B2B Marketing Expo

August 29, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

One of Europe’s leading marketing events is hitting SoCal for the first time this year! The B2B Marketing Expo began and planted its roots in the UK. This year the event will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 2nd & 3rd, 2019. THIS WILL BE THE FIRST B2B MARKETING EXPO OF MANY (we’re sure)!!! Our proper villain, Alessandro Fard, is one of the key speakers and we can’t help but brag. 😉 

 

Each year the event attracts vast, highly targeted audiences and offers a truly engaging experience. We expect this event will be even larger as it will be the first time it hits the US. The B2B Marketing Expo is currently responsible for over 50 shows across the world ranging from niche industry events to major global events. No discrimations!!! They have offices set up in Germany, Hong Kong, US, and the UK (and we’re sure it’s not stopping there).

 

Our CreateApe team will also be exhibiting at this event along with over 200 other exhibitors. There will be hundreds of seminars and the expo is expecting over 10,000 visitors at the Los Angeles event this fall. THIS WILL BE A HUGE EVENT! You don’t want to miss…

 

The marketing industry is always changing, and this expo offers organizations some insight from thought leaders like Alessandro who can share their strategies and breakthroughs. Free access to proven leaders in their fields? No brainer. #winwin

 

Alessandro will be hitting the stage to talk about all things UX/UI related. LIKE A BOSS. Other keynote speakers include Nike, Google, and Microsoft to be sharing their thought leadership ideas. 

 

Jeetendr Sehdev author of The Kim Kardashian Principle will be the official headline host for the event. Sehdev is a media personality, the world’s leading authority on celebrity branding, and a sought-after advisor to top international companies. We are prepared to be dazzled by THIS INFLUENCER’S INFLUENCER. 

 

Some of the event highlights will include influencer marketing, data and analytics, direct marketing, AI, account based marketing, and UX/UI development (of course), among many other topics. This is the ultimate event for keen sales professionals.

 

Tickets are free for this event and can be requested here. Don’t worry if you can’t make it, you can still follow Alessandro Fard’s stories on Instagram/Facebook to get behind the scenes and watch him live in action! 

 

We are looking forward to this event and hope you will be too. SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday October 2nd, and be prepared for some “proper villain” magic from our CEO. Make sure to stop by our booth for more information about UX/UI. Let us show you how much proper UX/UI can benefit your business. See you in October! 

 

Realistic Project Times And Estimations

September 4, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

We’ve all been there. You’re not alone! Project time estimates are one of the most uncomfortable pressures we face as designers and developers. It’s tough to estimate the time when so many variables are involved in the process, but we interviewed some of our top developers and designers (including our CEO) to gain some insight and perspective. Welcome to the break down of time estimations and jungle detours!!

 

Break it UP 

Our jungle guides coincided that the best way to estimate time on a project is to subcategorize each section of the project. The smaller the sections, the more precise the time estimation. Major divisions should be set for design, development, and Q&A interviews. NO BRAINER, right? 

 

Within those major sections, our team aims to break it down even further. For example: the Header, the Hero, the About Us blurb, the Contact Section, etc.. Seems like a lot of work, but it’s better than underestimating or overestimating a project time! Plus it keeps your team in check …We mean on schedule!!!  *cough*

 

By dividing up sections within subsections we can equally share the workload. At CreateApe we all collaborate together on a project. There is an interdependence among each of us and if one falls-we all fall. Okay maybe we don’t fall, but we can miss a step and trip sometimes. When we subdivide and break up the workload, we can then point fingers at who dropped the ball!! Just kidding…maybe! 

 

You get the idea, break it down don’t guesstimate a project. 

 

Consider the Coconuts

Another thing all of our designers and developers mentioned as an important key part of the estimation process was: to leave room for adaptations and unexpected issues. In an ideal jungle, we’d love to have no coconuts blocking the trail as we progress, but the truth is we live in a NOT ideal jungle!! 

 

A great example of estimating the unexpected issues is whether a designer will animate a website using some “new effects” and then consider how much time this adaptation would take as well as the “new effects” deliverables. 

 

Considering the coconuts always makes sense because as our CEO would say: “it’s always better to overestimate than to underestimate.” 

 

THAT being said, he also boasts that “the reality is if you’ve done this long enough– you should be able to estimate effectively as long as the client gives enough information.” 

 

Which brings us to the next part of estimating time: jungle detours

 

Jungle Detours

This is where you need an expert guide like us! Not to toot our own horn, but TOOT TOOT! 

 

Remember how we all collaborate and work together? Well, sometimes there is a flat tire which causes an unforeseen detour.. When this happens it’s all hands on deck to get it back on track. 

 

As expert jungle guides we need to be able to detour and switch gears to last minute changes. That can mean putting an assigned project on a brief hold to help a guide out when they’re stuck on the road. We know all too well to have a spare tire available (and spare time). 

 

Other common detours that can occur during the process are cloudy briefs or goals, delayed asset returns, and new destinations that are realized mid-project. These can occur in all three sections of the estimation process and in the not ideal jungle!

 

For example, in the design process–when a client approaches us with just a vision and no direction on what they want, we spend a little more time on designing – a lot more back and forth. 

