AIAIO: Our Blog

AIAIO: Our Blog

The pulse and reviews of Alexander Interactive

Holiday site raises over $10K for New York Animals

Arf! Meow. Oink? Woof! Yay!
Our holiday site raised over $10,000 for Bideawee

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Our holiday site has always been a chance to do what we do best – be creative, laugh and have some fun. But this year we gave ourselves three goals. We wanted to feature the human beings that make Ai a company like no other, challenge ourselves to try new things, and use our collective energy to do some good.

Everyone chose one thing to make or do to raise money for Bideawee, a leading animal welfare organization in New York. And in true Ai form, people came up with some pretty unique and ambitious ideas. Put on a magic show, let someone shave your beard, create custom bedazzled artwork–the list gets longer and weirder. These contributions were featured for sale on our site and the purchase price of each item sold would be donated to Bideawee in an effort to raise a total of $10,000 by the holidays.

In the end we met our goal, but the success of the project went beyond that. It was an opportunity to try new ways of designing collaboratively, new technology to test drive, new photographers to partner with in attempt to shoot our entire office in 1 day. “The site also became an expression of us as individuals and as a company. Scrolling down the page and seeing the talent and energy our people committed to, it tells the story of who we are.” – Josh Levine, Chief Experience Officer

On the day we launched the site, Bideawee volunteers and some of their cats and dogs paid a visit. While the thrill of birthing our babies never gets old, this launch day was special. It was a celebration of the live site, but it was also a celebration of animals and their ability to bring out the best in humans.

Having lost our beloved Mayor Jack  this year, our French bulldog and VP of Security & Integrity, it felt good to have some four-legged friends in the office. And when one of Bideawee’s pups peed on the office floor, we knew Jack was looking down from heaven–smiling, drooling and sending us his love.

“All of us here at Bideawee are so incredibly appreciative of the AI staff and management for their compassion and generosity in helping Bideawee provide shelter and medical care for the hundreds of dogs and cats waiting for their forever homes this holiday season!” – Nancy Taylor, President and CEO

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Shout out to Bel, Nick, Katie, Chris, Judy and Josh for getting the site designed and built, Stephen Landau for photographing our entire company, all of our amazing employees for contributing their talents and passion, and our friends at Bideawee, for helping make this such a rewarding project.
Lastly, a special thank you from all us at Ai, and from the animals at Bideawee to everyone who helped us meet our goal of raising $10,000.

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We are honored to announce that Alexander Interactive (Ai) has been named one of The Best Places to Work by Crain’s New York Business.

This coveted award is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best employers in New York City, benefiting the city’s economy, workforce and businesses

There is no doubt that what sets us apart from other companies is the culture that has come to define us. Five years ago the concept of “The Morgan Freemans” was coined to describe the type of human being who thrives here. Passion. Fortitude. Initiative. Resilience. Morgan Freeman embodies the qualities we value most–and the velvety, reassuring voice we all aspire to lead with.

“The values we foster are directly connected to the value we create for our clients, ” said Josh Levine, Ai’s CXO.

Success isn’t measured in deliverables or hours, it’s measured by the problems we solve and the process through which we solve them. This demands people who simply care about the other people we work with and the people we work for. People willing to get their hands dirty and fight the good fight, day in and day out.

“We give a darn about what we produce. We don’t just want to get a job done. We want to sweat and laugh with our team on a hot summer rooftop and then drink beers with the sun on our shoulders and feel like free men.”– Josh Levine, Ai’s CXO

Congrats to all of our awesome people. And thank you for making Ai a company like no other.

You can read the full list of companies here.

CrainsMF

 

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Apple Pay and Magento

The Business of Apple Pay (Alec Simonson)

On the outset, Apple Pay is very cool and could very well be the wave of the future. A lot of this hinges on “what’s under the hood” in terms of Apple’s contract with the leading credit card companies who helped with the development. If everything is open, and companies like Samsung can let their customers pay with NFC technology as well, I could see this as something that will be successful, adopted, and an example of Apple leading the way. However, if Apple goes all proprietary (as they love to do) and contractually forces these major credit cards to only use their devices, or charges other companies like Samsung to license their payment platform, or otherwise mandate that all touch-to-pay via smartphone methods are hereby known as “Apple Pay,” I could see adoption problems happening. Open standards have frequently been key to paving the way to adoption, and this has never really been Apple’s model in the past. For example, AirPlay is really cool and loved but does not work outside the environs of iOS, and can therefore never reach greater than 14.8% penetration as of this writing. So Chromecast was born, and while not nearly as simple or feature rich, it’s open to both Android and iOS and therefore has a much higher potential of adoption. Feature expansion will follow.

One of the aspects of Apple Pay that I think is great is that merchants aren’t really troubled with much of everything, since most of this is really on the backend. A new reader with NFC capabilities, and they’re off and running. Low cost or no cost adoption. Or is it? Nobody has mentioned what Apple’s commission is on this latest development. An article on Forbes suggested it may be around 0.2%, giving Apple $0.20 for every $100 spent. That’s not much, but when you consider what percentage that is of the credit card companies’ net (perhaps around 14%), it starts to look more substantial. Credit card companies like their investors, so it’s hard to imagine them not wanting to pass that extra cost onto merchants, who will be all-too-willing to share that with consumers.

All of that aside, it’s very smart and forward thinking, and early adopters will likely be looked upon with jealousy by others. From an implementation perspective, adding Apple Pay will likely be as easy as it was to add Google+, and merchants will do it. But the long-term prospects will rely highly on what sort of deal Apple made….the devil is always in the details.

