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LeagueApps Has Some Fun In The Sun At The 4th Annual SSIA Conference

Company News, Press, Rec

LeagueApps recently sponsored and attended the 4th annual Sport & Social Industry Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 19-21st. The conference, organized by the Sport & Social Industry Association, brought together over 60 of the top sport & social clubs throughout the country (and Canada!). Here is a list of all of the SSIA member organizations.

LeagueApps partners with a bunch of SSIA members so it was awesome for Brian and Asaf to catch up with partners and meet a few for the first time in-person. (The 80-degree weather didn’t hurt either!). We scheduled a bunch of group and individual meetings but also found some time to  play kickball, exchange swag, and share goodies with our partners. Check out the LeagueApps SSIA Conference album on Facebook for photos and some action shots from the conference!.

 

Brian sporting the Atlanta SSC shirt with Jason Ryan of Jacksonville Scene.

 

LeagueApps shared it’s plan for how we want to improve our partnership, product, and service to our league partners. These slides recap the presentation we shared with our partners (skip to slide #6 to learn more about the product initiatives). Mobile products and applications is a huge LeagueApps initiative and was a hot topic of conversation throughout the conference.

Most importantly, we learned a lot. One of the LeagueApps core values is to be “students of the game”.  LeagueApps took away some really key lessons from our 4th SSIA Conference trip. These include:

 

1) Communicate LeagueApps Updates, Issues and Partner Benefits

LeagueApps needs to emphasize the benefits and value we provide to our partners. We also need to share product issues, challenges and delays. LeagueApps can provide better insight into our monthly product updates, Partner Days schedules, and other  tools and services we plan to rollout (think webinars and beta groups). It seems like the more LeagueApps communicates the better service we are able to provide. We are eager to better communicate our product updates, benefits, and services to our partners in the future.

We also recognize that LeagueApps needs to share our product schedule and path on a more regular basis and better explain why we choose to focus development on certain features or functionality.  It’s hard to hit exact dates when it comes to development but it should be easy to share how LeagueApps is thinking about its product evolution.

 

2) Better Product Focus

LeagueApps is learning that as a software platform (that doesn’t do customization) it is unrealistic to say we can solve 100% of  all of our partners’ needs and use-cases. Rather than attempt to be the best at everything, we need to get tighter about what our product focus is (registration, communications), as well as provide and recommend solutions in areas that are not our forte.  Many partners are already using SMS, Mailchimp, Quickbooks and other online products that should be able to more seamlessly integrate with LeagueApps.

 

3) Registration and Payments are King!

Over and over we were told by our partners that registration and payments is the #1 value we can provide to our partners. This feedback was constant across most of our partners at the conference. In addition to league registrations, there is a demand for better event registration on LeagueApps.

 

4) Balance the Old with the New

It’s crucial for LeagueApps to maintain our core league management platform, while building new innovative products (think mobile!). Keeping the balance between old and new features will allow us to service our partners effectively, as well as push our partners to the forefront of sports technology.

 

5) Help LeagueApps Partners Connect With Each Other (They’re Experts!)

We are inspired by the value the SSIA is able to provide to their members through the annual conference. We recognize that knowledge sharing and networking can help many of our partners especially as it pertains to how best to utilize and leverage the LeagueApps platform. We also recognize that many partners have become “product experts” as LeagueApps users and have lots to offer each other. We’ll continue to develop and create community forums and groups for partners that want to participate in these groups. If you have any tips, ideas, or would like to participate, please hit us up!

 

Special thanks to Galen, Chris and the SSIA for organizing the conference and allowing us to participate in all of the great activities and group sessions. Please let us know if you are interested to learn more about the SSIA and we can put you in touch directly with the organizers.

We’re now in the process of working many of these lessons into our processes, plans and product in 2014.  We’re also planning more LeagueApps Partner Days in NYC, Washington D.C. and other cities this year. Let us know if you’d like to attend and we’ll be sure to invite you to an upcoming LeagueApps Partner Day!

 

 

 

 

LeagueApps Partner Night Recap – the First of Many!

Company News, Press, Rec, Value of LeagueApps

Last month, LeagueApps held another Partner Event in our NYC Office. We held 3 Partner Days last year, so wanted to switch it up by by hosting our 1st-ever Partner Night!

Most of the partners in attendance were local, although some traveled quite the distance to be with us. Jason of  Kickball365 came all the way from Harrisburg, PA to spend the evening with us. Norma Jean of Baltimore Adult Soccer League drove up for her 2nd Partner event, bringing her enthusiasm and finest Maryland craft beer. We know her trip was especially worthwhile because she won the iPad Mini raffle!