 

In the development process, it depends if we are building a new site, or using the client’s current site– issues normally arise when we update a client’s old/current site. 

 

Q&A interviews may also take a few hours or a few days – depending on client edits. Leave room for the detours, they are bound to happen!! 

 

Jungle Retainers

What in the world is a retainer??!? Well…here’s the deal, as experts in the industry we know first hand how much time a project will actually take because we’ve been doing it so long. TOOT! As leading professionals we saw that there was an indefinite need when it came to business objectives, and that is where we developed retainers for our clients. 

 

We offer a competitive retainer option for larger projects requiring ongoing support, or projects with ambiguous scope and frequent changes. This retainer helps our clients save money on a large project while also providing us ample time to cover all of the business objectives. 

 

It’s a win-win for all involved and we usually offer it to all of our clients. The only time we don’t offer it is if we really don’t like them …or if it just doesn’t make sense for their project. 😉 

 

If a client has a small project or a project that has a really definitive start and end date that doesn’t encompass a lot of hours (let’s say 80 hours or less) then a retainer doesn’t really make sense for them. 

 

THAT BEING SAID: We take pride in offering our clients more than just developing and designing their project. We love the feeling of business success for our clients and ongoing support to see the results through and through. 

 

Sure we can design and develop what you ask, but we’d love to deliver success to your project investment through continual support and maintenance. Retainers help us do this and that is why we developed them for our clients. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about our retainers or starting a project with our team feel free to contact us at https://createape.com/contact/

 

Jungle Guide Tips

  • Create a brief that breaks down the project into the tiniest sections possible.
  • Have a personal process, it can be messy or stupid, but if it works for you it should save you a lot of time.
  • Estimate based on the things you know:
    • Complexity
      • Does it have icons?
      • Should I design icons?
      • Should I do animations or prototypes?
      • Illustrations
    • Quantity
    • Does the client need a specific format that can slow you down?
  • Plan for the unknown, ask questions (those are always free).
  • Always always leave room for possible issues. 
  • Learn from each project you estimate and complete (Estimating for time gets better and better with experience, so learn from each new project): 
    • Were you off? 
    • Did something go wrong? 

 

There ya have it: time estimations should be a piece of cake now!!! ..Okay, not really..but time will help. If you’re just starting in the industry give yourself time, EXTRA TIME, to learn how to estimate projects. Time takes time (ironically). But – we hope this guide helps get you started!  

 

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.

Tips For A Successful First UX/UI Meeting

August 28, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

It’s a jungle out there, and while most of the jungle is wild and filled with some rather vicious monsters, we’d like to consider ourselves the jungle guides. Nothing scares us and no beast is too large to manage or tame (*cough* 10 cooks in a kitchen *cough*). Many of our previous clients return because they value the CreateApe difference and know that we are experts in our field when compared to what’s out there. The pickings are slim people!!

We attribute our success to a successful kick-off with our clients. The first meeting always dictates the tone, direction, and collaboration amongst our clients and our team. Our founder and CEO, Alessandro Fard, has broken it down to some key questions to kick off the meeting, and we’re proud to say it works! 

Aside from narrowing down a meeting date, time, and location that works for everyone, we also have a general pattern of the questions we like to ask for the first meeting. We make it a point to hear out the client’s vision and expectations for their new product/service launch. Leadership is not just about directing the path and giving orders, leadership takes an open mindset and ability to adapt skill sets into the path we map out collaboratively speaking. 

 

So what are these general key questions?

 

  • What do they do?
  • Why do they do what they do?
  • What have they done or tried in the past?
  • Why did they do it?
  • What happened or what was the result?
  • What do you think went wrong? Or right?
  • What they hope to achieve next?
  • Who’s going to be around to do it?

 

 

What’s your company about?

This question is a given. This is their opportunity to shine and dazzle you with a history of how they got started and where they see the company or product heading. The important part to address here as UX designers (which usually doesn’t come up) is how the company makes its revenue. Did you get that? HOW DO THEY MAKE MONEY?!? No money, no business. No business, NO client. NO CLIENT!!! WHAT?! 

Create Ape knows successful UX ninjas prioritize not only the user, but the business as well. While learning the history and vision of the client, it is important to know the profit and benefit for both the user and the client from a business perspective. And guess what else? Some of the best challenges are when the users goals and the business goals are completely different. How do you marry the two? Great UX gurus live for that!

You also have a chance to address the essential reason of why they called you in the first place: how they can make it better and how they can MAKE MORE MONEY. What else draws businesses to launch new services and products? 

With years of experience, it’s safe to say that most companies come with limitations, and it’s a ninja’s job to exploit those limitations and convert them into possibilities. Mind blown, yet?

What has been done thus far?

This question opens the discussion about time and money. Another favorite thing to talk about! Many times than not, a client comes to us when “sh*t hits the fan” and they are down to a final deadline, the last inning of the game with little to no resources left to spend. Then you’re left to clean up the mess, and possibly start from scratch…depending on the beastly damage. Yup, damage control. We said it!

Remember to keep realistic expenditures and time frames for clients, especially if they’ve already been burned. It is better to be real than to try to meet their demands in order to land the job. It all takes time and money, don’t beat around the bush! Transparency is what wins the client and keeps them coming back. 

