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

31Mar/120

7Ps to help you institutionalize user experience in your company

At some point a tech company decides it needs  a user experience team to champion the voice of the customer. The smart ones start this journey early as it is more challenging to institutionalize user experience in companies with a few hundred employees. The following 7Ps will help you institutionalize UX in your company:

Posters : Use posters to communicate the critical components of the UX message - UX principles, customer segments, etc. For example, Walmart.com had posters of its customer segments on the walls around the office to always remind its employees who they were designing for.

Process: Define the UX Engagement process. Usability.gov has a well defined design process. This may vary based on how departments are structured in your company, resources available and team dynamics but a process is a start to including all the critical elements of the user experience.

Procedure: Create standard UX templates to define the procedure to conduct a specific aspect of the UX. Usability.gov has many templates. For example, a  moderator guide or guidelines to conduct and write a heuristic report will establish a set of standards and improve the consistency and quality of work.

Protocol: Create a UX repository on the company intranet to educate everyone in your company about the UX team and their work, how to engage with them, what to expect, timelines, schedules, etc.

Publish: Get noticed in the greater UX community by publishing research and presenting at conferences. This brings visibility and credibility to the UX group.

Proof of productivity: User Experience improves the customer's experience in many ways. For example, it could reduce time, reduce help desk calls, increase enjoyment and trust, improve safety, etc. It is critical to measure this improvement in productivity to translate the value of the UX activity and to communicate it to employees and management.

Partner: This is the most important step in institutionalizing UX in a company. Unless you have a partner in upper management to rally around the UX cause this would be a very difficult struggle. It is critical to get support to ensure the message does not get lost and more importantly give UX the attention it deserves. After all, some of the top tech companies have made it their mantra. Google says "Focus on the user and all else follows" while Apple uses UX to drive its innovation engine.

30Mar/120

Indicating Interest Online Quantitatively

Attention and interest on the web are critical metrics and are an essential component that should guide any online strategy.  LinkedIn has done an excellent job in this area of indicating interest quantitatively. Let us look at a few examples:

Indicating interest in you/your profile by showing how many looked at your profile. Indicating interest in a job by showing how many people clicked on the Apply button.  Indicating interest in your connections by showing how many changed jobs in a year.

There are some other examples in the online retail industry. For example, Rue La La indicates interest in their products (clothing, accessories, home goods, etc.) by letting us know how many Ralph Lauren sweaters are left to buy thus indicating how quickly a product is getting sold. We also measure interest (though not shown quantitatively) by grouping stuff under most popular, most commented and most shared on various blogs and news sites.

The theme of the third largest social network, Pinterest (Facebook and Twitter are the top two) is centered around interest. Interest is indicated quantitatively through likes, repins and comments. We need to have a measure of interest by consolidating our online behavior (sharing, commenting, viewing, etc.). Let me know if you have any ideas on how to measure interest.

29Dec/113

Cool software and hardware for your iPad

Over the past few months I've been trying to find ways to use my iPad more like a regular laptop so that I can just use one device instead of two and the fact that it's so convenient. I still use my laptop but along the way I've found  software and hardware for the iPad that's really amazing. Let's me show you this cool stuff with a few videos.

1. Keyboard: If you do a lot of typing a tactile keyboard definitely helps. There are a few on the market - Zaggmate is popular and expensive ($100) and Kensington is great value at $65. As seen in the video the keyboard comes in a case and is removable if you just want an iPad case. There are slots for the camera and to charge the iPad. You can also tilt it from 20-70 degrees for a better viewing angle. Volume and home controls are available on the keypad and setup is very easy.

2. Microsoft Office:OnLive, a company based in Palo Alto, has created OnLive Desktop a cloud based service for creating Microsoft Office (MS Word, MS Excel, Ms PowerPoint, etc.) files on the iPad. Files created on the iPad are accessible on any other device through the OnLive Files Website. They can be mailed and shared on a laptop but not on the iPad. To share the files that you created on the iPad you have to open the file on a laptop.

I'm waiting for the next version of the iPad when they (hopefully) have a USB or some form of external drive to help save files or at least have a file sharing option that is not limited to the Apple network.

Channel

Value

When to use?

How to use?