Partner Night was a bit different from our previous Partner Events. Instead of holding a structured agenda filled with presentations, we decided to create a more relaxed environment that allowed for networking, more conversations, and hopefully fun!
We realized that both structured sessions and social networking events are helpful to our partners for similar reasons:

  • Find value in connecting with other like-minded partners
  • Direct access to the LeagueApps team
  • Strengthens the LeagueApps community
Bryan Esslinger (aka Ess) with Norma Jean Keefer of Baltimore Adult Soccer

 

Members of eleven different sports organizations attended the event on January 8th (now totaling 40+ partners who have attended a LeagueApps Partner Event!). The full lineup included:

 

Next week, LeagueApps will be sponsoring and attending the 2014 Sport & Social Industry Conference in Fort Lauderdale, from February 19-21. We are very much looking forward to getting some sun and meeting up with a bunch of our partners!

We’re planning on also holding more LeagueApps Partner Days this year and will experiment with different formats. Let us know if you have any thoughts or ideas on ways to plan our upcoming Partner Days, or which city we should host our next event! We’ll keep you posted on our plans.

Web Design School: Images and Photos are Really Just Data

Best Practices, Tech Specs

This post by our Lead UI/UX designer “Tuna” Jeff was inspired by the resources saved in this article. If you are using any of these images, we recommend downloading this zip file and re-loading the smaller, optimized version to your site — your users will thank you!

Part 1 of a 2 part series

We often forget, digital images (on a computer) are just bits of data that the computer converts into graphical representations we can understand. I often forget that, at least, so I would imagine others do as well. That said, it’s no wonder that something like 65 to 70% of a websites content is image data. And very often, that data is way too large and slows down the page. Most importantly, it’s usually unnecessarily so. Just to clarify, I am referring mainly to pictures, and not icons, logos, or any other simple image types.

Okay, so what does that mean really?

Well, more often than not, this means that the images used in their content were not properly optimized for the web. And I’m not even referring to the whole mobile web & image discussion, which introduces a whole slew of other concerns. What I’m referring to is proper image formatting, color settings, and image optimization. Say what!?! I know, it sounds confusing. But lets see if we can’t break it down a bit more so it’s not quite so off-putting.

Image formats for the web

It’s generally accepted now that there are 3 workable image types: .jpg .gif and .png. However, we can get images in all types of formats that typically don’t play well with browsers. Some of the might be .tiff, .bmp, .raw, .exit, etc. So, you can see how a non-tech savvy person who receives an image in one of these formats might have issues converting this, or even knowing what to do with them. If you have access to Photoshop, that’s the best place to start. Fortunately, there are some resources on the web that can help us to convert these files to web-friendly formats (see the resources at the end).

Image Color Settings

RGB or CMYK? I won’t get technical, but monitors display RGB, and browsers want images in RGB. So, in my previous jobs, where I worked with clients often, I would get emails or calls about our apps being broken because a certain image wouldn’t show up. But, it turned out the client was uploading CMYK images, and older browsers (and some modern ones) don’t support images saved in this color space. So again, what are most people to do? Too often, they had no choice, and didn’t know there was any issue, so nothing. But, again, the web is your friend; there are a good amount of online tools to help out with converting CMYK to RGB as well (see the resources at the end).

Image Optimization

The bane of the web are images. Why? Because images delay load times on websites, and users are not patient (myself included). Large images delay load times even more. But they don’t always have to. What can be done about this? If the image is a .jpg, reducing the optimization level to an acceptable point where the image itself is still recognizable enough, but perhaps not 100% sharp. Yes, I know, this does not sound ideal, but the web is a trade-off: speed and load-time paired with user experience. If the image is a .gif or .png, then try reducing the number of colors used or the type of compression used. Again, in 2014, there are free online tools available to help with image optimization as well as the aforementioned issues (see the resources at the end).

Tips to keep in mind

The main things to keep in mind, if you ever are adding images to a website are the following: is the image the right format for the web, is the color set to RGB, and can the file be any smaller. The last part is so important, I’ll repeat it. Do you really need an image that is 100% crisp, or would just 60% of the work for most of your users? 99% of the time, that will be more than sufficient. The smaller the better, because, the smaller the image size, the quicker your website will load for your users and allow them to do what they need to do.

Up next:

Next time, we’ll look at how our users can best take this knowledge and apply it inside LeagueApps, specifically how to take an image from point A to point B.

Image Editing/Optimization Resources

  • PicResize
    Advanced cropping and editing with a nice UX
  • ImgRszr
    Note: this is an app an employee built, but we think it’s pretty boss — choose a max width or height, and get the optimized image
  • CMYK2RGB
    Easily convert CMYK to RGB
  • SmushIt
    Auto-optimize images to remove unnecessary bytes from them
  • TinyPNG
    Advanced lossy compression for PNG images that preserves full alpha transparency – that one worked great for me (decreased image size by 5 times without visible quality loss)!
  • PNG optmizer
    PNG optimizer can reduce, without quality loss, the size of your PNG image up to 20% by optimizing compression and stripping unused meta-data
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