The number of times Facebook has announced changes to its algorithm is enough to make any social media strategist or community manager throw up his or her hands in defeat. But, perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
On Nov. 14, News Feed FYI published the following statement by Facebook: “Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.” This came on the heels of an ongoing survey conducted with hundreds of thousands of users asking them how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. Facebook acted on these findings. Effective January 2015, brands that continue posting overly promotional, unpaid (organic) content will appear less frequently in users’ feeds. This refers to posts encouraging “people to buy a product, install an app or enter a contest or sweepstakes.” Facebook took this opportunity to tell brands that the social network is not a free platform for publicity. If the intent is to promote, advertisers should pay for the service just like they would in any other medium.
Example of an overly promotional post:
It’s easy to interpret this move as yet another “punishment” for brand presence on Facebook. As it stands, contests such as post giveaways are one of the few ways to get a decent organic reach nowadays. Yet, if we take a few steps back, there are a few things to keep in mind:
So how will all of this impact your unpaid (organic) posts? It won’t if you have a strong content strategy, an editorial calendar that is well structured and thought out, and you sponsor the appropriate types of posts.
Facebook is meant to provide relevant, high-quality content that will inspire and/or inform a community. The social network’s recent announcement forces companies—and their agencies—to reevaluate the way they do business. Facebook is an opportunity to market goods and services in an environment that at its core is a fun, social experience. This most recent move by Facebook should simply motivate brands and agencies to do what we’ve been doing all along—and push ourselves even further.
The bottom line
Brands and agencies can still promote contests, apps, and product purchases, but the posts need to be done the right way. That means putting media where it belongs, which includes promotional content. In doing so, this will not only ensure our client’s credibility, but we’ll have a greater chance of reaching brand’s desired communities. Getting a spot in the News Feed is fierce competition now; all the more reason for agencies to take a deeper look at our content strategy so that we can ensure the brands we represent receive the attention they deserve and the investments are worthwhile.
Although we have yet to see the exact impact Facebook’s News Feed changes will have, there’s no cause for concern. Our goal, as always, is to provide content for our clients that users will want to engage with. At the end of the day, Facebook is only trying to uphold the same standards.
There’s no denying that wearable technologies and fitness go hand in glove. From Fitbit to Jawbone Up24 to Garmin Connect, the wearables marketplace is super-saturated with devices that let users track, monitor, and share every step taken, heartbeat pulsed, and calorie consumed. Even Apple is getting in the fitness/wearables game, with the recent introduction of its Health app in iOS 8 and the much-anticipated arrival of the Apple Watch in spring 2015.
While general-interest consumers might still be weighing the use case for wearable devices, the global sports market is leading the pack with its quick adoption rate of wearables. According to Juniper Research, the wearable-device market is expected to grow to $19 billion by 2018, with amateur and professional athletes alike relying on the data generated from these devices to improve performance and prevent injury.
Beyond consumer wearables, tech innovations already are appearing in all sorts of professional athletic equipment. At the National Football League, sensors have been placed in helmets to detect concussions the moment they happen, allowing coaches immediately to pull players from the game following a head injury. Major League Baseball also has a few tricks up its sleeve: MLB has been testing smart compression shirts designed to measure arm movement and analyze technique to determine a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is transforming the way that sports and technology blend with his NBA franchise. Utilizing discreet and nearly weightless GPS tracking devices under athletic gear, everything from the acceleration to the biometrics of players can be measured and analyzed to improve game performance and strategy. Cuban turned to Australian company Catapult Sports for his team’s wearable sensors. Boasting the slogan, “The most-used secret in sport,” Catapult is transforming the professional sports landscape with wearable monitoring devices that take the guesswork out of managing athletic performance.
The NFL, on the other hand, has employed Zebra Technologies to accurately track the location and motion of players in real time. For the 2014 football season, receivers were installed in 17 stadiums that communicate with RFID transmitters placed inside the shoulder pads of each player to “accurately capture real-time player tracking statistics, such as acceleration and total distance run.” It also gives fans immediate insight into the action on the field.
Sacramento Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive is another proponent of the NBA 3.0 philosophy; it’s the idea that technology should be used for the betterment of the fan experience. And that it does. Google Glass made its debut on the court with select players, announcers, cheerleaders and even the mascot sporting the high-tech eyewear. Fans were treated to a unique view of the game, while announcers provided real-time feedback based on their up-close and personal vantage.
And the 2014 FIFA World Cup was no exception to the rising tide of tech-driven sports. From tactics to athletic conditioning, the German National Team had it all thanks to the adidas miCoach elite Team System. This cutting-edge physiological monitoring service is comprised of a group of products that collect and transmit information from the athlete’s bodies while they train. The products track heart rate, speed, distance, acceleration and power, and display the metrics live on an iPad. Coaches and trainers were privy to information not previously available, perhaps contributing to Germany’s epic win at this year’s World Cup finals.
Sports science and analytics is a growing field. Whether utilized by professional athletes or amateurs, there’s no denying that wearable technology has found a home on the field, in the arena and on the court.
