Experience First – Lessons From SOL Republic

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Design products with passion and put the experience first and you shall succeed.

Is it that easy? Well, of course not. But if you start there it seems like you improve your chances drastically.

This constant talk about user experience is not just business blabla or a trend – it’s sense. I was sent an interesting video today talking about passion and experience from a product point of view. It’s Brian Solis interviewing SOL Republic‘s co-founder Seth Combs. Watch it below:

Just listen to how passionate Combs sounds about his product and its users. Makes you want to buy it straight away.

Check out SOL Headphones on Amazon or their official website

Creative iPad ad

Clever ad by Y&R in Rome that makes me think of Aiden’s (8) frequent tinkering with our iPad. There are enough fingerprints there to start an FBI investigation. Or something.

Copy: “Follow us on your iPad.”

Creative credits:
Advertising Agency: Y&R, Rome, Italy
Executive Creative Director: Vicky Gitto
Chief Creative Director: Alessandro Canale
Art Director: Jessica Nardone
Copywriter: Gabriele Di Donato
Account Director: Pierluigi Scozzi
Client Creative Director: Mariano Lombardi

Source: Adsoftheworld.com

The latest ads – good, bad and ugly

Working in advertising makes you look at ads in a different way. While some people might just turn the page, I like to study execution and idea. Here are a few of the latest print ads that caught my eye.

First one is a nice play on the famous phrase “Home, sweet home.” in the ad becoming, home sweet home. It’s a fun play on words, but it’s hard to say whether the ad will be successful just because of that. Still, Thumbs up.

Now what this “sexy”-looking guy holding an iPad has to do with chocolate, I will never know. Is this Cadbury’s target group? Tech-savvy business men in need of a good dump? Thumbs DOWN.

A classic print ad. When you have a product as attractive as Rolex, you don’t need more than a full page spread just showing it. This was actually a spread where one page was used for the watch and the second page was a more or less empty, except for the Rolex logo. Costly promotion? Well, if they sell one watch from it, they get more than the money back.

Swedish alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget, need to be politically correct when they advertise their products. In their ads they mostly talk about responsible drinking, the problem with underage drinking and how bad it is to drink and drive. This ad is slightly different and more clever. Here they sell their alcohol-free products, saying that it’s always good to have something more interesting than water at your table. The smart thing about the ad is that they show a lot of product in it, aka beverages that could both contain alcohol and not, which means that the tastebuds will start to tickle, no matter if you’re a teetotaler, a wine enthusiast, a pub guy or a raging alcoholic.

What is Responsive Design?

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Almost everybody working with websites in some way should have heard about responsive design, also called RWD. The site you’re looking at now is using responsive design, meaning that if you look at it in your iPhone, iPad or other digital device, it will adapt its design to the device and provide an optimised viewing experience. The importance of responsive design is increasing every day since more and more people browse the Internet using other gadgets than their desktop or laptop computers.

Just look around you. Everywhere you go, people seem to carrying an iPad. They’re probably using it more than they’re using a normal PC/Mac, if you don’t count office hours. So the importance of making your website or blog responsive is very important if you want readers not to have to pinch-zoom and see a less attractive version of your website when they want to read your latest post.

And that’s why jonaswrites.com is using responsive design. Try it out on your mobile or on your tablet and you will see how beautifully the site optimises itself to give you a better browsing experience. The new design is a lot more slick than the previous one, some would call it very Nordic and some would call it boring, but after all, what we want on the web is content and this way it will be easier for you to read and access it.

Happy reading!

A/B Testing Your Website, (also called split testing)

Here are some tips around A/B testing (split testing) that I’ve learned from playing around with the excellent Optimizely software.

Nothing is sacred. Question assumptions.

Working with e-marketing for a long time, I’ve always thought a certain landing page, image or message works better than others. You base it on a combination of experience and gut feeling and you think that as a creative you should almost know these things. But after looking at stats from campaigns and trying out different landing page experiments, whilst also researching heavily through sites like Backlink it seems that you can never really know what works – you need to test, test, test until you get it right. And you will often be surprised by the results.

Explore before you refine.

