Trans-media is changing the way we consume our entertainment.
From television shows incorporating live Twitter feeds along the bottom of the screen to live text-in voting for reality TV competitions, it’s important to engage your consumer base through small, simple and incremental ways online. Trans-media strategies must be SIMPLE. Must be CLEAR. And we, as developers must be prepared to turn on a dime to keep up with the way our audience ends up using our simple tools. Allowing the audience to dictate the ultimate functionality of your tools can be highly beneficial in gathering more participation.
The browser wars continue.
As developers, we are constantly checking our watches, waiting for Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 to die. These browsers are not standards compliant and are very difficult to program online software for, but there is hope. With IE 10, Microsoft will finally be instituting automatic software updates so users won’t be left behind like they have been for so long. But since this will take a while, we still have to be prepared to develop for the rest of the field of browsers with a strategy for “graceful degradation” into the older versions of IE. So many great new features available in HTML 5 and CSS3, but there will definitely be a percentage of our audience that won’t see the “shiny” and “new.”
Links have secret lives, and just want to help us!
Did you know that one of the largest predictors of failure in any online shopping experience is the browser’s “Back” button? It’s true. It’s the button of DOOM. In usability studies, an overwhelming majority of users who used the Back button during an online shopping experience failed to complete their purchase. This is due to what is referred to as “Pogo-Sticking” on your site. It’s when users click and then hit “Back.” Click something else, and hit “Back.” What this means to case testers is that you aren’t providing accurately named links to the content of your site! Another sign you have improvements to make to your interface is by checking your site’s Search Logs. If it’s full of terms that should be simple for your users to find on your site, you may have a problem in your link names/labels. Additionally, these search logs can be mined for valuable information as to WHAT your users are looking for! Links are your friends, and they just want to help you!
Buzzword Alert: “Gamification!”
With no overwhelming “products” or technologies launching this year, we experienced an increase in buzzwords with regard to web strategies. “Gamification” came up more than any. Looking to motivate teams? Have you thought about introducing elements of game play into your workflow or workplace processes? How about in your shopping cart…have you considered how to make the online shopping process more like a game with progress bars, badges, leveling up or with bonuses and awards? In mobile and app design, games dominate in short bursts of attention, and provide more clues as to how we can best optimize our mobile interfaces to mimic the games people play. Not to mention, “gamification” of our daily lives enriches our human experience by injecting joy in otherwise mundane tasks. In this, we feel KEEN Footwear is an industry leader by introducing Recess and Playtime back into our daily lives!
Privacy and your identity.
One of our conference panels was interrupted by a planned verbal protest by the Occupy Austin group, who demanded answers from a panelist about online privacy and the perceived invasion of sensitive online data. This was the most volatile demonstration of how important the topic of online privacy was to nearly every panel, but the topic was definitely a recurring theme throughout the rest of the conference. One interesting idea was the thought that “Anonymous” and other “activist” hacker groups are actually achieving the exact opposite of their goals by hacking large private systems and servers to prove the fallibility of the 1%. Does it seem logical that global governments and large corporations will advocate and support an open and free Internet if the result of that system is getting hacked and losing hundreds of millions of dollars? Probably not, and the danger presented to us is a highly regulated and constricted flow of information in the future, since big business and government tend to “win” when financial and political success is threatened.
In classic SXSW fashion, the week started in the low 40’s with driving rain and wind, making it virtually impossible to attend evening events which spread outward from the convention center all over Austin. But the last three days were gorgeous and sunny with highs in the low 80’s and plenty of sunshine! Just enough to keep us all coming back next spring to get a “break” from the rain and grey of Portland!