Week 15: Big Data

The series of readings this week touched on a bit of an alarming and intrusive trend with regards to how some employers are conducting interviews. Other articles discussed big data or how data is collected and used by others to market products, services or ads.

Have you ever had an interview where they asked to see your Facebook page? How would you really respond to this? I think I would be quite shocked at the notion along with refusing to participate in such requests. I mean whats next would they want me to empty my pockets to see what I am carrying or would they want the keys to my house or car to snoop through. I have heard of many bold requests during an interview process but once you cross the line into somones personal zone that can get a bit sticky.

The article on Linkedin shed quite a bit of light on other data processes. I have a Linkedin account and often use it to look up various contacts for the most part our for the groups and information shared. I’m not even sure when I joined Linkedin as it was one of the sites that seemed to harvest information for a portion of time similar to lesser known entities such as Spoke, Zoominfo, and Jigsaw . The data Linkedin has collected based on the talent and individuals information is quite amazing and is beyond just a collection of resumes and profiles. I can see in the future when they have mapped out graphs, companies will be able target where to place there operations based on the available talent.

Do you rely on any sort of big data on your job? If not, could you find any use going forward?

Week 13: Message Testing

This week’s readings focused on two examples detailing how messages are tested with the public.

The first article discusses the details on consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among adults. By doing surveys the study demonstrated the relationship of knowledge on the nutritional facts of the consumers. Sugar-sweetened drinks are often on the lower end of the pricing scale and often consumed the most. The users who were able to provide sufficent information on their daily caloric intake tended to be on the low end of consuming these  sugar-sweetneded beverages.

The second article on message testing detailed how the design of a website can affect different customers online habits. The behavioral difference between Canadian and Chinese students were studied. What works for one culture may not work for others as displayed in the users behaviors and interactions on various sites tested.

With these comparison presented to me I found it quite interesting to see how messages are perceived based on the design.



What are some of the best practices that you plan on implementing in your future designs?

Have you ever taken cultural experiences into considerations when designing a site?

Week 12: Aggregators

This weeks topic on aggregation of content touched on the rapid emergence of online aggregators which has pretty much revolutionized the way that content is delivered.

The article “Spain set to introduce new law against aggregators” touched on a touchy subject about the ethics of aggregation and issues with linking to stories today. The legislation introduced in Spain is set to prevent aggregators from reproducing content without payment. On one hand aggregators present collected information to a wider audience giving many smaller news sites some exposure. On the other hand news sites have been complaining that they do not get the appropriate amount of click through to their sites and aggregators have prevented their growth.

The Chicago Tribune article “Media, old and new, takes heat for Boston coverage” showed how easy prominent journalist and news sites can be misinformed and circulate wrong information. Social media sites came under fire for rushing to judgment when a wrong suspect was named in the Boston marathon bombing. This gave a poor reflection and hindered the search in a tragic situation.

Reddit has launched an etiquette guideline for journalists to provide a proper way to respect the community when sourcing content. The issues with image credits and hot linking were also common complaints which Reddit tried to addressed.

The Winterberry Group white paper provided an in-depth report covering a shift in marketing that is now being based off “ Big Data” or the massive amounts of information now being generated. Marketers are able to optimize their information to deliver more efficient ads.

Questions to the readers:

Do you currently use any news aggregators?

Do you believe that aggregators should have to pay for reproducing content?

Week 11: Reputation Management

reviewsThis weeks topic of reputation management struck a chord in quite a few ways for me. I tend to crowd source reviews whether its a product, place, or companies reputation. I have taken to social media before to review not only negative experiences but positive as well. This has helped me to resolve previous issues and also share the same feedback from others in my circle. The adweek article  by Lucia Moses presented an infographic with the top 5 reasons U.S. based internet users use social media for customer service.

No matter the size of your business your online reputation is one of the most critical elements for continued success. A bad review, rant or blog post can result in a negative effect for any business. Tracking tools are now more than ever prevalent and used to measure the sentiment of posted articles, comments or feedback from an online audience.

Customer Service: The Missing Link

The next two articles “Online Reputation: The Only Asset Worth Protecting” and “Reputation Management is Becoming Increasingly Important For Businesses & Individuals” further demonstrated the rise and use of reputation management companies to remove negative online impressions and control the digital footprints of their clients. A customer who feels that they have received bad treatment or did not get value for their money often screams the loudest online.

The increased use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Amazon have created a platform for users to share positive and negative experiences online.

