Join our Nerds at DevFestMN on February 6

Led by Google Developer Group Twin Cities, DevFestMN brings together developers, designers and technology enthusiasts across the Midwest for an informative and hands-on one-day conference. We’re proud to have multiple current and former Nerds play a part in this year’s event planning, including three of our Nerds who will be leading sessions throughout the day.
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Are Your Systems Ready For Rapid Growth?

Positioning your business for success isn’t something that organizations should concern themselves with when they start to explode — it should be done from the very beginning. When you’re dreaming big, plan big. Continue reading Are Your Systems Ready For Rapid Growth?

Technical Architecture: Building a brighter future

As a business grows, its technology ecosystem often becomes a mix of out-of-the-box and custom solutions that add layer upon layer of complexity to their main operation systems. Businesses expect and need their digital assets, operating systems, add-ons, customer relationship management systems (CRMs) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to work together by collecting data, communicating and reporting as one fully functioning technology system.
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Security on the Client-side

Whether in a desktop browser or the embedded webview of your favorite social media app, your website is a battleground. Keeping your users and their data safe is one of the most difficult (but important) problems to solve when creating any Internet-connected product. There’s plenty to be done to ensure that data stays safe server-side, but your first and last line of defense is client-side.

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Why 60% of software projects are at risk before they even start

There are a lot of well-intentioned business owners, product managers and decision makers within organizations who want to make their business better. Some have plenty of money and are ready to spend when they’re told they’ll see, “a huge ROI because [technology fad of the month] is the next-big-thing.” Others have money burning a hole in their pocket while wistfully looking at their competitors, green with envy, and thinking, “Damn, they’ve just launched a mobile app, and I hear mobile is big with the kids these days. I should probably have an app, too.”

But those are just ridiculous statements no self-respecting business person would say. Right? Continue reading Why 60% of software projects are at risk before they even start

Hey, Teachers: Monetizing Learning Online (Part 2 – Skillfeed and Learning Paths)

 In the last blog post, I suggested that you start thinking about how you would like to educate. What’s the learning objective as an educator? This is an important concept to have cemented before you approach the next task I want you to consider: Your education funnel.

Perhaps one of the biggest things that plague the online education market is that it fails to fully structure learning objectives together for a consumer. The reason is fairly simple – in most online learning platforms, you have instructors that are working asynchronous.
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Science Works at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Last weekend, fellow Nerds TimRyanMandiGary, and I had the opportunity to participate in Science Works at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  The purpose of the event was to get kids interested in STEM careers so the museum held a mini-career fair and invited a number of companies in to give hands on experiences for kids and hopefully get them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math!

Since the Nerdery focuses on interactive development, the Museum had us set up in the entrance to NetWorld, the museum’s exhibit dedicated to the internet.  Since most people think of the web when they think internet, it was the perfect place for us to demonstrate how easy it can be to get into web development.  We had two interactive demonstrations we were showing off.  The first one was aimed at pure beginners and was showing people how to alter web pages using Google Chrome’s built in developer tools.  The second demonstration was a series of animations done using canvas in HTML5.  The series started with drawing a simple shape, then how to duplicate the shape many times using a function, then moving the shape, then finally putting that all together and making a particle emitter.  You can see the source code for the second demo on github.

WARNING: if you are looking at the 4th example, you may want to set SEIZURE_MODE_ON to false, otherwise, be prepared for some hot, crazy flashing background action.

All in all, it was a fun day!  Seeing the kid’s excitement as they changed the content of various webpages was priceless.

UX Apprenticeship Results – Cohort 1

The last time I wrote about UX apprenticeship on this blog, it was still just an idea. Okay at that point it was more of a plan. But now, we’ve graduated our first cohort of apprentices to the role of Associate UX Designer! The past 12 weeks have been the most professionally rewarding of my career and in them I have learned a ton about what worked well and not so well about the program, and this article spills all the details. And I mean all of them. It gets so detailed that I am handling this like any other research report; I’m kicking it off with an executive summary (aka tl;dr).

Executive Summary

  • 3 of 4 apprentices hired into the Associate role
  • The fourth has a job waiting for her once she graduates from college
  • Cohort 2 was approved and four more apprentices start 9/9
  • The basic model was successful, but some elements needed to be tweaked or dropped along the way
  • Upcoming changes for Cohort 2 should make the program even more successful

Establishing Business Value

The program achieved its business goals, although it was more of an upfront investment than we originally intended. It proved difficult to enable it to pay for itself through apprentice billings, but hiring three new ready-to-go designers allows us to earn our investment back quickly. We’re now planning to integrate apprenticeship into the structure of all UX projects to reduce this difficulty in the future. If a project is structured to accommodate an apprentice from the beginning, assigning apprentices to projects in a billable capacity will become much easier than it is now. Continue reading UX Apprenticeship Results – Cohort 1

How Games Can Engage Users and Impact Real Business Objectives


At The Nerdery, we are technology agnostic, meaning that we do not advocate for a particular platform or technology.  Instead, we begin by researching and defining user goals and business goals and then determine the platform or technology solution.  If the goals are to track user performance or change behaviors, consider using games as a vehicle for change.

Some may ask, “Don’t games just waste time?  How do games actually help with my business objectives?”  Consider the engagement users experience with challenges, achieving goals, advancing to higher levels, and learning new skills. These are all desirable objectives for business.

Gallup reported that 70% of workers are not engaged in their jobs, which costs businesses billions of dollars every year, so finding new ways to engage people is even more important than ever. Continue reading How Games Can Engage Users and Impact Real Business Objectives

User Experience Design Apprenticeship

Demand for user experience design talent is exploding. More and more people are asking UX designers how they can become UX designers, too. UX-related degree programs are proliferating. While this seems fantastic on the surface, if you dig just a little deeper you’ll find that the demand is for experienced UX designers, the supply of which is extremely limited. This experience gap is a threat to the health of the UX profession. If we don’t close it, we risk losing relevance to business (they’ll find some other way) and becoming unattractive to potential new designers (why struggle to get into a field so hard to get into?). So, how can we close the experience gap? At The Nerdery, we’re building an apprenticeship program to take people with the raw materials required to be great UX designers and help them build the skills that will make them so.
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