Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

30Jul/110

Design that drives Action

On July 21st I went for a talk by Bryan Zmijewski, the founder of Zurb a design company. Bryan emphasized that visits to a site mean nothing unless users are engaged or motivated to act. Design must drive action and this is done through three concepts - visual design, content and form elements. Visual design provides context, content guides decisions and form elements are input mechanisms that finalize actions. He gave examples for each concept as seen below.

Visual Design

1.  TinyPic is a website where users upload and share images and videos. The company runs solely on ad revenue with ads displayed on the left of the upload feature. Zurb changed the visual design of the page by adding a border (highlighted in red) to the form so that users perceived the ad to be a part of the form as opposed to an ad preventing ad blindness. This resulted in a higher click rate on the ads bumping the cost per click from $2 to $5.

2. Photbucket is a photo sharing site that wanted to increase user engagement by increasing the number of users registering on the site. The tested two visual designs - one with a red register button and the other with a green. The hypothesis was that the green button would receive more clicks as it signaled go but in reality the red button got more clicks due to higher contrast.

3. Basekit creates, hosts and manages websites and wanted to increase user subscriptions by highlighting the differences between their pricing plans and motivating users to make a choice. As seen in the images on the right the design with the colored contrast between the pricing plans indicating the top 3 differences between the plans got 25% more sign ups.

Content

1. Notable Screenshots helps users capture images, websites, etc. deconstruct the media by adding notes and finally helps publish the media. Since each media needed to be captured and posted the tech team thought "New Capture" to be the right label to fit the action of capturing media but a content redesign unraveled that "New Post" got users to capture and post on the website 25% more as it the vocabulary better fit user mental models.

2. TinyPic - I will upload the content and graphic as soon as it's available.

3. Bagcheck, a website that lists favorite user products ranging from computers to phone applications, increased its user engagement by 50%  by writing the percentage difference between the sale price and the actual price.

Form elements- I will upload the content and graphic as soon as it's available.

1. Bling-It

2. Photobucket

3. Trapit


30Jul/110

Using technology to bring social change

On July 19th I went for a symposium on social change. The panel included Ossama Hassanein, an angel investor and mentor to Arab entrepreneurs, Craig Newmark, Founder and CEO of Craigslist, Sam Bernie, Sr. Director of Engineering at Kiva, Megan Trotter, Program Manager at Tenderloin Technology Lab at St. Anthony Foundation, Jake Levitas, Research Director at Gray Area Foundation For The Arts and Ed Bice, moderator of the panel and founder of Meedan, a non-profit social technology company which aims to increase cross-language interaction on the web.

The event was hosted at St. Anthony's Foundation, a nonprofit that serves a million meals every year to the needy and also acts as a clinic, counseling center and much more. Each panel member spoke of various initiatives they are spearheading to spread social change or the the use of technology to initiate solutions that make sense for the community. Some of those initiatives are listed below.

Craig Newmark founded Craig Connects to support 100+ non profits do good for the community. Though there are many areas the organization focuses on Craig spoke about his work to support military families and veterans. He mentioned that the biggest challenge with social change is that people doing good aren't good at talking about it so that they can get more funding, PR, etc. so he is working hard at addressing this issue especially in sifting the effective and deserving nonprofits from the others.

Sam Bernie who worked at the Grameen Foundation before joining Kiva said that social change is about empowering people at the grass roots level. People such as you and I Provide loans to  entrepreneurs on Kiva primarily because of the moving stories that help establish a meaningful connection between the lender and the entrepreneur. He hopes to create a deeper connection between the lender and borrower through technology. For example, Kiva may add a feature to track multiple loans for a person over time so that lenders can follow the borrower on his or her journey. Sam also states that the divide between access and capital should be narrowed. For example, he helped roll out a web based social initiative in Lebanon but people never used technology there so changes had to be made to best help them.

Ossama Hassanein is connecting Arab entrepreneurs with American Venture Capitalists to help navigate Arab countries through poverty. He has helped finance more than 100,000 companies in his career.

Megan Trotter teaches people to use technology - computers, social media, basic editing software, etc. She states that social change can only come about through education. We can all use technology and resources to solve hunger, poverty, etc. but human contact is essential in facilitating these programs to success. Her classes educate 100 people every day to learn technology at the St. Anthony's Foundation.

Jake Levitas works with technology and government to implement change. His hack-a-thons help organize programmers to build applications to solve social problems. He hosts one every weekend during summer and connects people with the government through this program. His projects include mayoral candidates and he believes that challenges such as these hack-a-thons help sieve through the noise and get people to act more than talk aimlessly. For example, he states how technology helped people find loved ones during the Haiti earthquake.

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