formats

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

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

 

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

 

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Google Research Reveals Insight into Consumer Behavior

Published on October 25, 2012 in Research

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.

Download the complete research PDF here

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

 

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

 

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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.

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.


Written by  – The UX Acrobat

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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.

 

 

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

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

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

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Cutting through the noise, does Big Data equal Big Profits or Big Headaches

Published on July 2, 2012 in Business

Big Demand for Big Data brings Big Profits?

Lately Big Data has made some very obvious, yet subtle, inroads targeting specific users with specific ads and content to their screens. One prime example is the analytics that tracks and analyses our online/mobile/social media behavior and displays relevant banner ads based on our likes, check-ins and interests. Most of the data gathered is often done behind the scenes, unbeknownst to casual user.

But has this new phenomena yielded increased customer insight? It depends on who you ask.

One scholar from the Wharton School of Business postulates that Big Data is just another wild-goose chase from years past.  In an interview by Technology Review, Peter Fader from the Wharton’s Customer Analytics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania said Big Data “reminds me a lot of what was going on 15 years ago with CRM (customer relationship management)… It [CRM] turned out to be a great big IT wild-goose chase. And I’m afraid we’re heading down the same road with Big Data.”

It would be hard to argue that the amount of data available today is unprecedented. But does all this data translate into discernible and predictive insights that brands can profit from. This conundrum reminds me of the old adage – ‘quality over quantity’. Big Data can be like drinking from the fire hydrant when what you really need is a straw.

The below and feature blog post screenshot demonstrates the power of  Big Data to produce an ad based on my likes/preferences. I often check the train schedule for the LIRR and noticed that Adobe and The Economist (two brands I often consume and comment about) have been repeatedly displayed for my viewing pleasure. These ads are specifically targeted to my individual tastes. I tested this hypothesis, by checking the LIRR schedules on some friends computers and never saw an ad for either Adobe or The Economist.

 

 

Although like most people I have developed banner blindness, I wonder how long this targeting has been going on before I noticed. But now that I know I’m being profiled I don’t know if I should be creeped-out or feel comfortable with the fact that I’m getting personalized ads, even if I rarely look at banner ads.

This creepy vs. comfortable ambivalence recently came to a tipping point for Urban Outfitters. Users of Urban Outfitters’ website were  covertly targeted and shown gender specific product offerings.  The strategy became an abject failure when users, mostly women, voiced their displeasure for being targeted with gender specific products. It turns out women like to shop for men and found that being shown women specific products was more a  inconvenience than a benefit.

Urban Outfitters is one example how using Big Data to ‘personalize’ a users experience backfired, but there are several success story where Big Data has increased profits for many brands. One site, My Revolve, has seen a million dollar increase in revenue from customization, as reported by the NY Times in a related article.

As companies experiment with customization via Big Data one strategy should be getting to know their customers better before systematically trying to find out what they want. Now a good argument can be made that users really don’t know what they want and just getting to know and understand them is a lot more trouble than its worth. This may be true, but developing relationships with customers in the digital age is a long-term commitment.

If companies took a a more strategic approach to understanding its customers and creating customized and evolving experiences from these interactions a more symbiotic and trusting relationship can develop. This approach not only establishes trust, while avoiding creepiness, but also strengthens the bonds that help connect people’s lives with brands in more powerful, meaningful ways.

The potential power of Big Data should not be used exclusively to strengthen a company’s bottom-line. In today’s social media saturated economy establishing lasting long-term relationships with customers could have more value, from the viral effect of social media, than a quick one-time conversion.

I believe Big Data and customization have enormous potential to gain insights that can be translated into unique and dynamic experiences for users. Knowing when and how to make those experiences seem genuine and un-intrusive can only happen when there is a signification amount of trust build-up over time. Brands that get this right will lead the pack.

 


Written by  – The UX Acrobat

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Improving Cablevision’s On Demand Menu Navigation

Published on June 25, 2012 in Strategy

Cablevision’s On Demand menu navigation is suffering from:

  1. extremely long drill-downs, resulting in several unnecessary keystrokes;
  2. un-prioritized default selections, that increase drill-down;
  3. ambiguous menu selection options, resulting in complicated navigation.

I have put together a PPT, available on Slideshare, that demonstrates the above problems using a scenario of trying to watch a missed episode of Mad Men.

Cablevision’s On Demand Navigation Sys

 

It takes 24 steps (or keystrokes of the remote) on Cablevision’s current On Demand navigation system to reach the desired result, which is to watch the last episode of Mad Men. With an interactive prototype I demonstrate how the system can be improved by:

Interactive PDF

  1. optimizing navigation structure by reducing drill-downs, which get the user to the desired results quicker;
  2.  prioritize menu defaults, improving both usability and function;
  3. include iconography, which simplifies menu selection and reduces erroneous selections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The companion PPT walks you through Cablevision’s current On Demand nav system with annotated screen shots, that simulate the exact remote control navigation users must take. I have also included a simple user persona to represent the attitude of the user.

The interactive PDF demonstrates my proposed solutions to the problems outlined above.

 

Written by  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Strategist @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

 

 

 

 

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

Connect with Marc on

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

Need help optimizing your UX?

Strategy, Design and Execution - I can help!