What should we review to be caught up to speed?

Give the client an opportunity to expound on what has worked and what has not. AND MEMORIZE IT!! Ok…maybe not memorize it, but definitely pay attention. This is different from the company history in that it relates specifically to the project at hand. This is important information to make sure that you’re not busting out the same ideas as the last team. 

It also gives you feedback on direction and concept with what has worked in the past, and allows you to expand that concept to further limits. We love pushing limits, not buttons.. Dive deep into the core brand/product and don’t be lazy in your review. 

SO don’t just flip specifically to what has worked and ignore what hasn’t. The stuff that didn’t work is equally as important. Knowing what exes to avoid from the past saves you time and money. 

What would you like to achieve next?

While the client has already given you an overall goal of where they want to go. This question is meant to deepen the goal and methods or conversion rates they wish to apply. 

Driving traffic is easy, but what you want the traffic to do is where the nitty gritty stuff comes in. Questions like: Do you want to increase sharing? Increase page views? Increase sign ups? Increase retention rates? 

As the client answers these questions, explain to them that for every action there is a reaction. We can’t escape Newton people!! This will help you remain transparent (and apply some physics to your accolades) so that the client can decide what the priority is and how it will affect their results. You can’t have your cake and eat it too…..or can you? 

Client Collaborators & Team Collaborators

Who is going to report to you and who will be reporting to them? When it comes to UX design it’s a lot smoother to have less collaborators because the more eyes it needs to reach the longer the turn around rate is before it actually gets approved. (Remember that kitchen *cough* we talked about?). 

This swings both ways, and in an ideal world, we like to have 1-3 points of contact on a project to create true villain magic. It nicely ties back to our leadership spiel and navigating what it takes to successfully kick-off a product/service. Once you establish the team on both sides it helps establish you into that leadership role, which in turn helps everyone out and holds everyone accountable. 

 

Another thing we’d like to address while on this topic is the method of communication that both teams will use to get the job done. One of our teams favorite is Slack. Be clear as to where the primary communication will go down so that the client knows exactly where to go to find the goods. 

Sometimes with so many apps and management tools out there, it can be easy to get lost in communication. We also like to hold weekly meetings with our stakeholders to ensure that everything is getting communicated effectively and that goals are being met by the team. 

Lastly, let them know you got this:

 

The grand finale of the meeting is your chance to shine. We know it sucks holding in all of your awesomeness until the end, but trust us it works! 

 

The conversation should end with the approach you’d like to take from there–that first meeting. Yup, how are you planning to tame the beast? 

Talk about the research you plan to review of previous successes and disasters to avoid. Also mention future steps after reviewing everything they give you, the interview and selection of users you’d like to talk to, and the outcome of the similarities and/or differences that affect the vision of the product. 

More future topics to shine light on include: the product mission statement, competitive design principles, success metrics to track, wireframes, and prototypes. Let the client know that through every step of the way, from infancy to maturity, you will be holding their hand–advising and answering any questions that arise. 

Yes–these secondary steps will follow the initial approach, but it is important to highlight what is ahead so that they can see a light at the end of the tunnel and know what to expect from a UX ninja. 

 

Recap…

  • First meeting MATTERS MOST.
  • Leaders aren’t cocky, they’re open-minded.
  • Let the client shine FIRST.
  • Prompt the client further with key questions.
  • Don’t be lazy, do the research. 
  • Get to know the team you’ll be working with.
  • Seal the DEAL! 

 

It’s been a fun tour of this jungle ride, but now it’s time for us to go tame more beasts!! We hope you feel better equipped to do the same. Or at least more organized with the kick-off flow. 😉

 

UX Personas & How to Create Them

June 6, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

Whether you’re a small business owner or a large corporation working on a massive marketing campaign, a UX persona can increase your profitability margin exponentially.  UX designers take these profiles of your target audience and create custom User Experiences that help make them, your target user or client, feel supported, intrigued, excited, etc. (Or whatever else you want them to feel, ya digg?)

Seems like a no brainer, right? Well… for the UX designer creating a persona isn’t just a good idea, it’s a friggin must.

 

What is a UX Persona?

 

UX personas are an important tool for your team to understand who your user is, what their particular needs are, and the problems that lead them to requiring your services and/or products. Likewise, a UX persona will also help your team’s efforts in creating a usable product or feature specific  to the needs of real people.

Of course we understand (and it’s important to note) that your product or service is not just specifically made for one person or one type of need. For example, people from all walks of life suffer from sleep apnea, and a company serving the needs of those communities will have very different patient profiles. One patient could be  super tech savvy and love the ease of a more efficient CPAP, whereas another patient may want the simple, not so technical CPAP because they get easily overwhelmed by too many options. A good UX design team will encourage their clients to create more than one UX persona for their product and/or service if multiple target demographics exist.

 

Simple Steps Every UX Designer Should Know (About Personas):

 

 

When it comes to creating UX personas every designer does it differently. However, there are a few aspects every designer should address. Your typical who, what, where, when, why format can get you started. And remember, these don’t have to be “real” people, just based on real life issues. Get creative!

