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7 results returned for "User Experience"

Thursday, Nov 10th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Mo'bile Mo' Problems

When creating a website, every aspect is carefully thought through to determine what will yield the most success. Every button, color, and action is analyzed and carefully chosen, but the most irreplaceable element of a website is it's responsiveness. A responsive web design allows a site's layout to change to accommodate the screen it's being viewed on, and without it, your carefully chosen design elements will be useless. The importance of this cannot be understated, as customers are increasingly reaching business websites from mobile and tablet devices in addition to their computers. See for yourself how users are viewing your website with some statistics about mobile in Devshop's Mo'bile Mo' Problems infographic.

Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2016

Lauren Basil

Lauren
8 Reasons Snapchat Spectacles Won't Last

Snapchat is attempting to stay relevant by introducing their first piece of hardware and changing their name to Snap Inc. Obviously, the Snapchat app is still their bread and butter, but they're exploring hardware as the next endeavor to further the company's influence. I don't see this as the next stepping stone in growing their company, but only time will tell.

That Ray Ban Vision

Let's be honest, if I'm going to buy myself a pair of sunglasses for $130, I'm going to buy myself a pair of Ray-Bans that look great and won't go out of style. Not Snapchat Spectacles that only have one frame available that may or may not look good.

Kim K.

The Spectacles can only be used outside, unless of course you think you're Kim K and wear sunglasses no matter where you are. But truthfully, the fact that they are sunglasses limits use to outdoors and if I were to buy something like Spectacles (for the purpose of recording), I would want to be able to use them wherever and whenever.

Lights Out

To limit the use of the glasses even more, half of anything worth documenting outside is going to happen while it's dark out. Snapchat Spectacles won't do you any good then.

Thirty Seconds

Realistically, that's not a lot of time. Not to mention, you have to prompt the glasses to continue recording past 10 seconds if you want a longer video. The glasses are set to end after 10 seconds in correspondence with the length of a snapchat video. So what happens if you record a longer video and want to upload to Snapchat?

Blurred Lines

Who's to say how good the quality of the recordings will be? We won't know until the hardware makes it's debut and users give their feedback. My guess is that I wouldn't want to use the video many other places outside of the Snapchat app because of the quality.

Sorry Android

Using an Android limits the user friendliness. You have to be connected to wifi in order to transfer the recordings onto your phone, unlike an iPhone user who can easily transfer via bluetooth.

Need an Endorsement?

So far, the only person endorsing Spectacles is the Snap Inc. CEO, Evan Spiegel. That doesn't instill very much confidence in potential buyers because of course the CEO should LOVE the product.

Creep it real

They have the ability to classify someone as creepy. I could be wearing the glasses and be recording my friends and they might not even realize it... or frankly, they may not want to be recorded!

The Spectacles give Snap Inc. a glimpse into the world of hardware, an unknown territory for the company thus far. I can't say this will be their breakthrough product, but it's a start and they will continue to improve the hardware just like any tech company would. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Push It To The Limit

Your phone is laying next to you. The screen illuminates. You stop what you're doing and scan the screen for something to peak your interest. Low balance alert, damn it. You go back to what you were doing. Every app is at risk of being forgotten, left sitting on a back screen or in a folder labeled "Uselessness" along with the stocks app. Push notifications can make the difference in your app being one of the forgotten, or making it into someone's daily routine. Last year, users who enabled push notifications launched an app an average of 14.7 times per month versus 5.4 times a month for users who did not enable notifications. 3X more launches? Sign us up.

Come on girls, let's go show the guys that we know how to become number one in a hot party show. NOW PUSH IT.

Yes, driving users to engage with your app is the main goal of push notifications. But like most marketing, there is value to be found in other elements. Is it generating buzz? Is it adding value to your brand? Is it creating awareness or building trust with your users? Your strategy should be less focused on clicks, and more focused on ways to build your brand. The language (or emojis) you choose should be consistent with the messaging you use throughout your marketing.

Turn offs include...

Did you click on this article because it looked boring? No. Something about it was compelling. The content of your push notifications need to be compelling enough that users don't turn to the dreaded "Turn off push notifications" option, and instead are persuaded to open the app. The content should be witty and interesting, and provide them with something worthy of their time. If your users don't find value in receiving notifications from you, they will turn you off quicker than cargo pants.

Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me

I am a vicious online shopper. It's a hobby, it's a sport, it's a passion. And like any good online shopper, I filter my search with precision to find exactly what I'm looking for so I don't have to wade through items I'm not interested. You can apply this same concept to your user's push notifications by allowing them to customize their settings so they choose what notifications they want to see. Rather than turning notifications off completely, allow them the opportunity to decide what's important to them. For instance, ESPN's app prompts you to choose which teams you want to receive updates on, instead of just sending you blanket news about sports. Kayak, a travel app, gives you the option to set notifications based on dates and destinations that alert you when a price has dropped based on your criteria. Users are teeing it up for you by telling you exactly what they want to hear from you.

Push, not shove

You don't want to be the whiney girlfriend complaining that users never pay attention to you anymore. Instead, try to use language that is encouraging. Don't shame users into opening your app or try to preach to them that you know best. We get it Yahoo Fantasy Football, you don't agree with my lineup choices. I read the injury report, and I don't need your judgment.

What's in it for me?

Coupons have been around for decades, but they remain relevant because they offer incentive to customers that drive them to visit. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks provide value to users by offering them a discount or a coupon at specific times. They make them time sensitive to further drive engagement. There is a 5% higher click through rate with notifications that include the words "off" for discounts and promotions. Success is also seen with words like "come" and "only" that create a sense of urgency.

AWWWW, YEAHHHHH

I can't be the only one who immediately thinks of GrubHub when they see this phrase. In fact, its making me a little hungry to type this. GrubHub speaks to their users in a casual, comfortable manner. In addition to using language that reflects your brand, your language should speak to your demographic in a way they can relate to. Bonus points for using their name, with users being three times more likely to convert from a push notification when its personalized.

Timing is everything

When I was researching the best times to send out a push notification, I found that the strongest open rates are 10AM-1PM, with little variation by day. But I'm going to go out on a limb here with my marketing expertise and say that may not be the best time for you to hit send. I suggest you get to know your audience instead. A/B test until the cows come home. And most importantly, know your product. If you are a language app, your user probably isn't studying on a Saturday night, so hold off on push notifications that night. If you're an EDM show finding app, your user is ready to rage Saturday night and would love a push notification at that time. Know your audience and think about why they downloaded your app in the first place. Ignore best practices.

Location, Location, Location

One day I read a review for an app that assured me I would find the best drink deals in town. I downloaded it immediately, ready to start saving/drinking. I promptly forgot about it. A few days later, I was walking to a friend's apartment and ding ding! I received an alert that I was walking near a bar I could be saving/drinking at. The real value in this app was born. It was making my life easier and more convenient. Instead of leaving it to take up storage in my phone, I actually engaged with the app.

Never forget to SQUIRRELL!!

Our attention spans are short. Are you even still reading this article? Have you clicked on three different notifications while you read it? Because our attention spans are so short, we often get distracted and forget that we left an item in our cart instead of actually ordering it. Check in with users to see if they were done with your app to draw some clicks. Remember that your users have a short attention span when writing your notifications and keep the word count low. They should be able to quickly scan to determine if they are interested.

Facebook Birthdays, like, can you not?

I surveyed a few friends about the type of notifications that they liked and disliked. Highest marks go to Poshmark, an app where you can list, sell, and purchase clothing. Poshmark sends out clever notifications multiple times a day that are guaranteed to spark a conversation, a laugh, or a screenshot. As I am sitting here writing this blog post, I received a notification from Poshmark about pumpkin spice. Timely and relevant as always. However, the only thing this notification made me do was get up and get a coffee, not necessarily go sell some clothes. It's not a blatant sales pitch, but they were on my mind.

You gotta pump those numbers up, those are rookie numbers

The other response I received when polling my friends, family, and coworkers was that they have no interest in push notifications, and in fact turn most of them off immediately. A marketer's nightmare. However, a trend did emerge in the select few that made the cut. Most people continue to keep notifications on social apps, like Instagram and Snapchat. The other one was typically a news app, like CNN or New York Times. This is pretty interesting insight into what user's value. First and foremost, they value their friends. They want to stay connected with people. Second, they value the world around them and timely, breaking news. Ultimately, the most important question to consider when you are writing your push notifications is "does this create value for the user?" The ultimate goal should be to make your users life better! Don't be repetitive with your messages. Try to make your user laugh. Is this alert going to help them, or distract them? If you're going to interrupt someone's life, make it a worthwhile message.