This article was first published MediaPost.
On the southwestern edge of Stanford University’s campus, near Palo Alto, California, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design occupies one of the many red-tiled roof and sandstone buildings that epitomize the university’s classic, California architectural style. Outside the Thomas F. Peterson Engineering Laboratory, a vintage maroon Chevrolet 3100 truck greets visitors as the “official bus” of the d.school, the name of the Institute most commonly used on campus. It’s here where Guthrie Dolin, Executive Vice President and Director of Strategy at Nurun, begins a tour of the d.school.
As a program lecturer and longtime friend and champion of the d.school, Guthrie possesses unique insights into where the program has been—and where it’s going. Since the program’s inception, Guthrie has helped to build the d.school’s presence within the Stanford University community and beyond. He created the program’s original identity materials and website, and helped to recruit students and teachers. It was during the process of closely working with d.school co-founders David Kelly and George Kembel, that Guthrie was first invited to guest lecture, then eventually invited to teach.
Founded in Stanford University’s School of Engineering in 2005, thanks in large part to a $35 million donation from SAP AG founder Hasso Plattner, the d.school was created to nurture innovators from radically different backgrounds, including business, the arts, technology, and medicine. As one of the first programs in the country to introduce design thinking principles within an academic setting, the d.school challenges students and faculty to develop innovative, human-centered solutions for real-world problems.
While the d.school doesn’t grant degrees, it serves as the university-wide hub for innovation, bringing together graduate-level students to engage in complex design challenges through rigorous, hands-on practice. Admitting less than 700 students each year, the program is highly competitive, and draws applicants from within Stanford University’s business, engineering, medicine, and arts graduate schools.
“We like to say that the kinds of students who thrive at the d.school are ‘t-shaped’ people, meaning they bring a deep set of skills and knowledge to problem solving within their own fields,” Guthrie said. “And by applying design thinking principles and practices, these experts develop breadth and creative confidence to collaborate with others from very different backgrounds. That’s the basis for the kind of collaboration and co-creation that reveals genuine insights that lead to brilliant solutions to complex problems.”
“Design thinking utilizes close, anthropological observation techniques to gain insights into problems that may not yet be articulated by consumers,” Guthrie said. “In the past, companies relied on focus groups to get feedback from consumers about products and services that they were developing. But focus group participants often will respond in ways that they think they’re supposed to. Observing people in their natural environments provides much deeper insights into latent needs and gets much closer to the truth.”
Guthrie explained that d.school co-founder David Kelly, who also founded IDEO and has been a longtime professor at Stanford University’s design and engineering programs, used many of the ideas and techniques from the world of consulting to inform the d.school’s approach to academia.
“The idea of the d.school is to bring together people with unique skills and perspectives—social scientists, business people, and technologists—and have them work together to design stuff that’s never been designed, and make things that have never existed before,” Guthrie said.
By providing opportunities to rethink common ideas and explore new ways of working together through the application of design thinking principles, d.school students learn how to take problems within a business context that aren’t necessarily about design, and apply design thinking to them.
“The d.school nurtures the idea that the success of design thinking isn’t about keeping ideas and owning them,” Guthrie said. “It’s about getting the tools into as many people’s hands as possible.”
Read our full interview with Guthrie and learn more about the d.school on our Medium page.
HTTPS everywhere was a reoccurring theme at Velocity and I’ve had it on my mind for quite a while. Last weekend I finally took the time to put together my thoughts…
“If you think the content of your website is valuable, why do you send it insecurely?”
Particularly in e-commerce, this can cause bad publicity and reduce the end-user’s trust in the affected brand.
Transport Layer Security (TLS), probably due to its ancestor SSL, still has a bad reputation for being slow and heavy on the CPU. It is true that the initial handshake introduces additional latency for the first request and adds CPU overhead for the asynchronous encryption, but all these side-effects can be reduced to be negligible when the system is correctly configured and tuned.
Additionally, there are some other very desirable side effects when moving an entire site to TLS:
If you need a good summary of TLS and its performance, e.g. to share with your team, stakeholders or managers, you should check out https://istlsfastyet.com. It also contains tables of which features are supported by popular CDNs and Servers.
If you want more details, I recommend you check out:
It was a pleasantly sunny, late-September day in Chicago as great digital thinkers of tomorrow began to convene at the Gene Siskel Film Center to share their visions and theories on the future of the Web. For the second year in a row, I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to attend the annual WebVisions Conference and participate in this forum of digital virtuosos.
The conference opened with a panel discussion that featured Jason Kunesh, CEO of Public Good Software; Andrea Saenz, Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library; and John Tolva, CTO for the City of Chicago. The first topic of debate centered on the question of the Internet as a basic human right, and the necessity to provide access to everyone, regardless of one’s socioeconomic status: “Is the Internet a basic human right that should be provided to every individual in society regardless of his or her ability to pay for the service?” It was a provocative question that raised the subject of net neutrality and the freedom to connect as a right. Andrea Saenz believed that access should be granted to everyone, and reminded us that the city of Chicago has provided more than 2.8 million free public access Internet sessions, and has started a program of loaning out mobile hot spots so that everyone can have free Internet access.
