AniBlurbs (Column)

Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

Author Archive

Conversion Optimization: User Interface Basics

CoTweet’s Creative Director and co-Founder, Kyle Sollenberger, has rounded up ten design fundamentals on User Interface Design over on Think Vitamin. Below you’ll find a small subtract of some of the key takeaways to keep in mind with UIX:

Know your users’ goals
“Obsess over customers: when given the choice between obsessing over competitors or customers, always obsess over customers. Start with customers and work backward.”Jeff Bezos, CEO amazon.com

Your users’ goals are yours, so learn them… …Find out what interfaces they like and sit down and watch how they use them…

Stick to web-wide Interface Design conventions
Users spend the majority of their time on interfaces other than your own (Facebook, MySpace, news  sites, etc.): There is no need to reinvent the wheel…

Consistency
“The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it.”Jakob Nielson

Your users need consistency. They need to know that once they learn to do something, they will be able to do it again… …A consistent interface… …increases their efficiency.

Provide feedback
Always inform your users of actions, changes in state and errors, or exceptions that occur. Visual cues or simple messaging can show the user whether his or her actions have led to the expected result.

Don’t EVER punish your users
No matter how clear your design is, people will make mistakes… …Design ways for users to undo actions, and be forgiving with varied inputs; no one likes to start over because he/she put in the wrong birth date format…

Iterate, iterate, iterate
…It is often said when developing interfaces that you need to fail fast, and iterate often…

As Creative Director of CoTweet Kyle -“@iamkyle”- Sollenberger oversees all design activities—from the layout, appearance and usability of products to the representation of corporate identity. Be sure to check out Kyle’s full post and more examples on Carsonified’s Blog.





Share
No comments

Pay with Facebook: The “One-Click” Solution to Save Newspapers Online?

“…there is a group of executives inside the company that believe “Pay With Facebook” could end up a bigger revenue source than Facebook’s advertising revenues. We’ve estimated Facebook’s advertising revenues will reach $475 million in 2009.

To get an idea what kind of challenges Facebook will have to overcome to get there, consider that during the second quarter, eBay subsidiary PayPal’s revenues were $669 million, up 11% y/y.

It got there with:

  • 75 million active registered accounts
  • A total payment volume of $16 billion in the quarter
  • With accounts containing approximately $3 billion in stored value that is spent every 2 weeks
  • Supporting 19 currencies
  • With a .30% fraud rate

Facebook can’t approach any of those numbers yet, but it does possess one distinct advantage — nearly 300 million monthly active users.

What’s more, the rousing success that is Facebook Connect — the service that allows users to log in to participating third-party sites using their Facebook IDs with one click — hints that Facebook users might appreciate a similar “one-click” simplicity when paying for merchandise on the Internet.”

Be sure to check the whole article at BusinessInsider.com

Privacy concerns aside, one can imagine that Facebook’s One-Click payment solution, along with the social sharing of articles and posts through Facebook Connect, could be the panacea for newspaper publishers looking for ways of monetizing content beyond the stale and flailing “generate-pageviews-sell-banners” business model.

How so?

Well, besides the general mentality that digital content should be “free”, one of the major issues in monetizing content on the web by surrounding it with a “Pay-First wall”, is the fact that visitors don’t know in advance what (quality) they’ll exactly be paying for; consumers fear buying a shrink-wrapped magazine purely based on its cover, only to be disappointed afterwards.

Whereas on iTunes or with Steam you usually know that what your getting is guaranteed to have a substantial replay-factor or, in the case of iTunes, since the price is relatively low, you can afford the risk of a dud every now and then.

This, arguably, is not the case with ubiquitous news, or in-depth articles.

Utilizing Facebook’s micro-payment solution combined with Facebook Connect however, publishers will have the opportunity of using a “hassle-less” One-Click online payment solution, powered by trusted(?) recommendations of friends: “Hey Todd, here’s an article I just read about Obama’s healthcare reform,  touching it from a viewpoint I believe you’d find interesting, check it out. Cheers, Brian.” Ching!

Farfetched? For a showcase of the true power of social sharing: Think the Bit.Ly-shortened links being universally shared on twitter, spreading idea’s, content (and malware) virally. Only this time it’s done by folks with verified Facebook ID’s so you know they’re actually real and can be trusted.

Off course, should the scenario sketched above come to fruition, Facebook will have to get a piece of the revenue pie too, but the publishing moguls ‘d be wise to carefully re-consider jumping into their fabled “No-Can-Do” reflexes, since it’s becoming increasingly clear that the other option for them and their companies’ stakeholders is not having a pie to share at all…

(PS please note that I deliberately left all privacy concerns regarding Facebook out of this exercise, since I believe that we should topple the online publishing troubles in a concentric way; shilling away to the core, tackling the multifaceted problem layer by layer, instead of pre-maturely obstruficating any possible solution by thinking in limitations only.
This, however, does not imply that I don’t see the possible dangers of Facebook not only owning your social graph and personal data, but also knowing when you bought what (and whom approved said purchase!) and where you’re likely to go to form a political opinion or otherwise.