 

Who is the person? (Name & Age)

What does he/she do for his/her occupation? (Work Life)

Where does he/she work at? (Location & Space)

When does he/she work? (Schedule)

Why is this person perfect for your service/product? (Relevance/Context)

 

 

Once you’ve created the personal aspects of your persona, you can move into different subgroups to create multiple personas. For example, determining their specific needs and goals, their workspace details, and personal history/background.

 

Perhaps that sleep apnea patient works graveyard shifts and her needs are different from a patient that works day shifts. One persona can be a female, the other a male, and both the same age; or all personas can be the same sex but different ages and so on and so forth.

 

Each UX persona has different wants, expectations, beliefs, and goals. In its essence, a UX persona is a description of the user. While the persona is “not a real person” per say, the needs, wants, beliefs, frustrations, and expectations definitely are. We recommend doing some research on your users before diving into creating your personas.

 

Below is an example of a UX persona that we made for one of our clients: Apria Direct…

 

 

As you can tell this persona is based off a 58 year old male who is a sleep apnea patient. Chuck is a construction worker who likely works long hours and sometimes graveyard shifts. His sleep patterns of course fluctuate according to his employment and we can grasp from his frustrations that in general he’s just a busy man who can’t have too many steps in his daily routine added to what his work life. We can gather from this persona that an automated refill order for his CPAP supply would best suit him. We can also gather that the refills should be shipped directly to his address in order to save him the time and inconvenience of insurance and billing processes, and of course remembering to PICK UP those refills.

 

Lastly, we’d like to zone in on some key differences between user personas and buyer personas.

 

Buyer Personas v. User Personas

 

Buyer personas are focused on sales and are developed by quantitative research. Your team’s research can help define the brand’s marketing message/slogan, product targeting, and content strategy. Buyer personas also aide in determining how your product will resonate in the marketplace and provide insight to your brand strategy. Essentially, buyer personas can help you initially attract a customer to your brand.

 

User personas are focused on habits and behavior, and are developed through qualitative research of much smaller/niche groups. User personas help define what the user would want and need in real life to reach their specific goals. This type of persona will aide in determining the context of use for your product/service and the typical behaviors of your users. User personas help your brand keep a customer once they’re interested.

 

At CreateApe we’re all about understanding your users and creating designs that make their experience that much more personal and relatable. . We also take pride in working out the efficiency measures needed for your users to navigate your website or mobile app with ease.. Through UX personas we’re able to create a unique space for your users  that’s specifically made to match their needs–because, let’s face it, we’re tired of hearing about users going bananas over sites that are difficult to navigate, understand, and use!

 

The Psychology Of UX

March 21, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

When I first started as an intern at CreateApe, I was new to the UX/UI space. While I was familiar with some components of it, but understanding wasn’t fully developed. Now in my academic and professional career, I interact with the psychology of User Experience and User Interface design non-stop in daily life. As Cristina (our Director of Communications) and I were browsing blog topics for the month, one of the things we found really interesting were the blog topics on UX Magazine.

Why These Categories?

UX Magazines featured topics are under the categories: Accessibility, Data Visualization, Emotion, Empathy, Personas, and Storytelling. UX designers are familiar with all these categories, but I found some of them surprising. Why are things like emotion and empathy critical when talking about design?

Understanding UX/UI has changed the way I look at communication. At UC Berkeley, I’m seeing so many things I haven’t seen before, especially when connecting UX/UI to consumer behavior and human emotions. Upon deeper exploration, I’ve concluded that UX design goes beyond just the aesthetics, it’s the psychology behind the design in our lives.

psychology-of-ux
Data Visualization:

At Berkeley, it’s incredible the amount of emphasis that is put on numbers. “Big data” and “data analytics” are buzzwords that float through classrooms. It seems as if everyone is in a number crunch race, but for what reason? Numbers tell a story. Number’s tell stories, sometimes even better than words.

For example, in UX/UI, we use heat mapping to let the user tell us a story. We utilize reports on what users have been clicking on the most, where their eyes first land when browsing a landing page and more. This data helps interpret a path the user takes through a series of clicks. From the amount of time someone stays on a landing page, to what part of the website they frequently visit- all aid in the quest of understanding our actions and why we act in certain ways. When we see a perfume ad, our first instinct may be to look at the people in the ads. Why is that? It all boils down to psychology and it’s the UX designer and marketers job to explore and understand why.

Qualitative vs. Quantitive

Data can tell us where the future is moving. Both qualitative and quantitative data gives us valuable information about consumers and how they approach design. Although there is an emphasis on numbers, qualitative data is just as important.

This Ted Talk by Tricia Wang reveals why human insights in data are so crucial. Nokia had been conducting surveys about smartphones in rural Asia and receiving the data back. While the data stated that the demographics of the area had no interest or need for smartphones, Wang’s ethnography findings found just the opposite. She had talked to and observed those in rural Asia and found, in fact, that there was an increasing desire for smartphones within the community. Nokia refuted the data simply because it wasn’t rooted in the numbers and has been trying to catch up in the smartphone industry since.

