Posts Tagged ‘Content’

I work for IBM, but what value do I bring to my previous employer, Capgemini?

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by Fransgaard 5 Comments

I went to the Kred London Influencer Summit last night. What a fantastic time. Met a lot of Twitter connections I had not met before.

 

I also ran into an old colleague of mine from Capgemini, Inyk, and we got talking about the connections I retain within Capgemini.

Today Inyk sent me this interesting article on the subject: Coming out: can you bring value to an organisation after having left it? And it got me thinking about what value, if any, I still bring to Capgemini, even now where I work for one of their competitors: IBM?

Examples of my relationship with my previous employer

  • I left Capgemini on good terms.
  • Capgemini in general have a view that people who leave are potential future re-hires with new experiences they can bring back to the company (they don’t display the same sense of betrayal the author of the article Inyk shared has encountered).
  • I am part of their official Yammer Alumni group, which I hardly ever visit.
  • I maintain relationships with ex-colleagues on both Twitter and Facebook.
  • After meeting a talented mobile SME, who recently moved to London, the first people I connected him with was ex-colleagues from Capgemini.
  • Capgemini ex-colleagues remain loyal readers and retweeters of my blog posts.
  • Emmanuel Lochon, Capgemini’s global head of marketing, sent me a Linkedin message about the new Capgemini website going live, which I responded with both direct feedback and tweets.

Does this mean it is the people I am retaining relationships with rather than the company? Ofcourse! But it is the employees who are the company. As such they are the point of contact with the company. What they say and do is the corporate message.

It is vital the employees are up-to-date with any corporate messages as they are the voice of the company.  But it is equally important that the employees are not forced to relay these messages or even rewarded for doing so.

For example Emmanuel’s Linkedin message about the new Capgemini website is relevant to me because I was involved in early stages of the project. Had I not been, his message would not have been relevant to me.

Am I still a Capgemini advocate? Yes, I am. So I do think I still provide a value, but it is driven by a mutual relationship and an understanding we are competitors.

Do I champion all my previous employers?

While I’ve left all my previous employers on good terms, and while I retain personal relationships with ex-colleagues at all places, I don’t actively engage with the brands themselves. I think this is because when I have involved myself with their digital content, I have had no response. A one-way relationship is really not a relationship.

 Do you still represent your ex-employer?

How to add social design to your user experience design

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by Fransgaard 2 Comments

Each day social media becomes more and more integrated with our digital lives and as such web interfaces that doesn’t incorporporate social media elements are already starting to feel old.

However, in many ways social media is still seen as a marketing or PR tool and often bolted on at the end of the user experience and user interface design as an afterthought.

Here’s a few tips on how to consider social design as an integrated part of user experience design.

Social media as social proof

There are several places to put social elements such as sharing tools, displaying how many comments a page has and associated profiles of authors or the company itself.

But depending on where they are placed on the page they serve different purposes.

For example adding  Google+ or a Tweet buttons to the top of the page serves as much as social proof assuring the newly arrived reader that several others have read (and enjoyed) the content beforehand with the numbers the buttons display.

Social media as engagement

Adding social elements after the main content serves as an option for the reader to share the content and engage further by commenting, joining groups.

As the main content is read, don’t be afraid to expand on the social elements. For example instead of just adding a Facebook Like button why not write: “Did you like our article? Sharing is caring. Thank you for sharing. It encourages us to write even more.”

Or instead of an anonymous comment box why not invite readers by writing: “So this was our view on pea farming, but what do you think? Please tell us your pea story.”

Social media as part of content

The last example touches on how content can be optimized for social sharing, because the call-to-action text specifically refers back to the content (pea farming), which makes it directly associated and as such more relevant.

Other ways to make content more social is to make content shareable. A classic example is writing good headlines and lots can be learned from traditional newspaper copywriting. Good headlines are by definition short and memorable which makes them ideal for social sharing especially with character count constraints.

A lesser known trick is to make quotable sound bites in pull-out quotes during the main body copy and add social sharing buttons to the pull-out quote, which uses the actual quote as the shared copy rather than the headline copy.

And don’t forget social as part of mobile

This is what made me think about social design as part of user experience design in the first place: Why is social sometimes forgotten as part of the mobile user experience?

