Experience Tells the Story

August 17, 2019 - Posted By: Alessandro Fard

 

This week we wanted to share a great article from the desk of our founder Alessandro Fard. Read on to learn more about user experience storytelling.

 


Isn’t it bananas how fast Apple releases a new and improved product every quarter? Ever wonder why they are even able to sell those new products so rapidly after just launching the last one? What makes consumers go back for those new and improved products? Hint: it is not the advertising of words that Apple spends on; it’s the experience that keeps the consumer coming back for more.

 

I mean think about it, you get a new phone with an amazing camera on it and you think that it is the best of the best in the world, but then Apple comes out with an even better phone than yours and all of a sudden you need to see for yourself how the grass is greener! Apple doesn’t need to dazzle you with words, you just know and expect that the newer product will be even better. Each. And EVERY. Time!!!!!

 

Welp, ladies and gents…that experience, that expectation, that innovative mindset, and branding is what marketing has evolved into. You can thank Apple for setting that bar so high…jk! 😉

 

But in all honesty, marketing is no longer just a play on words and creative campaigns. It has converged into a massive beast that we like to call experience.

 

Marketing Then v. Now

Back in the 60s a brand’s communication strategy was separate from the design of the product or service. Today, both branches collide, collaborate, and produce the product and design together for a successful service or product launch. As a result, products and services must deliver engaging stories, deepen customer engagement, and organizations must structure creative teams differently in order to grow revenues.

Alongside these changes is the task of delivering the experience to multiple platforms within a network of multiple brands. Whereas in the 60s you really only had the TV, radio, or newspaper as your communication channels; nowadays there is that plus websites, social media, blogging, stories, videos, podcasts, and more. The complexity can be challenging and intimidating when marketing for every platform, but it also gives organizations great tools to get creative and collaborate with their team about the product or service, and an even greater experience for their diverse audience.

 

Calling Allllll Teams!

So what should teams look like if not separate anymore?

As my peeps at UX Magazine so nicely put it, “marketing and product teams need to work more closely. Copywriting and story teams need to collaborate with user experience teams. Likewise, interaction and interface designers, rooted in human need and usability, need to work in integrated ways with marketing and advertising creatives.”

 

In other words, everyone works with everyone. Don’t separate your teams, as difficult as it can be to have everyone stirring the same pot, it is what makes the difference in your campaign strategy because it will be so uniquely progressed through multiple layers, professionals, and creative mindsets.

I want to encourage you to switch it up and take the challenge of team collaboration beyond designated branches. It will greatly impact your product or service to more meaningful, relevant connections with your consumers.

 

10 Paradigm Shifts to Part With

 

What you create is more important than how you create it.

There are so many tools to get you to the finish line of designing a masterpiece, each and every one to ease the process. That being said, keep in mind that the tools or methods you use don’t matter as much as the finished product does. Don’t try to dazzle your clients with how fast your turnaround rate is, take your time to create something that matters beyond what has been requested of you.

 

Your brand must be built around a meaningful idea, not the other way around.

Everyone is branding themselves these days on social media, but a true brand begins with a meaningful, purposeful idea. Don’t let the filters, grids, and logos drive your brand, but instead the mindset and goal should be the focus. What is the meaning of this brand? Why is it important to consumers? What does it feel/look like long term?

 

Maximize the benefit of your brand.

Dive deep into the benefit of your product/service brand. People want to know why your service or product is necessary and what it will help them achieve. Don’t just settle for the best on the market, because let’s face it…there is always better out there or the next best upgrade. Truly conveying why a product/service is going to benefit a consumer is the best way to maximize your brand. Apple doesn’t claim to be the best cell phone in the market, they capitalize on what the cell phone features and the type of consumer that would love it.

 

Own your craft, don’t settle for average.

Take the time to own your craft, focus on those small details that set you apart from the rest, choose to make the experience one that keeps consumers coming back again. Chances are if they’re coming back, they’re likely to share that to other consumers creating that domino effect that can happen through well crafted design.

