Friday, 26 July 2013

Digital dreariness, user experience & other musings

Wow. Something of a milestone. My first blog post since March, and it's almost August.  Rubbish.

I can make plenty of excuses...part ongoing deadline hectic-ness at work, part offshore racing season making demands on my time both in terms of time on the water and behind-the-scenes onshore and online, and maybe some small part of me (irrespective of the lack of either spare or available time to devote to writing), just hasn't been really excited by much in digital of late.

The march towards mobile / multi-device behaviours goes on a-pace, display /video formats evolve, (Solve Media's genius idea being one of my current favourites),  Facebook adds new formats, integrates vertically with handsets more, the measurement debates continue to rage, the data data everywhere meme continues to evolve and accelerate, but all are established themes now.

Nice touch from Barnes & Noble... make sending a baby gift super simple and immediate. Native Advertising can work!
There are still an astounding number of businesses large and small failing to grab the bull by the horns properly, standing as timidly on the edge of the digital diving board as I was standing on an Atlantic beach in Portugal a month ago.  The difference being after a test-the-water paddle, I took a deep breath and took a run at it and had a very lovely swim.  It's rarely as bad as it initially feels once you are in. Digital is no different.

Creatively there are more and more brands experimenting and learning which is great news for everyone, more and more campaigns that are properly integrated on and offline, but equally means I'm wowed less perhaps than I was 4 years ago.

Content is a recurring conversation in meetings everywhere. YouTube in May announced it's now seeing 100 hours of content being uploaded a minute. I even updated my annual tracker chart... just never got the chance to post it at the time:

Whilst you could argue around data protection, and Big Brother, I like the fact that Coke have created a feel good content opportunity from the cameras that constantly survey our world.  Don't suppose this will ever be an ad, it's content I found via social referral, and I'm going to share it again because it made me smile and engaged me. The formula for good content doesn't change.. it needs to engage a reaction, and it needs to be visible and discoverable, be that naturally, socially or with some paid-for firelighters underneath to get it going.

But beyond those very human moments captured and shared by Coke, user experience be it at a corporate / company level on an on-site /device level is finally getting more of the attention it deserves... but there's so much room for improvement.

I was astounded recently to find that the HeathrowExpress train website doesn't render properly on a mobile. Really!? Appalling.  A service aimed at business travellers? Primarily, only needing to answer 2 simple questions... what time are the trains and how much will the trip cost me... get a mobile optimised landing page at least.  Fine there's an app if you pinch and swipe around the site long enough... unless you've come in to a page other than the homepage via sitelinks in search.... but this is basic. Hygiene in todays world.

Google & Amazon however, won me over this week, not with their attempts to de-clutter my inbox with new tabs and categorisations but by simplifying my click journey... I didn't even need to read beyond the subject line of this Amazon delivery notification in my inbox to be able to click straight through to a USPS specific delivery page with the status of my order. No need to open an email, click through to a site, copy and paste package tracking numbers, just one click... and there's the info I wanted.

Work smarter not harder. It's a cheesy maxim frequently over-used, but it's those little things in a busy world that will keep me coming back.

Happiness is so often the simple things in life. Sunshine, things that make you smile and fewer clicks :-)

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