Tag Archives: ux

Friday #Content Reads: 28.04.16

joe haldeman debut novel

Hi Gang! I’ve just spent a delightful couple of weeks restoring my blog after meddling with the database too often. Lesson learnt. Moving forward I’ll aim to curate a list of my most interesting content strategy reads this week.

Here goes….

Your Media Business Will Not Be SavedJoshua Topolsky
Interesting to see how the industry is now revisiting the monetisation vs quality debate…
“So over time, we built up scale in digital to replace user value. We thought we could solve with numbers (the new, seemingly infinite numbers the internet and social media provides) what we couldn’t solve with attention. And with every new set of eyeballs (or clicks, or views) we added, we diminished the merit of what we made. And advertisers asked for more, because those eyes were worth less. And we made more. And it was less valuable.”

Things I learned working on SerialKristen Taylor
Some interesting tips here for how to social your audio and engage your community between episodes. And if you haven’t read about that NPR audio experiment here you are.

What Networks Does BuzzFeed Actually Use? Zack Liscio
Nice infographic here of the Buzzed distribution strategy. Now presented in a million strategy presentations around the world.

2016 guide to free online SEO training courses
I thought this was a really good resource for journalists. From beginner to intermediate level.

Although I do have to admit that my most interesting read has been this bad boy. Probably the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

Boom!

forever_war

Content Strategy Links of the Week, December 22

You know the drill by now folks. Here’s my best reads from the last week or so. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas and New Year. See you all in 2015!

Bad community is worse than no community
“By coupling a format that encourages intimacy with a network design that encourages out-of-context amplification, Twitter has evolved into something fundamentally volatile. It’s fun, fast and powerful, but remains highly risky for anything approaching honest conversation, or even satire.”

Consumer-aware, context-aware
“Smart news organizations know that in 2015, the value of our attention will continue to eclipse the value of our clicks. The best way to harness attention in the digital ecosystem is to service the consumer’s needs rather than simply repackaging content to fit the form factor of her various devices. A deeply engaged consumer is easier to monetize. She is a good ambassador for the news organization. And, ostensibly, she’s a better informed citizen.”

The news mixtape
“If the rise of podcasts and newsletters has taught us anything this year, it’s that there’s value in consuming bundled content.

The rise of the jacktivist
“…news outlets will have to do more than merely report what’s going on. Journalists will have the added responsibility of giving people a pathway to act, to improve their lives and the lives of others.

Again, I understand this may seem anathema to some, but people today need more than headlines and stories. They need more than data, visuals, and explanations. They need more than journalism. They need an empathy-driven service to improve their lives, their communities, and our world.”

16 reasons why this research will change how you look at news consumption | Online Journalism Blog
“The value news has in people’s everyday life seems to hinge less on the increasing technological, social and participatory affordances of the informative platform than on time- and place-dependent user needs …

“News wants and needs, place, moment of the day and especially the convenience of a particular news carrier appear to be defining factors in what people do with news. As Rosa (26) explained, she checks the news on her smartphone and her work computer during the day, snacks the news on her laptop and in the newspaper after work, and reads her newspaper’s weekend supplements on Saturday morning at home.”

(PS I loved the 16 consumption trends spotted here…)

  1. Reading
  2. Watching
  3. Viewing
  4. Listening
  5. Checking
  6. Snacking
  7. Scanning
  8. Monitoring
  9. Searching
  10. Clicking
  11. Linking
  12. Sharing
  13. Liking
  14. Recommending
  15. Commenting
  16. Voting

Andy Carvin launches social-media reporting team for First Look
“Because the idea of Reportedly is to have journalists or anchor/producers embedded in different social platforms and engaging directly with users there, the project doesn’t have a website yet, although it will be getting one. Carvin said that to begin with, the team will be using a Medium collection to talk about how the experiment is unfolding, and to brainstorm about the kind of journalism they want to do. But in the future, he hopes there will be a site that can act as a “central dashboard” where readers can see everything.”

The gender split in news consumption: A case of discovery?
“It could simply be, then, that the seeming disparity between the equal amount of women and men who have access to connected devices and the fact that men actually consume more news on those types of devices could be explained by the following statement: Women in the UK prefer to discover their news through social means, and certain types of digital content (that of BuzzFeed and Upworthy etc.) are simply more shareable than others.

