The #UX of Events Data: helping event organizers understand their audience
Posted on October 14th, 2015
10/14/2015 @Pivotal Labs, 625 6th Ave, NY
Chett Rubenstein @InsightXM spoke about InsightXM’s work on understanding attendance and registration of events such as trade shows, conferences, and festivals.
Chett described how insightXM can analyze the data which organizers already collect to help them achieve their goals such as increasing attendance, reaching a target market, etc.
He then talked about how insightXM improved their process to help the clients solve their problems. They proceeded in three iterations:
- First iteration – build a platform to upload data with some basic analytics
- Second iteration – build tools to help clients visualize files with large numbers of fields. Build mouse-overs so you can see the contents of the data fields. One of their interactive graphs shows the cumulative registrations over time, a map of the geographic distribution of registrations, and a slider and filters to slice the data by time and customer characteristics.
- Third iteration – make the data upload and categorization easy. The deliverables are bullet points summarizing any graphics presented to the client. InsightXM does the analysis behind the scenes.
Chett talked about current and future directions of insightXM and marketing in general.
- Increased used of behavioral analytics to better know the customer
- Linguistic analysis of marketing materials
- Real time demographic and behavioral prediction of customer preferences. For example, once a badge is scanned at a booth, you will know the individual’s behavioral preferences.
- Demographic lead scoring within CRM systems
- Referral engines at conferences suggesting sessions to attend based on individual preferences and behavior patterns of other attendees
Beaker Notebook: the #UX of Iterative Data Exploration
Posted on August 12th, 2015
08/12/2015 @ Pivotal Labs, 625 6th Ave, NY
Beaker was developed by Two Sigma, an investment manager, to give their researcher a tool to analyze markets and document their findings. It is now an open source product.
The notebook is divided into sections and sections can be grouped hierarchically into larger sections. Within a section, an analysis can be performed in Python, for instance, and the output is saved to Beaker variables. These variables can be analyzed using R, Python or any of the supported languages. Beaker can also produce interactive graphics using its own native charting package. The notebook with code, data, and graphs can be saved for further analysis.
Jeff and Scott next talked about the design challenges when creating Beaker. These include:
- All languages are fully supported.
- Open source
- Environment independent
To create an expandable library of supported languages they have an intermediate Beaker language with plug-ins to handle each programming language. To insure Beaker can run on different operating systems, on- and off-the cloud, the user interface is text-based with little formatting.
To accommodate the wide range of programming and data analysis experience across users, they developed several interfaces from verbose (shows language employed, etc.) to terse. To help all levels of users, they adapted the web interface to provide key features available on local desktops, but frequently not available in browsers: 1. Menus in the upper margins, 2. Windows that can be repositioned on the desktop, 3. File dialogs.
To give the web app these functions, they used a framework from ‘The Electron’ which is developed in Chromium incorporating the tools from Node.js.
Data and data structures are passed across languages using #JSON. This offers generality, but with some loss of accuracy for floating point numbers. (in the future they plan to pass values using binary files). They are currently working on methods to share notebook sections (and possibly forked versions).
The audience was invited to try out the system at BeakerNotebook.com.
#Flux as a #StateSpaceModel of user interactions and #LocalStorage options for #WebBrowsers
Posted on August 11th, 2015
In the first talk, Taylor Hakes gave an introduction to Flux, an approach to organizing web development. Taylor spoke about the problems of purely programming the dom. One is that user interactions can be conceptualized by creating models in the virtual dom, but the two-way interactions between models and the UI offers little structure and the possibility of a complex web of interactions. For example, a user input can trigger many outcomes that may be hard to conceptualize or debug.
He then offered a view in which user interactions flow through a single dispatcher that coordinates all action requests, updates a state space, which in turn drives views. User interactions are routed through action requests, which then restart the state space update process coordinated by the dispatcher.
