Making onboarding easy

Onboarding is a demanding job in which players (users) of a system are brought onboard and made familiar with the system, their options within the system and are encouraged (by design) to try them and are rewarded (by design) for their effortless achievement. Howerver outsidide games, this is one of the most challanging tasks and difficult to a point that more than 80% of the startups in social businesses fail becuase they are aunable to pass beyond this phase. A prominent example where onboarding failed is Google Circles and Google plus where onoboarding has been a huge challage. But those systems are not gamified and people had no incentive to complete their profile or invite their friends to these new platforms. 

LinkedIn is also faceing a smilar and localized challange in which they want to incrase user participation and forum engagement. LinkedIn have professionals who are both capable and interested in the content which other professioanls would be producing. In order to ease the existing members in, they are using "free accomplishment" tactic visible in this graphic. 


This image is shown when my group level contribution is "0" but progress bar indicates 20% score already. Thus it acts on our brain in multiple ways including

  • It gives an impression that I had probebly already started that, even though I didn't
  • It gives me an impression that process is easy to complete and I have 80% more to cover instead  of 100%
  • Its orange color acts as a warning and hints that  this is something which is less than good, but upon hovering, it turns green and progress bar reaches 40 giving a meaning that that 40% would be the right or safe score. 
  • By progressing further, you also get a different accomplishment title. At 20%, it says "Getting Started" and at 40%, it is "Finding an Audience". Thus you given a sense of progression and accomplishment along the way. 

12 Lessons from Steve Jobs told by Guy Kawasaki

  • Experts are clueless; they only know what others are thinking, what is general acceptance in the industry. 
  • Customers do not know what they need; they can only tell you what they need better, what they need cheaper, what they need 10% faster but cannot initiate a revolution in your products.
  • Biggest Challenges beget the best work; if you give your employees big challenges, they will rise up and deliver best work of their carrier. 
  • Design  Matters; People care about design so do not put up crap. Design is what matters, not a great algorithm.
  • Big Graphics - Big fonts; Steve jobs used  to put 60pt font in his presentations and often had a word in this presentations on a slide. 
  • Improve by jumping curves, not better sameness. Don't do 10% better, do 10 times better! People born in a curve, they die staying in the same curve. Only a very very few people were able to jump curves within their lives. 
  • All that really matters  is "what works and what  doesn't work". Apple never stuck with one strategy religiously, they only stuck with what has potential
  • Value is different from Price; There is a class of users that care for value. 
  • A player A players, B players higher C players, C players higher D players. So higher people who are better than what you are. 
  • Real CEOs can demo. They can actually use the products and present that to the audience.
  • Real entrepreneur ship. They jump the curves and produce the products out, which though have elements of crappiness. Guy is not saying that ship crappy products, what he is saying is improve by generation but accept there are going to be lapses and embrace those lapses and release products. S
  • Something need to be believed to be seen.

BBC GEL - Global Experience Language

BBC has introduced UX Bootstrap called "BBC GEL" that will lay the foundations of its experiences in the future. The GEL defines who BBC is, what it wants and how will it implement that. It is a brief document which outlines limits and libraties of the designers working on  future website, mobile apps, presentations and digital engagement channels that it will build around its brand.

BBC GEL includes foundation grid of the layouts, typography, iconography, menu types, image spect ratios, horizontal/vertical rythems and the interactive elements which the future sites should use. I find this document a good starting point and a learning resource for other organizations who want to be future proof and value their brand experiences. Download BBC GEL in in PDF format.

Content Analysis - sells leather wallets and they have designd a page to help people understand how slim-wallets are better than standad ones. Its a great example of content strategy and in a very engaging manner educates you and convinces you that slim wallets is the way to go. Howerver I have analyzed its content and followings are few areas where it can improve. 

Reference URL 

Content of is great in following aspects;

  • Content is written to a specific audience
  • addresses a specific problem
  • content is simple to look at
  •  quick to absorb
  • establishes credibility of the provider as a subject expert
  • offers free and useful tips
  • content is logical and convincing

But this is where content is lacking.

  • Content doesn't make reader remember the brand
  • content doesn't' make reader act "now"
  • there is a "Content Noise" between call to action button "Become a slim Ninja" and "next logical user need". In the middle, there exists big bold "Our Focus" which is useless in the given context. "Less is more" would've done the job all by its own.
  • the content doesn't convince you that why "these" slim wallet should be bought for $89-$110. As a site visitor, I agree with the philosophy, I appreciate their content and helpfulness but I am not convinced why slim wallets from this site should be my choice. Since I am educated on the subject, I might go and buy any slim wallet from anywhere but why should I choose "these" listed wallets is not clear.

