Category Archives: Experience

Content is King, so they say…

Participate in something greater, by David Hunt

“Content is King” is a great expression; catchy, weighty, easy. It’s also misleading, absent of substance, and wrong on many levels. As of January 2014, the Internet has 861,379,0001 websites, or if you prefer Google has indexed 200 Terabytes of data2 which is just 0.004% of the total Internet. Either way, there is no shortage of content. There is however an appetite for relevant, topical, bespoke content delivered as part of an expert brand strategy – the social world requires brain not brawn.

Content is a form of advertisement, albeit positioned as a more sophisticated strategy. The objective remains to elicit an emotion that drives an action. However, despite this universal truth, the world has changed. It is more connected, more social, and ultimately more judgemental. It is no longer enough to tell stories; we need to craft a collaborative narrative. Being instant lacks longevity and durability. Producing content without emotion and relevance dilutes and devalues brands. Today, more than ever, the market requires insight, imagination and innovation. Our Havas colleagues in Australia produced what I consider to be the best social campaign in healthcare: The world’s most powerful arm.

Great agencies are more, not less, critical to the brand building process. So too is a genuine brand. We can no longer manufacture our image, we can no longer limit the format of our customer interactions, we are exposed, open, and unintentionally honest. A strong authentic brand personality is essential. It must represent the values of a business and be aligned to the personality of their customers. Fonts, colours and high-gloss photographs, pale-away versus behaviour and conduct. Social success today relies more than ever on the principles of brand development.

The scale of the Internet is infinite, standing out from the crowd is harder than ever, unless of course you join the crowd. Become more than just an isolated part. Participate in something greater. Unite your community through a shared ambition. Do more. Social success is inextricably linked to the power of the collective to make a difference; it requires more than a content production line.

shutterstock_103225520

  1. http://www.techmadeeasy.co.uk/2014/01/18/many-websites-january-2014/
  2. http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2014/07/22/do-you-know-how-big-the-internet-really-is-infographic.aspx


Performance by the aggregation of marginal gains, What we can learn from sporting superstars

User experience; Big air and big ideas, by David Hunt

The Sochi Winter Olympics has been quite a spectacle. Putting aside the politics and the controversy, it has been a truly awe-inspiring sporting display. Like most people, I’ve been absolutely gripped by it and spent Sunday evening ‘casually’ browsing flight prices to Val d’Isère, considering the possibility of a break with my board.

Whilst competing at the games in 2018 might be little more than a pipe dream, I take inspiration from the parallels between the methods of these winter superstars and our practices at HAVAS LYNX. Our game might be user-centred design, but the outcome we aspire to isn’t so far from that of the athletes in Sochi. Like a boarder dropping into a half-pipe or a sled driver ripping round the bobsleigh track, our work can help those that we engage with feel connected and even inspired. The build up to such a major championships requires meticulous preparation. Identifying and addressing potential areas of improvement is a rigorous science. Data from practice runs and previous events is analysed, examining everything from split times to a rider’s claim that ‘it just doesn’t feel right’. Both data types are equally as valuable in UX; a qualitative insight such as a patient interview can reveal as much as reams of quantitative data.

Whatever it’s form, this data is then collated and evaluated into concise insights; problems that need solving. Then the exciting part – solving these problems. The science of hypothesis and analysis is worthless if you cannot couple it with the creativity. However meticulous, your research will only highlight the problems, not solve them. How many times have you heard a sports commentator exclaim ‘that came out of nowhere’ in response to a moment of sheer brilliance from an athlete? Free-style skiing is one of the most exciting sports I’ve watched in my life. I can’t help but marvel at the way GB star James Woods and his contemporaries constantly push the boundaries of their sport, inventing new tricks and putting together more imaginative and exciting runs. Working in healthcare, our work has the potential to dramatically transform outcomes, but only if we show the same ambitious zeal as the likes of ‘Woodsy’ and co. For our work to be successful it must inspire, challenge and connect. Invoking such responses is not a matter of routinely following a checklist.

A new idea in its raw form is great, but the job’s a long way from finished. These sparks of inspiration need to be fed back into the UX process to be honed and refined. Bobsleigh’s are tested for aero-dynamics in wind-tunnels, reviewed over hundreds of test runs as the team of engineers tweak and improve the design. We must be as meticulous and focused in our testing; products and services must be tested for what matters and by who they matter to. A small, focus group can be just as effective as mass-testing if well-selected.

New ideas are great, but innovation isn’t only a matter of the new. It can be the mastering of something old, something that’s done before, and improving it. Dave Brailsford’s troop of British cyclists were unstoppable at the summer Olympics of 2012. During the games there was a brief controversy surrounding the wheels the GB team was using, as if instilled in these wheels was a black magic giving them an advantage. Was their success really due to having an ace up their sleeve that no one else had? Could one single product, EPO a side, turn a whole team of men and women into winners? I don’t think so. Brailsford (Performance Director of British cycling) says their improved performance was down to ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’.