Taylor presented code examples showing that
- Actions are now functions
- The history of interactions is stored in state variables
- Debugging is easier since the state variables can be monitored vs. the user actions
- Flux is verbose, but useful when the logic is complex, but the number of states is manageable
- React complements Flux
To learn more, Taylor recommended the book: Evaluation of Flux Frameworks – by Dan Abramov
In the second talk, Geraldina Alvarez Garcia @Kickstarter discussed methods for storing data from a web browser on the local computer. The four methods are
- Local key-value store
- Session storage
Cookies are the most prevalent form of local storages, but they are limited to 4k of information. Geraldina talked about an application needing more storage and showed a code snippet implementing a key-value store. It can store up to 5MB of data, but cannot transfer the data directly to a server and is a synchronous operation which may interfere with other operations such as real-time interactive video.
#UX design and #IP / protect it or lose it
Posted on May 21st, 2015
NYTechCouncil (#NYTC) & Huge UX Events
05/20/2015 @Huge, 45 Main St., Brooklyn, NY
This was highly informative introduction about protecting your intellectual property. A moderator and 2 panelists discussed ways to protect one’s #IntellectualProperty in the U.S. They described various tools for protecting your IP along with the pros and cons of each method. To illustrate how these different tools would fit together to protect a product, Charles presented a case study and Beth and Chris described the advice they would give the inventors.
The panel consisted of
Beth Ferrill @ Finnegan, DC
Chris Carani, @McAndrews, Chicago
Charles Mauro, @Mauro Usability Science, NY
Charles started the presentation by highlighting the importance of protecting UX IP in the $1B awarded to Apple as Samsung violated Apple’s UX design. By contrast a fine of $300mm was assessed for engineering violations. (see however, the US appeals Court ruling that Apple cannot collect damages for Samsung’s copying of the look and feel of the iPhone.)
The discussion concentrated on the following types of IP:
- Naming & branding
- Hardware design
- App development
- Smart watch development
- Software desktop
- Business development
Under the U.S. legal system the following are the main types of IP protection:
- Copyright – protect fixed expression. 70 years + life of author
- Trademark –registered with patent office (vs the tm symbol which covered by common law). Lasts forever provided they are used.
- Design patent – protect the appearance of an article of manufacture including interfaces, icons, animated icons; examined by patent office; 15 years of protection from filing; favorable damages provision – entitled to the total profits even beyond profits made on the product outside the scope of the design patent
- Utility patent – protect the way something works. 20 years from filing
- Trade dress – part of the source identifier under the trademark: e.g. the shape of the coke bottle. Good for an indefinite time period.
- Trade secrets – usually not relevant here as it requires that no public disclosure has even been made.
When considering these protections, one must consider not only the protections that they offer you, but also the Litigation exposure if part or all of your invention is already included in another previous IP protection. This is motivates searches of previous filings early stages of the invention/design process.
To illustrate how these protections complement each other, Charles presented a case study for the panel to analyze: a new music platform founded in 2012 which needs to assemble their IP package as they seek series A funding. The possible IP included the name, graphics, app design, business process, underlying software, etc. Points revealed by the discussion included:
- Need to apply for a utility patent within 1 year of first public disclosure – what was disclosed, when and how close was it to what you want to protect.
- Anything put on Kickstarter is a public disclosure. Get the NDA in place even if showing it to angel investors. People can troll kickstarter sites and file patents.
- The U.S. use a “first to file” (as opposed to “first to invent”) system. So file often and file first.
names and logos
- Copyright name “earrz” and logo. Should file a trademark application for the name and one for the logo. If it’s a moving icon, you can file an application for the motion. You can apply for a design patent on the graphic design appearance of the name.
- Trademarks for a specific good or service: Apple records vs Apple computers are separate business that would probably not be confused by customers. But if there a likely area of expansion that might cause retail confusion. Better to run a preliminary scan for names. If you get a letter from Earz.com, you need to first find the scope of their trademark right and if there are any actual cases of confusion.
- Talk to your patent attorney before you have put effort into creating the product, name, software, design, etc. Also consider that it takes a different amount of time to get each type of protection.
- As long as the patent is just pending, you cannot enforce it with a “cease and desist” letter. So it’s better to also get copyright protection at the same time (only takes 3 to 6 months).
- Do not have a free-lance designer create a design and give him/her the right to expose the design independently of you.
