ux

The Devastating Effects of a Weak UX Research and User Testing Process

Stumble Upon Social Media Traffic via Mashable

Stumble Upon Social Media Traffic via Mashable

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, StumbleUpon was awesome, it actually drove more traffic than Facebook. Then their UX process failed somewhere. The graph above was featured from a study carried out in the first three weeks of August 2011. It showed StumbleUpon drove more than 50% of social media referral traffic, while Facebook had almost 39% and Youtube, Twitter, Reddit and others had less than 4% each. Driving more traffic than Facebook? Nobody could argue against its throne of awesomeness. (more…)

Dangerous Questions in User Reseach

User Research

User Research

User research is an essential step in the designing of any type of product. The insights that it gives into the needs and behaviors of real end users is invaluable and goes a long way in influencing the direction of any project as well as determining its success. Yet research can be both expensive and time consuming, and money and time are commodities that few projects can afford to waste. Therefore, it is important that when resources are expended on user research, every effort is made to ensure that as much value as possible is gained from it.

An important factor that influences the value of any user research will be the interaction with the user by the researcher, or more specifically, the types of questions that are asked.  People generally like to give their opinions. They also tend to have an inherent desire to please others. Therefore, even the most well intentioned respondent can give misleading responses that are influenced by something as simple as the way a question is framed. This results in lots of feedback which is potentially useless as it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. (more…)

Is modern Marketing more Science or Art?

It’s not a new question. It isn’t even restricted to marketing.  In times of austerity, with widespread cuts to public education and the ever increasing competitive job market for fresh graduates, the debate over the value of arts and humanities degrees vs. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees is a hot topic. You’ve also probably heard about how an individual’s personality is dependent on whether they are right-brain or left-brain dominant. The idea is that a right-brain dominant person is generally more emotional, creative and artsy while a left-brain dominant person is more logical, data-driven and scientific. While this idea has been shown to be a myth, the fact that it is such a commonly held notion is symptomatic of this dichotomy between art and science.

As with most debates, arguments and generally pretty much everything, it’s not all black and white. The modern marketer requires skills that fall into both areas of expertise in order to be successful. Marketing as a discipline can and usually does embrace ideas from both scientific subjects such as psychology, behavioral economics and neuroscience; as well as art disciplines such as design, typography and creative writing. (more…)

Disappointing Windows 8 User Test & Expert Usability Review

Watch what happens when you get a Windows user drunk on tequila and take Windows 8 for a test drive. A blunt and hilariously awesome uncensored look at the broken user experience.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’m not sure what the goal of this Windows 8 update was, I love Windows 7 and when you give Windows 7 enough power, it is really good.  In fact, OSX Lion was lacking a couple usability features which Windows 7 provided, that are now available in Mountain Lion. Examples you ask? Cutting and pasting files in finder – shocking ay! As well as pasting a bunch of files in a folder, where the same file name already exists – windows 7 allows you to replace, cancel or keep both by appending a number to the new file – Lion freaks out and gives you the option to replace or cancel. There are plenty more too. I still prefer Windows 7 to Mountain Lion.

I was very curious to check out Windows 8, but after trying it out at a store, reading Jakob Nielsen’s Windows 8 Review and watching this drunk user test of windows embedded below, I’m definitely skipping Windows 8.  (more…)

The Short 3 Hour Lifespan of Social Media Links

Bit.ly: Lifespan of Links in Social Media. Distribution of half-lifes over four different referrer types. Facebook, twitter and direct link (links shared via email, instant messengers etc.) half lifes follow a strikingly similar distribution.

Distribution of half-lifes over four different referrer types. via Bit.ly

There is a lot of noise on social networks these days with real friends’ updates getting lost in the chaotic streams of advertising and social media marketing. This is great for businesses but quite annoying as a friend.

Research at bit.ly analyzed a 1000 popular links to find: ‘In general, half life of a bitly link is about 3 hours, unless you publish your links on youtube, where you can expect about 7 hours worth of attention. Many links last a lot less than 2 hours; other more sticky links last longer than 11 hours over all the referrers. This leads us to believe that the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!’.

So popular links live around 3 hours with an initial burst of attention within the first 30-90 minutes which slowly fades away while other links lose interest within minutes!