 

Charm them with simplicity.

Less is always more. Charm can be extravagant, but those grand romantic gestures in movies that are way over the top–yeah those aren’t a win in design. Think about the speed of life lately, everyone only has a few minutes to do things, the faster, easier, and simpler the better when it comes to interface and design flow.

 

Continually assess your strategy.

With technology shifts and social media trends changing on what seems like every day, it is important to reassess, improve, and reinvent what you’re delivering to your customers and the methods you are using to do so. I like to take some time at the end of every month to assess what worked really well, what could be improved, and what was a bust.

 

Update only what is necessary and keep what is working.

I know it is redundant considering number 6, but assessing and changing the version are really two separate parts. Version upgrades and updates can both increase or harm your customer base. Consider all personas when updating what is not working, and also when deciding what is working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

 

Remember social media goes both ways, beware of creating bad rapport with clients.

If you’ve been to high school you know the role that social media plays in destroying and raising ego. Needless to say, it is all too easy for consumers to completely defame a company or any entity. The best way to mitigate that is by ensuring that the client/consumer doesn’t feel fooled or wronged through faulty promises/products. Don’t create crap that creates crap!

 

Keep the core brand promise.

Let’s face it, sometimes we get too creative and lose sight of the central truth that a brand was developed for. We want to create art that impacts without considering the impact itself to be the core truth about a product or service. In my experience it is far better to create around a central truth, than to create and then try to apply that truth to what you magnificently created.

 

Be a trendsetter, not a copycat.

It was true when your mama told you, and it’s still true today. Stand out means not blending in. Blending in means copying what’s being done. There is not one client design that is similar to another in my portfolio, and for good reason. I truly believe that every product or service has something unique to offer, and it’s up to me and my team to find that out. Thinking outside the box is truly an art that I’ve come to master and love. The more personalized the better rapport with clients, the better experience with consumers, the better product design, the clearer the focus, and so on..

 

Create the Experience

In order to create the experience and succeed in branding, both product development and campaign marketing teams must work together, collaborate, and reinvent the experience to match the story and core brand. We’ve come a long way since the 60s, but the main thing has always been the main thing, tying them together into a story that results in a positive experience for consumers is the trend…and it looks as though it’s here to stay.

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Graphic Designer

June 5, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

So, it’s time for a new website. Not only do you want the best website for you or your brand, but you want to find the right team too. Here’s five questions to ask when choosing a graphic designer or even a web developer.

Who have you worked for in the past?

This isn’t to say designing for big companies is everything, but having consistent quality is. Looking at a robust portfolio will allow you to see if they can deliver your desired outcome and design aesthetic. If they don’t have the kind of design ethic/standard you need from the get go, they aren’t a match. Finding an agency that has worked in the same vertical  as you is a huge plus! They’ll understand the lingo and what the consumer expects.

What platforms do you design for?

Making sure you’re going to be comfortable working with the platform that the agency understands will be important. Can you use the admin system or are you going to have to learn something new? Good to pick an agency with comfort in the platform like WordPress or Shopify that you want to work in, or can help train you if they recommend a different platform.

What is your user experience methodology?

Find out how they approach putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. How do they know that what they are designing will “fit” that particular audience or demographic? If a company is skilled in UX design and has done the proper research, they will be able to tell you.

How does your process work?

Having the agency explain their process is how you’ll align with them on their responsibilities vs. yours. You need to get out in the open what their expectations are of you, and what turnaround times, delivery, and production schedules might look like. Lack of understanding about timelines, schedules and deliverables could be a huge red flag. If they can’t effectively manage the project and give you a “to-do” list, how will they be a good partner?

Can I speak to a few references?

Get feedback! Knowing the strengths and weaknesses about the company you’re about to work with is a good idea. They might be great at delivering projects, but perhaps spending more time in specific areas that are a key focus for your business would be a better use of your budget. Their past references might give some insight into offerings you didn’t even know they had. It’s inevitable some companies will spend more time on different things depending on their expertise. Utilize their best creative resources to get the best outcome!

