Value Proposition Design – “Just Do Me Up One Of These”

Part 1 of 2

THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF POSTS AROUND VALUE PROPOSITION DESIGN. THE SERIES WILL COVER WHAT IT IS, WHAT ITS BENEFITS ARE, HOW IT FITS INTO A LARGER DIGITAL STRATEGY. ALONG THE WAY I SHARE SOME STORIES ABOUT WHY WE'VE COME TO USE IT REGULARLY. FOR PART2, CLICK HERE.

Flying At 10,000 Feet Vs. Being In The Weeds

Have you ever had a client who you think has “no attention for detail?”

Do their eyes glaze over as soon as you start talking about the particulars of your proposed web design, investment in UX, SEO, Analytics, PR? Sound familiar to the web designers, SEO folks, content marketers, UX practitioners?

Value Proposition Design LensWe as designers and service providers tend to spend much of your time in the weeds – operating at a detail level that our clients or bosses may have no interest in, or patience for.

And our clients, as business owners, are often operating at 10,000 feet. Some may feel inadequate about their own domain expertise when it comes to technology details. And some “get it”, but don’t want, or need, to be involved with understanding the implementation.

It is rare that you get a client or boss who wants to understand and learn about the ins and outs of our craft, whatever it may be. Read more

Top of the Class

Polymash is proud to announce that one of its apps, Wild Dolphins, has been acknowledged as a Top of the Class app by eSpark.

The iPad app tells powerful stories through interactive media of dolphin rescues and efforts to keep them living safely in the wild.   The app, Wild Dolphins was created by a large team of committed, talented, professional people from Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute working with the team at Polymash.

ishot-167Dolphin Tale

eSpark, is committed “to transform learning so it’s personalized, best of breed, engaging, and mobile; enabling students to succeed in school and in life.”

The Top of the Class List features the best 15 apps in eSpark's curriculum of 750 apps, and Wild Dolphins has been included because it “stands out as an exemplary model” for the following reasons:

  • It constantly receives positive feedback from the most important critics – eSpark students.
  • It meets eSpark’s learning design team's criteria in selecting apps for its curriculum:

– Common Core Standard Alignment
– An engaging and intuitive user experience
– Bang for the buck
– Scaffolding of skills

We are particularly proud because there are more than 100,000 educational apps, books, and learning resources available on the Apple iPad platform and being selected by eSpark’s curriculum experts as they continually scour the app store looking for the most rigorous and engaging learning apps that meet their strict criteria is an acknowledgement to all who contributed to its creation.

 

Appreciative Inquiry and App Development

I am so delighted and filled with gratitude when my clients, or my prospective clients, spontaneously say to me in a somewhat surprised tone:

“You have really helped me think this through.”

“I hadn't seen it quite like that before.”

“I'm now seeing possibilities I hadn't considered.”

“You've opened me up to a new way of thinking.”

Developmental Conversations

I'm delighted because that kind of feedback tells me our conversation has helped the client progress her thinking.  Together, we've created a developmental conversation.  The conversation has constructed something new for both of us.  She has some insights about her situation and me, and I have new insights about my situation and her.  And, I'm grateful because she was open to the inquiry.  She was receptive. She wanted to find a new way.  She was willing to explore and discover. Our generative conversation created the new possibilities.

appreciative inquiry design processOn the surface, Polymash is an app development agency.  But scratch a little below the surface and you'll find that what we really do is develop people, and their ideas, and ultimately develop innovation behaviors.  We know that through our inquiry-based approach to our client engagements, we help them express that which they want to express.  We begin conversations with our goal to guide them so that eventually clients are able to express what they are wanting to achieve in the most positive way; they express what delights them; what they aspire to; and what brings life to their purpose in life and business. In our app development, we tap into the highest potential for people and for product. Our experience has been that people dig deep to contribute to something larger than themselves, something that allows their voice and creativity to rise to the top.  That's how innovations happen. That's how great design and user experience (UX) emerge organically.

Innovation Behaviors

When we come to a project with the mindset of people development over product development, we are focused on the human experience over the technological solution.  Our mindset, when we engage with clients, is that we want them to realize that through engagement with their apps, they can positively impact their user-base. Our Wild Dolphins iPad app and FilmOneFest iPad and smartphone apps are two examples where the inquiry-based approach resulted in not only producing highly attractive apps with great entertainment and utility, but also developed entire client teams involved in gathering all the content for the apps.  Teams can evolve to new heights in their relationships and productivity.  And, apps have the potential to create innovation behaviors among their customers – the users.

In the case of Wild Dolphins, we had members of the organization saying that being part of the content creation for the app was the best experience in their career to date.  They were amazed at how everyone just wanted to jump in and Wild Dolphins Appreciative Inquirycontribute.  They said productivity increased and leadership emerged where they had not seen it before.  New, innovation behaviors that have come from the app users have been greater awareness of what endangers the species, and what new, innovation behaviors they can adopt to help protect wild dolphins.  The Wild Dolphins‘ client wanted to put their mission into the world and be a force for good by bringing awareness to the positive human behaviors that will help protect dolphins in the wild.

