’s native mobile app, make it possible to track activity on the app and capture insightful mobile user data.
  • Improved mobile navigation makes it easy for users to find events on the app, even if they don’t know what’s coming up.

Localist helps marketers better understand their audience by producing custom analytics from event, RSVP and social sharing data. Event managers can also use Localist to monitor anticipated event attendance and make informed choices about where to dedicate resources. Marketers can also seamlessly integrate Localist with Eventbrite, Google Calendar, Facebook and more to maximize event exposure and attendance. Localist’s exclusive “Trending” algorithm looks at dozens of factors to reveal more than just the most popular events, but the most interesting or unique events.

With advancements in marketing automation, analytics, and mobility, Localist helps marketers and webmasters take full advantage of their event calendar content in a wide range of industries. Recent customers include Northland Church, Penn State University Liberal Arts College, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resource, Travel Portland and The Vineyard Gazette Media Group.

“We are always adding new capabilities to our platform to further our mission of helping our customers connect their audiences to events,” said Localist CEO Mykel Nahorniak. “We’re dedicated to staying ahead of the curve, relentlessly challenging what’s expected from a calendar. We are passionate about the power of authentic content and helping organizations make the most out of their online event calendars. Whether you are a hospital administrator in charge of whole-health activities for patients or a librarian hosting literary events for the public, Localist makes event promotion simple.”

Univera Events, Powered by Localist

Univera, a leader in the natural products industry, today unveiled its new online event calendar at http://www.univeraevents.com. The new calendar is powered by Localist and custom designed to serve Univera’s corporate and field-driven event needs on a global scale.

“At Univera, we’ve always understood the power of events and audience engagement – the Localist calendar platform is exactly what we needed to take full advantage of our events,” said Craig Ardis, director of events management, Univera. “Not only are we better able to publish and promote our events, our associates can now easily learn about, register for, and socially publicize Univera events.”

Localist’s intuitive, cloud-based calendar takes the confusion out of managing events, turning event content into a powerful marketing driver that saves time, boosts attendance and increases overall brand awareness.

The Univera calendar now has the following features that benefit both users and the corporate marketing team:

  • Administrator features, time saving administrator interface and attendee analytics for efficient event planning and promotion.
  • Custom filters, allow users to search for events by speaker, location or topic.
  • Automated newsletters, for fully optimizing event content and making email marketing and event promotion quick and easy.
  • Subscription feeds, allowing the Univera audience to subscribe to event feeds that match their interests. When a new event is added to the calendar, it will appear in their feed automatically.
  • Comments, reviews & audience photos, to promote discussions among curators, event hosts and site visitors before, during and after an event happens.
  • Social integration, making it easy for Univera associates to spread the word about upcoming events on their own social channels.

“Our platform is designed to support the dynamic range of engaging events that happen every day within the Univera network and we are really excited to be able to help the company roll out its new calendar,” said Mykel Nahorniak, CEO, Localist.

The Localist platform has shown to raise awareness and increase event attendance by up to 70 percent and web traffic by more than 3,000 percent. In addition, event calendars powered by Localist are up to eight times more effective than email marketing campaigns.

Security Update: Heartbleed

A major vulnerability, known as “Heartbleed,” has been discovered in the technology that powers encryption across the majority of the Internet.

Luckily, Localist was not running the version of the technology that is vulnerable.

We have no evidence of any breach, and all certificate keys should still be considered valid across all Localist calendars.

We’re sure you’ll be hearing more in the news over the coming days about this exploit, but know that all Localist calendars are safe in this matter.

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