Ultimately, the difference in the type of news content men and women consume could be as much about how they find news as what they are intrinsically interested in.”

The newsonomics of the newly quantified, gamified news reader
“The trick here is in inferring reader likes and dislikes, as in the Cosby story example. Says Frons: “Subject-based personalization limits serendipity — one of the main pleasures of social feeds in particular and the Internet in general…For content creators, I am not sure that slicing the report up into micro-individuated bundles is ever going to make business or product sense. But a little bit of personalization within a product can go a long way.”

Content Strategy Links of the Week, Oct 24th

The time has cometh. Here’s another roundup of my favourite links from the week covering digital strategy, social media and radio. Enjoy!

18 companies with brilliant digital strategies
Nice overview here by Ben Davis. I’m particularly intrigued by ASOS placing their editorial content (i.e. non commercial content) on their homepage and still driving sales. Obviously, they are still promoting their top offers but they’ve recognised that the homepage can be used more for inspiration and reinforcing key brand messages. Their SEO, CRM activity and search function can do the work of driving ££££.

Obviously, I don’t think I need to mention the GDS but if you haven’t read their service design manifesto you can do so here.

And finally, as a former member of the Lego Club back in the 80s (I got my bronze, silver and gold badges back in the day don’t you know…) I’m a sucker for anything about those plastic bricks. Here’s an interview with their Head of Social Media.

What 12-Year-Olds Do On Social Media – Consumer Reports News
Two things I learnt from this US report. One, don’t dismiss Instagram. Second is wrapped up in this line: “The general rule was that the girls used public settings on their fandom accounts, but strong privacy settings for their personal accounts.” That is very significant if you’re targeting a younger demographic.

Social Proof in the User Experience
I’m a big fan of these reports from Jacob Nielsen’s team and this one drives home the advantages of displaying social proof without smothering the user. Back to the old rule: Keep It Simple.

Bedtime stories: What Metro and BuzzFeed’s stats tell us about mobile readership
Loads of insight here from two well-known publishers. If you agree that ‘mobile is social’ then this quote from Martin Ashplant will particularly ring true:

“I think in terms of the type of content that works well – it’s the intrinsic link between social that works on mobile. We’re finding that so much social activity happens on mobile, well above what we’re seeing on desktop or tablet. It’s about producing something that works on social.”
 
Radio: It’s a love thing
Nice update from  over at Earshot Creative regarding the latest marketing campaign from the Commercial Radio Brand Committee in Australia. Perfectly summarised by a tweet I saw from Matt:

And lastly, we stumbled upon the video below this week and, as a result,  I’ve been listening to those old Metallica tracks all week. Dead jel. I’ve been trying to learn those riffs for years and I still haven’t cracked it. Oh well! 😉

 

Until next week!

Content Strategy Links of the week: September 26th 2014

Ok content strategists, here’s my roundup of the best content strategy links from the last week. Prepare to be amazed.

Ok, well, let’s not over-sell it.

How to make an audio slideshow: My step-by-step advice to students
A great reminder of the power of audio slideshows. We used to see a lot of these doing the rounds about five years ago but they’ve seemed to have dropped off the radar in recent years. Still a compelling story-telling format, especially as we move away from galleries. If you’ve spotted any great recent examples please let me know!

Responsive Website podcast: Virgin America
Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte have published their latest responsive design podcast. Always interesting to hear about all those internal challenges that need to be addressed in order to serve the audience a better experience.

Fifth of all UK newspaper readers only use mobile devices to access content
If you’re a newspaper and don’t have a mobile strategy, then I’d be pretty worried about the data discussed here.

Why YouTube isn’t enough for publishers
Interesting predicament for publishers – on the one hand you need YouTube to extend reach, but on the other you’re never going to command those CPMs you could via your own player. Answer? Do both…

Lessons learned from the redesign of major news sites
Great article by Ashley Nguyen. Had to agree with this particular point:

“Midway through the [redesign] process, we sought to avoid referring to the project as a redesign at all,” Bob Cohn wrote in November 2012 when he served as the  digital editor for The Atlantic. “That seemed to trivialize it, suggesting a facelift or a fresh coat of paint. The goal, we realized, was more strategic than aesthetic.”

