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The New Absorb LMS Web Site: What Happens When Designers Ignore Good Advice

The blatant^ design team ignored pretty much every suggestion I made for the design of our new Web site.

“Let’s add a lot of animated gifs!” I said.

—”No,” they said. “Animated gifs don’t scale and we want the site to look good on all devices including computers, tablets, and phones.”

“Let’s have music start playing as soon as a person arrives at the home page. That’s so cool!”

—”No,” they said. “We want the site to load quickly.”

“Let’s use a typewriter font! That would be hip and ironic since we’re a technology company.”

—”No. That would just be stupid.”

They then went on and on and on about usability, user experience, design best practices, blah blah blah blah.

Pompous snobs.

In the end, this is what they came up with. (It’s OK, I suppose.)

The new Absorb LMS Web site.

A Few Small Changes While You Were Away on Vacation

True story: My mother once went on a short trip with her sister. When she returned home, she discovered that my father had cedar shingled the bathroom walls.

Cedar shingles (Photo: Muffet/Flickr)I don’t know what inspired my dad to do this. He wasn’t the type to read home decorating magazines. And, he wasn’t the sort of guy who commonly undertook home renovation projects. I picture him sitting on the couch reading the newspaper one Saturday morning and having the epiphany that, since shingles look great on the exterior of maritime houses, they’d look fantastic on the walls of our upstairs bathroom.

This wasn’t an easy project for my dad, who was, like me, a member of the measure-once-cut-multiple-times school of craftsmanship. He had to saw holes in the shingles for light switches. Adding to the challenge, the small finishing nails he used wore away at the dry wall, making the shingles a bit wobbly.

Upon her return home, my mother wasn’t pleased.

The shingled bathroom walls were a continual irritant in their otherwise happy union for about 15 years until my father finally gave in and allowed my mother to call a contractor to renovate the bathroom.

I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation and was relieved to see that no one undertook to shingle the walls of the Blatant Media games room while I was away. What is new, though, is the arrival in our Atlantic Avenue Art Block offices a fourth painting by David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists. You can see the others here and here.

Painting by David Brunning, TheKidBelo

In Praise of Beautiful Work Environments

June 14, 2012 3 comments

My youngest daughter’s bedroom looks like a war zone. She’s presently in her final exam week in high school and so her floor is covered in papers, clothes, dishes, and detritus—hopefully inorganic—that I can’t identify.

(I can safely tell you this knowing that no member of my family ever reads my Blog posts.)

Comparatively, my eldest daughter’s bedroom is spotless. She finished classes more than a month ago and is now travelling in Europe. Prior to leaving, she did a massive clean up. Not only can you eat off her floor, you could likely perform surgery in that room without risk of infection.

Last night, I discovered my youngest daughter studying for an exam in her sister’s immaculate bedroom. The order and cleanliness made it a better environment to learn and work. “Fewer distractions,” she said.

The point is that we all know deep down that our environment has a huge impact on our work and mood. Distractions can impede our ability to focus and learn. Beautiful environments make us feel good.

Our own work environment just got better. The walls of Blatant Media’s new office in the Atlantic Avenue Art Block in the trendy Inglewood area of Calgary are now adorned with two new paintings by David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists.

Feels like home.

We Have Art! (And it Isn’t `Dogs Playing Poker’)

June 1, 2012 2 comments

You know you’ve settled into a new home when art starts appearing on the walls. The presence of art indicates that other parts of the move, like getting lights-electricity-doors-network-a kitchen-boardrooms-etc. are likely resolved.

As you’ve probably noticed from past posts here and here about our games room, creating a fun work environment is a priority at Blatant. A nice environment helps to create a positive culture.

Wishing to contribute to this positive culture, I was about to bring to the office the print of “Dogs Playing Poker” that hung in my parent’s basement playroom for 35 years when this painting appeared on the wall I had targetted:

The painting is the work of David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists. From everyone at Blatant Media, thank you to TheKidBelo for making our new home even better.

Where We’ll Be if Aliens or Zombies Attack

May 11, 2012 5 comments

When dot coms start clashing with dot nets (ok, you’re on to me. I’m not a programmer), Absorb LMS team members regroup and recharge by blowing virtual things up in the new Blatant Media games room.  The secure vault look suggests this would be a great place to escape post-apocalyptic scenarios such as zombie or extraterrestrial alien attacks. Of course, we’d need to somehow squeeze in the coffee machine and some cookies.

A professional photographer just took some new panorama shots of the Xbox room. Click the image below to access the panorama. Here’s a second panorama of the space.

(I’ve never before tagged a bog post with the words zombies, aliens, and corporate culture.)

Why I Joined the Absorb LMS Team

October 3, 2011 10 comments

I’m excited to be starting a new chapter in my 25-year career in the fascinating world of learning technology. After more than a decade with Brandon Hall Group (formerly Brandon Hall Research), a leading research and advisory services firm in the areas of learning and talent management, I’m now a member of the Absorb LMS team.

My years at Brandon Hall, first as an analyst and since 2007 as CEO, have given me the opportunity to attend a lot of learning management system briefings and see many products. The Absorb solutions have always stood out for their innovation and ease-of-use.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve joined the Absorb LMS team:

Technology

This company is doing things that I’ve never before seen as a learning management system analyst. For example, content from the Absorb LMS can be embedded as widgets into Web pages. So, if you wanted to present learning content to, say, your customers, you could do so right from your Web site. Update the content within the content management section of the LMS and your Web site will immediately display the new information.

Here’s an example of this approach implemented for financial guru, Dave Ramsey. The video displayed, which resides within the Absorb LMS’s content management system, has been published to the Dave Ramsey site.

 

The Absorb LMS is being implemented in ways where the technology doesn’t look at all like a traditional learning management system. A lot of software companies say that their product can be branded for their customers. What this often means is that the company logo can be added and colors modified to reflect the corporate look and feel. The Absorb team takes this much further.

Here’s an example of the Absorb LMS as implemented for Specialized Bikes:

 

Does this look like your LMS?

Likely not.

The two examples above illustrate revolutionary thinking about the role of learning management systems. In both cases, learning content is integrated into organizations’ infrastructures in ways that reflect their cultures and project their brands. Learning content isn’t something on the periphery. It’s central to the organization.

Client loyalty

Absorb is growing quickly and adding high-profile customers across all industries. Some well-known clients include:

  • Adobe Software Systems
  • Elsevier
  • Indiana University
  • New York University
  • Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
  • Virgin Mobile
  • American Medical Systems
  • Dannon

Getting new clients is a sign of a company with a great sales force. Retaining clients, on the other hand, is a sign of a very well-run company where all team members across all departments work together to create a rewarding customer experience. Absorb LMS presently boasts an enviable customer retention rate of more than 95 per cent. In an industry where about 35 per cent of organizations are looking to replace their existing LMS, the Absorb LMS team are clearly meeting the needs of their customers.

To all my old friends in learning and development, I look forward to continuing our conversations in my new role as VP, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Absorb LMS. To those of you meeting me for the first time, I look forward to discussing how these revolutionary technologies can help transform your workforce into high performers.

Sincerely,

Richard Nantel