- You can trademark sounds (e.g. NBC 3 tone signature).
navigating the app
- Navigation on the app can be patented by a series of pictures showing the sequence of images: in the design patent application, exclude words (you want to protect the design if the buttons are labeled in another language). Protect the designs that you will be using repeatedly.
- The flow across different display screen can also be copyrighted. Filed as a series of images. But the more specific the design, the easier it is to make slight modifications around the patent. It’s better to claim the building blocks of the design. A design patent has only one claim, so you may need to get several design patents that cover different aspects. (by contrast a utility patent has many claims in a single filing). Any test in court will depend on if the look is substantially similar. But to distinguish between touch vs swipe is not a design issue, it’s a utility patent.
- The “ordinary observer test” is used to determine if there are actual differences. This looks at the overall impression.
- If the UI has the same interface as a competitor, but with different color scheme the degree of protection depends on whether the original has a design patent without specifying color. Beth and Chris advised that it might be best to change your general design, rather than test your rights in court.
- If have a business process includes a new wrinkle such as a way to smooth payments to artists you might consider this an innovative. But this might be a tough claim to make in a utility patent. It also it might be difficult to assert in the future as the patent law continues to change.
- Might be a better idea to create an app protected by a design patent which protects the flow: replace a process patent by UX design protection. If possible tie your business process to a physical item.
- The issue of whether a GUI is protected requires a device in some countries, but in others it does not need to be shown in a device. In some countries it might not be a candidate for protection.
- The actual code base: you need to keep track of where in the world each contribution came from. But generally protecting software is very difficult or impossible.
- In this case study, Beth and Chris recommended: get trademarks on an intent-to-use basis; utility patent might or might not be important. Copyright is cheap and quick. Should know the patent landscape generally. Might get both static and animated design patents.
- The system of IP protections is evolving quickly.
- Can put a provision patent application on file for a utility patent. Might want to do this prior to the first public disclosure of the product.
- Currently no way to protect the full inner-connectivity of the idea. Instead need to have different types of protection that can be displayed as a network of ideas.
- Costs estimates to file for various protections: Trademarks: $1000, design $2-3k; utility patent: $6-8k for simple, $20-40k for complicated.
As a footnote, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported a drop in patent lawsuits and damages in 2014.
The #UX of #StatisticalSoftware for #MobileDevices
Posted on December 10th, 2014
12/10/2014 @Pivotal, 625 6th Ave, NY
Sungjoon Nam @NumberAnalytics talked about the software he has developed for the analysis of business data without the clutter of standard statistical interfaces.
When he started teaching at Rutgers Business School in Newark, he realized how hard it was for the students to navigate the interface of SPSS and decipher the statistical tables output by the package.
He found similar issues with SAS and R, so he developed a web interface (using R as the statistical engine) that takes in data and produces outputs that directly address the business decision. In addition, the analysis were clearly labeled by business question addressed, so users can go directly to the needed analysis without needing to decide if it was a regression analysis, clustering, or other statistical technique.
One of the techniques used to guide the user to the important factors is the use colors to show when variables are statistically significant. Instead of using tables, they use graphs to show which variables are statistically significant. The software also provides a text description of what is significant.
Sungjoon then talked about the challenges when moving the application to the iPad. One challenge was that local storage may not be sufficient to handle some data sets, so alternatives such as dropbox must be available. Screen space is also limited, so they adopted a rule where user interactions move left to right on the screen and cover only one topic per page.
He closed by listing some lesson learned when presenting the software at a training class in China:
- Google does not work – avoid Google graphs.
- Make sure it runs on Windows XP, IE 6.0 – also Chrome is not available since it’s from Google
- Internet speed varies widely from provider-to-provider – make sure the site works in all environments
- Internet server speeds may vary over time.
- Use a local contact
One interesting design decision was to not include data cleaning facilities in the software. This greatly simplifies the interface and the technical demands on the user. The assumption is that the user will analyze clean data from sources such as Salesforce and Alibaba.
