Team Spotlight: Jungle Guide Cristina

February 21, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

Marketing and Communications Director:

We love our team, and we know you will too. This week we’re covering team spotlights! Meet our jungle guide, Cristina. As our communications guru from Southern California, she’s the glue to our CreateApe team, putting out our fires and acting as the liaison between the team and clients.

 

Q&A

Describe your role at CreateApe:

I am the Marketing and Communications director at CreateApe. My main role is to help the company move forward to better position ourselves as the premier UX/UI resource in Southern California. That being said, I wear a lot of different hats here at CreateApe and I spend a lot of time nurturing our relationships with clients, keeping team morale up, and strategically thinking about future opportunities to grow.

 

What do you love about CreateApe?

I love that we are quirky, fun, and efficient! We embrace a collaborative team environment that isn’t judgemental and allows room for creative individuality, but we also work really hard. People are always surprised by how fast and efficient our team is in delivering results. My favorite thing about CreateApe is our amazing and talented team. We evoke a sense of warmness due to our creative collaborative environment that translates really well with our clients. I love seeing our clients excited by the transformations we provide for their projects. Especially when we get into user testing and they see the metrics in front of them.  It’s a very empowering moment for both the client and us, as vendors, to see the real-time impact that our efforts are producing.

 

Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on so far? Why?

I think my favorite project so far is Mosaic Network. We’ve become so integrated with them and their team. Our retainer covers more than just design and allows us to delve deeper into the philosophy that our founder Alessandro created in the UX/UI university of life. Everything that we do as a UX/UI component. While we work with Mosaic on public advocacy and marketing we’re bringing a perspective on UX/UI to the table. As we create business development, copy, and designs we’re in the weeds with them from day to day. I’m loving seeing the growth their having and how our impact as an agency is helping them to evolve their own agendas. This is truly a case study example of how Create Ape becomes a part of the team. We’re not just a vendor, we’re a partner in the companies success. I have a masters in Political Communication and this project marries my background in social science with my passion for strategic communication.

 

What do you value in your position the most?

I love working with really talented people. I like the fact that I get to work on a variety of different project across a variety of verticals. The thing I value most about my position is that this is a family company of sorts; my sister is Director of Operations, my brother is the CEO, and when we work with our bigger enterprise clients, they feel like they’re getting something unique because of that family aspect. In terms of leadership, we have more connectivity and leeway to jump in when things are great or when things are going wrong. We’re siblings and because of that, we can be more candid and honest with each other in a way that most HR Departments would frown upon. We don’t pull punches amongst the executive team. That’s definitely part of our special sauce! We’re more effective as a company because we never get stuck on ego or minutia. We all are comfortable in our roles, and nobody is looking to “move up the ladder” in our company. We succeed as a team, and we fail as one too.

 

What is unique about working with family?

When we’re on calls with clients there’s this family aspect that allows people to be at ease with us. They value what we bring to the table in terms of expertise, and we are of course always professional (let’s read the room people), but this lack of a barrier between the executive team creates an environment that is so much more collaborative for our clients and us. That’s very unique. Clients aren’t used to a company like ours providing the resources that they need for their large scale projects efficiently, while also feeling like they get the customer service of a boutique operation.

 

What is the most meaningful part of your job?

Transformations. I love that as a company we are helping people to imagine their dreams. I know that sounds cliche, but the reality is we help our clients to take their thoughts or dreams of their product/website/campaign, etc., and turn them into something they couldn’t even have imagined.

 

When do you have the most fun at work?

We have a very active and lively Slack. Because our team is not all co-located, we rely on our tech to help us keep connected throughout the day. Our general Slack channels are full of funny memes, and congratulations on milestones like babies & weddings. It’s a way for us to nurture our team and build our internal support structures. We get to express ourselves and be connected to our colleagues while still being effective with our time, and that’s an important part of our business.

 

What is one fun fact/interesting thing about you?

I’m a total foodie and I love to travel. My favorite thing in the world is to go on grand adventures, but the surprising fact is that I’m terrified to fly. Even though I took my first flight when I was four and a half to Europe from California by MYSELF, I still get anxiety, really bad anxiety, about flying no matter how far it is! I hate to fly, love to travel.

 

Who inspires you?

If someone were to say who inspires you I would honestly say, my sister. My sister Francesca shows every day her ability to grow even when it’s uncomfortable and I admire that. It inspires me to look at the challenges of my own day and realize often that those things aren’t that stressy after all.

 

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about God, my family, and my country. I know that sound’s super lame but it’s my “knee jerk” reaction answer to this question. Maybe that comes from my background. I got my bachelors in Political Science, and I really wanted to get involved in changing the world. When I went to get my masters from the LSE in London and has traveled extensively abroad, (I’ve lived on and off in the Middle East and Europe from a very young age) I realized that the things which are most important to me are not material. Without a doubt, the things I’m most passionate about are my faith, this big extended family I have, and my imperfect country. Even with all the craziness going on in our political arena I’m so proud to be an American and proud of my family. I’m actively always trying to be a better Christian. If we’re being honest, those three things really encapsulate who I am.