Damn, Another GDPR Privacy Email

June 1, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

If the words, “An update to our privacy policy” look familiar, you’ve probably received a flood of GDPR compliances in your email inbox this week.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is a legal framework that sets guidelines for collecting data and processing personal information in the European Union went into effect on May 25th, which means it will also affect any company we use regularly that conducts business in Europe.

Not only will it change the amount of emails in your inbox but also website design and UX. Now that users have more control over their data and whether they grant consent or not, GDPR will have an impact on design interfaces.

Twitter user’s were overjoyed about the sudden email attacks:

Well…she’s not wrong
Yiiiiiiikes.
If you’re going to send spam to my inbox might as well catch my attention.
Even Harry Potter can’t escape GDPR updates.
We’re definitely starting to resemble this guy.
Yep, definitely forgot about that gardening company I subscribed to for 10% off once.
Some are even finding….long lost ancestors?
This person clearly does not appreciate the unwarranted calls from their ex.

Although annoying, at least these emails are the perfect opportunity to clear out all the unwanted mailing lists.

Blame KickA$$ UX for Your Netflix Binge

May 24, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

Netflix binging, we’ve all been there. One hour you’re pressing play on a TV show just to have it on in the background and suddenly you’ve finished a season in the blink of an eye. Here are the secrets behind Netflix’s incredibly successful UX design that keep us all coming back.

Putting customers first.

It’s a line we’ve heard time and time again but it’s what Netflix UX is inherently based on. Through an easy-to-use interface, Netflix understands that when mindlessly scrolling through TV shows and movies it’s exactly that, mindless. It extends to the golden rule of interface design, don’t make me think too hard. What keeps Netflix successful isn’t just selling subscriptions, but selling experiences through tailored entertainment choices.

It’s all about you.

If you’ve been on Netflix recently, you’ve probably noticed your homepage may look different compared to your friends and family. That’s entirely intentional. Netflix’s team has utilized the importance of user experience and transformed their interface to reflect personalized navigation. Most wouldn’t call Netflix a user experience focused company, but it’s been at the forefront of their sales and decision making.

Unique quick previews.

The design functions have gone beyond traditional browsing and are becoming increasingly personalized. No longer are customers reliant on a title and short blurb about the movie, but hovering over an image will play a short clip that illustrates the emotional gist of the movie without revealing the entire plot. You may be thinking well yeah, isn’t that just a trailer? Not entirely. These clips are custom clips edited by Netflix, with curated snippets and music that suggests a certain mood or genre, it helps convey an experience to the user. Within a few seconds of just hovering over a show or movie, viewers know exactly what they’re getting.

Great suggestions.

In a world of big data, Netflix utilizes its data to create a better experience for the user by predicting viewing habits. It’s no secret that Netflix algorithms are heavily data driven, knowing when and where we start a show, when we pause, rewind; all these factors contributing to how they shape our time on Netflix. Instead of sorting through thousands of movies or shows you’ll just never have an inkling to watch, Netflix streamlines the filtering and suggests shows that are user compatible based on prior selections.

CEO Reed Hastings has even mentioned, “One day, we hope to get so good at suggestions that we can show you exactly the right movie or TV show for your mood.”

Founded in 1997, Netflix skyrocket to over 70 million users lies in its users experience. They have created a friendly relationship with the user that says, “I know you’ll be back, see you next time” without any repercussions. Not only have they managed to survive in the digital age, but they’ve redefined the way we view movie watching and the traditional “television” program, and that’s exactly what keeps us coming back.

A**hole Design Subreddit Makes Us Better

May 16, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

Sometimes the best way to recognize and make up for our mistakes is to laugh at them first. That’s what the sub-reddit /r/assholedesign is for, to call out the UX and industrial designer that insists on making people’s lives harder. Almost everyone’s been subjected to the great feat of simply trying to cancel your account only to be met with a thousand step procedure or a technological design that just complicates or confuses the process. That’s why this sub-reddit hits the mark.