The Science of Collaboration in UX Design
Posted on October 29th, 2014
10/29/2014 @Huge, 45 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY
Four talks were given on various aspects of #UX
In the first talk, Charles Mauro @NYTech summarized some of the academic research on collaboration with an emphasis on fostering the creativity needed for successful UX design. Topics were
- 1. Cognitive science – (see the book Social by Matthew Lieberman at UCLA) – the parts of the brain that are active when we are at rest (called the default network) are also the same parts that we use when we think about activities with others. In other words we are hardwired to collaborate.
As an aside, education stops us from collaborating.
- Brainstorming vs individual. Individuals working separately will produce more creative ideas.
- Diversity – Cognitive diversity makes a group more effective.
- Social network analysis – weak vs. strong links. (Granovetter, Hansen, Wegner, Perry-Smith) Groups are more productive when they are diverse. Working with people who have weak links with each other makes the group more diverse.
- Excellence myth Retaining stars is not an optimal way to create a diverse group. A.k.a. “the Google problem”
- Leadership – Groups with strong leaders perform the worst in terms of creativity and final outputs. Better to share leadership. Steve Jobs is might possibly be a counterexample, but he accepted other’s ideas and it is unclear how dominant he actual was within his group.
Brandon Fischer @Prysm talked about Synthesis, a collaboration platform for meetings which is a synthesis of white boards, post it notes, power point, speaker phone, tablet, … The display accepts annotations on its surface and all material, including annotations, can be saved for future recall.
Going forward they play to publish an SDK so others can build web apps
Jason Tiernan @Honey @jasontiernan spoke about honey which is a platform for sharing content at Huge. It combines the best features of email (too much non-work content), social media (not focused enough) and reddit. Jason talked about the challenges of designing software to be used by designers including the need to incorporate lots of suggestions (that are sometimes at odds)
He also mentioned Trello – a free tool for sharing and some of the other tools his group uses: honey, dropbox, sketch, 53
Matthew Achariam @LayerVault talked about the design challenges to create online community of designers (DesignerNews). He discusses the reasons for various design decisions
- Artificial constraints – 1. Manage influx of new users – by invite only 2. Signal exclusivity 3. Retain quality of the discussion
- Accountability & moderations. 1. Real names & titles 2. Self-policing 3. Hellban (avoid spambots – create class for certain individuals in which they can make comments, but their comments are not distributed to the main community, only to others in that class)
- Pixel avatars – 1. Make it retro 20×20 grid 2. Frustrating UI – don’t give them tools. Instead, let them invent how to create and use this feature 3. Give them little pay off (except the satisfaction of doing something difficult)… Watch the creative solutions generated.
These features can be examined by going to News.layervault.com
the #UX lab Series #4 Lab #1 featuring Zenly
Posted on July 16th, 2014
The UX lab (http://www.meetup.com/The-UX-Lab/)
7/15/2014 @ SoTechie Spaces 28 West 39th Street #401, New York, NY
Once again Meghan, Sean and the others hosting the UX lab have created an educational and entertaining session. As in previous meetings, there was a mix of lecture, individual and group evaluations of a web site followed by group presentations of the web site from a UX perspective.
www.zenly.com was the site being reviewed. Zenly is an apartment rental site which features search, videos, scheduling, and application. The six evaluation groups worked on an heuristic evaluation (see the Nielsen Norman Group) of signon, listing search, and scheduling a visit. Screens were evaluated along with the interactions across screens. Evaluations were done on the basis of functionality, the emotional experience of that page, and whether there were performance issues or errors.
The groups provided feedback which included difficulties in signing on and verification that the signup was successfully completed, making the apartment search easier and more able to select by square footage or other characteristics, providing price ranges for apartments within sections of NY, the ability to edit and review the appointments that you have set up, etc.
Workshop: Using #Web Metrics for #UX Benchmarking, Analysis and Ideation
Posted on July 10th, 2014
Beverly May, Beverly@OxfordTech.us, Executive Director of the UX Awards
7/9/2014 @ Pivotal Labs, 625 Avenue of Americas, 2nd Floor, New York, NY
Beverly gave a detailed, practical tour through the steps her consulting firm uses when conducting a competitor analysis of web traffic. Her presentation was in three parts. 1. description of the types of metrics (concentrating on web metrics), 2. a case study showing how these metrics can be graphed and tabulated to give insights (and how the measure of engagement may be misleading in some cases), and 3. a practical workshop on entering and analyzing data using specific online analysis tools.
