Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Best Practice in UX - Ideal Airlines

Airline websites are well known for being a User Experience (UX) nightmare. Those hard-to-navigate menus, 'best offer' pop-ups and terrible colourschemes are enough to put anyone off air travel. This clever agency has shown the way to change all that, with their fantastic concept video.

None of the suggestions are ground-breaking, but when well-executed with good design they would make booking a flight an altogether more enjoyable experience. Well played.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Top 5 Tips : Twitter Analytics

It seems Twitter are finally rolling out analytics to us mere mortals, after being available to verified accounts for some time. Although it they're currently only available in the U.S. some U.K. users can navigate there too, via the "Twitter Ads" option on the dropdown. It's only a matter of time before we can all use them, so you need to brush up on the basics.

So, how to use Twitter analytics? Here's 5 tips to get you started:

1. Don't get too obsessed with stats!
Twitter is, and always will be, about personal connections. Of course we all have a narcissistic interest in how many people are listening to us, but paying too much attention to 'what makes a popular tweet' will mean we end up sounding like an empty, self-serving, brand. Or worse, the PR agency of a brand.

2. Decide what you want to learn from the analytics
If you're just a curious individual that's fine (but be careful of tip 1). If you're a business owner, do you want to find out how to reach more customers? How to get more interaction? Or how to keep people tuned in? It's easy to spend hours looking at analytics and not actually come out with any useful conclusions.

3. Pay attention to 'unfollows'
Trace what you tweeted when your unfollows spiked. If you're building a following it will be useful to know what turns people off. But again, don't get obsessed with not tweeting the "wrong" thing: genuine, honest tweeters will always gain more followers than they lose.

3. Look for patterns
Do certain types of tweets get more RTs and fewer favourites? Are your pictures more popular than vines, or vice versa? Is there a particular hashtag that has worked well for you?

4. Dig Deeper
Twitter's analytcis interface is well designed and easy to use, but to get full value from it for your business account you need to click that 'export' button. You can get a full list of all your tweets, with Retweet, Favourite and Reply numbers next to them. Let the number crunching commence!

5. Look 'around' the figures
A high volume of replies or RT's isn't always a good thing. If you see an unusual spike remember to go and look at the tweet itself and get a feel of the sentiment surrounding it. It could be that this particular post was shared for the wrong reasons or that the replies are asking for more information - all things that can be turned into a positive by an adept Social Media Manager.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Digital Shoreditch and the great tech swizzle

I'm beginning to think it's something about Digital. Perhaps the nature of an emerging industry, or the monopoly of skill currently held by the few. But that doesn't make it right.

Im talking about the way companies think its fair game to ask tech professionals (or graduates) for their 'game-changing' digital concepts, without fair acknowledgement.

The first time this happened I was at an interview for a start-up website, which helped people locate a restaurant which catered for dietary requirements. Ethical company, you might think. But when they asked me to sit down for half an hour and "think of as many good ideas as I could" for the website, my heart sank.

Eventually I was told I didnt get the job because "I wasn't close enough to the cause" (don't get me started on the ethics of not hiring someone because they aren't a vegetarian) but I later noticed some of my ideas appearing around the site. 

Perhaps that's just the nature of the recruitment process, especially in digital where 'ideas' are key and it's assumed anyone can come up with them. But I'd be highly surprised if a designer was asked to design a poster in an interview and that poster was then used in a campaign without thier permission...

Anyway, on to Digital Shoreditch.

It was my first year there this year and I did enjoy the event overall. We went to the 'make and do' session as it was the only one which wouldn't mean a day off work. At the beginning, after the (amazing) selection of pastries and coffee had been consumed  various companies asked for our thoughts/ideas/help on the digital problems they were having and then we would think about solutions throughout the day, whilst going to workshops and presenations etc.

Fair play to the companies - this is exactly the right sort of event for asking that question. A lot of curious, innovative digital minds are bound to come up with something. True enough there was collaboration, coding, brainstorming, the works. It was great. Some organisations were more structured than others in how they wanted the ideas presented at the end and the household name TV company that I had opted to helpjust requested I dropped them an email.

So I did my thing, came up with a pretty decent strategy, wrote it up as a powerpoint presentation and emailed it to them that day. Then nothing. This is the last I heard from them:

And that was ok...except that they didn't.

I know that we were all there out of personal interest and a willingness to help, I get that, and I'm not expecting payment or anything. But I did hope for at least an acknowledgement of the trouble I'd gone to, and if they do use any of the ideas I'd quite like to be involved.

Is that too much to ask? With the world becoming seemingly more social and collaborative, I felt like this was an opportunity, but instead I'm left feeling a little cheated by the whole experience. Is this justified, or should I have just kept my ideas to myself and attended one of the weekday sessions instead? Thoughts are welcome...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Introducing 3D screen covers for the iPhone - EyeFly3D

I've never been that excited by 3D, mainly because of the requirement for ridiculous glasses. But this innovation does seem pretty cool.

EyeFly 3D is a (relatively) cheap screen protector for your smart phone, which, when applied, enables the viewer to see 3D effects on the screen without the need for glasses. A cool, simplistic, concept which will, in their words "transform your mobile device into your own portable 3D screen".


The product has had some trade press attention (MIT Technology Review, CNet Asia, Gizmag) and, as it bypasses what I reckon has been the main barrier to mainstream adoption of 3D (those damn glasses) it may just be a success.

