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2013 UX Awards

Published on June 16, 2013 in Resource

The third annual UX Awards was last month and showcased some of the best UX designs of the past year. Held at Parson’s Tishamn Auditorium in the West Village the event was packed with several big name agencies and designers.

As a leading community sponsor of the event, NYC UX Acrobatics shared in the celebration of great UX design, created by some of the most outstanding professionals around the world.

2013 UX Awards

The evening kicked-off with an overview of the event by Beverly May (Founder and President of OTV) followed by juror introductions. The keynote speaker was Robyn Peterson, who give a rather enlightening narrative about the culture and technology of a news aggregator he works for that targets the impressible ‘connected generation’.

One of the most entertaining parts of the night was watching and listening to the jurors ‘discuss’ their judging criteria. One got the impression that there was plenty of backroom arguing over what judging criteria held more weight than others. This dynamic / tension or display of passion is what made the awards so interesting.

Below is a list of all the winners of the night’s ceremonies:

Grand prize

  • Grand prize, best everyday utility: Google: Google Now

Gold prizes

  • Gold prize, best digital media transformation: Cava Interactive: Helsingin Sanomat Digital Transformation
  • 
Gold prize, best social learning platform: Schema Design, LLC: Actively Learn

Silver prizes

  • Silver prize, best accessibility innovation: Virginia Tech: Activ
  • Silver prize, best consumer device: Belkin: WeMo
  • 
Silver prize, best UX research process: Digitas: Cessna – We Have Your Jet
  • 
Silver prize, most useful consumer health care service: ZocDoc

Bronze prizes

  • Bronze prize, most persuasive use of data: EffectiveUI: Water For People – Re-Imagine Reporting Platform
  • 
Bronze prize, best clinical health care experience: Cerner Corporation/ User Experience: PowerChart Touch
  • Bronze prize, best classroom learning experience: Amplify: Amplify Tablet

Finalists

  • Fi: Gannett: USAToday.com site redesign
  • kbs + Spies & Assassins: PUMA Joypad Wall
  • kbs + Spies & Assassins: BMW ActiveE – A Social Experiment Shaping the Future of Mobility
  • Huge: American Express – Consumer Digital Acquisition Journey
  • R/GA: Nike+ FuelBand
  • SAP: RealSpend

One of my personal favorites was the Silver prize winner for best UX research process – Digitas: Cessna – We Have Your Jet.

Cessna by Digitas

Digitas took Cessna’s outdated website and brought it into the 21st century with the insights gained from some of the hallmarks of expectation UX design: masterful IA work with its use of intuitive navigation and user and stakeholder research that were distilled into personas and customer journey maps. These discoveries obviously informed the sitemaps and wireframes that were later enhanced  by the sleek and elegant visual design.

Cessna’s new site hit the perfect balance of being extremely well organized with incredible rich interactions that are informational as well as beautiful. Although Google Now was the grand prize winner, I believe Cessna and Digitas demonstrated how exceptional UX can improve ROI, customer satisfaction and brand loyal.

Overall a great night for UX and we are already looking forward to our continued support and to next year’s ceremonies!!!

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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Being on Mobile does mean you’re mobile. (Putting Context into Mobile Use and Design)

Published on February 14, 2013 in Strategy

Joe Welinske of Blink recently interviewed Luke Wroblewski. Luke discusses the reaction to his book Mobile First. He offers suggestions for UX professionals on how to gain support for a mobile first design strategy.

interview_audio

Luke mentions that close to 20% of mobile usage happens when users are sitting in front of the TV and that 39% of people use their mobile device in the bathroom. Just because your users are on a mobile device doesn’t mean they are mobile. Google’s Multi-screen World study also revealed that most mobile use is in short blast when user has downtime or laptop/desktop is inaccessible. Putting mobile use and design into context is difficult, but not impossible. Google’s Multi-screen World report is a great start for putting mobile into context. The report emphasizes two main modes of  ‘multi-screening': sequential and simultaneous screening that helps explain how and in what context people use their mobile devices.

Working with the constraints of being lightweight, fast and efficient on mobile first you can translate the same experience on to tablets, laptops and desktops. With context parity and progressive enhancement building mobile first can spawn winning solutions for ‘traditional’ screen sizes.