The UX/UI designer is in many ways an ethnographer. They have to observe a user base, understand how they use their current tools and design accordingly. Like a 5-year-old, they must ask many ‘why’ questions and never stop re-evaluating, why? Both qualitative and quantitative data are essential in allowing designers to bring a human insight approach to design. Quantitative data can tell us about a demographic but qualitative data can extensively show us how the user is interacting with designs (like user testing).

psychology-of-ux
Story Telling

There’s no doubt that storytelling is crucial in the way designs are presented. Storytelling is a form of communication that’s designed to connect with the user. We tell stories to connect with others. It’s the same with UX. We create pathways and stories through designs that are impactful and connect with users on a personal level.

Good design limits choice. In consumer behavior, we talk a lot about decision fatigue. If a user is overwhelmed by a decision in which they have too many choices, they end up making no decisions at all or make a rash or spontaneous decision. This is why storytelling is so crucial. Users don’t want to make decisions 100% of the time, and if they do they want them to be easy. In order to create an impactful story, we must use anticipatory design.

Anticipatory Design

Anticipatory design eliminates choices for the user. We think we want a lot of choices, but psychology has proven we actually don’t. This is evident just within the In n’ Out menu. Its simplicity and limited choice have allowed the brand to flourish. There is a freedom in limited choices, like having your credit card information already on file rather than choosing which one to use and re-input every time you shop. There’s a reason why designers like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wore the same thing every day.

When we have choices omitted from us, it’s easier to follow a path or a story. That’s what UX aims to do for the user. Designing simple and impactful illustrations is what makes using products and browsing interfaces that much more enjoyable. Good UX is supposed to anticipate our next move before we do, and it works. Designing stories and a path for users to take utilizes anticipatory design.

Accessibility:

When scrolling through UX Mag’s website, their articles about accessibility focus on availability. It’s about designing for everyone. UX/UI isn’t just about design, it’s about breakthroughs. It’s about that ah-ha moment that makes life just that much easier. It’s no surprise that great designs can change the world, but they can only change it if they’re accessible. A great example of this is the Apple Watch. Their interface is designed for an athlete, stay at home mom, student, chef, or virtually anyone. It’s designed for the everyday user and pushed the boundaries of design. The creators of the Apple Watch anticipated wearable tech that now has opened many possibilities for design and made it accessible and friendly for each user.

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Emotion:

Emotion in design is impactful. We see, think, and feel emotions every day. We make choices and design our life based on emotions. The world around us has the ability to influence user experience and design. Going back to the Apple watch example, it was designed to be worn on the wrist because of it’s psychological placement on the body. The design was made with emotions in mind, our wrist being associated with being delicate, often intimate and right on the pulse. We can now send our heartbeat to a loved one via our Apple watch and our Spotify recommends playlists are based on our moods. Emotions shape design.

Amanda O’Grady, the Design Strategist at Intuit says, “True emotional connections come from experiences that feel magical and meaningful.”

Even the actual design of emoji was made for us to convey emotion. Each emoji is based on a feeling, an emotion that is designed based on movements in facial features. Dr. Ekman, ranked among the most influential psychologists of the 21st century, is world-renowned for his research on facial expressions, emotion, deception, and compassion. His research has aided to furthering emotions in design and worked on movies like Inside Out. This inherently shows that we gravitate towards designs that help us convey or relate to emotions. This trait is crucial in UX/UI as the first step of design is understanding the emotions behind it.

Empathy:

I thought it was amusing that UX Mag’s image used for this topic was a man changing one foot into a heeled shoe. We see empathy in design everywhere. In the design world, and the real world, there aren’t any empathy filters. Designers aren’t going to wake up one day and think to start designing with empathy. But empathy allows us to consider how people are thinking and feeling. Being empathetic in design is to put yourself in the user’s shoes.

Most designers designed something because they have empathized with themselves. For example, the person who invented the bike probably hated the fact they had to walk miles and miles every day. Empathizing with users allows designers to gain a genuine understanding of how to solve users problems and build better products. Designing with empathy is human design. It’s not an algorithm made from a device, that’s why UX/UI is so crucial, it’s personalized designed built from human nature.  

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”- Theodore Roosevelt
Personas:

A persona is a group of users who all exhibit similar types of behavior. This is the ideal customer or user, the one who is going to have the most impact. In consumer behavior, personas are often used in targeting a certain demographic and usually require some research. Personas allow for perspective. Like empathy, personas put you in the user’s shoes and allow the designer to ask the crucial questions on how the user will perform while using their products. Understanding who you’re designing for is the first step to any design success.

Personas help teams find the answer of who they are designing for. Not only is this helpful for segmentation, but it’s helpful in understanding empathy. Creating personas makes designers understand that users have varying needs and expectations. A persona puts into perspective how a person interacts with a product, their patterns, and puts behaviors into context.

Psychology of UX: 

At the root of UX/UI is a question of why. UX is supposed to provoke questions. It’s supposed to ask why humans do things, why we do them the way we do. These blog categories encapsulate the core of UX design. UX is about combining data, regular human emotions, using empathy and accessibility to connect that to impactful storytelling. As a design field based on human nature, it has deep roots in psychology.

Additionally, there is a historical aspect to this type of design. It’s an example of who we are as a society at any given time and a peek into how we live our lives. Historically, you can look at UX/UI designs and know what society was like at any given time because designers were building for that society.

