Monthly Archives: November 2013

Twitter Is Said to Ready Customer-Matching Ad Tool

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-23/twitter-is-said-to-ready-customer-matching-ad-tool.html

Janice Redish explains at great lengths the need to understand your audience for your website.  If you are not serving the primary needs of the people who will seek your website out, then pretty soon no one will.   Therefore catering to your audience’s questions, goals, and tasks is important to satisfy your users.  Along the same lines of knowing your audience, in May of this year, Twitter announced it will unveil a custom ad matching tool.  What this will do is take a contact list from a company and compare it to the email addresses listed for Twitter.  If there is a match, the ads will come up on that user’s computer.  Here Twitter is tapping into the people who are very much interested enough in a product or company to help increase their sales (and bring in ad revenue for Twitter).

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I See You: Knowing Your Website’s Audience

Know your audience.  It is a phrase that is thrown around in basically every situation.  Comedians say it to know what jokes to tell and how far to take them.  Advertisers say it to focus their efforts to a certain demographic that will actually bring about business.  I said it yesterday when someone asked me a question about our school’s conference standing.

In chapter two of Letting Go of the Words, Janice Redish discusses the importance in knowing your audience when constructing a website.  People are going to react to a website differently depending on a number of factors, and Redish lists them in the reading:

  1. List your major audiences
  2. Gather info about your audiences
  3. List major characteristics for each audience
  4. Gather your audiences’ questions, tasks, and stories
  5. Use your info to create personas
  6. Include the persona’s goals and tasks
  7. Use your info to write scenarios for your site

Redish emphasizes the importance on gathering your audiences’ questions, tasks, and stories.  She continues to state that it is essential to know not only a general idea of your audience, but what their realities are as well.

Chapter three zones in on creating an effective homepage.  Here Redish states that the homepage is the gateway to the rest of the site.  Therefore, it has to be attention grabbing, informative, well organized, and easily skimmable for optimal surfing on your site. Following up with this idea, Redish explains the five major functions of homepages as:

  1. identifying the site, establishing the brand
  2. setting the tone and personality of the site
  3. helping people get a sense of what the site is all about
  4. letting people start key tasks immediately
  5. sending people on the right way, effectively and efficiently

All this contributes to the overall user experience. Applying this to myself, I plan on making an online portfolio.  Here I will keep in mind the five main functions of a site for information and usability while knowing the typical user will be a potential employer who wants to get to know me as a prospective employee.  Redish states the importance of creating a persona online.  How can we go about that for a site that is as cut and dry as an online portfolio? And in instances where the audience is not as obvious, how would you go about tailoring the site to a large group or undefined demographic?

User Experience: Show Me What You Got.

Jesse James Grant focuses on the user experience in the first two chapters of his book, The Elements of User Experience.  Here he defines the user experience as the experience the product creates for the people who use it in the real world.  It is about how the product works on the outside where a person comes into contact with it.  Grant breaks user experience down into five takeaway points:

  1. Product Design to User Experience Design: most users look at product design (ascetics of a product) and the functionality of a product. However, user experience revolves around the question of context.  It makes sure the ascetics and functions of the product work together to completely satisfy the customer.
  2. Designing for Experience: While designing a product, one must keep in mind user experience.  The more complex a product is, the higher the standards a product must meet for user experience.
  3. User experience for the web: user experience on the web can be argued is more important on the website than a specific physical product.  For the most part, websites are self-service products that must keep pace with other competitors while being an effective, informative site.  A site needs to be user friendly and provide all the desired information for the customer to achieve the highest level of user experience.
  4. Good user experience is good business: the concepts of websites to provide web is not groundbreaking, therefore, you must provide the highest level of user experience to gain good business and increase your ROI.
  5. Minding your users: the practice of creating engaging, efficient user experiences is called user centered design.  This entails taking the user into account for every step of the way as the product is developed.

Simply put, user experience should have an emphasis on a business because the customers place an emphasis on it.  Grant continues his telling on user experience by walking us through the five planes of user experience.

  1. The Surface Plane: the surface plane of a website is the images and text.
  2. The Skeleton Plane:  the placement of all buttons, controls, photos, and blocks of text.  It is designed to optimize the arrangement of these elements for maximum efficiency.
  3. The Structure Plane: defines how the user got to that page and where they could go once they are finished there.
  4. The Scope Plane:  the features and functions of the site are constitutes of scope of the site.
  5. The Strategy Plane:  the scope is fundamentally determined by the strategy of the site.   

Through these five planes, the conceptual framework for user experience problems are answered and the tools we use to solve them are presented.  

Yikes. Should Have Listened to Carroll, NTSB Intern.

Yikes. Should Have Listened to Carroll, NTSB Intern.

