Great design and user experience for smiles

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing my contextual series to address a few crucial problems that I’ve been seeing on a daily basis. That is the lack of a good user experience. On any given day, I visit close to 50 different sites and use over a dozen apps.  Of those I would say that 75% of them I would not visit or use if they had decent competitors.  The biggest problems with sites and apps these days is that they like to bombard the users with information.  I get that you want to make money from your ads, but displaying them elegantly will yield better results.  Design is also crucial, these days the simple look works and it looks great.

I’ve built my site around the same principles that I talk about. Yes my blog has ads, but I in no way try to distract my readers from the content. I push users to signing up to my newsletter in a box that appears in the top right. That box is set only to be seen once a week.  As for the look and feel, I kept things simple with no fancy logos, gradients, etc. While I may not get a huge amount of traffic, I am sure this design and approach could be used with great success from more popular bloggers.

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Contextual Series: Gathering User Information

This is the third part of my contextual series which will focus on a few technical details on how to gather user information.  I cannot stress this enough, be wary of the user’s privacy.  Make sure that anything you do is covered under your privacy policy and that the data you gather is done with the user’s consent.  As soon as a user considers their experience with your product as being creepy, you have lost the user.

Social networks like Facebook provide us with a wealth of data.  Social networks are a great way to get a user to consent to data without having to get them to fill in forms.  The information these social networks provide to you are bound by terms of service, terms of user and of course a privacy policy. Make sure you keep these in mind while thinking of ways you can use the data.

Before considering social networks as your primary source for data, keep in mind that with the modern web and native applications, your product may already have access to a lot of data that may be useful to you, especially regarding the user’s location. More specific information on a user, like age and gender will require input methods. If the user’s social connections are important to your product or you don’t want to submit users to numerous input fields social networks would be important.

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Contextual Series: User Engagement

In the second part of the contextual series, I will be continuing from where I left off last time with User Onboarding. I’ll be covering how to make your application relevant after the user has gotten past their initial experience.  The goal is to engage with the user in a way that will retain them and have them spend money.

The first few minutes of the user trying your product is crucial. In that short period of time they will decide whether they will uninstall it and move on or keep trying it out. But the next 30 minutes are also just as important. Like a drug, you want the user hooked to your product, you want them to feel as though they are dependant of it.  The most common way products get you addicted is through social engineering by getting you to engage with people you know. While it is something I would recommend each product would do, the product should be able to stand on it’s own even if the user has no friends.

Let’s assume that your product is capable of tracking a lot of data, including basic user profiles to narrow down their demographics and activity history. The data can be used to improve your analytics, determine business logic, and can be used to feed into your contextual engines.

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Contextual Series: User Onboarding

Over the past few years I’ve been working with new technologies and working new techniques for approaching user experience problems. Companies have routinely approached the problem of providing segmented user experiences by selling different products or services. Those who don’t have the resources to do so pick one segment and focus on them while alienating all other users who are trying out their product. I am not a fan of either solutions and there are others who aren’t either.

The proper solution for ensuring that users are happy is by providing a product or a service that feels as though has been built for them. When a user comes to your newspaper site and you know that they like cars, you shouldn’t start giving them news about fashion.  They will see this and leave immediately, likely to never come back. First impressions are everything. But even with that great first impression, if you can’t keep the user interested and engaged, you’ve also lost them.

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