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Web 2.0 Moments in the World January 23, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in blogging, user experience, Web 2.0.
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It’s always interesting when new technology enters the world. People scramble to react. Some people “get it” so quickly and come up with creative uses almost as soon as the technology arrives. Other people resist kicking and screaming.

Extend the Experience
I remember how startled I was the first time my radio station DJ pointed me to her blog: “That was Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, and if you want to find out more about the Led Zeppelin Reunion tour, check out my blog at…”

Interact with Your Customers
One night when I was watching Mythbusters, I was distracted by a little bit of bright, animated text at the bottom of the screen asking me, “What’s a wiki?”. Well, it turns out that the Mythbusters have a wiki that gives their fans a number of ways to interact with the show.

Let Customers Decide
Tonight, I saw a commercial for a cartoon on Nickleodeon, El Tigre, which allows kids to vote online for the next episode’s ending. In my opinion, Nick is a real leader in this realm. As far as I know, they are the first to have a show with both an online and a TV presence–that’s iCarly.

Provide the Right Information at the Right Time
I also saw a commercial for a product by Chase that will send your credit card account information to your cell phone when you need it. Imagine that you’re in a store trying to buy a new TV set. You’re falling in love with that high-end model, but you’re not sure you can afford it. Don’t wonder. Find out. Just text Chase, and your account information is sent right to your phone. So, you can make an informed decision.

Create an Alternative Universe Online
More and more connections are happening between the online and offline worlds. More frequently, the “offline” worlds push us to go online to find out more, communicate with other like-minded individuals, and to buy. These are all little breadcrumbs to lead us increasingly online, I think. Take the consumer one step forward–give them what they’re comfortable with, but offer them more online. It’s a strategy that learning professionals can use too.

Web 2.0 is here now. It’s not the future anymore. But still I think, there’s plenty of future for it. And plenty of opportunities to create a whole new world with its capabilities.

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It’s All About the User Experience January 6, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in TelePresence, user experience.
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In the TelePresence demo I saw yesterday, one of the most emphasized themes was the user experience. Apparently the tag line for the TelePresence development team was something like “It’s the user experience” or “It’s all about the user experience.” And they certainly spent a lot of time getting the user experience just right, considering everything from the color of the room and the lighting to the sound, bandwidth, and installation. They even hired Stephen Spielberg’s creative director to help with the room colors and lighting. They listened to what people had to say about how they would use it and what tools they’d need. So, they provided flexibility for people to display things either below, above, or to the sides of the TV screens. They added cameras so that people could show objects or documents in the room. And they made the technology easy to use–almost as easy as dialing a phone number. They also thought about how people typically set up meetings, and they integrated the TelePresence setup with Outlook.

What Makes a Good User Experience?
The result is a really good user experience. I was thinking today about what it was that made it so good.  Here are a few ideas:

  • It’s quick. We walked into the room. Our presenter pressed a button and suddenly we were face-to-face with a man sitting across the country from us.
  • It’s good to the senses. I could see and hear everything well. And the colors were pleasing to the eye. You weren’t distracted by strange skin tones and vibrating colors in the background. And the sound was realistic and real-time too. When the guy on the TV screen tapped the table with his hands, we heard it right away–no delay. And it was really cool that the position of his voice moved when he moved around the room.
  • The setup is nice. After awhile, you forget that you’re sitting at half of a conference table because the table on-screen completes the circle so nicely.
  • There are so many possibilities. You sit there thinking of all the cool uses for it. “We could use it for this project.” “Boy, I wish I’d had it when I had to visit so-and-so.”
  • It’s unobtrusive. After awhile, you stop noticing the technology and you’re just using it to do what you need to get done.

Our presenters told us that there were several times when the developers were told to do something that they thought was impossible, but they did it anyway. And they discovered in the end, that it was possible. It makes me wonder how much further I could have pushed the user experience for some of my projects.