Definition of a great user experience? No one notices it…

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital, Tech | Posted on 05-03-2015

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I’ve been using a range of different content management systems and data management engines over the last few years (well, actually over 10) and have a pretty good eye for a good user interface vs a bad one.  I think the one thing that really differentiates a good one is the ability for the user to use the system without having to really think about what they are doing.  The best uses of technology are the ones where the user experience is so good that the user is almost unaware of them having an experience, they are purely focused on what they are doing.  Take a mouse or a keyboard, or Photoshop, these user interfaces are so good, that they are ubiquitous and rarely questioned as being the best.  It’s a bit like where film producers choose to put Computer Generated Imagery Animation in films; this is another good example where, if done right, the viewer will not be aware of the vast amounts of technological expertise and hours of rendering that were required to make the scene of a dinosaur chasing a jeep through a forest or a building collapsing, they will just be immersed in the experience.  If you are looking to define the best user experience from the perspective of the user, then unfortunately, you should make it so good that they don’t even notice it is there…

The web carousel image

Web Project success carousel

Above is a diagram i put together which i thought i would share with everyone, it’s just a carousel of some of the key things to take into consideration when undertaking digital projects.  It’s a diagram, not a board game btw… :-)

In God we trust; all others must bring data.

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 07-11-2013

i like this quote:

“In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming.

Words from a statistician. Too many people still make decisions based on their opinion – otherwise known as ‘no data’. In the early 2000’s, agencies were were building websites and running campaigns based on ‘no data’. These days, everything is data driven, if you have the intelligence available, you’d be crazy not to use it.

Good interview questions

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 17-04-2013

I’ve interviewed a lot of people in my time, the standard interview questions that i use usually follow this structure. This is for a developer, the process for a project manager, a UX professional, an Information Architect or a designer have slight variation, but you get the gist. I usually know after the first 2 questions whether it’s a yes or a no:

  • What do you know about our organisation?
  • What research have you done in preparation for the interview?
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What skills will you bring to the business that make us want to hire you?
  • What would your co-workers say about you?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What projects/ learning/ research are you working on outside of work?
  • What beta projects/ products are you investigating at the moment?
  • Which industry sites and blogs do you read regularly?
  • What inspires you?
  • How do you approach documentation?
  • What is your approach to testing?
  • What are your favourite development tools?
  • Give me an example of a project that you’ve worked on that completely failed and why?
  • What did you learn from this project?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • How do you deal with pressure?
  • If you were to rate your output, would you rate it as low, medium or high?
  • If you were to rate the quality of your output, would you rate it as low, medium or high?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • What is your notice period at your current place of work?
  • Do you have any questions?

Making money, a great article by jason Fried of 37 signals.

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 12-04-2013

My favorite quote from this article is this:

Whether you’re starting your first business or your next one, my advice is to bootstrap it. Bootstrapping forces you to think about making money on Day One. There’s a fundamental difference between a bootstrapped business and a funded business. It’s all about which side of the money you’re on. From Day One, a bootstrapped business has no choice but to make money. There’s no cushion in the bank and not much in the pockets. It’s make money or go home. To a bootstrapped business, money is air.

A very good point. read the full article here: Making Money | Small Business Advice from Jason Fried of Inc.com

Inspiration

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 12-05-2011

My managing director gave a good speech last Friday at our company update.  He stood next to the pool table and told us about the importance of making sure we are aware of the commercial implications of everything we do.  He said that we should question everything we do and ensure that everything we do is focussed on delivering results.  This made total sense to me.  I’ve worked in companies where you had to get a signed form to make a cup of tea (well not quite) so the fact that he saw the value in people’s time, and the fact the every minute spent should be put towards earning money and getting results and not writing pointless document was reassuring and inspiring.  He’s a driven and motivational guy, and i have to say that I am enjoying working at Jellyfish even more than i expected!  Awesome.

Choosing a CMS

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital, Tech | Posted on 21-10-2010

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Choosing a CMS for your business is often overlooked as a pre determined piece of software that will do A, B and C.  Design agencies often spend many days, week and months getting the front end user experience right whilst they completely forget about one extremely important user group – the content editors.  These content editors will use the CMS all the time, and if they aren’t happy, then no amount of great front end user experiences will cure the fact that if content editors don’t like the CMS, or don’t understand it, they won’t use it, and the content will become dated.  The use of a tailored user experience for the back end user is as important as the front end in today’s competitive CMS environment, ignore this at your peril.

