AIAIO: Our Blog

AIAIO: Our Blog

The pulse and reviews of Alexander Interactive

Millennial Consumers Vs Gen Z: Should Brands Plan Now?

For brands and marketers everywhere, earning the Millennial consumer is without a doubt a key goal. Millennials, or anyone born between 1980 and the late 1990’s, are over 80 million strong and, according to a study put out by Accenture, spend over $600 billion each year. Millennials were the first digital generation and engaging with them was truly a unique experience from any of the previous cohorts before them. Earning their consumer dollar has been a test of adaptability and willingness to go digital.

As brands have adapted to appeal to these Millennials, is it time to start concerning themselves with Generation Z? It absolutely is. Despite their youth (the eldest members of this generation are just arriving to college and the youngest are still in grammar school), Gen Z is enormous. They make up 25% of the population and appealing to them effectively is and will continue to be a completely different ball game.

What worked for Millennials: Reaching them on mobile. Millennials are EXTREMELY attached to their mobile devices. In fact, Forbes found that a whopping 79% of Millennials were introduced to new brands via digital advertising and 71% of those surveyed felt that these mobile ads provided better options than they previously knew. Those numbers are huge!

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z’ers are don’t spend as much time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter so mobile ads in these sorts of verticals will fall flat with this group. According to an AdWeek survey, this generation is much more likely to spend time on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and other visually led social platforms than Millennials were. In addition, they are drawn to one thing: video, video and MORE video. Simply being in the digital space will no longer work as well as it had, unless content has video components.

What worked for Millennials: Brand Advocacy leading to loyalty. According to Nielsen, 85% of Millennials trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust consumer opinions online (Hello, outlets like Yelp and Glassdoor). As brands turned to new means of advertising like influencer and experiential marketing as well as sponsored blog content, they found a way to reach their targets.

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z doesn’t feel this same loyalty. They were truly born into the connected era; a majority don’t remember a time before smartphones existed. According to research put out by Ernst & Young, that ease of connectivity and instant gratification has created an environment in which Gen Z expects to be catered to as they expect brands to know that they can price and comparison shop. They expect to be engaged immediately or they are gone.

What worked for Millennials: Many Millennials were born into peaceful and prosperous times. While they were budget conscious, especially as they entered the workforce through the recession, security has made them much more comfortable with spending on non-necessities.

How Gen Z is different: Gen Z was born into a very different and tumultuous set of circumstances starting from the 9/11 terror attacks through the recession that began in 2008. Due to these sorts of massive experiences during formative years, Gen Z tends to be much more risk averse. This trickles into their spending: according to Accenture, Gen Z is much more likely to only make purchases for items that fulfill needs.

Clearly there are some similarities with the two generations (looking at you, technology!) but they also have very distinct differences. The two force brands to move further into the digital space. As more members of Gen Z ascend into college and the group enters the workforce, brands will have to continue the path Millennials led them to: get creative online and in the social space or get left behind.

Ecommerce

The Opportunity Insurers Have Targeting Millennial Consumers

There is no doubt about the importance of capturing the Millennial consumer. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 80 million people making up the millennial generation, or anyone born between 1980-2000. Look out, Baby Boomers! Millennials are officially the most populated generational group in the US EVER and how they go about making purchasing decisions is VERY different than any group before them. Why does this matter for insurance? Here are a few major reasons.

Millennial life looks VERY different than Baby Boomer life did at the same age. Pew Institute Research Center has estimated that only a quarter of Millennials are married – compared to nearly 60% of Baby Boomers at the same age. Furthermore, a 2016 Goldman Sachs study on Millennials spending and lifestyle habits demonstrated that Millennials are deferring major purchases like cars in favor of engaging with the sharing economy and utilizing ride-sharing options like ZipCar or Uber.

Opportunity for Insurers: Recognize that one size does NOT fit all. Millennials don’t do not live like their parents or grandparents. They are used to having a plethora of options to pick and choose from in order to get to the end product that is right for them and how they approach insurance is no different.