Reverse SEO has been used often to improve results by pushing negative pages further down the search results and push positive or neutral results higher up the page. It was noted that 94% of people never click on a link past the first page meaning that it is important to ensure that the majority of the search results on the first page of search engines is positive.

Questions to the Readers:
Has social media affected the way you view a certain business?

Have you ever boycotted a company based on online reviews?

Have you ever managed a corporate social media account or responded to complaints by online users?

Week 10: Social Analytics and CRM

Many big brands have created and are now focused and armed with experts creating and monitoring their social media strategies. Even the University of Florida has dedicated an entire Masters degree to the Social Media field. This weeks readings touched on several topics and ideas that creatives can find resourceful.

Shane Kite’s article  Social CRM’s a Tough, Worthy Goal, broke down a case study on Bank of the West and a promotion they ran to open new accounts. Social media sites and blogs brought in the most new customers which proved social media has clearly defined a spot in marketing efforts of any brand trying to reach expand on their audience.

The Effective Social Media Analytics article by Danny Bradbury, described the collection of data and how users are creating a digital foot print with every post on social networks. Tools for measuring engagement success were touched upon and is something I am using in my work environment as well.

Effects of the Recession on Public Mood in the UK was a great read on analyzing the public’s sentiments and gauging their reactions at various times. At my job I use tool that we subscribe to called “Meltwater” news. It is a PR tool used for brand management and crisis management as well with a tool that can gauge how positive or negative certain news articles released or blog, forums and other social media postings.

My first hand experience has seen that the growth and opportunities to engage with our customers or potential clients are abundant. Engaging with them on social platforms can build a greater relationship.

Have you ever used any tools to measure your social media engagements? If so what tools do you prefer?

Week 9: Usability Testing


This weeks readings  touched on usability testing and the importance of creating a great experience. While as designers we tend to create a seemingly great experience the truth is that may not be reflected when it comes to the end user. By definition usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. Typically, during a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes. In the first article that I read Usability Testing Demystified, the author gave a good outline on the process needed. First would be developing a test plan then choosing a proper testing environment and then selecting the proper participants. Next you would need to prepare the testing materials, conduct the sessions, debrief the participants and observers followed by analyzing the data and then creating findings and recommendations following this recipe.

The paper prototype video was a bit odd to me and seemed a bit over done. I like to sketch out details on a project but the time and effort put in this method to create all the elements might be useful time spent in other areas. My take on a prototype would be to present it in a digital version layered with options than can be turned on an off and quickly adjusted as needed. Many digital assets are available that can be used in a mockup such as form elements mobile and tablet interfaces. Lynda.com also has a short course on creating layer comps which can help designers accomplish a full mock up of a designs with simulated movements and progressions.

Questions to the readers:
Have you ever created a usability test?’

What are your feelings on the paper prototyping? Would you create a kit for future projects?

Week 8: Eye Tracking


Is there a science to how we view things? This weeks readings covered topics on how eye tracking has been implemented within various platforms over the past two decades. While there are various ways that humans collect information, the way our eyes see and process information has been the most complex but important one.

For years scientist, designers and other stakeholders have been trying to implement analyzed data with the thoughts of improving a users experience. The first article that I read New Poynter Eyetrack research reveals how people read news on tablets provided details on how people were either intimately involved with a tablet screen while reading or detached while reading. I found this article very interesting and I myself tend to fall under the detached category.

The Economist.com article The eyes have it gave an overview with examples of how eye tracking can do much more than be used for research. As the cost of Eye-trackers have come down prototypes of video games or even television sets have been unveiled showing how a viewers gaze can control the device. The technology has been used as well for paralyzed people to operate wheelchairs or as a form of safety to keep drowsy drivers awake.

The Article from UX Magazine Eye Tracking and Web Usability: A Good Fit? broke down certain instances such as the ketchup bottle in the fridge example where often times we are starring at something right in front of us but the item is overlooked. Eye tracking would measure this as a something we saw which would prove to be the wrong result.

Desktop, mobile, and tablets are still a relatively new field where many methologies are still being established. Search engine could also use data to see what information is relevant when a user is searching. For the time being eye-tracking will continue to be a trending topic and as cost continue to drop more opportunities may come forward.

Do you find yourself to be more of an intimate or detached user with a tablet?

Do you think eye-tracking has real value as a research tool for website viewing and ad placements?

Week 6: Mobile Analytics

This weeks reading drew upon a few different topics but all focused on the tremendous growth of the mobile market and ways marketers are trying to reach users.

I found the Cisco article to be very interesting providing a wealth of information on the usage and the adoption to the mobile platform. The amount of time the average user spends has increased meanwhile desktop usage continues to decline.