The 18 Blogs Every UX Pro Should Follow
Some old favourites here including UX Matters and A List APart… 

One secret to the success of Quartz, BuzzFeed and Gawker: They look at news as a service
Matthew Ingram hits the sweet spot:

“Journalists often seem to believe that  their job is to tell the reader what they think is important or relevant, rather than thinking of journalism as a service that they are providing, one in which the reader’s needs or desires are paramount, rather than the journalistic instincts of the author. Approaching news as a service or — even worse — as a product is seen as somehow beneath them.”

Meanwhile, this is a great opportunity to introduce our #fakesomenoise social media campaign Global’s brand new charity Make Some Noise.

Here’s the latest entry from our Capital FM team, please share and get involved!

Until next week…

Best content strategy links of the week: September 12, 2014

Greetings interweb people!

Like some beautiful burning phoenix rising from the flames I present to you my often-cited but never seen, content strategy links of the week. I’ve been a little preoccupied by a new job recently but no more excuses – let’s get this off the ground again. So here it is, in all it’s glory, repeated every Friday.

(I mean the blog series, not the actual same content.  That would be ridic.)

Next Radio 2014 Highlights
Obviously, I’m going to mention the UK radio industry event that was held in London on Monday first. I’ve written about it here but it’s worth flagging that the presenter videos from the event are now being posed on Next Radio website. Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for organising the event.

The container model and blended content – a new approach to how we present content on the Guardian
Interesting overview by Nick Haley on the content strategy decisions behind the new responsive Guardian website. Nice notion around ‘blended content’ and how they are using this new modular approach to inspire serendipity and increase dwell times. As Nick himself writes: Blended containers were a vehicle which exposed content to people they may not ordinarily encounter but is interesting to them. The containers both support existing patterns of behaviour and may spur on new patterns.”

Interestingly, when I visited the site it took me a while to realise I wasn’t actually on the Beta version. But then again, that might be me just being thick.

Vertical campfires: our user research walls
I loved this overview of the UX process at GDS from Kate Townsey. Check out the use case scenarios. Notice these are not fully-fleshed personas which have the tendency to drift off into fantasy – this is just enough detail to help the team focus on the user needs.  And notice it’s on a wall, not hidden away on someone’s laptop.

How we built the the new wired.co.uk homepage
Again another open, honest account of a responsive site launch – and I don’t just like this because of the cool parallax formatting (although the responsive ads absolutely rock). I particularly like the question posed by Pete Miller: “…what is the purpose of a website’s own content discovery experience when there are extremely popular purpose-built cross-site content discovery platforms – search engines, social media, content curation apps such as Zite or Flipboard”.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to this either, but worth pondering.

Does journalism still require impartiality?
Great article by Kellie Riordan on the importance of editorial curation to help users identify the best bits of info each day. This has to be balanced, of course, with the fact that people are now posting clips faster to social media than can be identified, verified and curated by journalists.

What has changed in the digital era is not so much the need for impartiality but the method to achieve it. New media prefer transparency and plurality to achieve impartiality, old media achieve it with objective methods. Let’s acknowledge that both methods can lead to quality journalism, or for that matter, to poor journalism.

But it’s also important to recognise what hasn’t changed. Audiences now have access to more information and a variety of different perspectives to form their own conclusions. Do audiences need a journalist to de-code the news or contextualise the facts anymore? I think they still do. This is what hasn’t changed. “

Does The Internet Still Need Comments? Yes, But A Different Kind
Interesting article on a the recent trend of bloggers and publishers removing comments from their articles. It also highlights how users are simply using the comments section to share the article on their friend’s Facebook pages and not commenting at all. In which case, should we really be calling these comments at all?

Responsive Web Design Podcast
No weekly content strategy roundup would be complete without mentioning Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte’s excellent weekly podcast on responsive design. They’ve interviewed some great companies (Capital One, Fidelity, Marriott and The Boston Globe) about their responsive design decisions and it’s compulsive listening. Highly recommended.

And finally, fans of this post will know that I have an eclectic taste in music. I found this the other day and I’m still trying to make sense of it. Good ol’ Brian…

See you next week!