Tuesday, Aug 30th, 2016

Jesse Nagelberg

Jn
A Few Words On Wordpress

In the role of a web developer who's worked on numerous projects involving Wordpress, and as someone whose friends and colleagues are seeking advice on the best web framework to choose, I often express the same opinion to them. I'm not a fan of WordPress. I believe that in several cases there are options that people overlook because WordPress is such a household name, and they assume that it's their only option.

I've been spending quite a bit of time lately wrestling around with WordPress. With an ever-growing competitive landscape in the web framework market, the options for your site are endless, making it difficult to choose the right one. As this isn't my first rodeo, I'm here to help guide you into making the right decision for you and your business.

I'm going to lay out the pros and cons of WordPress, my experience with it as a developer, and broadly cover some alternative services.

Everyone Has Heard of WordPress, But What Is It?

Built back in 2003, WordPress is currently the most popular framework with around 15,886,000 websites on the web and boasting an impressive 17 posts published every second on WordPress sites worldwide. WordPress.com gets more unique visitors than Amazon (126 million per month vs. 96 million per month) and WordPress.org powers some well known, highly trafficked sites such as CNN, Spotify, and TechCrunch.

It's important that I state that there is a big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, here's a great resource on explaining this further. Simply put, the .com is the fully hosted version of the framework where there is no coding required whatsoever and you can pick from a range of themes and customize the designs yourself, much like SquareSpace which I'll mention later. You pick a theme and they handle the technical aspects for you. The .org version is the self-hosted version where you can install custom themes and plugins to get a more customized and feature rich website. In this article I'm mainly going to be talking about my experience with the .org version.

Wordpress is a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create, edit, and publish web content through their web interface. Out of the box, one would consider it a very useful product, offering inexhaustible numbers of themes, plugins, and options for integrations with 3rd party services such as MailChimp and contact forms. You would have everything you would need to build a basic website and the ability to create a far more advanced one if you so choose. These numerous features available to you are designed to take the whole development (i.e. coding) aspect out of your way by allowing you to create and edit content and utilize other tools on both the front end (visual aspect) and backend (data) portion of the site. An example of this could be dragging and dropping rows of text and images via tools like Visual Composer or creating, editing, and deleting blog posts that are created through your backend web interface.

Most importantly, WordPress has a huge developer community. In fact, it's an open source platform, meaning that the core code used to power the CMS is open to anybody to use and develop. Many developers can create their own themes and plugins to share and sell with the community making it an opportune choice for people to hop on the bandwagon and contribute.

This Sounds Great, But There's A Few Problems:

Despite its vast popularity and widespread use, someone simply uttering the word "WordPress" aloud stirs up several emotions and groans amongst developers and non-developers alike. WordPress is essentially the Regina George of CMS's in that it's really popular as the statistics have proven, but relies heavily on the work of the open source community, so can you really trust her? Would you reference stats from Wikipedia in a PhD thesis? You probably wouldn't, so why develop your site on the same foundation with WordPress?

Due to the nature of having this large open source community, there is a serious saturation of themes and plugins, inevitably meaning some bad apples in the group that lack in quality. "At this point in time there are over 44,000+ WordPress plugins which are downloaded more than 1.2 billion times." With these kinds of numbers it's unrealistic to be able to police the creation and sale of said tools because of the size and scale of the community. What this means for users is that they really can't feel comfortable choosing the right tool for their site, and usually have to resort to purchasing a "premium" plugin which will end up costing them extra money. Decisions... decisions... decision fatigue.

In my own recent experience working on WordPress sites for clients, I came across several speed bumps that made my development experience unpleasant. This includes, but is not limited to: broken tools, intrusive workarounds to get small customizations to work, visual bugs, and web interface bugs. WordPress is highly customizable, but has a steep learning curve and doesn't play nice when you want to make customizations.

Ultimately I feel that WordPress would be cumbersome for those that want to launch a new business quickly and without any setbacks, but may be appropriate for those with more time on their hands and who really want to gain a better understanding of CMS's and coding in general.

What About The Competition?

SquareSpace, Shopify, Weebly, Wix, Drupal, Joomla. No, I'm not just making noises with my mouth, these are some alternative services and web frameworks to WordPress.

These alternative services are similar to WordPress in a few ways, namely offering out of the box solutions for generating quick websites with a front end template and a database. These services don't require any development experience and are also customizable through their web interfaces. Take SquareSpace for example, with the main difference lying in the fact that where WordPress is an open source community, SquareSpace is not, meaning that their in-house development team produces all of it's tools specifically for it's users. SquareSpace would be a direct competitor of the .com version of WordPress.