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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Microsoft launches SkyDrive

Published on January 16, 2013 in Technology

Microsoft released its new SkyDrive Xbox app, last month, available on Windows 8, Android and iOS devices. With incumbents like Dropbox and Google Drive, SkyDrive is more than a little late too cloud services. Microsoft also announced it will be release 40 new apps for Xbox from now until spring.

Below is a short list of features, promo video and issues with the SkyDrive.

Some of the most popular features:

  • Capture media on phone and watch it later on Xbox
  • Simple UI, minimalistic design
  • 7GB free cloud memory

 

SkyDrive is the place to store your files so you can access them from virtually any device. With SkyDrive for Xbox, you can easily view your photos and videos on your TV. You can also play slideshows and view photos and videos shared with you.

SkyDrive is not without some issues, below are some of the most pressing

  • Inability to stay logged in
  • No auto upload from camera
  • Cross-platform compatibility
    • Does open MS Office on iOS without purchasing competitor’s office suite
  • Slow to upload
  • Auto syncing issues
  • Poor performance
  • Poor UX  – no select all, upload folder, poor sorting options

As mentioned Microsoft is too little and too late to the cloud service game, but hopefully SkyDrive will steadily improve. Although competition is good, SkyDrive, with cross-platform compatibility,  has a long way to go to rival Google Drive and Dropbox.

Additional, there have rumors that Apple is blocking SkyDrive updates on iOS in a battle for supremacy for cloud services and software, which can impede Microsoft’s penetration into cross-platform cloud services.

 


Want more info about new Xbox apps? Check out the list on the Xbox website:

http://support.xbox.com/en-US/browse?product=apps


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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UX and the Mobile Web

Published on December 27, 2012 in Strategy

The following question was taken from a post on a LinkedIn UX group I belong to. Below is my view with supporting research:

‘Are UX people concerned about how quickly web pages load on smartphones & tablets?’

Putting aside my usual ‘it depends on strategy, scope, budget, etc..’

For the mobile web, load time is an essential element of concern.Where broadband is available it is of less concern.

When you consider the skyrocketing growth of the usage of mobile devices, load time is critical for optimized user experience and conversion rates. About 1/3 of Americans use their mobile device(s) primarily to access the web. This number is only expected to grow globally.

 

Source:http://goo.gl/cGMYA

Source: http://goo.gl/cGMYA

 

Currently mobile network connectivity can be spotty, which effects load performance. 74% of mobile visitors will abandon a site if they have to wait 5 seconds or longer for it to load. So we basically have 5 seconds to grab users attention; being light-weight for the mobile web not only holds tremendous competitive advantage, but also optimizes the UX.

There is also the whole RWD (responsive web design) vs. separate mobile website/app debate that should also be considered: it all depends…

Link to cited research (note you will have to enter an email to download full report and infographic): Survey Report: “What Users Want From Mobile” http://ow.ly/ggSOD

Link to Survey Report summary from Global News Wire: http://goo.gl/1y6n1 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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Google Research Reveals Insight into Consumer Behavior

Published on October 25, 2012 in Strategy

New Google research reveals we are a nation of ‘multi-screeners’.  As the mobile revolution becomes less a revolution and more mainstream, new consumer behaviors have emerged. The explosive growth of mobile phones and tablets coupled with the proliferation of cloud-based services has created some unique synergies. Consumers are now using multiple devices both simultaneously and sequently to achieve desired goals.

Some of Google’s primary goals of this research project were to understand consumer media behavior over the course of the day and include:

  • How is media used in daily life?
  • How do activities on one screen impact another?
  • What are consumers’ motivations in engaging with media?
  • How is mobile used in conjunction with other screens?
  • How are consumers using multiple screens to accomplish their tasks?
The New Multi-screen World:  Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior

The New Multi-screen World:
Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior

 

Google has put together a brilliant visual brief that details how consumers use different devices throughout the day. The information has enormous implications for brands who build compelling user experiences that transition seamless between devices.

Below is a short-list of the most actionable findings the study outlines that could drive competitive advantage:

  • The device we choose to use is often driven by our context: where we are, what we want to accomplish and the amount of time needed.  Brands that connect the dots, of the what, where and how consumers interact with their digital touch-points, will lead the pack. But connecting the dots is just the first part. Creating interactions optimized for each device will be just as important, especially in regard to the user experience it creates across each device.
  • Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions. They have the highest number of user interactions per day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens. Smartphones are the new low-hanging fruit. According to the research, smartphones are the most common starting point of online activities. Design a well executed smartphone experience and users are more than likely to follow it across each device.