FilmOneFest II app was also community-wide effort, where we engaged with various stakeholders whose content and ideas would be included in the app – filmmakers, film critics, sponsors, volunteers, business people. The articulated goal was to be able to show the one-minute films selected for viewing at the one-day film festival to help promote the filmmakers,  the event and the town.  What emerged from our inquiry was a whole new innovative approach to help promote the event and attract new filmmakers for future film festivals and an entirely innovative way of having filmmakers participate in all future events.

Greatest Energy and Excitements

Our approach to our work is grounded in a special kind of inquiry:  Appreciative Inquiry.  By “Inquiry,” we mean asking carefully crafted questions that to seek to expand the thinking and enlarge the conversation and its potential.  By “Appreciative,” we mean inquiring through a lens that seeks to appreciate or  “increase in value” whatever the topic of the inquiry is.  So applying the Appreciative Inquiry framework, we engage with our clients through a lens that looks for what is to be valued, successful and appreciated.  Energy and engagement result.  Creativity is unleashed and innovations pop up from unexpected sources.

What if, instead of looking for “the pain points and problems” in clients' situations, we inquired into areas of “greatest energy and excitements.”  What if we stopped thinking and acting from a position of “what we lack and our weaknesses” and instead began to focus on “past successes, current best assets and individual and collective strengths?”  When you inquire from that perspective, shift happens!

To learn more and apply Appreciative Inquiry, download our iPad app Embracing Change which leads users through change.  To learn more about the principles of Appreciative Inquiry as a method of inquiry that results in stories of personal and professional triumph, download our smartphone and iPad app Appreciative Inquiry – an Introduction.

 

 

 

 

 

Chomp Change – App Store Search Behavior in iOS-6

The face of the app store is about to change again in iOS6.

Back in February Apple acquired Chomp, an app store search company. With the upcoming release of iOS6, Apple is about to showcase their integration of Chomps technologies. One likely result is that consumer app store search behavior will change forever.

Compare the current search results display on the left to the Chomp approach on the right.

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What is special about the Chomp inspired approach are two things:

1.  A card based search result interface, much larger and emphasizing screen shot previews, and with potentially more room for information about each app.
2. A new search algorithm

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Footnote: iOS6 is expected to be released to the general public later this fall.

How will this change impact app store search behavior for consumers?

This change will display cards about each app, roughly 75% larger than the current display. So I think the likely change in user behavior will be driven by the fact that 2/3 fewer apps will be visible in the search result viewport, but that more visuals about each app will be included in the resulting card display. For users this will likely increase engagement and drill down with the top search results. I would also predict that the total number of apps a user browses through in search results will decrease.

The above is true for the iPad.  I should also mention that the impact on the iPhone search results will be even more drastic, displaying a single card display users can swipe through a card at a time.

Image courtesy of MacRumors, read their post here

How will this change impact app developers and marketers?

For app developers and marketers this change will be significant. Getting into the top 25 search results will be even more important than it is already. Carefully keyword selection, as well as selecting the most compelling screenshots to entice users to check out an app in greater details will be key. But in general the opportunity to have cool screenshot displayed in the search result is good for apps and developers that have great graphic design. More challenging will be how the search algorithm will actually function.

What about the new search algorithm?

It is hard to tell exactly how this new search algorithm works. I suspect we will learn greater details about it once it is live. However, what is clear is that there are differences when comparing the results returned from an iOS5 search versus an iOS6 search.

In various Mac discussion forums some suspect at the new algorithms will emphasize popularity ratings and downloads, in favor of relevancy. The suspicion is that Apple would tweak the search results to increase sales as the primary objective. This means popular apps would get more popular, and smaller indie apps would struggle even more to be found. For indie developers this would not be good news.

However, PC Magazine Reports it differently

“… using an algorithm that learns the functions of apps, then allows users to search based on what an app does, rather than its given title.” read more…

A Stroke of Genius

I also suspect the new algorithm will play a result in driving the recently introduced Genius recommendations, which suggests other apps a user may be interested in and displays these on the bottom of the app store screen.

Watch a Video of the new UI

What do you think?

Will these changes result in app store search behavior that ultimately benefits consumers?

Study finds Germans and Canadians Biggest App Users

I'm motivated to share some valuable findings from a study about consumers' behaviors as they relate to the use of mobile devices and apps.  The study, The Pulse of the Consumer: Global Trends in Mobile Communications was presented by Deloitte Dbriefs as part of their technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) series.

The study included the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey.