The Technology of Apple Pay (Tim Broder)

Out of the gate, Pay is native app only. This leaves Magento sites at a disadvantage. In the future I’d like to see Apple open up this functionality to Safari on both mobile and desktop. Pay already has one-time number generation. This could be implemented in the browser similar to how 1Password can inject a credit card number into a form. Until something like this happens, only sites with a native app siting in front of Magento’s API will be able to take advantage.  If you are looking to investigate this space, meets.io, an unofficial Magento SDK, is a great starting point.

I’ll be curious if a developer comes up with a browser dedicated to this functionality. Tap into the Pay API and generate credit card numbers ad hoc, and bridge between Pay and e-commerce sites. Or, take it a step further and develop a custom keyboard for iOS 8. If allowed, it would be more seamless than a whole seperate browser. I say “if allowed” because there are some restrictions on what 3rd party keyboard can do. For example, they cannot touch passwords. The stock keyboard reasserts itself when tapping on a password field.

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Jessica Lippke chats with BBC on how athletics has helped her become a star Project Manager at Ai

Our very own Jessica Lippke, Associate Director of Project Management, recently received some international recognition for her team leadership skills and experience as a Division I collegiate athlete. BBC Capital’s Alina Dizik spotlighted Jessica in her piece “Are Sporty Employees Better Workers?” Indeed they are. We’re proud of you Jess.

Jessica Lippke - Star Employee, Star Player

Ai

Ai Hosts a Design Roundtable with SheSays New York.

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On May 28, Ai hosted a Design Roundtable Event in partnership with SheSays .  SheSays is an award-winning, global creative network that organizes events and provides mentoring and recruitment services to enable top females in the industry help others navigate and advance in their careers.

The topic last Wednesday was one near and dear to everyone at Ai: BALANCING SPEED, EFFICIENCY AND DESIGN INTEGRITY.  It was an honor to moderate the discussion and hear from our impressive panel of speakers including Jenine Lurie (Found of Disruptive Experience), Jaclyn Burgan (Senior Interaction Designer at Turner Broadcasting) and our very own Design Lead, Christina Goldschmidt.

A special thanks to Amanda Jaskiewicz and Alessandra Lariu of SheSays! The energy, enthusiasm and perspective shared was incredible– and we met a lot of talented new friends too.

Ai

B2B Ecommerce: Design Principles and Best Practices to Boost Sales

Alex Schmelkin, Co-Founder and CEO at Ai, and Girisha Chandraraj, VP, E-Commerce at United Stationers, presented “Smart B2B Design: Strategy & Experience Principles that Boost Sales” at last week’s IRCE in Chicago, IL.

The session focused on how to help companies understand how to incorporate self-service into their B2B site and what investments are necessary. It highlighted the steps a company should follow to prepare for a B2B site design and fundamental principles to the B2B experience.

You can also check out the presentation in full below or download the presentation.

Ai

Decorating preemie t-shirts for babies at a NYC NICU

Since it is March for Babies season, we went with a baby theme for this week’s Hamster Time. We spent the afternoon decorating preemie tees which we will be donating to the babies in the NICU at NY Presbyterian Children’s Hospital.

Preemie clothing is always a need in hospital NICUs as parents often do not expect to have a preemie baby and therefore haven’t had a chance to shop for clothing. Hopefully, our super duper designed tees will help make a difference and maybe put a smile on someone’s face.

Thank you to everyone who contributed their beautiful designs. And a special thank you to the folks at Preemie-Yums for generously donating the preemie clothing to us.

Check out the photos

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Lean UX and Ecommerce Design

Alex Schmelkin, Co-Founder and CEO at Ai, and Sharon Rodriguez, VP, Strategy at MetLife, presented “Lean UX and Ecommerce Design: How Ai is transforming the insurance industry with MetLife” at the IRCE Focus Design and Mobile conference in Orlando, FL.

The session highlights how MetLife is re-inventing the way that people buy insurance, and focuses on how MetLife’s global applications development team are building out sites and apps for maximum utility and continuity across all consumer-facing channels. Allowing them to work rapidly and gain insights across all of their cross-channel initiatives.

Watch the full presentation of  “Lean UX and Ecommerce Design: How Ai is transforming the insurance industry with MetLife.”

Check out Alex’s presentation below or download the full presentation.

Ai

The 8 Principles of Design — How to Leverage the Power of Design and Turn Consumers Into Customers

Color, typography, placement, organization—even white space—are the visuals that can help attract shoppers’ attention, keep them engaged with the site and intrigued with the brand, and turn them into buyers—or they can turn off or confuse site visitors, detracting from the shopping experience and the brand.

Ai’s Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder, Josh Levine along with David Workman, Manager, E-Commerce Operations at Delta Apparel presented this week at the IRCE Focus Design and Mobile conference in Orlando, FL. In their session, attendees learned how to master powerful design elements into a site design that works to their advantage.

If you’re interested in creating a unique shopping experience that converts, check out Josh’s presentation below or download the full presentation.

Design

Come see us at IR Focus Design+Mobile!

What’s the most exciting thing to do in Orlando? Duh! Visiting Ai’s booth at the IR Focus Design + Mobile Conference!

We are at booth #300 — stop by, say hi, and talk about all things digital, Disney, or whatever else is on your mind.

Booth#300

While you’re at it, check out our founders Josh Levine and Alex Schmelkin and attend their talks on Monday. Josh gives you the rundown on the good, the bad, and the ugly in Ecommerce design and Alex teams up with Sharon Rodriguez, VP, Strategy at MetLife, to discuss the central role mobile plays in the now and future of MetLife’s consumer offerings.

Have fun, be safe, and always use the buddy system.

Ai