Many mobile optimized interfaces do not have the basic social sharing buttons forcing users to switch to “Full site” as it is even harder to copy and paste from a web page to social tools on mobile devices.

And some are even missing the commenting facility as well as other readers’ comments losing valuable user-generated content.

Social design as part of the bigger pervasive user experience

User experience doesn’t stop at page level. What happens after the reader shares content to her Twitter account or joins the Facebook group associated with the author? I will look at that in a future article.

How do you see social media as part of user experience as a digital professional? What do you you rely on (or miss) as a user yourself?

The business case for good typography online

Posted on: March 8th, 2011 by Fransgaard No Comments

The original version of this article can be seen at the Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

The Internet is still in its infancy. Typography, however, is not. Typography is a fully adult mechanism of communication that has been around since the first cave paintings started to look more like letters than buffaloes and men with spears.

Gutenberg’s Mechanical Printing Press, The Masters Of The Renaissance and The Modernists all added their input to the evolution that has resulted in the honed delivery mechanism typography is today.

illuminated manuscript typography

…so it is strange that typography is largely ignored in digital design and left to be determined by default browser settings.

Typography is much more than fonts

Typography is not just fonts or type faces. Indeed some of the history’s finest typographic works, “Illuminated Manuscripts”, were created in Medieval Europe long before fonts as a concept was invented.

According to Wikipedia: “Typography (…) is the art and technique of arranging type, type design, and modifying type glyphs. Type glyphs are created and modified using a variety of illustration techniques. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning).”

An accurate description of the physical act of using typography but says little about why.

Why is typography important?

Successfully using the various techniques described above creates a sum greater than its parts. It creates a ambient and tailored environment that delivers the meaning of the words written to the reader. In fact, one could argue the best typography is the one you do not notice and doesn’t get in the way of delivering the message.

There are loads of examples of where the reader suddenly becomes painfully aware of the typography.

  • Recently picked up a magazine where the letters were printed too close to the centre accidentally cutting off first (or last letters) of each line of text?
  • Ever tried to read a cheap print of a book where the text lines are printed so close together the fonts blend into each other into an illegible mess?
  • When did you last read and understand the small print on a document you signed? Give it a try next time. It is harder than you think.

Typography is also a great tool to help guide the reader. Pick up any newspaper and see how the different sizes in text makes headlines lead their stories and makes quotes stand out. Even without adding colours typography can create a hierarchy of importance on a newspaper page.

The new typographic aspects introduced by digital media

Knowing how to set traditional typography is the foundation to mastering digital typography but the on-screen environment brings some new opportunities to the table as well as some new obstacles to be aware of.

The biggest difference between printed and on digital typography is: Control. Printed typography stays fixed looking the same from instance to instance but typography created for screens need to be more fluid and accommodating as the display mechanism is more or less unknown.

Digital typography must allow for user-controlled font-sizes and more often than not be ready for constantly changing amounts of content as content-management-systems allows website owners to update content on a regular basis.

Reading on screens is harder on the eyes because of the low resolution and the light from screens.  And additional limitations to visual delivery such as like low quality screens or small screens (mobile phones and other handheld devices) cannot be ignored.

Good typography online is also a legal requirement in many countries as it is part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

In addition to setting typography correctly, using shorter paragraphs, bold to highlight keyword and bulleted lists helps people read on screens as it breaks down the content into digestible chunks.

Typography also plays a role as navigation, a role that is unique to the digital environment. Not only does typography navigate the reader’s attention across the page, it also helps the user navigate through a series of linked web pages using the foundation of the Internet: The hyperlink.

Visit any website. Can you instantly recognise the links on the page? You can if they are made to stand out from the main content, but if they don’t stand out… well, you may be able to decipher the links as you read the content, but this is a much slower process and not something we, as impatient web users, are happy with.

Why typography is important to your business

Each year a significant amount of money is spent to create awareness of digital destinations and to drive customers to these websites. Taking care of those customers who successfully arrive is crucial.

Having a good user experience design helps users navigate around the website. Typography is part of good UX design but it also extends beyond the visit to the website as it makes the content easier to read and as such easier to remember.

The immediate benefit is customers can read and understand information about the products and confidently make a purchase decision and the long term benefit is preventing misleading understanding of the product descriptions leading to dissatisfied customers and even wrong products being purchased as a result of this.

Further read