This is logical, but still people with little experience around A/B testing will get it wrong. You need to start with tests that are as broad as possible, trying out different layouts or themes before you decided to test the copy on the button. Find a layout that works and then start testing how to optimize the layout, testing button placements, copy in the button, images, using videos instead of images, using different videos, removing buttons to have clear navigation, etc. Start wide and narrow it down.

Reducing options from the visitor – less is more.

Too much choice is just going to confuse the consumer. Are you overpowering your customer’s impression with countless buttons or navigation options? Try removing a few less important ones and you will probably see interesting results. And if you won’t, you can always change back.

Fail fast.

A/B testing is all about experimentation. But to be really successful you need to make sure you react swiftly to obvious trends or results. If an experiment is hurting your visitors, make sure to keep checking the site and amend when needed.

Words matter – focus on your call to action.

When you have narrowed it down, its time to start fiddling with copy (and the imagery). You can usually see quite a difference when trying out different texts for the button. When you think an aggressive call to action is the way to go, the opposite might be true.

That’s some quick and dirty advice on A/B testing your website. I would seriously recommend anyone running an e-business to check out Optimizely.

How To Give Feedback To Creatives

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Giving feedback to a creative is not easy. Remember, this guy or girl has worked on something with a combined effort of dedication and skill and are not emotionally ready to hear something like: “This sucks. I expected something different.” It’s not constructive or instructive, only destructive.

And what is good anyway? And what sucks? Is it always up to the client to decide? After all, they’re “paying” for it. Shouldn’t the creative just do what the hell we tell them to do? They don’t know sales!

I would say this kind of attitude is not only stupid but also wrong. Remember that a designer or a copywriter might not always bring you the gem you’ve been looking for at the first go, after all – they’re creatives – not mind readers. But with some guidance they can use their skills to find out what you want.

Can they also give advice? Yes, they can! So don’t box them in with exact mock-ups and stuff like: “Tilt the shade to the right and create a yellow rainbow behind the man, could we maybe also add a flying chipmunk and some gold coins somewhere?” Or what the copywriters might recognize: “Write the text exactly like this. Oh, I already wrote it like that. Mine was better then! I’m the copywriter here, yippii!” To which I like to say: no, you’re not the copywriter. Writing is about a whole lot more than forming letters into words and words into sentences. Let the professionals be professionals and do your own thing goddammit.

The best creative process is a collaboration of minds. If you bring the correct facts in the brief and some bullet points on the feeling you want in the image or even something as “vague” as the goal of the image/campaign, you could find a way to interpret it together.

The major ingredient for healthy collaboration is constructive, concise and well thought-through feedback. Try to limit the amount of communication to one to two meetings or one to two e-mails. The road to hell is paved with feedback e-mails going: “move that there, aha, now I see it’s not good, maybe if you put the text in bold, okay, that didn’t work, so what if we move the player to the right? It doesn’t fit with the other elements? Well then maybe we should redo it, or if you somehow could…”

Here are a few tips:

  • Look at the image/concept/draft/mock-up/copy and write down thoughts and feelings about it. Make sure to really spend some time on this (out of respect if nothing else) because in most cases the designer or copywriter has spent quite a bit of time on it and I promise you the process will be much smoother if you try to gather all your feelings at once. Try to be a bit positive too, nobody likes a grouch.
  • Book a 15-30 minute meeting, in real life (IRL for you who are close to underage), or on Skype to go through it. It’s easier to give feedback like that and it shows you pay attention to the result. A sloppy e-mail after glancing for 30 seconds won’t cut it because imagine the result if the creative glanced for 10 seconds at your feedback and spent the remaining 20 seconds on amending your image.
  • If you can’t book a meeting, write everything down, as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings and make sure you’re not missing anything before you click that red hot send-button. We’re all dying to send more e-mails, I know. If you do this properly the creative will be happy to receive feedback and will try to accommodate all the proposed changes if possible without cursing once.

I want to reiterate not to give it a quick glance, send a thought or two and then when you look at it the second time to come up with completely new or different feedback. This will make the process longer and more frustrating and if you ever happen to stumble on the creative now working as a waiter in a restaurant as a result of wanting to split his head open from all the destructive feedback rounds, there will likely be something slightly unusual in your food.

Let the creative process be imaginative, respectful, efficient, collaborative and straightforward and we will all lead more fulfilling lives.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I’m saying.