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Live from #UXLX (User Experience Lisbon), Part 2

 

There is something looming on the horizon and, if we don’t act accordingly, your brand may be worth only a buck someday, just like TV Guide. In fairness, it was the paper magazine brand that sold for that amount; their database, however, was a prescient parable in Karen McGrane‘s “Content Strategy for Mobile” seminar.

 

Why?  Because TV Guide asked its editors to put all of its content from Quark files into a database for some unforeseen future purpose.  But that’s not the point here, the point is where is that future-thinking now?  McGrane pointed out that 72% of responsive designed websites actually fully download their content, meaning content is getting lost out there for the mobile experience as it is.  What about Smart TVs?  What about watches, Google Glass, your car (you can’t hear italics, can you?)? What about that digital display in the elevator, over the urinal, or on a Subway billboard? Content need not be made for one thing and one thing only, and let’s face it: the client will want to stretch their resources on managing content across several platforms.

 

The worry, as McGrane explains so well, (only butchered a bit by my paraphrasing), is your content management system, not just the hardware but even in your workflow.  ”Real usability comes from the workflow,” McGrane said to a room full of international UX experts.  Clients are hoarding their content for an SEO of yesteryear without thinking about all the structural ways it will be consumed in the future.  I agree with this assessment, we in the field of UX must not only champion relevant experiences, but we must work strongly in helping brands evolve their systems to be ready for whatever may come, even things we know not will be.  And, accordingly, content strategy must be woven the UX tapestry with nimble content editors imagining flexibility, structuring and independently presenting content in “chunks, not blobs”, and thinking less about weight on the page and more about weighting metadata semantically more meaningful.

 

McGrane quoted Matt Thompson, NPR Editorial Product Manager, “The happier people are the better their content will be, the more content they’ll produce.”  Here cometh the lesson: today’s CMS uses tags and IDs (illustrated in the seminar with Time Magazine’s WordPress, for example) in their metadata, adapting one-size-fits-all content for multiple client-side platforms; but UXers and creative technologists must steer usability with server-side meaningful encoded metadata and accessible structural content before the only value it has is worth less than a glass of corner-stand lemonade.

 

Denis Griffith
XCD (Experience Creative Director), Head of User Experience
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Live from UXLX Lisbon 2013

During today’s workshop, “Global Design Research,” with lecturer and author of Global UX Daniel Szuc, I was inspired by how relevant narrative is in how we evolve from a task-based discipline to one that is more experiential and holistic design.  In essence, we are storytellers.

 

Ernest Hemingway was a war journalist and traveled extensively, bringing classic book novels like For Whom The Bell Tolls, as did Steinbeck to the Dust Bowl in birthing for Grapes of Wrath.  More recently, Szuc lead his UX design firm through a project for linguistic centers across the world.  All storytellers.

 

And for that Szuc asked a flabbergasted audience, ” When was the last time you had an amazing conversation?”  It’s a ruminative question we as digital designers, UX and otherwise, need to consider when we approach projects.  Our agency needs to continue to work on bridging brands with customers on a human level, avoiding the “blah”, and setting up dialogue that engages, encourages, and enhances the transaction, commercial or simple evocation.

 

In approaching UX Design, Szuc asserts that one must be well-travelled, culturally interested, balanced and open, aim to build bridges, and respect perspectives.  All of which really does come down to the first: travel.  How can we, as UXers, have “experience” in our job title if we do not fulfill our role by getting out into the world—leaving our offices, comforts taken for granted, and people we already know?

 

This presents a challenge for all agencies and the clients who pay them, experiences that are user relevant and grow business over time require investment of human capital, time, and money to humanize what companies blanket-ly consider customers; humans are story creating creatures (Sikes, Gale 2006).  That said, the result of being a UX team that immerses itself as bold and curious researchers results to effective artifacts for design—quotes, films, photographs, sketches, refined user journeys; thus these artifacts converge into unequivocally proven higher returns on investment.

 

Denis Griffith
XCD (Experience Creative Director), Head of User Experience

 

 

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Pizza Party with Google

 

Google came into Atmo’s offices today to talk about storytelling, brand building and the future of digital. One breaking news item: Google Glasses will be released this summer.

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