Social Media-Facebook

Facebook friends are invested in helping you out so if you could ask them to share your message this channel will get you maximum reach

If you want to create awareness and get maximum reach using your social equity.

Ask friends to post your message and share with their network. In your message mention what you want and send the message with a link to your blog- don’t forget to track the link with bitly.

Social Media-Twitter

Gets you traffic but visitors will not spend quality time on your blog. It helps establish you in the Twitter world as a thought leader where you can communicate directly with other gurus in the field. It is also used to identify latest events, updates, etc in the field.

Use twitter to become a thought leader as you will be judged on the quality of your tweets. You could tweet every time you write a blog post. You must tweet daily or every other day to stay current.

Tweet regularly and often. Try to tweet original thoughts on topics in your field so that your followers will retweet it and thus your circle of influence grows to make you a thought leader in the field.

Social Media-LinkedIn

Very high value as people are looking to hire on this network and by using a blog you enhance its value. Visitors from this channel spent the maximum time on my blog.

Always as you build your career – even when not looking for a job. To help give you a professional brand identity.

Add the blog application to your linkedIn profile so that every time you post on your blog it appears on LinkedIn. Post LinkedIn status updates as and when possible.

SEO – Content based on user interest

This is the most valuable channel of all. If you don’t have a unique perspective that or interesting content visitors will not stay or revisit. This helps build loyalty and stickiness to your blog.

Must always use content based on user interest else you will be one among the millions on dying blogs.

With the help of many tools as mentioned above you can gauge user interest and write posts accordingly. I’ve also looked at the offline world (events, conferences) to gauge user interest in my field.

SEO- Linking

Social Media channels need regular effort but SEO is more of a long term strategy than Social Media. Efforts put in a year ago will still reap benefits. Linking helps get traffic from other similar blogs, directories and is one of the easiest SEO methods.

Use only when you are linking to sources that add value to your blog otherwise people will realize you are just spamming their pages/websites/blogs.

Check the credibility of the places you link with as they can either help you or even harm you. Page ranks of above 6/10 or higher are good to link to.

SEO-Long tail keywords

Helps differentiate you from competitors by targeting a niche within your field (example:marketing+ technology+healthcare)

Must use to win against the bigger competitors in your field as you won’t win competing head to head (like Judo Strategy).

Use the traffic estimator to see which combination of keywords keep increasing in traffic month over month

SEO tools- plugin

Tools help to make it easier for Google’s search bots to find the right keywords and thus increase SEO.

For every post use the SEO plugin to promote your keywords

WordPress (blog platform) has a number of SEO plugins that can be added easily.

SEO-keywords

Since the entire SEO game is about keywords it is critical to get the best value by choosing the most valuable keywords

Use to understand trends in the industry and what people are looking for so that content on blog can be tailored accordingly

Use keyword tools to identify these keywords as well as what keywords the competition is targeting

Adwords

Ads help reach a wider audience as well as create awareness. Adwords is the most targeted form of traffic.

When you have the budget to reach a wider audience and when you feel the ROI is worth it

There are some best practices mentioned above (categorize campaigns, use more than 1 ad, bid accordingly and write effective ads) but I still need to learn how to best use this channel

30Nov/110

Micromarketing: Location data to better serve your customers – Part 2 of 2

Location data such as using a zip code to find out how much revenue a grocery store can make is critical in your decision to decide if you want to open the store at that location. This is just one example of the powerful potential of micromarketing. Read an earlier post to get the details. Let's look at some more examples of how micromarketing can be used in defining marketing campaigns and identifying sales trends.

Identifying Marketing Campaigns based on Market Potential: Market potential is the estimated maximum sales revenue of a product during a certain time period. MapInfo Professional visually depicts the market potential of households who spend more than $150 per week on groceries for each block group (group of adjacent zip codes) in Orange County. The software also gives details on which customer segment will most likely contribute to the sales at the grocery store. For details on customer segments based on PRIZM groups read the earlier post. We see that White-Collar Suburbia have the highest market potential (count* penetration) of 21.1% and hence will be the target of a marketing campaign. This group is well described and is very specific so a direct mail ad campaign is suitable. As this group is family centric and enjoys a healthy and busy (both parents work) lifestyle we can tailor the campaigns to emphasize healthy foods and easy to make dishes that brings the family together. We can also identify the market potential by block group so say if Block X has high market potential we will place a billboard in that area to target customers. We could also use coupons to entice the White-Collar Suburbia that live outside the trade area (area where customers that visit the store reside - usually a 5 minute radius for a grocery store) of the grocery store to visit the store.

