September 4th, 2012 | Ana Gervásio
You’ve made the decision to convert your content to a mobile app. So now what is your plan to get your audiences to download and view it on their devices, and what process should your users have to go through to achieve this? More and more, efforts are being made to provide readers and users with more value by adding interactive content to traditional print publications (we’re big supporters of this) in the form of an app. However, I have come across too many experiences of well meaning companies that just can’t seem to get the user experience right. The basic lesson is this – if you don’t have the resources to execute digital, then stay “charmingly” analog, and your readers will thank you for it. Awkwardly forcing yourself into the digital space is not the answer.
Let me share a story that illustrates my point.
Last week we noticed that our featured piece in the Design Edge Regional Design Awards Annual issue (Holiday-pick-me-up wine glass labels) had been enhanced with video content. Design Edge had gone as far as making a video of our print submission! What did it look like? How would they present it? The eagerness to learn more grew, and after an excited shout “there’s video content” echoed throughout the office, we all promptly gathered around an iPad to see it in action.
This is how our journey for added value began. Next to the image of our artwork in the print publication, we were greeted by a blue play button with the caption “iPad extra: watch a video demonstrating this project” – no further instructions. While some of us busily looked around the page for clues, one of our team members shouted “check the front page, maybe there’s something there”. And so we do. The front page of the magazine does indeed have the same blue play button. The button is followed by a brief description and a long url (dare I say this is what TinyURL and other like services were invented for… well, this and Twitter). This long url will take us to the tablet addition; surely this is where we’ll find our video.
The link to the tablet edition, as it turns out, takes you to a landing page within the Design Edge website. Nothing has been specially designed to accommodate tablet browsing. This page contains a QR code that leads users to the Android app. However, it’s impossible to scan a QR code when you’re already using the device required to scan. No matter. All messages on the page are over-shadowed by a large app icon with an ‘Available on the App Store badge’. So we do what any user would – disregard all small copy and go straight to clicking on the ‘Available on the App Store badge’, then… nothing. Then we click on the app icon. Again nothing. But we are determined to see this to the end so off we go to Apple’s App store. By this point, I will confess that the original large group of spectators has dwindled to three persistent souls. After doing a search we are once again stumped; the only app we see features a different graphic icon than the one displayed on the page. Maybe we didn’t search for the right thing? Left with no other recourse we forge ahead and download what appears to be the only option for a Design Edge App. Once the App was installed we do a search for the relevant issue, then hit the download button – or an additional fee, mind you! By this point, the team of 8 that had originally gathered to view the added value content was down to 1 frustrated soul (me).
This excruciating multi-step process took about 15 minutes in total. An unacceptable amount of time in today’s instant gratification world. Truth be told, had I not had a personal stake in this, I would have quit exceptionally early in the process.
This attempt to raise awareness of the iPad app is fundamentally flawed. In the future, instead of frustrating a user, provide them with an enjoyable experience, keep them engaged and provide them useful tools to stay in touch. Like an app.
Maybe it was lack of thought or resources, or perhaps it was an irresolvable conflict between management and developer. But one thing is certain, the user was left behind during this process. As a user, Design Edge left me with only one story to tell: “Don’t bother… too much work.”
April 17th, 2009 | Peter Scott
A recent report in the NY Times presents an interesting dilemma for organizations and the management of their brands.
A “prank” video from two Domino’s Pizza employees shows them preparing delivery orders in various unsavoury ways. Despite the fact this is a really bad way to gain your 15 minutes of fame, the video received more than a million hits and the result is major damage to an otherwise strong and well-regarded brand. The article notes “References to the video were in five of the 12 results on the first page of Google search for Domino’s, and discussions about Domino’s had spread throughout Twitter”. Despite the two offenders being charged and admitting it was a fake, the Domino’s name was tarnished in record time. The brand will presumably rebound, but the adage that “no publicity is bad publicity” might need to be rethought.
February 6th, 2009 | Darrell Corriveau
This is a time of unprecedented access to all forms of digital media, so maybe it seems ungrateful to complain about the times when that access is denied. But that’s what I am going to do. The Web offers an embarrassment of riches to help keep us connected, informed and entertained. And the best part is that this content is readily available to everybody with an Internet connection. Except, increasingly, us poor Canadians.
I’ve always noticed some licensing restrictions limiting content originating in the U.S., but lately it seems that roadblocks have been thrown up everywhere I go.
I first went to Hulu, because it’s perfectly reasonable to me that I should be able watch the Turkeys Away episode of WKRP in Cincinnati at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday night in 2009. But guess what? Not a single bit of Hulu’s content is available in Canada (or anywhere else outside the U.S. for that matter). They assure me however that they are working on the issue. They say that making content available worldwide ‘requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time’. Probably A LOT of time is my guess.
Next up is Pandora. Pandora, like Last.fm, is an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service where users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Sounds great – sign me up! Alas, I can’t even get past the deeply, deeply apologetic letter on the homepage. They will notify me via email when the service is activated in my area. I’m not hopeful. Last.fm seems to work well for now, but even they have been in and out of deals with Warner Music and Sony BMG, so you never know how long this will continue.
The intellectual property hurdles that need to be cleared are vast, and this is why Apple’s greatest technological achievement was not the iPod or the iPhone, but the intricate licensing deals they were able to secure with media companies enabling worldwide distribution. Let’s hope others can follow suit soon. After all “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”