Purchasing style looks very different. Though Millennials face difficult economic barriers like massive student loans and a sluggish economy, they are still a powerhouse: AdAge estimates that Millennials will spend over $10 trillion dollars in their lifetime. How they spend this money is unique: they tend to be less brand-loyal and demand more transparency. An IBM Business Institute survey showed that comparison-shopping and personalized, user tailored experiences are extremely important pieces of the buyer process.

Opportunity for Insurers: Get comfortable with transparency. Build up social media and online presence with the purpose of more than just outright selling. By laying down the groundwork as an information provider, it helps create an open relationship that is appealing to Millennials. The Milliennial is not looking for an agent to reach out after this exchange, but to find information that will enable them to make their decisions.

Immediacy is Key. Millennials spend much of their time digitally – and it shows in every facet of their lives. For the generations that came before them, word of mouth was a powerful influencer when it came to making large purchases, including insurance. Previously, families would have a local agent and stick with that agent for decades. These agents would spend face time with their customers over time. Millennials prefer something more immediate and tend to prefer searching for information themselves than relying on advice of friends and family.

Opportunity for Insurers: Two words: prioritize digital. Not only do Millennials want to spend less time speaking on the phone or meeting in person, they want their answers RIGHTNOW. Upgrade any consumer facing websites to make sure the user experience is flawless, the design is appealing and fresh, and without a doubt, make sure it’s all mobile friendly. Goldman Sachs estimates that over 85% of Millennials own smart phones and do a majority of their browsing on alternative screens. If they can’t engage in those mediums, it’s a missed opportunity.

No doubt finding and maintaining success for insurers requires capturing Millennials as consumers. This means engaging with them on their terms and in the way that they like to be reached.

Insurance

Ask Ai: What’s Your Biggest Website Usability Pet Peeve?

Everyone on our team has very unique roles and we all come together to make sure our clients’ needs are met completely. Because of we all have different experiences and skills, we all offer a wide variety of perspectives. Every two weeks we will crowdsource a tech, design, UX, etc style question from the team and share.

In our first ever installment of the series, we asked our team: What website usability issue across the board is your biggest pet peeve right now and why? Here are a few of the responses!

 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAALJAAAAJGE5YmQ4MzgyLWE2OGYtNDVhMy1iNzE3LWFkM2U0MzBlNjQyYgChuck Wells

Copywriter

“My biggest pain point is mobile websites without a quick load time and thumb-friendly navigation as well as mobile sites that don’t recognize that I already have the app installed.”

 

37919d5Catherine DeAngelis

Senior Project Manager

“I like when articles are a long-scroll on mobile, so when I’m brought to a slideshow (that most of the time isn’t working), it’s a poor user experience. I usually don’t read the article when that happens.”

 

1d3f37bRobert Gurdian

Business Strategist

“My main frustration is filling in again something that I already provided to the site. This is particularly frustrating if I provided it in the same visit. An example is when signing in and I get the password wrong, my email should still be filled in after I receive the error.”

 

3a43af4Kate McCormack

Lead Visual Designer

“[I most dislike] websites that have dense and difficult to scan content or service websites that hide their contact information!!!”

 

3bf0618Carolyn Dobbs

UX Lead

“Feature gaps/inexplicable differences in the customer experience across device types irritate me (ahem, Spotify, Hulu, Netflix). Poor interaction support for tablets also burns my hairdo.”

 

257cacbChristina Goldschmidt

Director of User Experience

“The unlabeled hamburger menu, on desktop [is my least favorite]. There are so many great articles out there showing that users don’t realize that all of the important menu items are hidden behind that design element. We’ve seen it ourselves in user testing on projects, yet its still all over!”

 

Do you have any major pet peeves that weren’t mentioned? Comment below!

Uncategorized

Our 10 Favorite Insurance Tweeters Right Now

Getting to know the ins and outs of the industries our clients are a part of is something that is extremely important to us at Ai. One of those particular verticals is insurance. So here are TEN of our favorite insurance experts on Twitter right now in no particular order.

V8W8DIIaName: Shifting Gears – @shiftinggearsio

Followers: 783

Why you should follow them: Shifting Gears is a blog that provides insight on changes to the insurance landscape, innovations in product development, emerging technologies and the world of actuaries. They tweet their own posts along with articles from reputable 3rd party sources like Fortune, TechCrunch and Insurance Thought Leadership among others.