These services both new and old are gaining traction, especially amongst millennials that want cool looking sites with minimal time and assistance required in building. In my next post I'll be talking more in depth about SquareSpace and my thoughts and experience using it.

Is A WordPress Site Right For Me?

The .com version would be the better choice if you're looking for something quick and easy that you can start building right away. I think there are so many other great services nowadays that it can't hurt to try a different one if you're looking to build a more advanced, customized site.

Thanks for reading and be sure to look for my next post taking a closer look at the pros and cons of SquareSpace.

Thursday, Aug 18th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Best Practices for Collaboration Between Designers and Developers

The design process it absolutely critical to building an application that is both beautiful and functional. These designs serve as a guide for developers, a brand and face for a company, and ensure a clean experience for users. With this all important task, its crucial to remember that no designer is an island. Creating the best designs requires another essential element: collaboration. Poor synergy between designers and development can leads to stress and tension for developers, designers, clients, project managers, and the rest of your team.


Throughout the course of a project, miscommunications between these two parties can occur often. Developers bouncing between projects can mix up where they picked up and left off. Designers can overlook minor styling elements like error messages. Disorganized site maps can lead to confusion, and designers and developers can run into problems when they don't see eye to eye. But many of these issues can be eliminated by simply implementing better practices for communication. Following these simple guidelines can help to ease many of the problems faced throughout the design and development process.

Obsessive Compulsive Design

Organization is absolutely irreplaceable. No matter how amazing designs are, if they are disorganized, they are not useful. Designers- make life easy for your developers by creating the cleanest, most well organized files possible. When labeling layers, include a title, breakdown, and a name that makes sense (to both designers and developers.) Sketch provides the option to annotate your documents, so take advantage of this! Properly labeling requires less clarification later on. Developers- don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you don't understand those labels! There's nothing worse than spending hours coding only to realize you've have been working off of an old mock. No matter what assets are being provided, they need to be on time, detailed, and complete.

Can you hear me now?

Clear communication is the simplest way to ensure that designers and developers are collaborating well. Designers and developers should be encouraged to communicate regularly to gain a better understanding about the status and elements within a project. Benefits go beyond just clear understanding. The extra input leads to more innovative and functional designs for the end user. Every designer has had the experience of staring at a design for a week straight and not noticing a typo, only to be immediately spotted from a fresh set of eyes. Been there, dseigned that.

Meet and Greet

Don't just meet a little, meet a lot. Meet to review the wireframes before designs begin to get made. Meet before a designer presents mock ups to a client to make sure they are realistic for development. From kickoff to presentation, someone from development should join in all design meetings with clients. The extra time spent is essential in preventing miscommunications and misunderstandings that lead to the dreaded response from clients that the finished product doesn't look like the mock ups.

Como Se Dice...Language

Use language that is constructive, descriptive, and detailed. People typically don't see things the same way based on their tastes, preferences, or past experiences. Avoid words like "trendy" or "chic", and instead opt for clearer terminology that describes more literally what you are looking for. Don't leave room for misinterpretation. Designers should have a firm understanding of the lingo used for development as well.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It's important that both designers and developers approach the project with respect everyone's opinion. Designers, put yourself in the developer's shoes and think how a developer would and vice versa. Be open minded and consider all ideas, even if they aren't yours. Both designers and developers are experts in their field, but that doesn't necessarily make them the authority with the final say. Sometimes a tie breaker vote from an outside party may be in order, but as long as the situation is handled respectfully a lot of problems can be avoided.

Tuesday, Aug 2nd, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Homepage, Sweet, Homepage

10 seconds. That's all the time you have to make a great first impression when a user visits your website. 10 seconds to let them know who you are, what you're about, how you can make their life better, and why they should keep clicking. It's a tall order for just a few seconds, but is a crucial element to the success of your website and your business. This time is a brief chance for you to connect emotionally with visitors and show them, through a combination of a few critical elements, what you can do for them (without overwhelming them).

Relevant Images

Using images or videos on the homepage of a website is the standard for web design, but as with anything else, the quality of these images is ultimately the most important. When choosing an image or video, make sure that it is high quality and up to date. It's 2016, so don't choose a large image of someone holding a landline phone to represent your company (unless you sell landline phones). Avoid cheesy stock photos. Visitors pick up on it immediately if the images don't feel authentic and genuine. They should instead highlight what you offer, and reflect your businesses branding. This image or video is a terrific opportunity for you to convey what you offer without overwhelming your user with text. Take advantage of it.