- Beverly divided web metrics in public vs private and into reports by traffic (unique visitors, views, etc), audience demographics, engagement (time spent, bounce rate, etc.), and platform (percent mobile, OS, download speed, etc.). She also contrasted your information using public data (inaccurate but data includes competitor statistics) vs. private data (only your firm only, but with clickstream, dates, entry and exit paths, etc. ).
- A digital media brand analysis study illustrated how changes in the competitive universe over time and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Demographics, such as income and age, were especially important as they compared to average viewing time, likes, shares, bounce rate, etc. She also noted that for a video site, viewing time is the key performance indicator in preference to the number of views. She also mentioned that a high engagement score at some sites, such as paypal, might indicate a problem completing transactions which would be an indicator of a negative rather than a positive experience.
- The workshop analyzed sample data using sites such as http://www.similarweb.com/website/nameofsite.com. Beverly’s examples showed how quickly a simple analysis can be created using these online tools.
#AR / #VR and the sense of place, AR #documentaries
Posted on March 18th, 2017
3/17/2017 @Hunter College, 68th & Lexington Ave, New York, Lang Theater
Four talks were on the use of AR/VR were given by
Samara Smith & Sarah Wright – Revealing Here: Using AR and VR to Transform Sense of Place
Ed Johnston – Augmented Asbury Park
Sam Topiary – Exit Zero: San Francisco Freeway to the Future
Samara Smith spoke about three installations and the role of the documentary
- Commotion for the #QueensMuseum in NY – tablet allows users to superimpose routes to work for individual commuters overlaying the physical 3-d display of the panorama of New York.
- Walking tour of #HambergerSquare Park in Greensboro, NC. Here walkers take a picture of historical objects in the park and are told the story of the park.
- Walking tour of Central Park in NY which uses GPS to activate sounds relevant to the location in the park.
Next, Sarah Nelson Wright spoke about VR projects to give people new perspectives on specific locations
- #HiddenVistas showed #HuntersPointSouth as a wild space in NY after industry in the early 20th century abandoned the location and prior to new construction there.
- An installation at the Queens museum used a VR mask shaped as a pair of binoculars to give users the impression that they were looking at distant scenes from within the museum
- A walking tour of #Soho called #InvisibleSeams superimposed images over advertising billboards of the conditions of garment workers and the pollution from garment product.
Ed Johnson talked about #AugmentedAshburyPark, an AR app which superimposed lost buildings/items on the #AsburyPark, NJ boardwalk. Using images from postcards, a visual and geolocation indexed interactive map was created from the carousel, the wreck of the Moro, etc. The app can also display these images by scanning historical posters from Asbury Park.
They are currently exploring use of Argonjs to revive the geolocation features of the app.
Finally, Sam Topiary talked about the challenges of documenting the history of the Hayes Valley, a site in downtown San Francisco. The challenge is how to tell the story of a part of the city that has seen transformations over time and whose transformations are indicative of the changing fortunes of the city and the inhabitants near the specific location. She concentrated on specific periods
- Grass roots organizations that blocked and eventually remove freeways through San Francisco
- Temporary conversion of the site to an urban farm for a 3 year period
- Construction on the site of luxury apartments as the neighborhood gentrifies
The periods correspond to the ups and downs of the local economy.
She asked the questions of how to communicate the nuances of the history and location without overwhelming the viewer.
She and other panel members talked about how to make an immersive experience but not make it so immersive that the audience becomes passive. Where does narrative fit into this continuum? How does one find and appropriate level of audience interaction?
#Web and #Mobile #Development Panel
Posted on March 2nd, 2017
03/02/2017 @TheYard, 106 West 32rd Street, NY 2nd floor
A panel consisting of the following people spoke about setting up your startup.