As an offshoot of the popular sub-reddit /r/CrappyDesign that features everything from signs, advertising, and third grade projects gone wrong, /r/assholedesign has over 400,000 subscribers who delight in the humor of “designers who know exactly what they’re doing…but they don’t care because they’re assholes.” The site serves as a place to shame bad design varying from architecture, packaging, and web interface.

Some of the posts will have you wondering what the conversation was like in the design meeting. I can only envision “Ah, let’s make it harder by adding three steps, or better yet, let’s make the unsubscribe button invisible!”

(Screenshot of /r/assholedesign)

According to the moderators, “satire is ridicule of asshole design techniques” and the amusement of posters reveals exactly that. Not only does it intend to amuse, but the sub-reddit reveals dark patterns in design, “tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things you didn’t mean to.” These patterns have implications for society, but also for the future of design.

This guy is definitely a subscriber of /r/assholedesign:

Doesn’t everybody love a classic dark pattern?

 

We need this type of sub-reddit because sometimes, even professionals need a reminder of what and what not to do. Anyone with an iPhone 6 or above feels this struggle when trying to listen with their headphones and charge their phone at the same time (that’s some serious “asshole” design).

Although framed in a comical way, /r/assholedesign reminds us that looking at our failures in a UX/UI community allow designers to focus on designs that make the experience better, and not worse, for the user. Laughing at our mistakes and old designs help us grow as a group of professionals. We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a lesson needs to accompanied with a good laugh.

The Simplicity Key

April 6, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

Google, Amazon, and Apple are among the strongest brands of the last decade. They have created billions in brand value and have industry-leading business performance. What else do they have in common? Their brand success can be directly tied to simplicity–to making life simpler for their users, that is. They also adhere to simplicity rules to define their brand experiences. These rules are worth considering for any brand trying to simplify their customer experience and drive customer satisfaction, commitment, and connection.

Consider the context.

Every brand thinks it’s the most important thing in their user’s life. Seldom is this true. A user’s experience with a brand is just one event in an action-packed life. Good brands map out their customer experience looking for opportunities to simplify, eliminate steps, confusion, and complications in ways that add value. Great brands look to where the brand and the experience fit within their user’s overall life, looking to make not just the experience easier but a user’s overall life easier. Amazon, with its 1-click ordering, is a great example of a brand that ‘considers the context’. Typical web marketing theory of the time said that the goal was to keep customers on a brand’s website for as long as possible to increase interaction and engagement in the belief that this would increase purchase. Amazon took a counter approach, creating a 1-click ordering option where user preferences and purchase information could be stored in order to enable a single click purchase. Amazon’s 1-click ordering, and the resultant user satisfaction with its simplicity, is core to the Amazon’s brand promise. By making online shopping as quick and painless as a single mouse click, Amazon made simplicity and customer-centricity core to their brand over 13 years ago.

Go deep.

Simplicity is not just eliminating steps, clarifying language or using intuitive graphics. Brands that succeed due to simplicity understand that everything must work together, clearly and seamlessly. Apple is a brand that lives this. Not only are the devices beautiful, simply to understand and use right out of the box. Not only do the devices work simply with the iTunes store, iCloud storage, and other Apple systems. It isn’t just that their user interfaces are a model of clarity and simplified interaction. Apple realizes everything matters when it comes to simplicity. That there isn’t an end to what can be simplified and made better. That in order to get it right, they must consider everything, they must ‘go deep.’ Only by going deep can brands understand how everything fits together and how everything matters to the user.

Avoid ‘feature-itis.’