Best Recent Tweet: PSA: You are no longer an insurance agent ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/no-longer-insurance-agent/ … ‪#insurance ‪#innovation

Runner-up: Why Google could be a major force in insurance – insurers should take notes ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/what-i-learned-at-google/ … ‪#insuretech

 

aRMJySEYName: Jonathan Swift – @InsuranceSwifty

Followers: 3,754

Why you should follow him: Jonathan is the director of content for Incisive Media’s insurance division. He has been writing about insurance since 1998 and truly knows the industry inside and out.

Best Recent Tweet: Millennials are key to ‪#insuretech success ‪http://tinyurl.com/j8xwkgm ‪#wakeupinsurance ‪#sta

Runner-up: My list of #insurtech #startup firms who could make waves in 2016 http://tinyurl.com/hfsbfal #wakeupinsurance

 

LtMyFkYm_400x400Name: Deb Smallwood – @dmsmallwood

Followers: 1,178

Why You Should Follow Her: Deb is the founder of Strategy Meets Action, which is a leading research and advisory service firm strictly aimed at the insurance industry. She makes it her business to know the industry inside and out – and it shows on the newsfeed. Some of her best content is

Best Recent Tweet: RT @Insurancethough: How to insure the sharing economy. ‪@monhess ‪#ITL ‪#connected ‪#sharingeconomy ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/how-to-insure-the-sharing-economy/ …

Runner-up: “Want to understand insurance technology priorities and plans for 2016? ” by @dmsmallwood on ‪@LinkedIn ‪https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-understand-insurance-technology-priorities-plans-smallwood …

 

SofNxKAFName: Mairi Mallon – @Reinsurancegirl

Followers: 7,714

Why you should follow her: Mairi is a public relations pro who specializes in insurance and risk on a global scale. She engages with people throughout the agency, shares industry articles and promotes events and meet-ups.

Best Recent Tweet: ‪#reinsurance‪ #insurance #ils tweet up in New York – please spread the word and come along! February 25 http://www.rein4ce.co.uk/blog/2016/02/start-spreading-the-news-there-is-a-tweet-up-in-new-york/ … cc@ilsdiva

Runner-Up: RT Global ‪#Reinsurance Outlook “Negative” – Life Reinsurance “Stable” Says ‪@AMBestCo See why ‪@WRINtv ‪http://shrd.by/Cesx3K

 

bW9gd0SjName: Jim Peavy – @ThePeav

Followers: 5,969

Why You Should Follow Him: Jim is a PR/social media/media relations pro in the insurance and reinsurance sectors. He offers interesting commentary on the latest industry trends as well as touching on tech and social media.

Best Recent Tweet: Troubled energy market impacts ‪#insurance via ‪@reutersCarolynC ‪@Noor_ZainabHuss ‪@JGouldReuters ‪@ReutersRachel ‪reut.rs/1TSoXtR ‪ via @Reuters

Runner-up: ‪#Canada‪’s largest life insurer takes C$250 million charge on #oil #investments by @katiadmi #insurance ‪bloom.bg/23YDUPm

 

blog4_big_400x400Name: Emmanuel Kenning – @BrokingBod

Followers: 2,267

Why You Should Follow Him: Emmanuel is the editor of Insurance Age magazine. He covers a lot of insider news about the industry.

Best Recent Tweet: RT @BrokingIda Smaller brokers pushed out of the market because of regulation, says Craig Tracey MP ‪http://tinyurl.com/zvx94ad  ‪#insurance ‪#insurancebroking

Runner-up: Drum roll please… the winner of 2015 ‪#brokerapprentice has been revealed ‪http://tinyurl.com/brokerappwin  check it out here ‪#insurance ‪#broking

 

DVXGZ2E2Name: LearnVest – @LearnVest

Followers: 38.1 K

Summary: While LearnVest focuses on financial planning and making it more affordable as a whole, they spend considerable time on insurance and offer plenty of great insurance resources about the industry as a whole.