There wasn’t a single item or process that gave the GB team the advantage over their competitors, they were just doing a lot of little things a little bit better. The cumulative effect of all these things was what made such a resounding difference; those one percents added up. It’s the same in user experience design.

‘It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything’

Steve Jobs, a catalyst for innovation or a poster boy for the digital revolution?

User experience; Pursuit of perfection, by David Hunt

Where does the late Steve Jobs sit amongst the greatest minds of our time? Is he simply the poster-boy for the global culture of innovation? Or is he the catalyst that inspired a generation to think differently?

iPod

iPod, where it all began?

He didn’t create the Internet, he didn’t create the MP3, he did not invent the mobile phone, but does that lessen his impact or contribution to the digital revolution? Through his pathological commitment to a customer-centric approach, he took alien and complex concepts and brought them into the main-stream. He was the perfect foil to a software engineer, able to take “black magic” and make it simply magic.

His impact is significant; he challenged conventions and improved our lives. He didn’t look at what the competition did, he looked at what they didn’t do. He saw things differently. He knew what people wanted and he fulfilled the need, in terms of product, positioning and marketing.

His products were the best. He had the vision to challenge conventions and he had the obsession to shape every detail. His solutions weren’t defined by rules or existing boundaries, but by form, and experience. Whilst the design & integration of his products were flawless, product semantics were at the heart of their success, providing complete alignment with a user’s instincts. We didn’t have to learn how to work his products, they learnt how we work. Consumers may choose an Apple product because it is pioneering, it is desirable, it is premium – I choose Apple because of the experience. It is an extension of me. Every detail considered around my needs; from the physical interaction to the  seamless interface, driven by a deep rooted desire to exceed my expectations.

He defined product classes. Apple did not produce the first smart phone, or first MP3 player, but they did bring them to the public conscious. His product positioning was flawless, (unlike some). He could bridge the gap between technology and need. He would take an idea and make it relevant. There are those that can create technology, and there are those that know how to use it, Steve Jobs was the latter and his impact all the greater.

Was Steve Jobs a marketing expert? In 1983 he didn’t think so. In hiring John Sculley from Pepsi to become CEO of Apple, he highlighted the value he placed on marketing & communications, but an unusual lack of personal belief. Those in his presence, and the wider world would disagree, citing his “reality distortion field” – an ability to make the impossible, seam possible. Despite the economic challenges of the past decade, Apple has continued to succeed. Many wrongly believe that in austere times a cut in sales & marketing drives profit, Apple have baulked this trend and proven the wisdom of communications to maintain long-term success.

It is impossible to say where the world would be without Steve Jobs and Apple. However, I would speculate that whilst the technology would exist, the benefit it brings would only be enjoyed by engineers & technicians, the wider society would be oblivious to the benefits of “black magic”.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”
– Steve Jobs

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

– Jobs [Movie, 2013]

– Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

– Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple by Hartmut Esslinger

Sent from my iPad

 

 

eDetail Aid Apathy, Inevitable without Innovation?

eDetailing; Maximising the opportunity, by David Hunt

You have a stunning eDetail aid! It’s compelling, engaging, memorable. It addresses customer needs & it absolutely helps the representative. It has won awards & everyone LOVES IT!! Odd then, that the usage is declining. It’s not been used by the field and your customers have lost interest. It’s being left in the bag, tucked-up alongside last year’s leave piece.

As an industry we have become lazy. Apple did our job for us. With the launch of the iPad we could not fail. The device itself captured attention, implored the field to use our sales material & engaged the customer. But now what? Now the novelty has worn off, where do we go next? We can’t just sit & wait for the next Technology Push – we need to re-imagine, re-invent & re-define the detail aid. We need to be creative, innovative and smart. Finally, we need to really use the power of the hardware. Rather than a glorified PowerPoint, embellished with animation, we need to create a truly immersive experience.

iPad

Succeeding in a saturated market

It’s not easy. How many apps really deliver an experience beyond a website? How many sectors have successfully gone beyond the obvious migration? We are not alone in simply changing platform, rather than changing the experience. However the trend is changing, smart people are understanding the real opportunity & maximising the iPad. The lag is not uncommon, it takes game developers years to harness the power of the latest Play Station. But to maintain customer engagement & a competitive advantage they are committed to innovation. They are determined to master the technology at their disposal. We need to do the same. Now is our time to innovate, go beyond conventions and maximise the opportunity at our finger tips.