A great article on why choice of CMS is a very important piece of the puzzle for a successful web presence.  http://www.alistapart.com/articles/strategic-content-management/

Marketing Analogies

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 19-08-2010

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You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, I’m fantastic in bed.

That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, He’s fantastic in bed.

That’s Advertising.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you call and say, Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.

That’s Telesales.

You’re at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie, you walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.”

That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.”

That’s Brand Recognition.

Naymz.com is it actually any good? No.

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital, Tech | Posted on 05-07-2010

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Naymz Logo

I have been subscribed to Naymz for some time.  I don’t know why, someone once sent me a request and i did it.   I don’t like the interface, i don’t like the way that adding new people requests some random reference from them, and i don’t like the way that it does stuff without asking me.  It’s like a spam machine that i signed up for.  I do like the functionality that lets me know when someone has browsed my profile and i would pay money for that service if i liked the Naymz site and trusted it not to misuse my credit details like it misuses my personal details.  For example, I found out the other day that it has requested a reference from everyone who is on my friends list…  Did i ask for this?  Of course not.  Do i think that this is unacceptable.  Yes.   Would i like to know exactly who was looking at my profile – oh yes, i certainly would.

It also infuriates me that my naymz listing is occassionally higher than my linkedin or my twitter listing, they have obviously done their SEO homework, which is good to see.

LinkedIn have realised this and have now got a feature which tells you just the job titles of people who have viewed your profile, and if you pay for the premium service, then you can know their names too.  Most of the time you can work it out from their title though, not many companies have more than one SEO.  On that basis i think i might have to close my Naymz account… http://www.naymz.com/mark_boniface_1032868

New WordPress v3.0 – some interesting new features

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital, Tech | Posted on 11-05-2010

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WordPress 3.0 is now very close to being released.  For anyone who has been using WordPress 2.x for the last few years now, you will have been used to using the extensive blogging features, adding pages, adding your twitter feed, adding categories and tags.  It’s a powerful system and has obviously been extremely successful.  The new version of the software is going to take the software into a new era where you could use wordpress to create, rather than a blog with features of a website, a website with blog and social networking functionality.   I think this will open up the software to a much greater audience and greater potential.  I have frequently been frustrated by how the system which handles blogs so effectively, yet you can’t really use it to power a website that requires much complex navigation.

One feature that addresses this is the new navigation manager, which allows you to manage a multi tier navigation system in an intuitive and typically wordpress user interface.  The items are created and then the user can drag and drop an item either up or down the navigation tree, or to any other different level within the navigation structure.  This is a welcome change.  The handling of navigation structure is always difficult, only a few really manage a proper drag and drop structure, Alterian CMS for example is quite easy to use (if non open source and quite pricy at 20-30K) and Concrete5 makes a good effort at the drag and drop intuitive style,, so it remains to see if the wordpress one can work as well as this.

The next major addition to the 3.0 release is the ability to create pages with custom post types. In the past you could create a page as a post or as a page.  You will now have the ability to add any type of post as you see fit.  If you need News, Case Studies, Projects, biscuit profiles, anything you want, you can set these up and format them nicely.

Next big feature is – Taxonomy.  Not something oft used by your casual user, but in the world of the large organisation taxonomy is important.  The bigger CMS providers will sell you a taxonomy module for 10,000 GBP plus, so it’s an expensive feature.  It is the ability to categorise your content against either a standard or bespoke list of hierarchical terms.  Government organisations have standard taxonomies.

Another feature to hit version 3.0 is the ability to manage multiple sites from the one installation.  This means that the if your organisation have a number of blogs that you need to manage, you don’t have to log out and back in again and remember a thousand different passwords.  It may also give the ability to share content across different blogs, for example, being able to share items and media, which would be useful.

Which feature are you looking forward to the most?

Internet World Show, Earl’s court 2010

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Posted by Mark | Posted in Digital | Posted on 28-04-2010

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Went to the Internet World show in Earl’s court, London yesterday, mainly for a meeting but it was also good to have a browse around and see what everyone else was up to.  Good to see some people who i haven’t seen for a while and also some who i know extremely well and see all the time too!  Got to meet some nice people from EPIServer and Squiz, and also Sitecore and WebNodes, who all seem to have interesting CMS offerings. Went to the Fortune Cookie stand to see that most of my old employees from when i was Head of Enterprise at Reading Room were there!  Also got to meet Justin Cooke, the founder of Fortune Cookie, who was very interesting and seemed very switched on.  The kind of guy who knows everyone and is very cool.

Saw Carli Jones (another ex Reading Room colleague and ex AKQA) and Simon John, who have set up digital consultancy Roost online, good to see them there.