Best Recent Tweet: 20 of the best company benefits and perks, rated: ‪http://ow.ly/XUiUU  via ‪@FastCompany

Runner-up: 3 steps to getting the most out of your health plan: ‪http://ow.ly/XJsth  via ‪@MONEY

 

twitterJMName: Jamie Macgregor – @JamieMacgregorC

Followers: 466

Summary: Jamie is an insurance tech and IT strategy specialist out of London. His tweets are informative, interesting and conversational.

Best Recent Tweet: Ouch. Never underestimate the power of regulatory compliance. A lesson for ‪#insurance tech startups from Zenefits?

‪http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/df3caa5e-ceca-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#axzz3zYwtUrvH …

Runner-up: A whopping 43 vendors to choose from in Celent’s latest ‪#insurance PAS report for P&C in EMEA from ‪@cgbeattie. ‪https://lnkd.in/eDjWvcA

 

PC360-no-tag-leftName: Property Casualty 360 – @PC_360

Followers: 20.5k

Summary: PC360 provides total coverage of the P&C insurance market. They tweet often and their content covers

Best Recent Tweet: Why a good ‪#insurance claims experience is so important ‪http://ow.ly/YmlT8  ‪#customerservice

Runner-up: 5 ‪#liability issues restaurant, bar and tavern owner needs to watch out for ‪http://ow.ly/YtGy4  ‪#insurance

 

5efe29807983554210cd2c91e37d06b3Name: Emily Delbridge – @CarInsReview

Followers: 1,156

Summary: Emily writes as an Auto Insurance expert for About.com and Michigan Insurance Review with the purpose of making insurance fun and easy. While her specialty is auto insurance and all that it entails, she also

Best Recent Tweet: Do you have to pay for your own pipes in a frozen pipe home insurance claim? Find out now. ‪http://bit.ly/1dnDLrm  ‪#frozen ‪#home ‪#claims

Runner-up: Curious what is considered to be car insurance fraud? Check it out now! ‪http://abt.cm/1mbTz5g  ‪#insurance ‪#fraud

Business

High Tech Valentine’s Day Gifts for Everyone!

Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a holiday you love or hate, it is right around the corner. Sticking with candy and flowers may be tradition, but there is no better time than now to upgrade your gift giving skills to include some of today’s latest in greatest in tech. Here are some awesome ideas perfectly tailored to match your special someone’s interests.

For the hobbyist. If your significant other is always tinkering around and building, the perfect gift might be an arduino board. Whether it’s programming robotics or other projects, this gadget is a great place to start. ($24.95)

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For the sweet tooth. Candy hearts and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates have always reigned supreme on February 14th. If your
tech lover is also a sweet tooth, why not step outside of the box this year?  Who needs heart shaped chocolates when you can get your special someone iPhone shaped chocolate! ($19.90) Double points if you make it yourself!

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For the person who can’t put down their phone. Nothing says “I love you and I accept you (and your phone addiction)” like a snazzy new phone case. What better time than now and what better choice than this perfect Marc Jacobs  option that is covered in hearts? It comes in red, pink or white. ($55)

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For the fashion forward fella. What man does’t look dapper in a suit? Dress him up more in a way that is stylish and functional with stainless steel cufflinks from Adafruit. While both look similar, one opens to reveal a USB with 4 GB of storage. ($29)

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For the music lover. Remember a time when people used to make mixed tapes or CDs for the person they were crushing on? While it might seem like music streaming killed the mixed tape, this gift proves that it is not true! With Sharetapes, you can take your love back to a simpler time. Make a playlist on Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, etc and download it onto the credit-card sized tapes. Your special someone will be able to use the card to play the music. ($9.99 for 5 tapes + cost of music)

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For the person who is always snapping pictures. Does the special person in your life constantly snap pics whether the moment being captured is big or small? The Polaroid Instant Snap Digital Camera might be the perfect gift! This 10 megapixel camera has the technology you are used to from a digital camera while also printing out a cute 2×3 polaroid of the shot. ($99.99)

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For the health conscious couple. Unless a person has been living under a rock, it’s impossible to have NOT heard about FitBit. There is no better way to show someone they have your heart than looking after theirs. The FitBit Charge HR goes above and beyond to measure sleep and heart rate while also allowing food and water to be recorded. Like some other wearable trackers, it allows you to connect with other users and challenge them. How’s that for some friendly competition!

