Archive

User Experience

This was my first time attending the Gilbane Conference, the conference solely devoted to all things content related. Gilbane gathers technologists, marketers, consultants and usability experts from near and far and takes place over three days annually each year in Boston. As the website reads, “The Gilbane Conference is all about helping organizations apply content, web, mobile, and marketing technologies to increase engagement by improving the digital experiences of their customers, employees, and partners.”

There was a lot to takeaway from the conference this year. So, here’s a quick overview of what I learned:

You could barely sneeze [and that was a lot considering the bad head cold I had] without hearing omnichannel discussed in almost every session I attended. There was a lot of debate during the content marketing panel over what the definition of omnichannel is versus multi-channel. Omnichannel argues for a shift in thinking – arguing for the seamless customer/member experience. This idea takes marketing one step further than the older multi-channel viewpoint that focuses on the delivery of content via multiple channels – push notifications and blasts of content. Reminds me a lot of what user experience professionals are after, only from a content perspective. Omni hopes to understand the customer, his/her interests and location (whether online or in-person), and to deliver the right content to the customer via the right channel at the right moment. Not an easy feat.

Personalization is harder than you think. While we’re all eager to use the data we’re able to collect on site visitors, uniquely and accurately presenting targeted content continues to be a real struggle for even the biggest brands out there. There isn’t a magic wand (whether through a CMS and/or a marketing automation tool) that exists to perfectly target and execute content. Much of this effort still requires significant manual effort and time.

gilbane

My favorite session was the “Wearables and The Internet of Things” session where presenters Raimund Gross of SAP and Adam Buhler of DigitasLBi reviewed some the latest technologies they’ve tested and gave their predictions on tools to come. From insect cyborgs (neural implants in cockroaches) to discussion around universal wi-fi, this was a really fun session. Here are just a few nuggets from that session:

Wearables are still very much an extension of mobile devices. There is a unique intimacy that exists with a wearable that doesn’t exist with a mobile phone. A watch can take your pulse and communicate to its wearer via “Taptic” feedback in a way that your phone or glasses can’t. Buhler gave the example of getting directions via pulses on your wrist (reminded me of the way you might guide a horse when riding) that lets you know when to turn and in which direction, subtly. This is a form of communication that is new, the features are new, and that means the need and opportunity exists for a new form of content delivery and design.

Buhler predicts that we will hear from Apple in 2015 on what they’ve learned from Google Glass. Neither presenter thinks it will continue to exist for the public in its current form, but is a stepping-stone for improved products, especially for the workforce.

Discussion around virtual wallets took place. Will ApplePay and Google Wallet continue to achieve adoption? ApplePay, GoogleWallet, Venmo – lots happening around digital payment and the death of cash. [There’s a recent article in Bloomberg Businesweek I read this week – Cash is for Losers – that is worth the read.]

There is great buzz around Apple’s HomeKit that is launching at CES 2015. Get ready for your fridge to tell you when your milk has expired and for your lights to dim and thermostat to adjust when you casually voice command “It’s time for bed.”

All around, there is a lot to get excited about. What are your tech predictions for the coming year?

Advertisements

We couldn’t decide on a color for the sitting room. Finally my husband and I, after much debate, 8 paint samples, and many trips to the local hardware store (shout out to Annie’s Ace for their help!) – we discovered the perfect shade called Blue Toile. Then more debate ensued: to high gloss or not to high gloss? After contacting friends and family with design and interior decorating backgrounds, we were still confused. Questions like “Can our 83 year old walls ever be perfect enough for high gloss?” to “What if we want to repaint it after and all millions of unknown paints that existed prior to us purchasing this house peel off?” Nevermind the fact that every single hardware store employee looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned painting our living room in high gloss, a paint which seems reserved only for trim, bathrooms, and the great outdoors.

We turned to our friends on Facebook and Instagram and 97% of our friends warned us not to do it. Still, the glamour and dramatic appeal of high gloss called to me. So, after my husband sanded much of the wall, we went with a flat paint because all the research told us to  and at the end of the day, I wanted the room painted.

BlueRoom1

All of this made me feel better about not going into a creative route for my full-time career and made me feel an extra appreciation for my friends and family who are designers, contractors, and architects. Oh, to deal with clients like me… 

There’s a certain amount of uncertainty with everything and differing opinions. For a room, it’s what you and your family like, ultimately – that’s the color that should win.

Not so for a website redesign.

For a website redesign, it’s what your members and users want and so much more. If only it were as simple as choosing a color or “look.” I was reminded of this again when perusing some of the recent responsive web designs within the association community. While designers seem to be moving in the right direction with designing for many devices, there’s one large area they’re missing: touch features. I was surprised to see homepages with photos and headers that were both lacking hyperlinks, instead forcing the visitor to move a mouse to a tiny hyperlink at the bottom of a block of text (which translates to mobile users having to pinch and zoom in with a fat finger to click a link). Here we have desktop computers now able to support touch screen and some designers & their clients are still out there designing for soon-to-be old school desktops, even while going responsive.

BlueRoom2

Are we truly designing for the user experience? Do we put as much thought and precision into designing “the experience” of our website as we do for areas of our houses and homes – each room serving a different experience and function?