Survey Findings

Device awareness and usage

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  • The average monthly spend on smartphone contracts was $60, ranging from less than $20 per month at the low end to more than $170 per month at the high end.
  • When it came to choosing their current smartphone, the top seven most important features listed by respondants were: design, touchscreen, brand, operating system, reliability, camera and applications.

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Tablets have changed consumer behavior.

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At the time of the survey, May 2012:

  • 18% of tablet owners hardly use their laptops any more.
  • 23% use their laptops less often.
  • We know from other research (Forrestor and Gartner) that it's anticipated that in less than two years – by mid 2014 –  more consumers will be accessing the web on their mobile devices than on their desktops.

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App user awareness and downloads

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When it comes to app awareness and downloads on smartphones and on tablets, Japan pips the post, with US not far behind.

As far as age demographic globally, among app users:

  • 18 – 34 year olds scored  the highest number of downloads in the 70- 80% range
  • 34 – 44 year olds download around 60%
  • 45-54 age group hovering on 50%
  • 55 years and older, 30% of them download apps.

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The Canadians and Germans are greater app users, downloading more apps and spending more money

German and Canadian App UsersWhile, globally, 73% of those surveyed download 1 – 4 apps per month, and 58% spend zero dollars per month, 21% of Canadians spend more that $5 per month and 29% download more than 5 apps per month. The Germans appear to be the heaviest downloaders with 30% downloading more than 5 apps per month and 14% spending more than $5.  These statistics apply to smartphones.

Germany and Canada came out on top as app users when it came to tablets. 41% of Germans tablet owners download more that 5 apps per month, and 17% more than 10 downloads. As far as spend, 31% of German tablet owners spend more than $5 per month.  Among the Canadian tablet owners, 37% download more than 5 apps per month and 28% of them spend more than $5 per month.

Least appreciated smartphone capability

NFC - app userThe most misunderstood and undervalued smartphone capability is near field communications NFC, especially for m-commerce. 49% of the respondents indicated that would not want NFC capability at all.  Only 3% replied they would only want a phone with such capability.  Despite having responded that way, around 50% of respondents indicated they would use the activities that NFC enables, implying NFC functionality is not yet fully understood or appreciated.  See the graph below.

Deloitte Webinar - App user NFC SlideIf you are interested to learn more, you can download the PDF of the full set of slides of Deloitte's presentation: The Pulse of the Consumer: Global Trends in Mobile Communications

Help your app rise to the top

What does it take to give your app the best chance of being visible?

App markets are still new, yet there is already a lot of noise.  That's all great, as it shows how significant this market has become in such a short time.  Just as Websites became a must have for businesses, service providers and advertisers after 1995, apps are becoming a must have for businesses, institutions, content owners and curators today.

Six App Promotion Tips

The 6 points Peter Baldwin lists below for giving your app a leg up, reflect absolutely our experience in designing and developing apps for clients.  (Link to Peter's full article below.)  And, I add a 7th point to Peter's list.

1. Focus on Product

The best way to get your app noticed is to build a unique and engaging product.  Content is still king. As Peter says, “focus on product” is another post or two!

2. Allow Users to Engage Other with your App

These days, more developers are using social media as part of the app as a major key to its success. Your customers’ word-of-mouth multiplies your network a hundred times over without costing you a dime, so be sure to put mechanisms in place that allow users to talk about the app and share experiences with friends

3. Get Media and Blogger Attention: Make it Simple

Media attention and especially reviews of your app can really help to spread recognition. To get that kind of attention, though, you have to have a solid app to begin with, a great story around your app, and it absolutely must be easy to talk about.

4. Continue your Marketing Efforts

The important thing to remember is that app marketing windows are perpetual, meaning you should establish marketing vehicles that you can trigger at your discretion over long periods of time. That means plan, plan, plan.

5. Use Analytics

Become a student of the Android and iOS category rankings (e.g., entertainment vs. games). Each category has its own nuances for determining “top” rankings, so be sure to evaluate each one.

6. Prepare for Success

Think of your app as a brand that will enable you to leverage brand extension opportunities. Build your apps to welcome future cross-promotion opportunities, rather than intrusions on the user experience

And I would add

7. Design, Design, Design.

Presentation of the product.  Look and feel matter. Branding, imagery, and an aesthetic eye help make an app attractive and invite engagement.  Quality features contribute to good user experience.  (UX).  The design of the icon,  a searchable app name with good key search terms are really important considerations.

app promotion tips6 Ways to Give Your App A Leg Up on the Competition: Since the app stores themselves control which apps are elevated and highlighted, how can you ensure your app gets time in the spotlight and the attention it deserves? Here are six tips drawn from experience. [button link=”http://mashable.com/2012/01/30/app-competition-tips/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29″ color=”silver”] Read the Full article at mashable.com[/button]

Why is the tablet app market so popular right now?