Steve Job’s Icon Ambulance

Vic Gundotra was lucky to work with Steve Jobs, and he shared an experience with Steve that highlighted an attention to detail:

Icon Ambulance

One Sunday morning, January 6th, 2008 I was attending religious services when my cell phone vibrated. As discreetly as possible, I checked the phone and noticed that my phone said “Caller ID unknown”. I choose to ignore.

After services, as I was walking to my car with my family, I checked my cell phone messages. The message left was from Steve Jobs. “Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss” it said. (more…)

A Start Up Philosophy – An Inspiring Leaving Message from a Facebook VP

I love and believe every word of this inspiring goodbye note by Chamath Palihapitiya as he left Facebook:

i leave with incredible hope for how you will continue to make this place awesome. every tuesday, i talk to the n00bs. and i generally tell them the following, which i leave for you as a reminder:

its easy to get distracted. everyone thinks we are much better than we actually are. be humble and honest about the fact that more is left to do than has already been done. keep moving quickly and don’t get bogged down in the things that don’t matter.

we risk becoming like everyone else. the only chance we have is the discipline and resolve of the silent majority who needs to and MUST become more vocal as the company gets bigger. fight for the culture the way it should be…not the way it was or the way its becoming. (more…)

‘Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing’ via Andrew Chen

Traditional mass marketing is dying. There is a new breed of badass marketers coming up in the world; these guys are a mix between marketing and engineering. Conventional marketing campaigns take time to yield results, while engineering an experience built for growth or engagement is newer, faster and the future of marketing. Growth hackers manage to leverage ‘superplatforms’ and acquire millions of users within an extraordinarily short time.

These guys understand and see past technical capabilities and limitations. For them there are no dead ends, but exciting opportunities to get their hands dirty to start making, coding, hacking and delivering. When these guys integrate user experience, analytics and a viral marketing mechanism within the use of the product itself they expose their product to millions of users. Andrew Chen’s article supports this growth hacking revolution by an impressive case study of Airbnb and a Craigslist hack integration.

The Craigslist integration for Airbnb is geniusly integrated into the user flow, a simple bridge between the old and new way of finding a place to stay. Integrating a bridge between the old (your potential users) and your new service within a user’s flow, creates a viral engine of growth that operates every time your service is used.

How do you become a growth hacker? Read Andrew Chan’s follow up post here.

Exposing your service to these superplatforms is the key to quickly increasing your reach. But how did these superplatforms grow themselves? Contact importing was a key contributor. The most successful and fastest growing social networks in the world leveraged the superplatforms of their era – email contact lists.

A main acquisition priority is getting existing users to send invitations and referrals by enabling them to import their contacts then collecting, analyzing and tweaking each stage/action of the invited user until they sign up. A member of the Facebook growth team, Andy Johns, provided some valuable insight to the strategies they used over on Quora: Facebook Growth & Traction: What are some decisions taken by the “Growth team” at Facebook that helped Facebook reach 500 million users?. Another interesting answer by Andy summarizes the core expertise behind the growth team’s approach to the challenge, 1 billion or more active monthly users.

Finally a useful list of some great strategies recommended by Andy Johns for conversion optimization, also on Quora. Grow much and prosper. ;p

Viral Marketing: Integrating NFC tech with Social Media

I believe in a bright future of integration of NFC technology with social media marketing by bridging the gap between the offline and online world. First give your flock incentives to allow social privileges to an NFC device. Next, have them tap this NFC device to gain access to events, products, services, features or functions instead of using tickets, vouchers, coupons and IDs. Every time they tap for access, the system will write to their social circles, and if you get creative by adding a live photo booth, video or other catchy creative/feature – their network will start interacting with that media. It’ll definitely add to the feed chaos, but your presence will spread virally, and unfortunately, that’s what matters at the moment. Check out the examples and links below.

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A Cartoon Introduction to Mental Model Diagrams

One of the most important aspects of UX and product management is to be aware of and keep up with your users’ mental models. I found this interesting cartoon introduction to  Mental Model Diagrams on Smashing Magazine.

Mental Model Diagrams by Indi Young & Brad Colbow via Smashing Magazine

Mental Model Diagrams by Indi Young & Brad Colbow via Smashing Magazine

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