My Highlights from the Next Radio 2014 conference

As always, this year’s Next Radio conference in London featured plenty of great speakers discussing the impact of digital on traditional radio business models and how they’ve used content to re-engage with their audience across multiple platforms.

Global Radio, NPR Radio, BBC, CBC Music – these were just some of the brands that presented, but the most significant was the inclusion of Tom Loosemore from the GDS who discussed how an effective content strategy is not just about delivering a better UX, it’s about changing the organisation. But more on that later.

Kicking off proceedings, James Rea from LBC talked about the impact of going national earlier this year and how they’ve repositioned our journalists across the UK to deliver the biggest breaking news first. Although he spoke about the importance of the presenters who help shape the personality of the brand, he emphasised that the whole radio proposition  starts with the audience. Without callers phoning in and trusting the brand to express their ‘live, immediate, moments of personal relegation’ (to quote James O’Brien) the station wouldn’t have any ‘hit records’. For LBC, the focus on the audience is an absolute prerequisite for a successful talk radio show.

Mike Hill from UK Radio Player argued that the industry will face real problems if it continues to release complicated devices with confusing interfaces. “Radio should be Simple”, he said. Simple tasks like tuning should not be difficult. It’s a problem that has to be nailed soon particularly with the release of new connected in-car audio systems. If we don’t make UX intuitive then we’ll all lose out. Mike also teased a new hybrid digital adaptor that will hit the market soon.

Another highlight included Anya Grundmann from NPR Music who showed how their digital presence now exceeds that of their traditional radio reach. The NPR’s content strategy has already been well documented but I was particularly interested in their Tiny Desk series which demonstrated how a simple live artist performance can be extended across digital.

Here’s a personal favourite of mine featuring John Grant:

Our very own Charles Ubaghs (Head of Social Media, Global) took us through the hugely successful social media strategy on Classic FM.  “Treat Social as a distinct editorial channel” he said and took us through several examples where the brand has bridged the gap between what many people may consider a niche topic, and what people want to read in their social media streams.

Finally, hats off to Tom Loosemore from GDS for his inspiring overview of their content strategy and their objectives. This is someone who certainly doesn’t pull any punches: “We’re not here to create a better user experience, we’re here to change government”. As a content strategist it was fantastic to see Tom’s inclusion as part of this event and I’ll certainly be taking a few tips. If you’ve not read about GDS then you can read more here.

So there you go, just a few highlights from the event. I can’t go without a final thought from radio producer Jonathan Ruffle who told us that the big idea behind his forthcoming radio WW1 documentary Tommies was simply this: “Mankind is a moth to the flame of war”. Wow, wasn’t expecting that at a media event and I think I’ll be mulling that over for the rest of my life.

Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for putting such a fantastic event together.

See you all next year!

Covering the Capital FM Summertime Ball 2014

I always get such a buzz covering live events for a couple of reasons: firstly, no matter how much you plan in advance, something always changes at the last minute and you have to adapt accordingly. Of course, this doesn’t mean PANIC, it just means PROBLEM SOLVING AT A RATE OF KNOTS – and that’s half the fun!

Secondly, with the kind of analytics tools we have at our disposal, we get such an insight into what the audience actually want to consume that you can publish with confidence. No more guessing in the dark about what you ‘think’ the audience might like to read – now you can give your audience exactly what they want, when they want it and on whatever device they choose.

Our coverage of this year’s Summertime Ball was extra special, not only because it was our own event, it was also a chance for us digital types to step away from the laptops and mix with the actual audience we’re writing for. It was a real privilege to be able to speak to fans and to hear their stories. Some might call this AUDIENCE RESEARCH, I just call it REALITY CHECK.

Two days after the event and we’re still producing some crackin’ features. Find out more about our Capital Summertime Ball 2014 coverage here.

Getting Engaged: Content, context, community and sex toys?

If you’ve ever wondered what a ‘Rock Box’ or ‘Squealer’ was, well, tonight was your night at the latest UXPA UK event hosted by Lisa Moore at City University campus.

We heard from there great speakers on the topic of ‘Content, Context and Community’, presented to the mostly UX crowd but with a healthy contingent of content strategists now appearing in the ranks. Kudos to Lisa for getting more of us involved at these events.