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For the consummate host. Your special someone is the person who loves throwing a party or hosting a dinner. Enter the Bartesian. This gadget allows people to make their own premium cocktails using pods filled with mixer ingredients and adding alcohol. Bottoms up! ($299 on preorder)

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Still looking for a valentine? No worries! Enter The League, a free dating app (iOS) that connects smart, ambitious professionals. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The League has partnered with BloomThat and Minibar to deliver your potential matches booze and flowers. (NYC and San Fran areas only)

Funny Stuff

Selecting Tools for Moderated Remote User Testing

In my previous article, I spoke about how to prepare yourself for a moderated remote usability test. The tools you use while conducting a remote user test are just as important as being prepared. This article is meant to highlight my experience with tools I’ve used in the past for remote user testing.

Using Ethnio for Recruiting and Paying Incentives

Ethnio is a tool that allows you to create a screener, schedule participants and pay them for their time. When you create a screener, you place their JavaScript on your site. They also provide a mobile-friendly direct link for you to place in your Facebook or LinkedIn ads.

Once the user fills out the screener you can use Ethnio’s template emails to schedule the prospect’s test. Ethnio provides a way for you to show users the open testing spots for their choosing. After conducting your user test, you can automatically send the participants their gift cards by simply inserting the participants email and the amount you’d like to pay them.

Ethnio was quick, convenient, and gave us access to the actual users that use the site, not professional user testers.

Something to keep an eye on are their template emails. In the past, we had to contact each participant on our own since we wanted to send them specific information. Despite this, Ethnio is perfect when it comes to recruiting qualified participants quickly.

Prototyping with InVision

InVision allows you to share functioning prototypes with the participant easily and quickly. It helps simulate how the actual site will work. InVision gives you so much control over your design that you are able to make changes on the fly even in between user tests based on the insights you received.

InVision allows you to quickly create hotspots and hover states on your wireframes so the user can go through an experience. When prototyping for user testing, it’s important to make sure the user can carry out entire flows.

Presenting the site in a realistic context is key. It makes it more difficult to get insights when you’re asking the user to imagine what would happen if they explored a specific area of the site. It also helps to turn off the hot spot hinting and commenting while testing. That way you aren’t giving any misleading direction on how to navigate through the site or giving the participant access to view comments between team members. Below is a screenshot of how to share your InVision prototype with your participants.

Prototyping with invision

Remote User Testing with GoToMeeting

For a recent user test, we wanted to be able to view the participant’s screen and record the session so we thought GoToMeeting would be a good option. In the past we’ve used join.me but we were having some issues with the audio and the screen sharing.

GoToMeeting is simple. The only thing the participants need to do is install the GoToMeeting Chrome plugin and from there all they need to do is access a link for their testing session. It’s easy to record our session and there’s no lag time between what the user is looking at and what I see on the screen which is an issue we had with other meeting software.

GoToMeeting allows you to view the user’s reaction and what part of the site they are exploring simultaneously. It helps gather behavioural insights as if you were in the room with them. You can ask participants to share their screen and if you want to view their actual facial reactions, they can use their webcam.

GoToMeeting Screenshot

These tools allowed me to moderate the test and experience the site with the user. I do recommend these tools but I would also explore other ones out there and see what is best for you. I also recommend trying these tools out before your testing sessions in order to make sure you know how to navigate them flawlessly. Once you do, it becomes easier to moderate and to keep your focus on the testing sessions.  

 

Uncategorized

How to Run a Flawless Remote User Testing Session

A guide for planning and running a moderated remote user test

There are plenty of ways you can run a usability test. Most people would advise you to do them in person; others may advise you to use a service that will automate the test. This may not always be an option for your project, so running a moderated remote usability test is the next best thing!

Remote testing can lead to incredibly helpful insights. You get to experience user’s reactions on the fly; and access your own customer base—not a panel of professional user testers. Just like in-person testing, you need to prepare ahead of time, and that prep work is a little more difficult since technology is involved.