Craziest thing you’ve ever done?

When I was younger my extended family lived in the Middle East, and on a visit back to the U.S. before they left we were all having lunch and my uncle casually was like, “Hey do you want to go with us to Dubai tonight?” And I thought he was joking. Long story short, he wasn’t joking, and because I was doing a private distance-learning high school program at the time, I was technically able to go anywhere. They bought me a ticket and I rushed home to throw everything in a suitcase to leave on a flight that very night.  And that’s how I ended up living in Dubai for a few months. It was totally unplanned and unexpected. I’d never done anything like that in my life, that’s definitely one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.

 

Anything you’re binging on Netflix currently?

I binge watch everything. I am a professional purveyor of content.

 

What is your go-to karaoke song?

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey is classic.

 

Favorite hobbies?

My hobbies are gourmet food experiences, outdoor adventures, and I love all creative content (movies, tv, books), etc.  

 

Three items you’d take to a deserted island?

My sister (she’ll have to suffer with me but as a team, we’d probably figure it out), a pot, and a way to make fire. If we’re talking about a non-scary situation a yacht, luxury glamping materials, and a personal chef.

 

CreateApe’s tagline is “It’s a Jungle Out There, Don’t Go At It Alone.” How do you survive in the jungle?

With humor, patience, and empathy.

 


Need help organizing all of this for your business? Let our CreateApe experts give you a custom quote by clicking here —>  Start A Project Today

 

5 Valentine’s Day Landing Pages We Go Banana’s For

February 14, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

At CreateApe, we speak the language of love. Not only are we here to help you traverse the jungles of UX/UI, but also the groves of the heart. We love holidays around here, so it’s no surprise we want to spoil our significant others on Valentine’s Day. Depending on your significant other’s tastes, the bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolate from the grocery store might make the cut. For most of our team, it’s impossible not to fall into a trap.

First, it starts with flowers, but then comes the contemplation of adding a nice piece of jewelry, maybe a candlelit dinner, or the gadget they’ve been casually slipping into a conversation for the past two weeks…

For the average American on Valentine’s day, we found that the classic roses and chocolates aren’t cutting it anymore. According to USA Today, 55% of Americans who plan to celebrate Valentine’s day are estimated to spend $143.56, reaching total spending of 19.6 billion. That’s 1.4 billion up from last year.

As our team searched around for gifts this year, we couldn’t help but notice some of the amazing Valentine’s Day landing pages that excel in their UX that made us open up our wallets (and our hearts of course). We’re a sucker for a good landing page, especially one made for the holidays. After all, they’re one of e-commerce’s biggest tricks and of course, fun for everyone.

So whether you’re shopping for a gift to surprise your Valentine or getting something nice for yourself, it’s okay we all do it, here are five landing pages that have a special place in our heart.

1. Amazon
CreateApe-Valentines-Day-Amazon CreateApe-Valentines-Day-Amazon

Amazon is like Disneyland for procrastinators. Their prime shipping appeals to the masses and they know that it’s their strong suit during the holidays. On their homepage, they immediately show categories for all of Valentines Day’s most popular gifts. They include a concise section of gift choices, chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and gift cards. Not only making life easy for the user but also giving them a place to start.

To make life even easier, they include gift categories for certain demographics (yes, even your pets) and organize their site based on your Valentine’s Day plans. Date night in? No problem. Galentine’s Day? They already have pre-selected items and showcase the easy to shop possibilities. UX is about not having to make the user think, and Amazon does the thinking for you with their landing page.

Not only is each option presented for optimal use, but each option they promote is also visually separated by shades of pink, red, and purple accompanied by compelling photography. This allows users to segment each alternative without risking information overload.

2. AT&T
CreateApe-Valentines-AT&T CreateApe-Valentines-AT&T

There’s something to be said about the power of a strong hero image. AT&T decided to pass on the various shades of pink and red in its design but instead went with a bold and captivating hero image that reflects AT&T’s brand identity of connecting people through their services.

The image speaks for itself, but text placed in the hero evokes tone and romance. Besides the image, the header and the call to action carry the heaviest weight on the page. The user’s eye immediately goes to the image of the couple and then to “Shop Gifts.” The clean and simple design is alluring and clearly paves out the users desired path.

Even when scrolling down the homepage, AT&T excels at directing the user to options. The packaged deals that indicate what phone plan are the best for you and your Valentine are mapped out and showcased in boxes with clever copy such as, “One for you. One for your valentine.”

3. Chanel
CreateApe-Chanel-AT&T

Chanel’s landing page features their most popular product during Valentine’s season, perfumes. Again, they use a powerful hero image to convey the emotions attributed to the holiday. Using light pink contrasted with the masculine black perfume bottle evokes desire, confidence, and love.