Though I feel and see that having this kind of aggregated combined profile data of possibly more than 300 million people in the hands of one party could pose a real threat when falling into the wrong hands, I urge you to go and take a look over at Alexander van Elsas’s blog, as he has already indentified and dissected this problem with great abandon.)





Share
No comments

Your Online Identity Hosted In The Browser?

Weave Identity is a very interesting component from Mozilla Labs (of Firefox fame) and a possible disrupting one for the Facebook Connect’s, OpenID’s and OAuth’s of this world:

“Offering a single sign-in solution for the web is currently a hot topic. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace and countless other sites are all offering to host your identity for you. Many of these key players on the social web are also offering tools to allow third-party sites to let you log in using the identity you have hosted with whoever your provider is – Google through FriendConnect, Facebook through Facebook Connect and Twitter through its recently debuted OAuth-based system. But in the end, who knows how long any of those sites will last? It seems to make more sense to hand these duties off to something more permanent than the hot site of the moment.

That’s where Mozilla’s latest implementation of Weave starts to make sense. You can store your credentials anywhere, including on Mozilla’s servers or your own web server.”

Source: WIRED’s Webmonkey

If the Weave add-on is implemented as a standard feature in the next version of the 2nd largest browser in the world, it stands a reasonable chance of becoming THE default Online Identity Manager/Social Media Passport; allowing you to safely and seamlessly log in to your favourite Social Networks, blogs and communities, across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac OS) and various devices (think Mobile, Netbooks, Thin Clients).

All the while giving you complete and FULL control over your online identity (you can even store your Weave login credentials on your own server!), which positions it directly opposite of the Walled Garden approach that Facebook is fast becoming notorious for.

The ease of use, combined with the fact that your average internet user hasn’t even heard of Google-, Facebook- and Twitter’s Online Identity Management solutions make Firefox Weave a serious threat to the aforementioned parties. After all: Wouldn’t it seem more logical and feel safer for her to let the browser take care of her online identity?

“Something that often goes unsaid in the discussion about online identity is that while most websites right now require usernames and passwords, many people actually use the password manager feature in the browser-effectively turning their browser into a limited identity manager.”

Source: Mozilla Labs

MozillaWeaveWillSolveThisProblem
By offering this One-Log-In-To-Rule-Them-AllTM feature as a standard option in the browser, much like Yahoo’s- or Google’s toolbar, a lot of the hassle and security issues associated with web based ID alternatives are removed from the user’s table:

“User experience in general suffers as protocols for federation (e.g. OpenID) involve complex redirects which jump the user from page to page and leave them open to phishing attacks…”

Source: Mozilla Labs

And there’s another major USP that promises a bright future for the Weave project: Firefox is an Open Source initiative, and even though OpenSocial, OpenID & OAuth are Open Source projects as well, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google and Microsoft are commercial parties with a deep interest into becoming your single sign-in partner, so they can monitor the sites you visit and the time frame in which you did: pure data mining for marketing purposes. In a time where privacy issues are within everyone’s crosshairs, this could become Mozilla’s trump card in the battle for your Online Identity.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping Google (note that they have 300 Million accounts!) from implementing such a feature in Chrome -it’s very own browser- using Friend Connect, or Microsoft from doing the same with their Live toolbar/Live Passport and Internet Explorer. The point is that the former hasn’t yet managed to get any serious foot in the browser market. And though the latter is the current incumbent in browser market share (for now), it has failed for almost 10 years to make it’s .NET Passport/Live ID efforts a true cross-web success, even as younger initiatives from the likes of Facebook and twitter have taken off in the past year or so.

All in all, it’ll be very interesting to see how the developments around Identity Hosting continue to evolve…

[Update: Netlog now accepts Google FriendConnect, more on TechCrunch.]





Share
No comments

Spreading a Viral: Honda Demonstrates Content Integration on Vimeo

Honda recently did a take-over on Vimeo.com which was much talked about by marketing insiders.

Instead of posting or explaining the concept here, I’d like to suggest you’d first take a look over on the site and experience it for yourself -especially if you’re a creative/interactive professional and haven’t seen it already.

[Performance warning: close down any other browser tabs/windows or any other application that has a direct net connection right now, I know I suffered from some serious lag the first time.]

Apart from the novelty(?) factor of this kind of creative content-integration, I’m not quite sure where the real added value for Honda and its customers lies in this particular case.