What’s ultimately successful in UX Mag’s blog titles is their ability to provoke questions. The purpose of UX design is to ask the questions. Why do we do this? Why is it purposeful? Could we function without it? The average person wouldn’t know what UX/UI design even was, so why is it so important?  UX marries both design and psychology, and in the end develops as a sort of sociological report on who we are, what we believe in and what we want. That’s why it’s important.

How A Retainer Transformed Renovation Angel

March 11, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

Over the years we’ve worked with some great companies and amazing individuals. We love the work we do (or we wouldn’t do it). But more importantly, we love and value the relationships we create with our clients. This is the story of one of those relationships.

Six years ago, we met Steve Feldman, founder of Renovation Angel. In addition to what was at the time two subsets of their company, Green Demolitions, and Kitchen Trader. Since 2005, Steve and his super talented team have conducted thousands of projects for members of the Forbes 400, professional athletes, and everybody else in-between. With a long term retainer in place, Renovation Angel, America’s premier recycler of luxury pre-owned kitchens and renovation items, allowed CreateApe to lead them on a digital rebrand.

What Are The Benefits of a Retainer?

First, let’s discuss the parameters of a retainer. Retainers are beneficial for several reasons. One of the most obvious is that the client receives a discounted rate in exchange for a long-term commitment. In the bigger scheme of things, however, the best benefit of a retainer is the freedom of collaboration. Both the client and the design team know there is a wealth of hours to allow room for excellent products to be created. Neither side is worried about pinching hours to stay within a certain budget. All the work being done is already included!

It isn’t just the security, trust, and speed; it’s the collaboration and the teamwork. As an agency, we’re able to fully enmesh ourselves into the brand. We learn the nuances which help us deliver consistent success. Working with Renovation Angel, we knew the brand inside and out. We knew the stakeholders and what they were expecting and the best way to approach success. This kind of investment from both the vendor and client is priceless.

 

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An example of social media imagery designed for Renovation Angel.
How A Retainer Transformed Renovation Angel

When Steve initially contacted us it was to revitalize their website’s User Experience design. Since then, we’ve helped them kick off and improve their entire digital footprint from Renovation Angel to Green Demolitions. Now that they have let go of their other two brands: Kitchen Trader & Green Demolitions.

What had begun as an initial “UX-friendly” revamp turned into a full-blown site re-launch. At the time, not only were we just working on Renovation Angel, but also Green Demolitions, the e-commerce portal of their company. With our help, their website traffic increased by 40%, and their overall sales increased by 15%. Brand engagement almost doubled, and the sleek modern feel we helped to create was being mentioned by consumers and industry professionals alike.

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On a retainer with Renovation Angel, we were able to collaborate on this idea for a step and repeat.
Increased Flexibility

There are many moments when both the client and us, as the vendor, benefit from the flexibility of being on a retainer. On a retainer, the client can pivot from idea to idea. Because they have a clear outline of the scope of work possible, (the actual tasks we can do), without worrying too much about budgets. Our dedication to transparency keeps expectations manageable and deliverables on schedule.

For example, every month Renovation Angel had a monthly sale that required a lot of soft and hard collateral to be created. Several different web banners of various sizes, an email design, and a price tag design (for use on the showroom floor) were created. Being on a retainer allowed the entire team the flexibility of trying different things over a period of time. That eventually served as the foundation of our well-oiled design process.

Design Processes

Flexibility and agile design processes are definitely important parts of our long-term client success. When redesigning their site to be an e-commerce website, it made it easy to spec out the scope of the project together. Even while decisions were being made, we were able to maintain the status quo of business as usual while putting our best foot forward. We had accumulated knowledge over the span of several years on their target client demographic. This allowed us to come up with impactful conversion-centric designs in much less time.

“That was a really big win for the retainer because we were able to work even at times when they weren’t available to provide guidance and ultimately help move the needle forward. Having the opportunity to work within the boundaries of a retainer proved to be advantageous for the business in more ways than one,” said CEO Alessandro Fard.

 

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One of the many sale banners that we created for Renovation Angel.
Efficiency of Operations

Renovation Angel took many risks over the years, especially when it came to brand architecture. While Renovation Angel focused on the donations side of their company, both Green Demolitions and Kitchen Trader were e-commerce based sister-brands. Each sold luxury kitchens and home renovation items. Fast forward to 2019, the brand organization is has undergone another transformation. All three brands have merged under the Renovation Angel umbrella, bringing its own set of challenges and opportunities.

Our new job was to capture the attention of many verticals. The new website, one that merged all three aspects of the brand so far, had to be luxurious, modern, edgy and welcoming. It’s part non-profit, part recycling, part luxury, and interior design. We had to create a fully immersive online space that customers could easily shop and understand.

The feedback from their team was, “Oh my gosh, this makes it so much easier to not only upload information and keep the information up to date for the users to see, but also for our team to manage information.” Now, when Renovation Angel would receive phone calls asking questions about their products, they were able to reference a fully robust website. They now had up to date information that was not only easy to engage with, but impactful. Not only did they see an increase in sales, but in their daily efficiency of overall operations.

 

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BEFORE: The Renovation Angel website before e-commerce transformation.

 

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AFTER: The updated Renovation Angel website.
A synergistic win.