The most powerful part of Chanel’s landing page is within simplicity. They do an excellent job at straying from the overwhelming and kitschy Valentines Day ad’s that can appear too sales-y. They stay true to their brand heritage as a sleek timeless brand while giving the user an easy way to shop their products. The user is left wanting to seek the same emotions the landing page emits and explore Chanel’s other products.

4. Kenneth Cole
CreateApe-Valentines-Kenneth-Kole

In 2019, standing out among the crowd can be a challenge. Kenneth Cole hit the mark this Valentines Day with their provocative and clever landing page. Instead of leading users to follow the desired path, they encourage the user to simply stay on their site with their attention-grabbing header “This Valentine’s Day Get Some For Date Night.”

Kenneth Cole does a great job of utilizing white space. Immediately the eye is drawn to the text in the middle of the page and there’s a purposeful weight assigned to “Get Some for Date Night.” The contrast between black and white makes it impossible to escape from their bold and playful design and piques interest in what Valentine’s Day items you can find on their site. If you’re looking for direction, we personally love their jeans.

5. Lancome
CreateApe-Valentines-Lancome CreateApe-Valentines-Lancome

Lancome’s page showcases makeup how-to’s and three different looks you can try on Valentines Day. The best part of Lancome’s landing page is their storytelling element. They have the user imagining themselves in every different scenario wondering what their Valentine’s Day possibilities hold.

Each photo is linked to the product’s that are used in each look. This makes it easy to shop and pick out items based on the user’s needs. The emotional appeal is strong throughout the page, as you’re left wanting to emanate the same emotion Lancome has captured and explore their products.

Even cards and lipstick kissed letters are in the background of the makeup photos, adding to the allusion and asking the question what’s in the cards for your Valentines Day?

One of our biggest motto’s is UX/UI inspiration comes from everywhere. Whatever your plans are on Valentines Day, we hope you’re inspired and surrounded by the ones you love! And in the spirit of user experience, get some for date night.

Are There Benefits of Being a Google Partner for a UX/UI Designer?

October 4, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

SEO. It’s another one of those acronyms and buzzwords people in the tech space love to throw out. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the reason why certain keywords show up first when using search engines.

SEO can be vital for organic growth

Studies will show if you’re not on the first page of a search engine, it doesn’t matter where you are. In fact, if you’re running a small business or an entrepreneur, you’ve probably received a phone call from companies claiming to be Google and promising your company top placement on the first page. Chances are, they’re probably not Google. As much as we’d love to believe those in charge of ranking and indexing at Google have our personal cell phones, that’s not the case.

The Google SEO Game

This is important because in my opinion, if you want to play the Google indexing and ranking game, you probably want to look in to PPC campaigns. PPC stands for pay per click and is usually the single specialty of an agency. If you’re going to pay Google, actually pay Google and pay for the clicks. That way you know every dollar you spend is going towards a click that could be a future client. Essentially, you’re paying for eyeballs on your content. The cost per click might be pretty high, but is probably a wiser choice than paying an arbitrary company who claims to have the “secret sauce” to changing the SEO game.

WTF Is A Google Partner?

I’ve also noticed the new “Google Partner” badge on some company websites. First off, if I’m a UX/UI designer what does being a Google Partner have to do with anything? Google partner has to do with search, PPC, and SEO. If you’re an agency and you’re a Google partner… good for you I guess. If all you focus on is SEO and PPC it makes some sense, but you’re essentially paying a ton of money to have a fancy badge on your website.

As a UX/UI vendor, putting that you’re a Google partner is nonsensical. It holds no bearing on your design chops, user testing procedures, or any other capabilities in your wheelhouse. Even if you’re doing development all the way to design, being a “Google Partner” still doesn’t have any benefit.

What to Actually Invest In:

When creating a website, there’s still basic semantic SEO, meta tags, and keywords. Then there’s actually implementing campaigns around high ranking metrics, organic SEO, or a PPC campaign. I would argue if you are looking to do a PPC campaign, you should go to an agency where PPC is all they do day in and day out. If they offer UX/UI, development, social media, branding, SEO, and PPC, they may be able to do it really well, but typically in my experience it’s better to go with people who specialize. Do you want somebody who does a little bit of everything kinda okay, or do you want somebody who does one thing extremely well?

If you’re looking for great UX/UI, go to a great UX/UI agency. If you’re looking for a PPC campaign, go to an agency where that’s all they’re known for. Although there are some benefits for being a Google Partner if you’re in the space of PPC or SEO, it really is a badge that validates how much money you put into Google. SEO results don’t happen overnight and neither does Google indexing.

And remember, no company has a magic bullet. They cannot guarantee specific metrics overnight. Do your research and let an expert team guide you towards achieving your goals.

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:

pixar-ux-writing-example mcdonalds-ux-writing

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.

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.