I’ll get back to that thought in a moment though; first I’d like to point to a section on the page that caught my attention. It clearly depicts how a viral starts spreading (see the 2 images below):

Honda Insight Vimeo TakeOver

Honda Insight - Vimeo Take over Stats

The table contains the statistics of said video on a daily basis, i.e.: how many times it was watched, “liked” and how many comments were made on the page itself, all in relation to each other and non-cumulative (note that the numbers are displayed on a per day basis!).

Clearly, the usual exponential viral mechanisms are at work here, which is fascinating in of itself, yet I believe that despite these pretty impressive numbers this mini-campaign as is will not enjoy a widespread viewer base and live up to its true potential, mainly because of the following 4 reasons:

  1. The content isn’t “spreadable”;
  2. A lack of a clear call to action;
  3. The quality of the content itself and
  4. There’s no follow-up.

The content isn’t spreadable, technically speaking:
Notice how I didn’t embed the video right here as I usually would, instead referring you to Vimeo, because there was no other way you could undergo it the way it was meant to be experienced.

In other words: people will first have to go to the Vimeo page and have a true broadband internet connection(!) to experience it smoothly and in full effect; detach the video from the context of this page and it becomes just another (attempt at a) cool viral. Pure branding, zero capitalization of the ensuing conversations.

Nowadays it’s more effective to take a channel-neutral and/or federated content approach to reach out to your audience on the net, and part of that means making your content spreadable through widgets, embeddable video’s, etc.. The Vimeo video is embeddable of course, but the page -and thus the experience- is not.

There’s no call to action:
The concept itself doesn’t trigger the visitor to do anything: You just sit and watch, just like on TV…

The creative team apparently embraced the technological and creative possibilities that the internet offers in marrying video with a webpage, yet somehow failed to capitalize on the buzz that it generated and thus at the opportunity to generate leads.

Honda‘s rich media take over is no interactive advertising but more akin to an online guerrilla advert, which could have been done offline, possibly generating more buzz and brand-awareness outside the digerati niche.

Then again, it was created by Wieden & Kennedy (Amsterdam), a traditional agency with it’s roots firmly grounded in offline advertising campaigns.

The quality of the content isn’t worth spreading:
If it’s aimed at the Marketing/Tech/Creative niche: they’re already accustomed to these “Breaking-The-4th-Wall” take-over actions by now on YouTube or dedicated viral mini-sites, and this example isn’t remarkable.

If it’s not aimed at said niche, then one has to wonder why on earth it was posted on a niche social video site like Vimeo.com in the first place…

Adding all the numbers together from the stats image above, there are over a 1.750 likes, 300+ comments and 177.000 views generated in less than two weeks(!), pointing to a cult hit and/or people watching it more than once (it’s not clear whether Vimeo filters out non-unique views/cookies).

On the other hand, the numbers in the table don’t depict all mentions of the video across the Social Media space, and it was only posted a few days ago, so this is just merely the tip of the iceberg. Here’s hoping that Honda’s campaign team has access to social media monitoring tools from Radian6 or TrackUr and have activated their BackType Alerts to keep a clear overview.

All in all, in terms of buzz and people interacting with the page this is no bad example of content integration at all, it’s just a shame there’s no apparent follow-up or integration in, say, a 360˚campaign for maximum effect.

Now of course at this very moment we have no idea what Honda’s campaign objective was in the first place: It could be a proof of concept, trying it out for a small fee, with little risk, before scaling it up on YouTube allowing the numbers game to come into play, leading to massive exposure and off course more ways for the community and consumers/prospects to interact with the brand.

As I’m a firm believer in the merits of content-integration instead of plain display bannering, for me personally it will be very interesting to see how this plays out and if Honda will release an evaluation on their company blog or industry titles like Ad Age or ReadWriteWeb.





Share
2 comments

David Merill Offers Glimpse on Future of mLearning With Shiftables (VIDEO)

A very evocative TED presentation by David Merill on an innovative way to interact with computers.  (For those reading this in a feed reader such as iGoogle or Netvibes, please check out the video after the jump.)

It should go without saying that these Shiftables could be an amazing leap ahead for innovative educational tools & programs, and that the endless opportunities don’t merely lie in the smart cubes themselves, but are only limited by the possibilities of the software that powers them.

The iPhone and Wii have proven what revolutionary, intuitive control methods can achieve with regards to mainstream product penetration and adaption in niche market segments, in ways that were previously unimaginable (i.e. Smart Phones and Game Consoles).

Now, scientists like Merill and the R&D wizzards at Microsoft Labs are charging through and will hopefully do the same for mLearning.

What do you think about these kind of innovations? Will we see them implemented along with the OLPC and the future vision of Microsoft Office Labs to offer the next quantum leap in education? And when will we see this happen? As soon as 2012? Or will we have to wait untill 2019?





Share
No comments