I was recently interviewed by Business News Daily on the popularity and trends in the Tablet app market, and one of the questions asked was why the tablet app industry is so popular right now.

A Seismic Shift

Of course there are too many dimensions to this questions, but I'd like to go into one facet briefly: The tablet based delivery channel matters because it represents not only a new technology meme, but seismic shift from current computing experiences and practices. It is the harbinger of more liberating ways of interaction with computers, information and entertainment. Pediction: These trends will continue to fully take shape in the next 10 years, but the tablet experience is the first instance of this future right here and now, and people want a part of it, with a completely new interactive and gesture enabled way of computing, completely new usage scenarios and use cases, completely new interfaces. In short: It is all about a new user experience that is self-directed, intuitive, integrates with your life.

The “mobile aspect” is important for things other than just mobility. Mobile is important because it creates and leads to the user experiences of the future. Read more

Gone in 5 seconds…

I've really come to appreciate the 5 second usability test:

[one_half]Conducting these 5 second tests for our recently launched iPad helped a lot in getting user feedback on the look and feel and iconography. This tried and true UX exercise may at first glance seems like a lot of work to set up, but the 5 second site makes it ridiculously easy: IN the app development process it helped develop personas, and gave us direct feedback on how users perceived icons in the app store, allowed us to get a handle on what people thought of the look and feel, and what conceptual associations they made with the images and page layouts used.[/one_half]

[one_half_last][box type=”info”]There are two basic test types the 5 second site allows: A 5 second test to pick from a choice of designs that at first glance are more appealing, and a click test that displays a heat map of where users clicked the most. The mock up's ewere easy enough to create: We took screenshots from the iTunes app store, and randomly overlayed our own icon designs. Then we asked people a range of questions.[/box][/one_half_last]

Concepts for our latest iPad app icons

You can try it, if you have 5 seconds to spare:

Click on the image to launch a five second test!

Digital Magazines and Books need to Evolve!

This was a week for some great ideas to emerge on how tablet platforms and digital readers need to evolve in terms of functionality, features, user experience, social media integration.

Now that the iPad has been on the market for some time and a slew of other tablets are about to drop, usage and behavior patterns are starting to emerge, and ideas on extending tablet functionality are becoming more concrete.

Here at Polymash we have been humbly completing work on extending tablet magazine reader functionality for the information product and educational market, adding plug-in features such as in magazine notepads and social media integration for Apple and Android platforms.

But for a more comprehensive and compelling glimpse at future possibilities, I'd invite you to check out this video from IDEO entitled “The Future of the Book”

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

My favorite concepts here:

  • The idea that interactivity needs to extend to participatory and community based discussions about the material being read. (Ideo calls this “Nelson”)
  • The idea to link to book clubs, reading lists and recommendation engines (Copeland)
  • Ideo also proposes a concept (Alice), which allows for co-creating the story, affecting the plot, interacting with characters and so on, and while I love the idea I do see it more in the realm off app and game development.

However long term the creation of truly interactive content will blur the line between app development and content creation…

Frankfurt Book Fair

Also this week the Frankfurt Book Fair took place, and following twitter feeds and blog entries it was apparent that there was much tablet talk and discussion. I'd like to share Joe Wikert's presentation he gave “My eContent Wish List–Frankfurt TOC 2010” as posted on slideshare, which mirrors some of VIMEO's vision in a perhaps more pragmatic way:

Having worked with, and around, the limitations of today's tablet reader technology, the critical element to me is to create platform independent APIs that allow developers to directly access and interface to the publications content

My favorites:

  • Platform independent readers, with platform independent APIs
  • Better Social Media integration, for example tweeting from within and article or story
  • The ability to highlight and annotate content, and then be able to share, archive, collect and search these annotations across publications

There are some great ideas in these presentations, and I hope publishing houses and tool makers in the tablet industry are listening and adjusting to the market needs being formulated.

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iPad Owners Are ‘Selfish Elites.’ Critics Are ‘Independent Geeks.’ Discuss. | Epicenter | Wired.com

It’s not exactly official, but should also surprise no one: According to a new study the psychological profile of iPad owners can be summed up as “selfish elites” while have-not critics are “independent geeks.”

Chart courtesy of MyType

Of course the “haves” would probably call the “have nots” “cheap wannabes” to which the “have nots” would retort: “FANBOI!!”

Which is why we should stick to the science.

Consumer research firm MyType conducted the study, in which opinions of 20,000 people were analyzed between March and May. The firm’s conclusion was that iPad owners tend to be wealthy, sophisticated, highly educated and disproportionately interested in business and finance, while they scored terribly in the areas of altruism and kindness. In other words, “selfish elites.”

They are six times more likely to be “wealthy, well-educated, power-hungry, over-achieving, sophisticated, unkind and non-altruistic 30-50 year olds,” MyType’s Tim Koelkebeck told Wired.com.