This article is meant to help you prepare for a remote user test by highlighting the key actions to consider:

  • Recruiting your own participants
  • Technical check-Ins
  • Scheduling
  • Managing incentives
  • Getting to know the user

There will be moments where participants may back out at the last minute, you’ll run behind schedule, or your software won’t work they way you hoped it would. That’s okay! Because this guide will prepare you for anything that gets thrown your way.

 

Recruiting Your Own Participants

Before you can run a usability test you need to find qualified participants. There are several ways to find the right candidates for your test: use a professional recruiter; recruit from your email subscribers; asking your Twitter and Facebook followers; or recruiting customers directly from your website.

For a recent user test on a client project we chose to use Ethnio, a remote recruiting tool,because they had a very specific user base and loyal customers that we needed to target. Ethnio allowed us to place a screener on the client’s website and ask questions that would help us rule them in or out.

When determining whether or not a participant is qualified for the test, ask yourself the following questions when evaluating their responses.

  • Does the participant have anything to do with the development or design of what you are testing?
  • Do they represent your personas that you developed or a target audience you are trying to reach?  
  • Are they already familiar with the website and subject matter?

Once you have your participants ready you should plan to conduct a technical check-in.

 

Preparing for Technical Check-Ins

Before you run the usability test I recommend conducting a technical check-in prior to the big day. Asking a participant for an extra phone call prior to the session can be seen as a waste of time. It’s important to remind the user why they signed up and give some details so they know what to expect during their testing session.

In order to make the testing event successful we know we need to do a 15 minute dry run a few days before the test to check the technology. We adjusted the language of our email to let the participant know what we expected of them. Here is an example email template we used for a recent test:

 

Hello [Name],

Thank you for signing up to participate in our research for X website! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts about what we’re working on.

We will reach out separately to schedule your 60 minute research session on Tuesday 12/8. During this session you will explore our site and get a $100 Visa gift card for your feedback.

But first, we wanted to do a quick technical check-in with you in order to test the software we’ll be using for the session. Are you available for a 15 minute technical check-in on Friday, 12/4 between the hours of 9:00am EST – 4:00pm EST?

There are a few things you will need to prepare for this tech check in.

  1. We’d like to make sure that you have access to a web browser like Google Chrome. If you don’t have access to it already, please download it before our call here: https://www.google.com/chrome/.
  2. Once you have Google Chrome installed, please download the following extension so [moderator’s name] can view your screen: We will be using GoToMeeting to share screens. You can go to this link and click “Add to Chrome” to install the extension.

Thank you for your time and feel free to ask any questions.

Best,

[Moderator’s Name]

 

Conducting the Technical Check-Ins

For this testing session we used GoToMeeting to share and record screens. Many of the users weren’t familiar with GoToMeeting. We needed to make sure they had the proper plug-in installed and knew how to share their screen. Taking 15–20 minutes to do this saves time and decreases the chances of things going wrong during the actual testing session.

For those who didn’t end up doing a technical check in, we spent a lot of time trying to make sure the audio and screen sharing was working properly. There were times GoToMeeting just kept freezing or the user couldn’t hear me. During another session, a user didn’t realize that they needed to be on their computer in order to walk through the prototype. Running a technical check-in helps avoid these issues.

If you plan on using GoToMeeting (GTM) for user testing, you can follow these steps during your technical check in.

  1. A few minutes before the scheduled technical check-in time, open the GTM desktop app and log in to the meeting. You have to manually enter the meeting number.
  2. Dial into the audio via the phone then put it on speakerphone and mute the phone to dial-in your audio code. Remember to un-mute when your user gets on the line.
  3. You can see when your user enters the meeting as their name will appear in the participant list in the GTM app. You can also see whether they are connected to the phone or computer audio by the icon next to their name in the app.
  4. After thanking the participant, walk them through the screen share setup if they haven’t connected already.
  5. Press “Change Presenter” in the GTM desktop app. Normally, this will prompt them to download the desktop app, but if they have the Chrome extension installed, they won’t have to. Remind them to share their entire screen, not just the GTM screen.
  6. If you want to also see their face and they’ve agreed to using a webcam, direct them to the camera icon in the GTM in-browser view.  
  7. Make sure their web cam feed and their screen are visible on your desktop.
  8. Send them a URL via the chat function (something neutral like google.com) to make sure they can find and use chat. This way you’ll be able to send them links.