Take-Aways:

  • The changing role of television in the multi-screen world has created tremendous and growing opportunities for complimentary interactions between devices.  Brands that capitalize on this opportunity will have more satisfied customers, increased brand awareness and improved ROI.
  • 77% of viewers use another device while they are watching TV.” Networks and TV shows should take advantage of this audience and build engaging ‘second screen’ smartphones apps that facilitate sharing, offer back story insights and include ability the purchase brand relevant merchandise and digital assets. One of the best ‘second screen’ smartphone apps I’ve seen to date is UK-based ZeeBox, which offers users the ability to share socially, find extra relevant content and connect with friends.

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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A/B Testing – An Overview

Published on October 9, 2012 in Research

By Marc Niola | October 8, 2012

A/B Testing

A/B Testing (Source: UX Acrobat)

A/B testing or split testing compares the effectiveness of two versions of a web page, marketing email, or the like—in order to discover which has better response rate, better sales conversion rate, or the like (Source: Wikipedia). Several researchers and marketers use A/B testing to gain valuable insights about customer’s behavior and improve ROI.  A/B Testing has been known to dramatically decrease bounce-rates while increasing conversion-rate by significant margins. A/B testing is gaining momentum in the UX community as a formidable testing practice that builds success.

Getting started with A/B Testing

A/B Testing is a website optimization technique that consists of sending a percentage of users to one version of a page, and the another percentage to a different page. After analyzing the traffic with web analytics tools, researchers should be able to discern which page is performing better than the other one. Below is a short video from an Australian SEO workshop on the benefits of  A/B testing.

Once your website testing strategy has been evaluated, and A/B Testing is deemed the most appropriate method to meet your goals, you need to align your A/B Testing strategy with your objectives. For example, if you want to increase user feedback, concentrate on the elements that directly affect users submitting a form, email or tweet. By narrowing down the elements that control ‘user feedback’ in this example you can try several different methods for users to send feedback and observe which one gives the best results.

How it works

Most A/B Testing tools are back-end facing and split incoming web traffic to different versions of a particular webpage. After the testing period has elapsed, conversion rates are analyzed to see if statistically significant differences in conversion are present.

Benefits Of A/B Testing

A/B Testing is versatile because it can be used to test several different elements of a website’s conversion path. If you want to evaluate different button styles for a call to action, restate a value proproition, try different headlines or images, A/B Testing can be quickly changed to test almost any current vs alternative conversion path element. It can also be used to test trustworthiness and expertise, two components that together form credibility and trust the hallmark of any successful business. This flexibility can create a testing frenzy, and it is important to stay well focused to the best results.

A/B Testing Diagram

A/B Testing Diagram (Source: UX Acrobat)

Using A/B Testing for multi alternatives is not the best strategy. For instances like this there are other tools to choose from. Remember to keep your testing goal in mind when designing and evaluating A/B Testing results. Your conversion path design choices should be made methodologically and backed-up with research that supports your final design decision.

Top 3 Take-Aways

  1. Trust Test Results: Researchers are often surprised that less-than aesthetically pleasing elements produce better conversion rates. Remember most of the time you will be testing to how to achieve a desired goal. If the ugly bright orange button produces better conversion rates than stick with it. Don’t become anchored and emotionally invested in any one design. We all have our favorites, but A/B Testing is about data-driven results not what looks good.
  2. Always Test Current and Alternative at the same time: You have to test your alternative against a control (current version) to make testing valid. Not following this basic tenet will skew your results and could hurt our bottom-line.  Always test current and alternative versions simultaneously .
  3. Stay focused and consistent: Develop a test plan and target your objectives.

References:


Resources:

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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New Partnership: Samsung and Google TV

Published on September 21, 2012 in Business

To further develop the successful partnership of Samsung and Android in the smartphone market, Google is once again going back to well to start a new Smart TV partnership with Samsung. Samsung Smart TV’s will offer  Google Play, YouTube and Google’s flagship browser Chrome. This partnership is expected to gain wide market acceptance from users as they enjoy the same Android experience across devices.

Google TV

The partnership seems to be a winning strategy for both companies, as Google focuses on it Android platform while Samsung handles the hardware side. This strategy will help Google gain vast market share, Samsung is the leader in the flat-panel TV industry, with a 20% share of all flat-panels sold in Q2 2012*. The strategy is identical to its smartphone strategy partnering with OEM to distribute its Android OS.