These wallets are expensive than usual ones and this additional price demands there should have been something inspirational and identity driven which is not there. if the content had a component which would convince users that wallets are "Stylishly Smart" then that would have helped. As the strategy for the page is entirely utilitarian, the strategist might have purposefully kept inspirational aspect out. However high price suggests there should have been some talk about inspiration and its absence is being felt. 

Mobile Websites vs Native Apps

Two different products and available to meet two different needs.

Mobile Apps are great if you want to serve frequent customers. Native mobile apps are fast and handy for customers who know what you do and what they want from you. Examples include bank making apps to facilitate their account holders. 

Landing Page optimization

What is a landing page

A landing page is the page within a website which is meant to receive your visitor directly and entices him to do something further. Thus it acts like a door which receives a visitor, informs, attracts and persuades him to perform an the activity and at the same time helps the business achieve its goal(s).

Landing page has several definitions depending upon objective they meet. For example, hubspot defines landing pages as “ these pages have forms on them and are designed purely to capture a visitor's information”.

Wikipedia describes landing page as: A single web page that appears in response to clicking on a link lying outside our website, a search result or an online advertisement. The landing page usually continues the sales message that was advertised and which had captured the user’s interest.

And there are more variations of this definition but generally speaking, it is a page which is meant to take a lead in propagating the message once a visitor arrives to it. It is usually the second “node” in the “objective life cycle” where first node is either another website, a search-engine result or an advertisement which has grabbed the attention of a random visitor and has brought him to our website on the landing page. Since first node is mostly outside our controllable website, the most emphasis of optimization resides on this “second node” or the “landing page”.

How to optimize a landing page?

Factors which contribute to the landing pages

Before we may think about optimizing, there are few pre-requisites which must be in place before “optimizing process” begins.

A page which we want to optimize must have

  • SMART objectives
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-specific
  • Evaluate
  • Re-evaluate
  • well understood user needs
  • persuasive architecture
  • our ability to analyze and evaluate conversion rate of the page.

What do we call conversion?

Conversion means accomplishment of a predefined visitor specific business goal. In simplest form, we will consider that conversion has happened if a visitor has landed on a page, learned about a product and ended up making a purchase. Thus a visit has been converted into business.

However conversion doesn’t always mean a purchase and is considered to happen when a visitor successfully achieves smaller and sometimes non-economic goals; like visitor subscribing to a newsletter, or liking or sharing a link over social media, downloading a document or even more subtle business goals like spending x minutes on the site, browsing y number of pages or returning to website within specified time duration.

Forms of Conversions

  • Macro Conversions
  • Micro Conversions

Percentage of visitors who landed and accomplished desired objectives. Conversion is measured by conversion / number of unique visitors.

Conversion rate also varies from industry to industry and business to business within the same industry. Also various segments of the visitors produce various conversion rates. visitors who are looking for some specific information may only visit to get their required bit of info without converting straight-away but a returning visitor will have cleared perspective about website’s product/services than the first time visitor and hence returning segment of visitors will produce better conversion rate than that of first time visitors.

How Conversion Happens

Conversion in most cases is a multi-stage process and each step has its own dynamics. Generally speaking, a conversion has following three stages.

- Acquisition

Collecting visitors from social media, search-gines and other websites.

- Conversion

Bringing visitors to the landing pages and educating, guiding and leading them to achieve expected goal

- Retention

Keeping the visitors as customers and from customers to long term clients. This is done using keeping a “contact loop” alive by using emails, newsletters, special offers, discount vouchers etc.

Multivariate (A/B) Testing

Multivariate testing is the form of AB testing specifically employed in ecommerce industry. Using Multivarient Testing, we can determine effect of two variations on conversion or similar business goals.

Have a look at Wiki Reference

3rd Party Solution:

Optimizely is a great tool and lets you compare two variations within your website without producing two variations separately. It inserts a single snippet of javascript into the website and depending upon our required changes, it pushes different variations of the page to different users and keeps tracking outcome of those variations in real time. Thumbsup I must say.

Google Analytics:

In Google Analytics, multivariate testing is called Split Testing or Content Experiments.

Multivarient Testing explained on

Is Content Strategy a misnomer?

To me, term "Content Strategy" is a misnomer and should have been called “Content Management” or “Content Management Strategy” if you must. Consider this definition of Content Strategy by Kristina Halverson, 

“Content Strategy is creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content”. 
This is very much about management of content and the way you make it useful and usable within the organization. Shouldn't we call this aspect of data management as “Content Management”? 

Now look on the other side of Content Marketing 

“Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” 

This definition is all about strategic usage of content and how to convey message to well define and well known audience. This is where strategy is in action. Shouldn't Content Marketing be rather called Content Strategy? When you write to an audience to fulfil an objective, it doesn't matter what “type” of objective it is and writing to make an audience “know and learn” is not much different from “know and purchase”. Content Marketing is actually Content Strategy and what we currently call Content Strategy is Content Management. 