Now that you’ve done your technical check-ins, you can focus on scheduling the actual user testing sessions.

 

Scheduling

You should dedicate entire work days to user testing. That way you get in the flow of testing and won’t get interrupted by other tasks. For one of our projects, I dedicated two days to user testing with four sessions each day. Each session was an hour and I added time in between each session. When scheduling tests it’s helpful to give yourself 15–30 minutes in between sessions for you to debrief with your team. Take this moment to review your notes and figure out if there are any questions you would like to ask differently or explore different task during the next round of testing.

Since you are using an hour of someone’s time to conduct research, it’s important to provide an incentive to show your appreciation for agreeing to participate in your study.

 

Managing Incentives

Ethnio allowed us to use their site to deliver Visa gift card codes to the participants. When it comes to determining the value of the incentive, consider the value of the insights they will give you and how hard it was to recruit participants. If you know that the project you are working on has a very specific and unique user set, you may want to give them a larger incentive. Typically, we like to provide an $50 incentive for 30 minutes; $100 for 60 minutes. Don’t forget to include that incentive in the screener to attract participants.

 

Get to Know the Participants

The participant is going to be nervous. They have to speak to a complete stranger, answer non-stop questions and be recorded for an hour. In order for them to be comfortable and truly say what’s on their mind, the moderator needs to move the conversation past the typical “good morning” and “how’s your day going?”

Have a pre-interview script ready and ask them about  their experiences with the site. Get to know why they were on the site in the first place. Some questions we like to ask are:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Occupation, if relevant
  4. How they discovered the site?
  5. What were they trying to do on the site? Read an article or purchase an item?
  6. What is their level of knowledge of what the site provides?
  7. How often do they go to the site?

Then ask them questions based on their answers. If they mention they were purchasing a specific item, ask them why or for whom. Following up based on their answers can help you figure out what experience the user was having on the site. From there on it becomes easier to walk through the prototype, make a few jokes and really hear about their experience with the design.

Once you follow these steps, and get through the first hurdle of getting to know a participant, you should be ready for testing. Following all of these steps will make your remote user test go smoothly. Now all you have to focus on is developing your script to facilitate the conversation. Good luck and get to testing!

 

UX

New Manager Tools

This article leans slightly towards Technology Management but is applicable across disciplines

You've been a great senior resource, you've lead a team or a project, and you've made the decision, along with your manager to transition to some kind of management role. If you are still thinking about it, or wondering what it will be like, start here: This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers. This article will give you all of the thought starters your need to decide if management is something you want to pursue.

Below are some required reading to add to your utility belt. Start taking a read through these, and make sure you block off the appropriate amount of time each week to continue your learning! This list is meant to be a starting point for new managers, not an all inclusive list of manager resources

Books

  • Managing Right for the First Time – This book is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. David Baker worked closely with 600+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and eminently readable form. Read this book and you're likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager and leader.
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityNote: I'm not advocating for using the GTD system. Use what works for you. However, the first half of this book is a gold mine for how to think about planning, resources, and managing your own and other's tasks. I personally do use GTD, but the lessons, and the way of thinking that this book opens up is transferable to any system. It got me thinking about planning and delegating in different and exciting ways. Read the introduction and I guarantee that you'll see scenarios you recognize and want to scream YES, YES I DEAL WITH THIS. I HATE IT! HOW DO I FIX IT?
  • The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business – This book is, but isn't about MBA. It's a toolkit of how to handle various situations and grow your skill set. It's not meant to be read cover to cover, but peruse the table of contents you'll see things you want to read.
  • Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers: The People Skills You Need to Achieve Outstanding Results – Great book on emotional intelligence

Articles to read

Websites to subscribe to

Listening

  • Manager Tools Podcast – A huge library of how to deal with any situation. Skim the list, there will be something in there you want to learn about. Don't forget to subscribe!

If you have anything that should be on this starter list, let me know!

You can follow Tim on twitter.