First up, Yelp London Director Alex Shebar on ‘Putting the ‘U’ and ‘I’ in Community’. My notes as follows:

  • Did you know Yelp is the largest local review website in the world? (No I did not know that Alex)
  • Their strategy is to get people to talk about the local issues and services that are important to them.
  • Alex flagged early on you need to listen to what people are saying in your area of interest. If you don’t, you are already failing.
  • Alex pointed to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising study which indicated that content on your site is less trusted than a random stranger talking about you on social media. Go figure.
  • The Xbox Elite Tweet Fleet were heralded as a great example of community interaction. Once upon a time no one was responding to gamers in the evening and during weekends – now not proving 24/7 support is unthinkable. Alex flagged them as the first, true ‘responsive brand’.
  • When building a community, Alex highlighted that quite often managers get scared by negative reviews left on their websites. Alex’s advice was simply: “Get over it. People will say bad things. There will always be haters. The best response is not to delete but to respond.” People trust sites more with mixed reviews.
  • Alex talked about the Yelp Time Traveller’s ball which Yelp organised last year. He said that Londoners are challenged by having too many options for things to do in London and, as a result, are more likely to stay within the vicinity of their local pub. The fancy dress ball which featured a) free food and b) free booze offered the community to meet learn about local services in their area. It also enabled Yelp to tap into ‘Active Contributors’ which makes up about 2% of their total audience but who generate the majority of the comments.
  • Alex didn’t advise every band to be on Facebook or Twitter – only if your community used these social networks.
  • Alex had some advice around using your community for redesign purposes. Generally, he said, try to avoid asking your community if they like a specific design or change. If possible show examples of other sites you may be taking inspiration from. Be broad in your research. However, if a community member or members really hate something you have proposed then be very direct in asking specific questions to find out why they hate it.

Next up: Andrew Marcus, Deputy Head of Communications, Museum of London on ‘Building Community Through Integration’.

  • Andrew framed his competitive landscape nicely. He does not compete with other museums – he competes for your leisure time which means sports, shopping and your sofa!
  • The Museum of London’s objectives are to increase their current visitor number of 650k to 1.5million by 2018.
  • In order to do this, they are trying several methods including engaging with schools and installing collections, but Andrew wanted to focus on their use of video to aid their PR communications.
  • The aim of these videos was to be fun and informative – to counter the impression that museums are stuffy and po-faced
  • Their history of the three piece suit video was used to tap into the current drive in male fashion industry

  • Users who come to their site from a YouTube video stay twice as long and view three times the amount of page views. Hence they see video as a valuable engagement tool.
  • Expect great things in the year ahead including a Sherlock Holmes exhibition plus a digitalised archive of London’s Oral history…

Dildos, butt plugs? It must be Lovehoney’s Matthew Curry @mattcurry ‘Sexy Content!’

  • Matt kicked off his session by warning us he was going to talk about lots of rude words. That got everyone’s attention immediately. Cock Locker anyone?
  • Although Matt was involved with usability testing and general UX practice, his focus tonight was on the content strategy behind the UK’s biggest sex toy provider.
  • Matt said they invested in video because it was difficult to sell products with static images. People want to actually see these toys in action – well not entirely ‘in action’ – but they are keen to know how much noise these products create, size, etc
  • It’s these video demos alongside user reviews that can make or break the product
  • That’s why Matt sends out more than 100 products per week to his pool of product testers, or as he labels them ‘My Orgasm Army.’
  • Matt also taps into his community to help the media connect with potential subjects, understand product requests media requests (interviews) and product requests, instant bug reporting, policy feedback.
  • Matt pointed to the value of video bloggers like Trak Gray for reviewing your products
  • Alex mentioned the RockBox vibrator. This piece of kit was so powerful that it use dot vibrate itself to pieces. This inclusion in this presentation was worth the price of the entry ticket alone.
  • He mentioned the fact that only 7% of people use site search in Google Analytics and he used it to ‘Searchandise’ – to optimise the journey from site search to basket
  • He also looked at failed site searches to optimise his content
  • To generate blog ideas he typed ‘How do i’ into google to generate topics
  • ‘Bang Dildo! – a term used to indicate if content on their site is too raunchy. Editorial care has to be taken as this could split the audience.

And that’s it folks! Great session by Lisa and nice to be blogging again!

Until next time…