The future will be defined by ideas & not software;

  1. Social CLM
    Blending the value, credibility and authority of peer-to-peer endorsement with the relevant, tailored stories of closed-loop marketing. It is the promise of social media, within a safe environment.
  2. Active participation
    We strive for engagement, knowing the importance to message retention. Yet, we worry about a HCP interacting with the device, controlling the flow, taking an interest? It is a customer-centric approach at its finest, we need to re-design the interaction and maximise the opportunity.
  3. Agile story-telling
    The stories we tell are founded in a traditional approach that pre-dates the digital revolution. We can deliver our stories, but to make a difference we must be believed. To be believed we must earn trust. To earn trust we must engage and respond, telling the customer’s story and not our own. 

Has the iPad killed innovation in healthcare communications? Or, has it created the platform to drive innovation? I believe the latter, but only with the necessary ideas, insight and commitment to beat the technology.

An Agency’s Ultimate Priority – Experience, Their Customers & Their Customers’ Customer

Experience; Why it is everything, by David Hunt

For my wife’s Birthday we stayed at the Sanderson, in London. I had heard of its reputation, and the location was great. It was expensive, but I wanted the trip to be special. A month later we travelled back down to London, and without hesitation booked the Sanderson again. It was that good. Equally, I’ve stayed in a number of budget hotels and the experience has been just that.

Distinctive design

Distinctive design

As a business you must define your proposition and price point, you must then honour that commitment in everything you do, both in service & deliverable. Every detail of my stay at the Sanderson was considered; from the fresh fruit & water awaiting our return from a night out, through to every member of staff knowing our names & preferences. I am sure that there are exceptions, mistakes and the occasional frustrated client, we are human after all. However, I am also confident that the energy, courtesy and passion of the staff will ensure that the majority of experiences are exceptional.

When I selected the Sanderson I understood their rates. I recognised that it would be a premium experience, with an appropriate cost. As an agency, should we expect the same of our clients? Are they looking for an exceptional service, or something simply adequate? The Sanderson would not have expected me to challenge them with the rates of the local economy hotel, but equally I would not accept an economy service from the Sanderson.

If I book a flight with Virgin, I know it will be more expensive than the low-cost alternative but whilst both will get me to my destination, I know that it will be a better experience with Virgin. If a client briefs an agency on a website in the majority of instances the cost will be an indicator of quality, both in the experience with the agency and in the ultimate experience of their customers. No doubt both websites will function, but the superior expertise, insight and time associated with the premium offer, should shine through in the final solution and the experience of the users.

“Just because it is more expensive, doesn’t mean it is better!?!” A strange point of view, not one I would share with the Sanderson, but for completeness – with higher cost comes the opportunity to include more talented staff and motivate their performance. With higher cost comes more experienced personnel that understand your business and can discuss your opportunities. With higher cost more time to craft a solution around the user and deliver a premium experience. 

I was under little doubt that the staff at the Sanderson were experienced & expert, they were motivated & passionate, they took pride in their work & were rewarded for their endeavour.  

 

What Will Come First, The First Step or The First Swipe

The next digital generation, by David Hunt

Baby Hunt is 4 months old and he has mastered rolling. We watch with bated breath for the roll to become a crawl and then it can’t be too long before he is taking those first few steps. However, my money is on the swipe. He is already fascinated by the iPad and whilst he hasn’t worked out the gestures, he is interacting.

First swipe

I love Winnie the pooh

How do I feel about this? We are all inclined to look back at our youth with nostalgia. Summers spent running through fields, playing football with your friends, owning Mayfair & Park Lane – good honest fun. And before that, I fondly remember pop-up books, they were much more fun than the traditional types. They made the reading experience interactive & engaging, they maintained my interest (I’m told). Do I really mind if Baby H learns to read via an iPad as oppose to the traditional alternative? Whilst he will never posses the same fondness for physical books, it doesn’t guarantee he will love literature any less – perhaps the experience will enhance the stories, perhaps his love of literature will be greater?

But where does it stop; will his first drawings be with crayons or PaintPro? will he kick his first football virtually or in the park? will he learn to play the piano online or at school? I suspect it will be dictated by the experience. PaintPro will never be as much fun as the real thing, but perhaps it is easier for the parents – is the decision the parent’s rather than the child’s? Is this any different to when I was growing up? I could happily play FIFA on the NES, but would much rather be in the park with my Dad.

For me, the decisive factor is experience. I sincerely hope that human, real interactions will always have the competitive edge. But as with everything it comes down to time, energy and passion. It is our responsibility to ensure that Baby H enjoys reading rather than watching, that he prefers painting & craft to image manipulation, that he rather plays with his friends in the park than online.

Ultimately, as we are quickly learning as new parents, it is down to compromise. Maybe Baby H can use PaintPro to manipulate his own paintings and create something far better than we ever dreamed. Maybe the educational apps will enhance the learning experience with a more diverse approach. Maybe he’s on the first steps to harnessing the overwhelming information resource that is the Internet. Maybe with diversity, innovation and energy, it is simply a better experience.