One of our favorite aspects of collaborating with a client within a retainer framework is the opportunity to work on exciting new projects all the time. As Renovation Angel took off, we had the privilege to work with an organization that had undergone many iterations for continued quality improvement. We ultimately saw improved success markers across the board.

Not only were we working on keeping their websites up to date and ensuring things continued to convert, but we also got to develop social media channels, and direct marketing campaigns. The work that we did went from just a one-off project to become a six-year collaboration that we’re very lucky to be a part of.

In the end, the most important aspect of a retainer is the ongoing relationship between the agency and the client. Risks, opportunities, and great ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. Our retainer with Renovation Angel allowed us to bring those ideas to life in the best way possible. We feel so lucky and grateful to have worked with such an amazing team at Renovation Angel over the years and can’t for what lies ahead in the future!

Want to learn more?

Let us help get you #JungleReady. Let our CreateApe expert team be your jungle guide. We will help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

 

Pros & Cons of Native iOS

September 13, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

What’s better? Web based application versus a native iOS/android app?

So you have an idea for a business and want to get it out in the world. How do you decide whether or not you want it to be strictly a web based application or make it a native iOS or android app?

At the end of the day, there are tons of reasons why you should choose one over the other- but we’re here to talk over the basics. Here’s what you absolutely need to know when deciding between using a web based application versus a native iOS android.

First let’s talk differences:
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A web based application is a website that’s housed as a domain and that’s how people primarily access it. An example would be the Safari browser. Many people have it on their iPhones and computers, but it’s not sold in the app store and it doesn’t need to be downloaded on the user’s device to be accessed.

A native iOS or android application means that users of native apps can download them in app marketplaces like the App Store or Google Play Store, an example being games like Candy Crush or Temple Run.

Pros of Native iOS/Android:

There are a couple reasons of why you would want to be in the iTunes store:

1) If it’s a native iOS, there are already a lot of developer tools that you have access to. This will make the app easier to actually produce and save time and money in the end.

2) Native iOS and Android have an existing basic UX/UI framework that already exists. As a consumer you’re familiar with the idea that iPhone/Android have pre-existing drop down menus, navigation and a pretty solid existing framework that you can borrow from and use.That means for the user, they’re already going to be somewhat familiar with navigating your app. With just that aspect alone you’ve already lowered the investment of time and effort you use to create an application using tools that already exist in the native environment.

The biggest reason why you would want to go native iOS or android is that the marketplace already exists. With some buzz and marketing around your product, you can become featured in an app store. If you’re product takes off and is featured in the app store you’re going to get a lot more users for your application.

Pros of web based:

If you’re just making a web based browser application, it’s like making a new website and trying to find new customers. You have to figure out how to market it and the existing framework is no longer there. Although that brings up a challenge, there are many pro’s to going web based:

1. There is more control when building a web based application vs. native iOS/android. There’s a possibility you’re coding the applications differently and want to be free from the constraints of designing for native iOS or android.

2. If you’re selling something off of a marketplace, the app store will get a piece of how much you make off your product. Whereas if you’re totally on your own you own building a web based application, you control the environment of your application.

3. There is greater free range when building a web based application vs. native iOS/android. If you’re on the app store, you are beholden to their rules and requirements. For example, if you’re making an application that can be viewed to some circles as being inappropriate for some ages but you don’t think the age restrictions apply, you can still easily be kicked off. Even if new rules occur in the marketplace, you are responsible for making the changes whether they be small and change nothing, or are larger issues that alter your value proposition. If you’re working within an environment that you can’t control, there’s some risk that you always have to be aware of.

A comparison:

It’s much faster to do something native, get it out there, and start to prove the model before creating a web based application. We see this with a lot of our favorite social networks. Instagram initially started off as a native iOS and android app, but within the last year decided to add a mobile website component. It was easier to build an audience by using the app store and then move that audience to a mobile website.

At the end of the day, the biggest difference between having your application on a web based system and not native iOS or android is control. The control that you get to affect changes is huge in web based applications and you aren’t stuck to the rules of the marketplace but, you lose the pre-existing market place and framework.

Whether you go with a native iOS/android application versus a web based application is unique to the business. Every product, service, and business will have different goals with specific outcomes in mind. Although there are many factors that go into deciding which application platform to move forward with, control and existing frameworks are key components to consider first.

Are you a business owner or entrepreneur that needs help deciding on which application is best for your business? Let us help get you #JungleReady. Let our CreateApe expert team be your jungle guide. We will help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

Want To Make More Money? Better User Test

July 28, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

As UX designers, we always want to make sure the products were producing are the best they can be. In this case, user testing is a huge factor in making sure our creations are responsive, and not only meet the standards of our users, but also increases their overall user experience.

What is user testing?

User testing is when you measure the user experience of a product. You can test the entire project as a whole or just one section of it. It’s testing how users interact and use your product, which can be very different than how you think people should be using the product.

For example, it could be testing whether users respond more to one color than another, or if users take the desired action that was intended by the design. User testing observes the tasks that users would perform, finds errors and areas where things can be improved, and then rates the overall experience.

Why should you user test?