So what does this mean for us as UX and creative designers? More than ever, we need to consider limited bandwidth access and accessible design. Form needs to be secondary to function. At all times, we need to keep our audience top of mind, and ensure that our designs are available to all people regardless of their connectivity speeds or socioeconomic status.
The panel discussion also touched on the wealth of opportunities being uncovered by the recent proliferation of 3D printers, and the accessibility of 3D-printing technologies to virtually everyone. As Jason Kunesh pointed out, as the cost of design prototyping continues to decline, the manufacturing of physical objects is now available to groups of people who typically would not have access to this “maker technology.” 3D printing is helping to revive the inventor spirit, and making manufacturing sexy again for everyone. Andrea Saenz shared some statistical insights gathered from her free 3D-printing maker lab project at the Chicago Public Library, revealing that the maker lab was used by more than 50,000 people in a span of only six months—and 70 percent of those participants were women. The possibilities surfaced by the new reach and breadth of 3D-printing technologies is extremely exciting. The digital and physical worlds are colliding at an incredible pace, opening up new ways to problem solve for not only UX and creative designers, but for society as a whole.
An animated and astute panel, the trio also touched on topics surrounding Internet security and privacy, the future of the Internet of Things, and community connectivity and engagement. It was a fascinating foray into the two-day conference and the wealth of sessions to come.
After the opening panel session, I attended an elective session called “Changing Behavior by Design,” with Adam Harrell, Founder and President of The Nebo Agency. Adam reminded us that human behavior is not predictable, and facts are not enough to change a user’s behavior. He noted that once a user chooses a certain belief system, they don’t react to facts that challenge that established, internal belief system. This is why it’s so important to frame our arguments and designs around the system or worldview of our audience. For UX and creative designers, it is crucial that we understand the intrinsic motivations of our audience in order to design experiences that speak to them. He also stressed that the user reward should be well matched to the difficulty level of the task. I can think of a few practical e-commerce-related examples to help make this concept more tangible. One is the click-cost of a checkout experience versus an account sign-in. From testing, we know that users will spend more time and effort on a task that offers greater reward or payout, such as a checkout experience, but prefer one-to-no clicks for a simple account sign-in. A fascinating talk, it reminded us to keep our audience’s intrinsic motivations top-of-mind at all times in the design process.
In the days that followed, we heard presenters speak on the subjects of story development, web animation and user behavior. One of the more common themes was accessibility and putting the needs of the user ahead of the design and business goals. There were two sessions that honed in on this topic, “Crafting User Experience for Older Users,” with Shawn Henry from W3C, and “Joining Accessibility and User Experience for Accessible UX,” with Sarah Horton and David Sloan from the Paciello Group. Sarah Horton remarked that we should look at the notion of accessibility with fresh eyes and view it as an opportunity, opposed to a constraint, reminding us that a vast segment of the population have some type of disability. For example, more than 8.1 million people in the U.S. have a visual impairment of some kind, and many of the people who stand to gain the most from having an accessible experience are simply denied it. Shawn Henry urged us to remember contrast ratios, text size, and hierarchically intuitive design to facilitate the seamless integration of screen readers. She shared the compelling fact that 64 percent of us will develop a visual, auditory or other accessibility impairment at some point during our lives. It was a sobering reminder that no matter how slick our designs are, if people can’t complete the intended tasks, then we as UX and creative designers have failed dismally.
The WebVisions finale was marked by a celebratory wrap party at Manifest Digital and some friendly PowerPoint karaoke (I hadn’t heard of it either—look it up, it’s an embarrassingly entertaining alternative to the dazzling vocal variety). Overall, WebVisions 2014 was a captivating experience that left me energized and ready to tackle the practical UX and design challenges we face daily. Minute for minute, the WebVisions conference delivered more intrinsic value than most of the conferences I’ve attended over the past years. I can’t wait for next year!
Blu Homes, America’s leading provider of premium prefab homes, launched its newly redesigned website. Created by Nurun’s office in San Francisco, the elegant, responsively designed website reflects Blu Homes’ smart and innovative approach to creating beautiful, high-performance homes for discerning homebuyers who care about design, quality and sustainability.
Nurun was responsible for in-depth consumer research, branding, visual look and feel, site architecture, and interactive content development for the new BluHomes.com. The result is a web experience that features a simplified, entirely new site organization that provides a clear, narrative journey that builds as site visitors explore the site.
Blu’s proprietary information technology enables homebuyers to create their unique home design online in 3-D, and receive a clear, fixed price. Blu Homes are built in the factory, shipped across North America, and unfolded on-site to reveal soaring ceilings and walls of glass that let the outdoors in. Blu Homes start at $210,000 for a 2-bedroom home and go up towards $495,000+ for a 5-bedroom home.