Brian Carroll discusses the urgent need to check and check and check your content before you publish it to the web.  He states even though the Internet moves at a quicker rate than old fashioned news, we should not allow mistakes to slip through.  NTSB did not follow Carroll’s lead, however.  This summer an Asiana Airline plane crashed in San Francisco and a summer intern confirmed racist pilot names to be used for a KTVU TV station.   This instance is a highly publicized example of not following Carroll’s mindset of ensuring quality.

Welcome to the 21st century: You’ll Want to Know This, Millennials.

There are some things that are common knowledge.  There are 12 inches in a foot.  While driving, the left lane is the faster lane.  Netflix is the best invention.  Similarly, ask anyone the most dramatic revolution to our everyday lives and the answer would be the advent and growth of the Internet.  Brian Carroll brings to light the changes editors have had to adapt because of the technological revolution.

Carroll breaks it down stating although the immediacy and accessibility of the Internet may lead to an increase in mistakes, you have to double and triple check all the content you post to the Web. Carroll briefly describes a sort of universal checklist that should be consulted when editing and publishing online.

  1. Identify with the readers/purpose of the content
  2. Define document structure and links
  3. Define the style
  4. Edit
  5. Copyedit
  6. Copyedit II
  7. Write headlines
  8. Test usability

These aspects for publishing online are essential in order to create a focused web production.  The nature of editing online means the author has to make choices in order to enhance the reader’s purpose. Looping back to online layouts seen earlier in his book, Carroll describes that short is better. Always.  Interactive is better.  Keeps the users entertained and that is a good thing.  Personal is preferred.  People hear enough jargon in school or at work, why would the seek it in their free time? And easy navigation is key.  Never, and I mean never, make your user do work to figure out your site.  That is your job, not theirs.  Reading this whilst thinking our our upcoming online portfolio project, I cannot help but to think, what is the most effective way to accomplish all of this? Moreover, what aspect of online editing gets overlooked the most?

So Rad: A Different Take on a Music Video POV

John Douglass and Glenn Harnden discuss the various point of views utilized in film. While reading through the different possible POVs, my mind instantly jumped to this music video. Here the band Radical Something shot their music video for their single “Step Right Up” from the POV as if the viewer was physically present and the band was focusing solely on them. It is a different take and because of that the video sticks out in my mind.

Get On My Level: Run Down of POV

In John S. Douglass and Glenn P. Harnden’s novel, The Art of Technique, the two discuss at great length the concept and thought process behind point of view.  An audience can interpret a story differently or have a much different effect on the audience depending on the POV chosen.  Here point of view was defined in three different ways:

  1. Point of view in terms of camera shot taken through the eyes of a character
  2. Point of view in the perspective of the storyteller.
  3.  Point of view referring to the interests, attitudes, and beliefs associated with a character’s or group’s specific perspective.

Breaking this down, while reading the definitions of different POVs movies and TV shows flashed through my mind as examples.  In regards to the POV of a shot taken through the eyes of a character numerous movies popped into my head.  The first (and this show my taste in movies) is from the scene in Pineapple Express where Seth Rogan and James Franco are running in the woods after witnessing a murder.  The camera changes the POV to have Rogan’s perspective running through the woods.  However, a much more famous example is from Silence of the Lambs where the POV is from Buffalo Bill’s night vision goggles.

Now, the POV of the storyteller falls into one of three categories: first person which is most used by documentaries or voiced narratives, second person where the audience is directly addressed as in political advertisements, and third person which is just witnessing the actions of the characters.  Naturally when thinking of first person POV examples I immediately thought of How I Met Your Mother.  This show is about Ted Mosby who explains to his kids the story of how he met their mother.  Throughout the whole episode Ted has a voiceover which helps the audience gain more knowledge of his character.

The chapter goes on to explain that every movie is made to have a purpose.  And the POV is just one method in expressing that purpose.  With that said think about your favorite film, and does the chosen POV create enough of an impact where if it was changed the meaning of the film would change as well? Or is POV something that we are so used to, or immune to, that we do not even realize the impact it can have?

Forever Halloween…Bare-boned Attempt at “Recorded” Music

Ronald Osgood and Joseph Hinshaw explain the concept of the psychology of editing. Here they state the process of making the viewer feel as if they are viewing the natural world or reality instead of looking at a screen. They bring up the example of the film Timecode was shot in real time to create a greater version of reality for the viewer. Following this idea, The Maine is a alternative rock band from Tempe, Arizona. They released their fourth full length album in July 2013 which was recorded live. The thought process behind recording the album live was much like recording the film in real time. It is to make the experience as authentic as possible for the viewer. Here the album “sounds like five people playing in a room” not a pre-record but music as if you are hearing them at a concert.