Well simply put, you want to make sure the kinks in your product are worked out and that the user is following the desired user flow. “User testing” is the product’s first taste in to the real world where the mistakes can always be worked out before pushing to a live launch.

Who user tests?

The product can’t be user tested within the set team making the product. In theory the team can user test, but they also know the product better than anyone else and created it with a desired path in mind. Getting out of the office and testing outside of your immediate product circle is ideal. Someone who is new to look at the product, a set of fresh eyes, might catch small details that could use improvement. This way you’ll learn how your project is being consumed in the real world, and how best to design for its optimal use.

Why User Testing Is Better in the Long Run:

User testing procedures take time to plan and execute. Depending on the amount of data you want, it can take a significant amount of effort but can be scaled to whatever size you need. Although, there may be costs to research and extra time involved to user test, the return on metric research will be worth user testing and might even save time in the future.

There’s an assumption that user testing won’t save you money and that it’s an unnecessary step in the process. Although sometimes this might be right, there’s a large chance there are underlying problems in your product that wouldn’t be noticed without user testing that will have to be addressed later on.

It can save you by catching costly mistakes sooner when it’s less of a hassle to fix because the product is still in development. Especially in web design, the more complex the product gets over time, the harder it is to solve mistakes. Finding a mistake (or area for improvement) before a project is completed will be cheaper than fixing it down the line.

Why Customers Will Thank You

Products and services that have a focus on the user’s experience will increase customer satisfaction. Not only will your customers be extremely pleased, but they’ll want to keep using your product for the unique experience alone. The bottom line is: increasing customer satisfaction will have a positive effect on sales and clients.

Why your clients should support user testing:

At the end of the day, any business owner or stakeholder should want to have the best product and service they can get/offer. Why not utilize a user testing process to understand your audience and improve aspects of design for the user? It’s easy to make someone’s life harder, but it takes significant effort to make it easier. Investing in user testing isn’t always an easy sell, but it comes down to a really a simple formula:

Less risk for errors + happy users = more customers.

User testing can save money, time, and increase user’s satisfaction for your product. Not only will you see improvement in satisfaction metrics, you’ll also see increased engagement, conversions, and ROI. At the end of the day, any product can be refined and user testing is the first step in the improvement process.

UX Writing 101

June 12, 2018 - Posted by: Brooke LaFleur

Prior to entering the tech space, I had never heard of a UX writer. Even in the UX/UI space people who copy for websites we’re called copywriters. Now, we’re seeing a shift of focus on writing that intends to create a positive experience for the users once they enter a website or an app.

What is a UX Writer?

The main difference between a copywriter and a UX writer is that copy writing makes things sound good, and UX writing makes things make sense. It’s the difference between reading a complex novel and a 3rd grade kids book. One uses bigger words to attract customers, and one uses simple words to explain concepts.

A typical copywriter is sales-oriented and works with the marketing team to tell stories, but often can create copy alone and report back later. UX writers however, are product-oriented and work closely with designers to share conversations.

UX writers often don’t work alone and have to “fill in the blanks”  with the designers. For example, if there are gaps in the user flow, the UX writer needs to be able to mend any points of confusion for the user.

Gone are the days of picking the best writer on the team to write copy for interfaces and confusing pop up messages. UX writing has its own language: clear, concise, and useful.

These age old pop ups are one of the reasons UX writing now exists:

 

What does the UX writing process look like?

Well, it’s pretty similar to the path of a designer. From the beginning they will work with designers and developers in the early stages of production to figure out the flow and map out what copy is needed. A big part of creating good copy is researching and testing. Research of the target market and knowing jargon that is used by a particular vertical helps speak to the users language. UX writing intends to increase conversion and usability, putting hypotheses forward and a/b testing what words have more of a response.

Microcopy like CTA’s, instructions, navigation buttons, confirmation messages, error messages, and even 404 errors need to be written. Contrary to popular belief, these words don’t just come out of the void, someone writes these 404 messages:

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Although a 404 page is possibly the worst possible scenario for a user on a website, using graphics and words that convey humor and sympathy make it a positive experience landing on a page a user typically doesn’t want to see. That’s the beauty of UX writing.

UX focuses on emotion and ensures that the path is clear for the user, and doesn’t make the user have to ask any questions. Users shouldn’t have to focus on reading buttons, good copy ensures that users actions are intuitive.

What is good microcopy?
HUMAN ORIENTED:

Using witty language and writing in the voice of the brand. When putting in the wrong blog URL, tumblr’s copy team uses humor and compliments to ease the disappointing experience.

ENCOURAGE USERS:

Good copy prompts their users. Introducing yourself and finding a starting point is difficult in real life. Tinder helps users start a conversation by prompting them to simply give a compliment!

UX Writing is a combination of UX Design and Copywriting, working in tandem together in the development process. UX writing’s primary goal is to make sure that every step of the user flow makes sense and fulfills the users needs. The takeaway? It’s obvious there needs to be changes when writing copy for websites, especially if you want an optimized conversion centric site. Be an empathetic guide and facilitate the users needs with smart copy that conveys real actionable steps.

Want to learn more?

Let us help get you situated. It’s a jungle out there, click here so you don’t have to go at it alone! Let our CreateApe experts act as “jungle guides” and help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.