AIAIO: Our Blog

AIAIO: Our Blog

The pulse and reviews of Alexander Interactive

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.


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



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.


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.


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.


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 Gives the Gift of Warmth

In November 2013, after reading that New York Cares has received more than 100,000 requests for coats this winter, Ai registered to become a coat drive collection team.

For the past few months, Ai employees and their family and friends have donated over 35 coats to those in need!

Ai Coat Drive

All coats were delivered to the New York Cares Coat Drive Warehouse this morning.  For the next week, New York Cares is still accepting coats at various drop-off locations throughout all five boroughs.

For more information, you can visit the New York Cares Coat Drive website.


Ai’s Year-in-Review

2013 is coming to a close and it’s time for “Ai’s Year-in-Review”. We here at Ai take great pride in our inherent geekiness, and with that in mind, let’s take a look at the numbers:

40: Total number of launches this year.

3: Site launches in ONE DAY –we are BEASTS!

$2 billion: Yes, we said billion. The sites we’ve designed have generated $2 Billion in sales.

2: Babies born to Ai’ers. Congrats Judy and Kelly!

4000: Number of lights hanging around the office for the holidays.

210,106: Miles Ai’ers traveled to and from Tokyo and Dubai on business.

2: New VPs David Ow and Phil Cotty, our Fearless Leaders!

1: New Creative Director. Welcome Julia!

30: Number of visits to Mayor Jack, VP, Integrity & Security generated by the phrase “Integrity Interactive Corporation”

6: Awards we won this year. Ünst Ünst.

5th: Our ranking on Google when you search “Post Mortem” meeting

18,664: The longest trip in miles made by Anna Perez, Ai’s account director, jet setting around the world: NYC > Moscow > Dubai > Tokyo and back to NYC.

1:  Engagement. Congrats Sammy!!

2013 was the year we grew bigger– but more importantly– better. We continued to establish ourselves as people our clients and colleagues look to solve their biggest challenges and to do so with the strategic thinking and beautiful, effective work they have come to expect from us.

Most important of all, we continue to do this work with the passion, grace and integrity that all Morgan Freemans embody.

As we head into 2014, we are looking forward to continuing this trend and pushing the bounds of our technical and creative offerings. 2014 is going to be all about “more”—more innovation, more growth, and more awesomeness.


User Experience as Customer Service

Intuit’s QuickBooks has been held up as an example of data standardization and a robust developer platform.  And Quickbooks is most certainly THE de facto standard for small business accounting software.  But, in recent years, newer entrants like Freshbooks and Kashoo (among others) have been stealing market share, feature by feature, with a better user experience.  Accounting is no fun, but it’s actually a pleasure to send invoices and process payroll with these new platforms.

The mighty Intuit appears interested to buck this trend with its latest product update, the new QuickBooks Online.  They are not bringing the update to market with a traditional playbook touting how many reports the product has or how many banks it can connect to.  Instead, they are focused on Why Design Matters, and how the new look of the app will “create a harmonious user experience,” implying that users should care more about the design than about QuickBooks’ storied permissions levels and sales receipt processing.  It may indeed be marketing fluff, but they’re putting their design money where their UX mouth is in a follow-up post on their blog.

To hush a user that posted something along the lines of  “but I want this feature because it’s best for me,” customer services reps are replying with data.  It’s a UX researcher’s dream:

statistically the recurring page is 34th in the list of most used pages, COA is 15th

Blammo.  Stop complaining.  We did our research and built our product around real user usage and needs.

In that initial reply to the customer, the responding customer service agent (who is so fluent in UX language as to make you think he’s actually a product owner) also mentions that the new QuickBooks finally supports tabbed browsing.  The original inquirer pushes back again, “I assume that if you open some links/functions in a new tab/window, that other open windows will not be updated with a transaction performed in a different tab/window without a manual refresh. Is that so?”

Ever-focused on the user, the agent replies:

We actually worked hard to implement that feature, so it is there. Where it applies is mainly on Customers, Vendors, and other transaction list pages.

And still the user was not satisfied, demanding perfect refreshes of every function: “So if I keep the home page [open]….I should see the bank balance shown on the home page change automatically?”

Ever cool, the UX master replies:

I will pass that use case on to our banking team though and see if we can get that working.

Use case!?  They’re talking to a customer here!  The CSR didn’t take it quite as far as saying he would force rank that user story in their backlog and make sure it’s tracked in GreenHopper, but they sure are training their users that direct feedback is important and will be incorporated into future versions of the software.

Smart move, Intuit.  Every time a customer service agent says use case twin unicorns is born in the forest.