Rather than continuing to add incremental features to a brand experience over time, great brands stand firm once they reach a level of simplicity, resisting the urge to add brand bells and whistles. Melissa Mayer, former VP of Google Search Products, is credited with keeping the interface of the Google search page blissfully simple: a white page with a blank box. Despite constant pressure to use the power of one of the most visited pages on the web to promote other brands, Google resists that urge, maintaining a simple page in the best interest of the user.Simple is a powerful strength for great brands like Amazon, Apple, and Google. Increasingly, it will be necessary for every brand. In a world of ever-increasing complexity, brand simplicity is critical for brands to get right or risk customer disappointment and defection.

How To Keep You Safe Online

March 22, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

With recent news coming in about the potential Facebook data hacks (overshares, breach of trust, etc.) we thought it was a good time to start talking about the safety of our individual (and business) footprints.

A person’s digital footprint is all of the things they do online, from posting a blog to commenting on social media to buying something from an online business. Your digital footprint can say a lot about you.

It can be used to gather information, compromise your identity and either make or break your reputation. Here are 8 different tips that will help you manage your digital footprint to make certain the tracks you’re leaving aren’t later used against you.

1. Know what’s Out There

You can’t effectively manage your digital footprint if you don’t know what it looks like. Take the time to Google yourself and see what comes up, because you know potential employers, creditors, and even love interests certainly are! See what they can find. Do you see mostly neutral or positive results? If so, your digital footprint is pretty good. But do you see anything negative? If so, take steps to have it removed if you possibly can or, if you control it (such as with social media), remove it yourself or restrict it from public viewing.

2. Make sure your Private Posts are Private

Make Sure Your Posts Are Private

Make sure any posts you wouldn’t want your employer, a lender, or your mother to see are locked down. Some social media sites change their privacy controls from time to time, and when they do, some things slip through. That drunken selfie that was only available to a few close friends may suddenly have become public, so be sure to always double-check the settings. But remember, these settings may not always protect you. What’s private on a social media site may still be accessible to search engines, and once it’s out there, anyone can take that photo, video, or other content and repost it to sites that you have no control over.

3. Keep your Software up to Date

Nothing can destroy your digital footprint more than having a virus steal all of your information and using it to spam others. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your antivirus protection software, VPNS (virtual private networks), malware scanners, and other important programs are up to date. This includes your operating system. Make sure you have downloaded and installed the most recent security patches.

4. Use Strong Passwords

Use Strong Passwords

Likewise, you need to make sure your online accounts are secure by using the strongest passwords you can. A good password has the following:

  • Capital letters
  • Numbers
  • Symbols

You want a password that isn’t easy to guess, so avoid common things like family members’ names or birthdates, etc. A good program to use to create and store strong passwords is 1Password.

5. Split your Footprint

Split Your Footprint

Some people are very hesitant to shop online, so they have one dedicated credit card that they only use on the internet. That way, if that card is compromised, it’s the only one they have to cancel. This helps split your digital footprint and make it more manageable. You can do the same with emails—create an email that you only use when you have to sign up for a mailing list, one you only use for work, and one you use for social media. Yes, it might be a pain keeping up with all of these emails, but in the end, it can also make things more compartmentalized and easier to control.

6. Are you Using that App?

Are You Using That App

Most apps on your smartphone are collecting information about you. While theoretically you can control what these apps have access to, who really knows what an app does once it’s installed? That’s why it’s a good idea to go through your apps and delete any of them that you don’t really use. This way, you know they’re not collecting any information about you, plus it frees up space on your phone for other apps, pictures, etc.

7. Check your Cookies

Did you know you can see what sites your browsers have accepted cookies from? You should check this regularly to see if any strange sites are sending you cookies. If so, you may be able to block them in your browser’s settings. If you can’t, there are a number of different plug-ins available that will help you control cookies better. A

8. Know that whatever you put out there is out there

Know that whatever you put out there is out there

Even if you delete something from the internet, realize that it’s still stored in databases and archives and is likely to be forever. In many cases, even if you’ve deleted it, it can still be accessed. There’s no taking something back once it’s online, so think twice before you click on submit!These are just a few different tips you can use to manage your digital footprint and make sure it doesn’t get out of control. Do you have any tips we’ve forgotten?