The Forbes article presented information on click through rates for tablets and mobile users that came in far more than one would expect while a portion can be blamed on the end user accidentally touching an ad, it is expected that over time this would not be a repeated mistake. The article while dated two and half years ago I can only imagine the numbers today as more users have adapted and rely more on mobile smartphones.

The Facebook article was also insightful because I learned more about the creation and measurement of sponsored stories, promoted posts and other ways ads are placed into mobile feeds.

Further readings this week delved into the world of QR (Quick response) codes. The article “Linking Consumers to Your Cause with QR Codes” presented a good overview on the use and design of QR codes. I tend to think of QR codes as a fad similar to how Microsoft pushed “tag barcodes”  but I still respect and understand that is also another avenue for marketers to use. Adding a QR code into your marketing pieces can be a great way to drive traffic to your website and also something that can be easily measured to see results of active participants.

Questions to the readers:
Have you ever scanned a QR code before? If so did you find it useful?

Are you using your mobile phone to make purchases, banking and deposits?

What are your preferences with mobile apps? Free with ad placements or one you pay for  with no ads?

Week 5: Landing Pages and Google Analytics


This weeks readings reinforced a few topics already covered on search engine indexing and branched out more in-depth on analytics and landing pages. The article “How Google Search Works”  gave a clear understanding on how things work starting with the bots that crawl your site going through each URL to build an index the results are then served to an end user based on how your site is ranked after being evaluated on information found on the website. Interesting enough there are limitations to what the bots can index and certain rich media files or dynamic media cannot. I would think an example of that would be embedded videos or adobe flash files. The article laid out the information simple and clear enough that a beginner would be able to grasp.

The “10 Landing Page Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again” presented more real world information that I myself have stumbled unto and continue to ignore bad designs. Quite frankly I can’t close these windows fast enough. I often wonder if there is just one company out there that creates landing pages as %95 of them all look the same and offer no real information. All too often I try to work my way around by searching online to avoid submitting any information where I will end up being hassled. The article did present a few tips such as not using a generic submit button, but rather changing it to something that will pull the user in such as request a free trail, demo, or get access now.

Finally touching on the topic of Google analytics this gave an insight to how a visitor views your website and how you can get more in touch with your audience seeing where they are coming from and what their habits are in real time. This enables you to set specific goals and adjust based on the direction visitors to your website take. Social reports also give an insight to the traffic coming to the website and example of a case study is viewable here. This demonstrates the value of social media with hundreds of social sites that also drive visitors to your pages.

Questions to the readers:

What are your typical reactions to a landing page? Do you submit your real contact information often?

Now that you are gaining a better understanding on website analytics and the ability others have to track your movements will you modify they way you click on ads or links that are targeting you?

Week 4: Search Engine Optimization

This week’s readings gave me a refresher on a few topics that I was already familiar but expanded on a few terminologies that I have heard repeatedly before but had not grasped how they related to the web. Google has simplified and laid out complete guidelines that all webmasters should abide by in order to have successful placements in an index. Familiarizing these guidelines reinforced some habits that I often take for granted such as creating and submitting a sitemap, which allows a list of pages within your site to be crawled and also including a robot.txt files which tells index spiders which directories and files they cannot crawl or index. Good practices for any web developers are to create web sites that are useful for the end users and not overly geared to the search engines by spamming with keywords or links that do not pertain to the site.

In further readings the world of Adwords was discussed and seemed to be pretty hectic. This was a new topic for me and since I haven’t had much experience in creating these ads as opposed to being the normal end user who clicks through them. With the topics of click through rates (CTR), search engine result pages (SERP) and the way ads are tailored to a certain user I can still feel my head spinning trying to gather how this is implemented effectively.

The Anvil glossary was a valuable resource in breaking down certain functions on a website. While I may not need most of the the items mentioned it was interesting to gain certain insights and will help with further details as we put together our group project.

Overall search engines have two major functions – crawling & building an index, in order to serve accurate results. Search engine optimization (SEO) is fundamental in any site that a designer creates. Creating a positive user experience, optimizing for mobile and tablets should keep your site at the forefront. Unethical SEO techniques can bring down your high rankings fast; visibility will be short lived in the long run. Search engines are looking for quality content and by following along guidelines given and factoring in the users experience will give you the best chance to succeed.

Questions to the readers:
Do you mind ads that show up which are always aimed at what you are searching for?

When looking at the competition today do you believe you stand a chance against others who pay for placement in the search engines?

Do you feel that search engine optimization is a part of a web developers job or should it be left separately as a niche for certain professionals?