Business

How to Sync Basecamp Todos to Omnifocus or Todoist

Basecamp is a large part of our process at Ai. It tracks most of our communication (a lot of this has been moving to Slack). Basecamp serves as our system of record for signs-offs and deliverables. We also use it’s “todo” function pretty heavily in the planning stages and tracking client tasks. Once we get into implementation, we transition to Jira, as it’s more powerful. Clients do not have access to Jira.

I don’t have an issue tracking Basecamp tasks. It’s really good at emailing you when something is due. But, as I’ve said before, I’d be even BETTER at it, if the tasks were in my world. My world is Omnifocus, but there is a VERY large contingent of Todoist users at Ai. I am the outlier in this. In the past, my reasons for not using Todoist were I didn’t want Ai tasks and personal project tasks in the same app, the hotkeys weren’t up to snuff, and I didn’t want to pay for premium to get notifications. I’ve since ignored these rules with Omnifocus; It runs everything in my life, it DOES have great hotkeys, and I dropped the $$$ for premium Omnifocus which was more expensive than Todoist premium in the long run. But, this is a topic for another post.

Back on track. How to get Basecamp todos into my system? Again, Zapier to the rescue. Zapier can connect to Basecamp, do some basic filtering to make sure I only get tasks that I care about, and drop them into my Omnifocus inbox. Most of the following steps hold true for both Omnifocus and Todoist

  1. Create a new Zap that triggers when a new Basecamp todo is created. Have it create a new task in your system
  2. Select the appropriate Basecamp account and test it
  3. Select and test your Todoist/Omnifocus account
  4. Choose your Basecamp Account, Project, and Todo list. If you want to filter even more by only items assigned to you, add a custom filter. Do this by either Assignee ID or Name
  5. Match up the Basecamp data to your tool of choice. First is how I send it to Omnifocus. Note, I do need to populate the due date by hand. In both options, I add the url back to the task in Basecamp so I can easy mark it off or comment in it when I’m done. Todoist lets you be a LOT more granular and handles all of the fields so you have no manual intervetntion
  6. My tasks are now in my world. Profit.

 

You can also follow Tim on twitter

Technology

Basecamp 3 is Coming

Basecamp 3 is coming and I’m exited. Below are excerpts from Basecamp’s preview post on what I’m looking forward to most

Basecamp won’€™t send you any emails, push notifications, or in-app notifications if it’s outside your specified work hours. Live a little! Work Can Wait until you’re back at work.

group chat room for quick discussions

This is cool but it came a little too late. We’ve been using slack for project based and individual chat. It has a dedicated app that is easy to cmd+tab to. I see campfire in the browser sitting in an unchecked tab and not being useful

Show someone you care by clicking the Applause button on any message, comment, document, or answer on any automatic question. They’ll get a discrete notification letting them know you appreciated what they said. This is a great way to show your support for someone’s suggestion, idea, or point of view without also sending a notification to everyone else on the project.

e.g. What did you work on today€ or Are you blocked on anything?)

Hmm, I wonder if this could be used for virtual scrum?

@mentions: Psst!

YES, YES, YES, A MILLION TIMES, YES

They’ll instantly get a notification letting them know they’ve been mentioned, along with a direct link right back to where you mentioned them

If you’re not in the desktop app

Buhhh wait what? Ok maybe what I said about the tabs and apps above might not apply

You can bookmark just about anything in Basecamp 3 so you can jump right back to it from anywhere else

This will be handy. Here are always a few key threads I end up digging for. Usually long running threads about key deliverables

At the bottom of every project is a timeline of all activity going back to the moment you started the project

I like this if search hadn’t been improved. This has a lot easier than scrolling through all the lists looking for something around a certain time

So you can make a folder and put a photoshop file, a Google doc

👍🏻

Now you can assign to-dos to multiple people. Now you can set date ranges, not just single due dates. Now you can bulk assign multiple to-dos with a single click. Now you can select multiple to-dos and move them as a group.

😭😭😭

Now you can save any new message or document as a draft before you publish it

Basecamp 3 allows you to see all the work you’ve assigned to other people

You can sign up for an early invite here

Technology