Headline

In 6-12 words, your headline should let the visitor know exactly what your website or business has to offer. The headline is probably the trickiest element of your home page, because it needs to clearly and concisely convey why your business is unique, and why visitors can benefit from being there. It's important to remember that this headline should be about your visitor, not about you. They want to know what you can do for them, not the other way around. This is an easy element to change and update. You don't have to be married to it, so don't hesitate to keep working to make it better and more compelling.

Subheadline

The subheadline, which appears just below your headline but above the fold on your homepage, should compel users to dig deeper. In 1-2 sentences, your subheadline should spark the interest of a reader, showing clear value, and showcasing what you do. They don't have to be there, so don't waste their time. Keep the copy for your subheadline lightweight and easy to read, while positioning yourself as an authority on the topic that they can trust. It's a fine line to walk, and will also require a few tweaks before you hit a home(page) run.

Call to Action
Along with the subheadline, your homepage should include a call to action. When a visitor first clicks on to your homepage, it should be immediately clear what action they should take next. Should they find out more? Should they sign up now? Make their journey through your website as simple as possible, providing an obvious route to the next step they should take. This call to action should be clear, leaving no question as to where it would lead. It should also be compelling. Again, they don't have to be there. Make it worth their while.

Contact Information

Drake said it best, "you know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing: more qualified business leads generated." Pretty sure that's how the song goes. In order to connect with these qualified business leads, you need to provide easily accessible and up to date contact information on your home page. If you have a brick and mortar business, make sure you not only provide the address, but include a map so that patrons can easily find your business. In addition to being able to easily find your business, providing contact information adds credibility. People want to work with real people, in a real office, who they can really speak to! Don't make it hard for them to find you.

Social Media
Your marketing team spent 2 hours' yesterday lining up a keyboard with a notepad and pencil for the perfect flatlay picture (or wait, was that me?). Don't let those hours of effort go to waste. Get social by promoting your social media pages on your homepage. Use icons, and make sure that your links are all working properly. Just like providing accurate contact information, including social media posts and links helps to build trust with potential customers. It's no longer a value added, its an essential.

Subscribe
Keep it short, keep it simple.

Your website's homepage is your first chance to capture a potential customer and show them how you can make their life better with your product or service. With every element, its important to remember that a little can go a long way. Don't overwhelm your visitors with an overload of information and pictures. Every item that you do choose to include, remember: Branding, Branding, Branding. You have worked hard to carefully craft a voice, don't miss the opportunity to show visitors who you are and what you represent.

Tuesday, Aug 12th, 2014

Steve Weiss

Steve
Missing The User Experience

Our team was racing through a project, a goal tracking app for companies based on individual employee goals and criteria a company would be graded on. We had already gone through several iterations, created mockups, implemented those designs, and had a good amount of functionality working. This thing was looking great! But during a meeting reviewing the current progress, the tone changed.

The overall tone from those who had not interacted with the app on a daily basis was "Wait, how does this thing work?" We had glossed over a very important concept: Usability. It's quite a big concept, but an easy one to miss when your head is down and you're focused on bringing an app to production.

Viewing an app from the perspective of a user can be difficult. It requires you to not only have functionality in mind, but to also second guess all of your work. If you make a decision on where to place a button or what to label a text field, will the majority of users understand what it's trying to accomplish? What about a first time user who has never seen the product before? Try to put aside all the hours you have spent viewing these pages and go back to square one.

We realized that many things needed labeling. We needed more buttons. We needed to create a first time sign in flow. (remember the Microsoft Word Paperclip/Wizard?) These things all required more work. It's an interesting dilemma to balance. Do you have the goal of making an app as simple and user friendly as possible so it's just so intuitive that anyone could pick it up? Or do you enter the process with a first time set of instructions in mind? It depends on the functionality, your design, and the opinions of your client. It's a complicated mix!

Sometimes the best solution is showing the app to someone who hasn't worked with it before, and just see how easy it is to navigate through. There is no substitute for actual interaction. Also, drop all defenses, because no explanation or justification should be necessary. You won't be sitting next to a user while they're clicking around.

Just imagine the frustrating image of being enclosed in a soundproof cube, watching a user interact with your product. You can't say or do anything. Now, do you beam with pride at your fantastic and intuitive user experience, or do you pound on the glass of this mythical cube in frustration (not unlike Bill Murray as the Ghost of Christmas Past in the cinematic classic "Scrooged")? Just something to keep in mind.