Content Strategy VS Content Managemenet

 Kristina Halvorson has grouped Content Management Strategy with Content Strategy. Many aspects of data including  governance, storage, retrieval and meta-data etc has more to do with Management than Strategy. As per our mentor John Levine, strategy is how to communicated content is seen 1) credible, 2) authentic and 3) transparent. Now this definition tells you what PROPERTIES content MUST have so it could be acceptable by the audience and this definition doesn't hint about the managerial aspects which endorses my understanding. 

Now here is my definition of content Strategy which focusses entirely on strategic thinking.
"Content Strategy is the art and science of using human emotions to spread the message across." 

To me tools of content strategy are human emotions and not spell-checkers, spread-sheets and gap-analysis tables. Later are all examples of Management. Data management in itself needs a strategy when you have to deal with large volumes but then we call it Content Management Strategy but not Content Strategy.

Browse through the forum and find some examples which people are giving. You will find every example is about communication of message. For example "Dumb Ways to Die" and "Drag him away" campaigns. No one has shared any example of managerial aspects as yet. 

Regarding your diagram, you are indicating problems found in large organizations and the problem is lack of homogenization which eventually leads to several other problems including redundancy, inconsistency and conflicting content. To solve this problem, you would need to create data rules and standardize how each department uses and stores data. This effort will fall under Content Manager's role. We don't have this designation but if we do, the role of Content Strategist will become distinct and identifiable as it should. 

Measuring Usability With The System Usability Scale (SUS)

System Usability Scale is a great tool designed by Jeff Sauro to measure Useability and Learnability dimensions of a system. The tool is nothing more than 10 set of questions and a set of rules which are applied on the received feedback. Howerver, those questions are so well designed that they are able to present a depedable and reliable picture of user-experience. 

Find complete article on System Usability Scale (SUS) over Jeff's website

6 new Strategies of Persuasion

I have came across 6 new persuasive tactics which can be used in our strategies. Credit of research lies with Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin who have identified these subtle yet effective emmotions, which make us tick. 


What is Content Strategist - an Example

Let's identify where in an organization content strategist is placed and let's try to dry-run the process and find where he contributes.

This is how it begins

A business need is identified (let's say beating sheer competition and surviving).

  • A business decision is made and some goals are set.
  • To achieve those goals, a strategy is needed and this is where Strategist comes in. Now we are at a very early stage in the process thus everything is abstract.
  • Content Strategist identifies available resources (including budget, time-frame and production resources).
  • Staying within available resources, Content Strategist formulates a strategy to achieve the goal.

Now let's assume, goal is to "make people perceive a service as inexpensive". To achieve this goal, content strategist can have multiple approaches

Lead UX vs Senior UX

Recently I have came across a question regarding designations that which designation is senior? Lead UX or Senior UX"?

Lead UX is the top position in an organization which is responsible to drive UX process for the entire department or organization as a whole. This designation explains organizational hierarchy indicating that Lead UX is the top person in that organization. Now such a person in terms of experience may be a mid-level, mid-to-senior or a senior UX designer acting as Lead UX and there may be several Senior UX designers working under him.

Senior UX is scale of experience but doesn't reflect under which organizational hierarchy he is working. The designation Senior UX doesn't reflect if he is working as Lead UX, UX Director or working under a support role helping other members of the team.

Designations are organization specific and can be misleading. If there is one UX Designer working in an organization, he is technically leading the process but he may have any level of experience. Also if an organization hires two mid-level UX designers making one as senior, the senior one in line may start calling himself as Senior UX because of his relative position but in terms of experience, he would still be a mid-level UX designer.



Website Accessibility Checklist

Following useability checklist lists some of common useability issues found on websites. In case you are designing a new UI or you own one which is already up and running, following list would help you avoid and resolve common useability issues.

Website Accessibility

Australian Government’s Web Initiative

The Australian Government has endorsed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 for all government websites. This requirement supersedes the previous mandate for compliance with WCAG 1.0. Australian Government has made it mandatory to implement WCAG A and AA level of accessibility guidelines by the end of December, 2014. Level of A is therefore required to be met by the end of December, 2012.

Understanding User Experience

Designing by definition is a “problem solving activity”. But where this definition defines what designing does, it fails to elaborate the importance of “design” and the impact it has on the life of people. If I have headache, I would take a pill and my problem is solved - leaving me problem free in a usual healthy state. However, design is not merely a pill which takes you out of a problem, it also has an implicit responsibility to extend user experiences - to improve their lives. A design which is just a solution is acceptable but the design which extends the user experience becomes desirable. Let’s understand this aspect further.

Time Management Solutions

In the recent article by Scotty Belsky, he has suggested to use Margins between various time-slots throughout the day to handle miscalculations and unexpected. While this approach of leaving 1-2 hours margin everyday during the working hours would make you feel safe, this approach itself is expensive in effective that it is based on our judgment again.