MODERATOR, FOUNDER & CEO OF STRTUPBOOST + SPORTSWONKS, Jason Malki
Founder & CEO, Torops, Konstantine Sukherman
Founder & President, Mango Concept, Michael daniels
Founder & Creative Director, Awesome, Firat Parlak
Managing Partner, New Logic Technology, Alex Sokoletsky
Founder & CEO, bromin7, Sergey Belov
Recommend platforms to create MVP website. WordPress, but depends on the client, how fast you want to get up and running, and who are the clients. Also some funding shops have custom platforms. Drupal & WordPress are good alternatives. A couple of days are all that is needed to create an MBP. The platform depends on product. WordPress is not a fully scalable application. Invest custom if your product needs to scale to be successful. 70% of web is WordPress. 1 million visits/day is often the point when scalability becomes a problem.
When does UI/UX become important? You should define the UX before you build. You will then do a better job of predicting your costs and features along with the time frame. It’s the most important part of the startup. A prototype will make your pitch easier.
How do you build a dev team? Web sites: Drubal, Behance, WorkingButNotWorking. Initially reach out to your network. For a founder its different – what is the skill set are you are looking for?
How do you hire a CTO? Alternative is to outsource or get a technical advisor (a few hours/week). One of co-founders is better if they have technical background. If just starting, will need to offer CTO a lot of equity. If need technical co-founder might offer equal or even more equity. At later stage, will need to give less equity. Also the CTO might be good technically, but need not know the all the area of dev. Get people excited.
An internal team will give you greater control. But partnering might be most cost efficient. Want to build a long term relationship – outside tem must be interested in the product. In-house developers must have equity. Don’t squeeze dev too much – it’s about building a relationship. Everyone should be happy. Good dev are hard to find > $100k/year. Get it out in the market as quickly as possible. Need proof of concept in the market. Get people in house to manage the outsource developers. 40% in-house and 60% outside can be a good mix. Find a senior designer to start (don’t leave it to a junior designer).
How do you choose a dev shop? Needs to more than a dev shop – need business analysts. Startups have great ideas, but need a partner to help on strategy. Need technical knowledge but should also have interest in the field. Personalities need to match. Good idea to keep some people who built the project even when you are able to hire an in-house team. You need to build a communication channel. Select the shop or can build an off-shore team – depends on whether you need to senior staff. Need to interview the developers who will be working on the project. Can scale faster if you get the right partner.
Okay to the start without understanding the code. Need to get someone who will take over the task. Should talk to developers 2x-3x/day. This will help you generate ideas. Every good dev team will give you an estimate, but it’s just an estimate. Don’t try to push you agenda on your developers. If it takes longer, they are trying to make the product better. Get out as quickly as possible if dev team is not producing or communicating.
Will an angel invest in a company which is using a dev shop? The VC at some point will ask you to build an internal team. If large amount being raised you may be asked to put together an in-house team. Otherwise, you may do either. Investors are looking for a good idea! Be clear to the dev shop on the amount of money that is available to use for dev.
The technology stack is key if you are developing in house. If the CTO is using an outside team, then it is sufficient for the CTO to have a computer science degree and decent resume. Mainly need someone who can explain complex things to non-technical people. if AI is involved, the CTO should understand the core ideas of AI.
Never speak technical language to investors. Investors want to know the idea, revenue streams, the team. Investors like to know how product will function, so they want to know on-boarding and scaling, but they don’t need to know the dev stack. When you want to raise millions, investors will do a tech review so they know if the product will scale.
Usually need some type of MVP, but it can be small and cheap to develop. Raise money for this from friends and family.
Make sure you understand the scope – detailed scope will help prevent dev overruns. If you need to go outside the scope, then cut back features. Break it down to multiple phases and emphasize the key features. Always have a 20% buffer. Design dictates the development. Lock in the design since changes for developers are expensive.
Any good dev shop will have a flexible contract, so you will need to pay for design changes, but they will need to absorb charges if they misestimate the time. Also it depends on the amount of overage and the relationship.
You cannot really protect the idea. Otherwise, patent it and you might be able to negotiate to let the shop share the tech in return for a lower price. Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea. Executing is the difficult part.