However, partnering with a market leader is not always the key to success. Google TV was originally launched in 2010, but was not the stunning success it was billed as, due to usability issues and lack of apps. Its not sure whether these usability issues, like having to fumble with a keyboard and mouse to use your TV have been adequately addressed. As smartphones and second screen apps like ZeeBox and GetGlue may offer a better experience than Google TV, I’m not sure Google TV will get it right this.

One of the main issues of using a keyboard to watch TV is that people really like to ‘veg-out’ while watching TV, and surfing the Internet is a much engaging activity than watching TV. What second screen apps offer is a quick, efficient blast on to the Internet from your tablet or smartphone to get additional content on shows or to take part in a social viewing ‘hangout’ with friends. Search was also another area where usability was an issue. Searches where often unpredictable returning results for TV, Web or apps with no clear way to pick or narrow the appropriate search query. And in other instances when watching TV and browser in picture-in-picture mode the TV picture would often hidden buttons with no way to move or re-size TV picture.

Here’s a look at the new Samsung Google equipped Smart TV from The Verge.
 

All told Google stills has a challenge to offer an optimum user experience for ‘Smart TV’s’ users.  Now the social aspect of watching TV is an area Google could leverage with its Google+ and Google Hangouts apps, but these are currently unavailable on Google TV. Is Google TV refined enough this time to gain relevant market share? Check for an answer in 2013 when enough users have their chance to judge.

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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User experiences align for Square and Starbucks

Published on September 1, 2012 in Business

Business News: Starbucks and Square team-up and take the payment and buying experience to the next level. Has wallet-less payment finally arrived or is Square the latest version of Pet.com

 

Schultz Says Starbucks-Square Partnership a Win-Win

 

Square Partners with Starbucks

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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Samsung and Apple Lead Smartphone Market

Published on August 10, 2012 in Research

While Apple and Samsung fight it out in court over alleged patent infringement, new data from Business Insider reveals that the smartphone industry is dominated by the two  rivals. That might not be so shocking, instead the rapid decline of mostly every other manufacturer is. Nokia’s drop is by far the most dramatic, followed by Sony and Research in Motion.

 

apple-vs-samsung

 

As the Apple and Android platforms continue to gain vast market penetration Nokia’s search for an answer has been dismal. The once mighty Finnish brand quickly fell into the doldrums with the raise of the two platforms. However, Nokia is looking to the Windows 8 platform to rejuvenate its image with its Lumia series, rumored to be available in the Fall. But with Apple and Android commanding a whooping 78% share* of the smartphone market Windows 8 and Nokia have a long climb.

With a market value of over $219 billion, according to Bloomberg, the stakes are high for manufactures to gain market acceptance and fan base. With billions of dollars hanging in the balance for of the coming verdict the two market leaders Samsung and Apple looked to be locked in battle for some time.

Will this be an opportunity for other manufacture to gain market traction? Can Window’s 8 new Metro platform and its alliance with Nokia be good enough to grab customers from Apple and Android? Answers to these questions should become clearer towards the end of the year. Until then I’d be listening for a verdict in the Samsung v Apple suit and welcoming a new competitor to the smartphone market -Window 8.


Reference:

Apple, Google Dominate U.S. Smartphone Market With 78% Share

Samsung Swallow All The Smartphone Industry’s Profits And Then Some

Chart of the day: Value share for mobile companies


Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

Connect with Marc on

 
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Understanding The User Through Reason And Emotion

Published on August 1, 2012 in Research

 

In this sketchnote animation by The RSA, Iain McGilchrist talks about the science and philosophy of his work, and makes a passionate case for reprioritizing the right hemisphere.

 

Understanding how users think and feel is imperative to creating engaging and useful products. How we all process our thoughts and feelings have tremendous effect on the way we perceive the world. In this feature article and attached video Iain McGilchrist argues that  there is enormous imbalance in our world that prioritize the virtual over the real.

Without speaking to the deep cultural, social and political ramifications that this paradoxical vortex creates, as UX practitioners we should have a good working understanding of the human mechanisms that interpret the attention we are all trying to gain from our users. Creating and design the sweet-spot between between rationality and emotional into our user experience will have immense influence over the success of our endeavors.

 

Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Designer @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc Niola is President of Digital Cunzai a consulting firm specializing in User eXperience and User Interaction Design that improve conversion rates, customer engagement and brand loyalty.

Connect with Marc on

 
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