The only barrier I can really see with this, is the lack of 3D mobile content available. EyeFly 3D have produced an app to "render content for viewing on your device" but this seems a little long-winded and has earned bad reviews. As well as existing 3D films, EyeFly 3D need innovative organisations to come up with original 3D content specifically for mobile and it's uncertain whether this will happen. 

But, as they saying goes "build it and they will come"...

We shall see!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

5 Tips on Content Marketing for Business

I went to an excellent talk by Jasper Martens from Simply Business this evening.

Simply Business are an insurance company, but you wouldn't know that from their content (more on that later!). Jasper was brought in to manage their social media output and revolutionised their marketing approach through clever use of shareable content such as free user guides.

Here's the top 5 tips I took away from the talk:

1) Content doesn't have to be about your product as long as it is in line with your BRAND.
Jasper found that he didn't end up creating content about insurance - customers found that a turnoff and wouldn't share it. Instead he focussed on a brand 'attribute'  which was that Simply Business wanted to be known for positivity towards small businesses. From this it was a natural step to creating guides aimed to help and advise this market.

2) Don't waste time trying to grow platforms that don't work for you.
Simply Business recognised that Facebook was not very successful for them in their B2B marketing efforts. Instead of trying to improve here they focussed on producing great content which could be shared on Facebook but did not depend on that channel for success.

3) Activities can BE content!
Similarly, Jasper found that his Google hangouts were only attracting double figure live audiences, despite telling people about them via mailouts to a six-figure email database. Not deterred, he recognised that the discussions held on the hangouts made great short videos and put them on YouTube, where they continue to reach a much wider audience.

4) Benefits of content marketing aren't easy to quantify.
A question from the audience (and a very common one at all social media talks I've been to) is how does this improve acquisitions? The answer is it is very hard to tell - difficult to track a sale back to the free download which created the initial brand awareness. At this point I thought it might be an idea to experiment with offer codes unique to the user guides, to help prove business worth, although you would have to tread carefully in order not to erode goodwill by appearing salesy.

5) The content has to be GOOD.
Easy to forget this one. 'Content for content's sake' will be without substance and won't help anyone, least of all you! Simply Business produced a Google Analytics guide of such good quality that Google linked to it from their help pages. It doesn't take an SEO expert to guess what a link from Google will do to your search rankings!

Monday, 20 May 2013

“Interesting”, you might say, “but how is this related to digital”? Well the video  may appear to be about direct marketing but it raises some very pertinent questions for digital marketers too!

In the clip above, Target has achieved every marketers’ dream – being able to predict what the consumer would like to buy and when – in fact they've done this so accurately that it has actually worked against them in this case.

Digital marketers like to do this too and they have even more powerful tools at their fingertips. When a company sends a mass email out, unlike more traditional advertising and marketing methods, the company is able to track exactly which customer responded to which offers via click-through data.

They can observe the individual’s behaviour on their website: which pages they responded to, purcased from or shared via social networks; where on the site they spent the most time; and which page they finally left the website from.

Although most companies wouldn’t do this level of granular analysis on individual behaviours, companies with large volumes of traffic can begin (at the very least) to guage which campaigns are working, what messages work for which demographics and at what point they will buy, and to adapt their campaigns accordingly.

The recently released Sitecore 6 CMS allows website owners to tailor the content that is displayed according to previous activity - a powerful tool meaning those interested in a certain topic (i.e on a page or blog post about pets) can then be shown pet offers or taken to the pet offer page. This means websites can be much more targetted (if you forgive the pun!) and we will begin to see more and more companies using amassed historical user data to promote products which are increasingly relevant to the individual viewing the site.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Moo Cards - the calling card of the Tech Professional. (Plus 10% off for Digilance readers!)

Ok so this post isn't purely about digital - more about the 'real-world' paraphernalia even we digital professionals sometimes need, and our provider of choice!

In 2008 I was working in Old Street. This was before the term 'Tech City' was coined, but it was still a hive of digital activity and tech start-ups and I'm sure I remember the phrase 'Silicon Roundabout' being bandied about. Back then I worked in a shared office with other digital types and I saw lots of funny little cards exchanging hands. These weren't the traditional size of business cards (how did those become globally standardised by the way? Who decided that? Must have been a ploy from someone who wanted to produce a business card holder...). These were small rectangles, which sort of reminded me of the space a tweet would occupy (yes, I was a Twitter addict even then!) and had the most wonderful selection of colourful images printed on them. Each one seemed to be different and personal to the techy type that proffered it.

When I enquired I was answered with great enthusiasm: "why they're mini Moo cards!", "We love Moo, great little company" and "Everyone in digital has them. In fact, I know people who won't take you seriously as a tech start-up if you have the old business cards!".

When I moved away from Old Street I didn't see many Moo cards and assumed they hadn't managed to go mainstream and move away from being a tech geek's calling card. But I did see the odd advert online which meant they must be ticking over ok...then one day recently I overheard someone in a non-digital setting comment "what cute little cards" and I knew the Moo card was back!

As I'm branching out into doing more freelance work, Moo were my fist point of call for cards. A natural choice and I'm glad to see they're doing so well. I ordered the cards pictured above (and a few other designs), and then (as Sod's Law would have it) discovered that attendees of Digital Shoreditch also get 100 free Moo cards. No problem though, I've ordered even more!

And, for my lovely digilance readers - a 10% discount off all Moo orders when you order via this link. Enjoy :)