Using Point of Sale Data (data collected at cash registers) to Identify Sales Trends: AC Nielsen collects a lot of data from grocery stores and can show sales trends based on customer locations (zip codes). As seen in the image below we see market share and sales over a year for 2 brands of cranberry drink - Ocean Spray and Coca Cola.

For Ocean Spray we see that within a retailer’s trade area the retailer’s total market share for Ocean Spray’s SS Cranberry Drink is 38.6%, a decrease of 4.3 points from last year. This means that the retailer sells 38.6% of this brand SS Cranberry drinks in this trade area. When we look at the Total Sales we see that the retailer’s sales is down 14% while the remaining market increased by  2.9%.  This means its sales decreased by 14% or people could be going to another retailer with a better marketing campaign (possibly a discount) for this drink in the trade area. The total sales were $700,000+ which is significant. Thus this drink could be a cash cow (based on BCG classification) for the retailer with the right marketing campaign. Plus, the sales for Ocean Spray or the remaining market increased by 2.9% though the overall trend for sales of ocean spray was slightly down by 3.6%.

For Coca Cola within a retailer’s trade area the retailer’s total market share for Coca Cola’s SS Cranberry drink is 23.6%, a decrease of 14.9 points from last year. This means that the retailer sells 23.6% of this brand drink in this trade area. When we look at the Total Sales we see that the retailer’s sales is down 62.3% while the remaining market decreased by  23.5%.  Thus this drink is a dog for the retailer and should be dropped as its market share is less than 35% and its total sales % change is less than 5%. Plus, overall sales were $1450  which is nearly insignificant (less than 1k is insignificant).

31Aug/110

Entrepreneurial Ideas at Singularity University

On August 26th I was honored to be a part of the graduation ceremony of the 2011 Graduate Studies Program (GSP) at Singularity University. This university, located at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley, aims to educate and inspire leaders to apply advance technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. The goal of the ten week GSP program is to develop ideas and solutions that have the potential to positively impact at least one billion people within ten years. The program is well supported and funded by companies such as Google and Cisco and Venture Capitalists such as Vinod Khosla (Co-founder of Sun Microsystems and keynote speaker at GSP 11) and Bob Metcalfe (Founder of 3Com).  This year GSP11 students will choose one of six “grand challenge areas” to focus their projects: Education, Security, Energy, Global Health, Space and Poverty. A few of their ideas are detailed below.

1. IgniSolar: A team of six entrepreneurs have patented and developed a solar panel at one-tenth the price of regular solar panels. Their solution is a concentrated Photovoltaic Solar panel which is flexible, has reflective fabric, requires no tracking and had passive cooling. The technology replaces expensive heavy mirrors with reflective fabric, and minimizes extra features to make a cost effective product. IgniSolar's value proposition is in its complete solution and performance. It generates 20 times more energy at one-tenth the price compared to its competitors. Its target customers are households and commercial customers in sunny climates such as the Middle East, Southern Africa, Northwest India and other places with no or intermittent electricity.

2. Corruptiontracker.org: Dr. Clarence Tan and his team have created a corruption tracking and reporting system. People will be able to submit reports directly through CorruptionTracker.org via SMS, mobile telephony, and our Internet site. To expedite implementation, CorruptionTracker seeks to work closely with the internationally renowned open source platform, Ushahidi. To date, the platform is aggregating data from localized Twitter and Ushahidi anti-corruption deployments but soon will deploy a patented SMS system with mobile application implementation and will include photos, videos and audio recordings that take advantage of mobile telephony technologies.

3. Senstore: provides technological and community tools that make it cheaper and faster for developers to create health devices and applications. Senstore provides the technical and social infrastructure to empower developers to build health monitoring devices cheaper and faster by partnering with existing technology platforms and partners. Their goal is to be open sourced and driven by the community.

You could read more details on projects of the GSP 2009 class here.

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