Posts Tagged ‘web designer’

Is it time for specialisation of roles within Social Media?

Posted on: September 26th, 2012 by Fransgaard 2 Comments

I recently had dinner with a good Twitter friend of mine and his lovely wifeand at some point the conversation turned to job specialisation within social media. The conversation move on in a different direction before I could share my views and I am glad it did because going home afterwards I realised my views wouldn’t have been right.

My first instinct was to compare the Social Media industry with the Web Design industry because in the early days of Web Design there was only one job role: The Web Designer.

The evolution of the Web Designer

However, quickly the role Web Designer split in two; Web Designer and Web Developer, then three; Web Designer, Web Developer and Network Engineer.

My first instinct was to compare the Social Media industry with the Web Design industry because in the early days of Web Design there was only one job role: The Web Designer.

Several splits later the role as Web Designer has all but disappeared and replaced by specialist roles such as Information Architect, Business Analyst, Frontend Developer, User-Interface Designer, Digital Marketeer, SEO Specialists, PPC Professionals, Affiliate Marketeers, User Experience Architects, Motion Designers, Flash Developers, Mobile Interface Designers, App Developers, Object Developers, Drupal Themers and the list really does go on and on and on.

This evolution triggering these segmentations was the result of a growing industry. Today Web Design is big business requiring big results and nobody can do it all by themselves anymore.

Does this maturing of an industry sounds familiar to you from a Social Media perspective? It did to me… at first anyway.

But it is not the same for Social Media

Web Design is still an industry. It is not something the great unwashed masses do unless you count the DIY design of an About.me page or similar.

I would argue that Social Media is not an industry. It is affecting the population as a whole re-wiring our brains to a new, always-connected world.

I have previously described social media as a second language and I think that description is still valid. Social media is part of or will become part of all jobs.

How does Social Media enhance my job role?

So I don’t think the question is whether Social Media is going into specialised job roles but rather the question is: How does Social Media affect any role? What Social Media knowledge is needed for any role?

  • Does a Marketeer benefit from understand Social Media? Definitely!
  • Does a journalist need to know how to use Twitter? Sure!
  • Does a bus driver need to know about YouTube?… Yes he does. If he behaves badly, he risk going viral online!

And if you are a Final Fantasy XI player…

If you have ever played the MMO game Final Fantasy XI there is an even better way of describing Social Media: Social Media is a subjob!

To those who don’t play Final Fantasy XI the in-game job system lets you choose a main job for example Warrior, but you can modify this role by applying a subjob which gives you a few extra benefits. So for example a Warrior with a subjob of Ninja can use two weapons instead of one. A Warrior with a subjob of Ranger is better at using a bow.

Think of Social Media as the sub job for your (real-life) job. How does it modify your job?

The difference between UX and UI and what it means to your customers

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by Fransgaard 1 Comment

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

For this article I’ve enlisted my boss Windahl Finnigan, who heads up the Capgemini UK UX team and we’ve been discussing for a while about how to best describe the difference between User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) as the two are often confused with each other but they are vastly different entities.

A well-used example is that riding a horse is the User Experience while the saddle, the bridle, etc is the User Interface.

However, riding the horse is actually better described as an Activity that forms part of the overall User Experience.

The User Experience is everything that covers the full experience and everything related before, during and after the ride: The track, getting to and from the track, the thrill of the cheering crowd , looking at the photos of you flying off the horse days after the actual ride and so on.

Riding the horse may have been great and getting thrown off was a fun (and somewhat humiliating) lesson that made you respect skills of seasoned riders.

But two weeks later your leg still hasn’t recovered from the fall, you call the stables but they won’t even listening to you quoting disclaimers you signed when mounting the horse… Suddenly the User Experience of the ride is quite different.

However, the User Interface (the saddle, bridle etc) remains the same as before the change in perception of the User Experience. The materials and tools haven’t changed.

The best way of describing a User Experience is you cannot perceive it while you are in it. Only after it is over can you comprehend and review the User Experience with the benefit of hindsight.

What it means to your customers

A good User Interface creates trust. Trust that the site will work, trust that the company offers a professional User Experience as promised by the professional looking User Interface. But without applied User Experience Design it only forms a single step in a what is a multi-step process. Not having the other steps can leave the user feeling unengaged and with no clear direction or encouragement.

A good User Experience nurtures customer loyalty by creating a consistently good experience throughout the user’s journey no matter what path they may follow. The User Experience delivers on the promises of the professional looking User Interface.

Why User Experience has emerged as such an important craft

In the early days of the web Graphic User Interface Design, User Experience Design, Information Architecture, Frontend Development and more were all the responsibility of a single role: The Web Designer.

Today, the tasks are split out into a range of roles for a number of reasons:

  • The digital industry has grown immensely in a short period of time. So has the digital projects and their importance to the businesses. Where a digital presence used to be a fringe investment, it is now part of the core business model.
  • Each area of expertise has grown ever more complicated to accommodate for the explosive growth of the web estates. No need to look further than the backbone of the web: HTML. The first version had only 50 tags in total! Today we have a much more extended toolset in HTML5, CSS3, Ajax, Javascript and serverside scripts like PHP and ASP etc. It is a full-time job to learn and keeping up with just this single facet of the industry.
  • In the early days the User Experience was limited to a single website. Today it extends across a range of delivery mechanisms and channels: Websites, Digital Marketing, Social Media, not to mention Mobiles, Tablets, Interactive TVs, Games stations, Touch Screens etc. As such maintaining a consistent User Experience across is a complex task involving Creative Skills, Strategic Thinking as well as Psychology, User Research and much more.
  • And last, but absolutely not least, there is the expectations of the Users. While the web has grown ever more complicated, the Users have equally grown more impatient and demand simpler and faster experiences. As Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

So what about Customer Experience vs User Experience?

The term “User” has become associated with digital interfaces where the word “Customer” feels more at home in traditional marketing/CRM/PR terminology. But the fact is due to the impact and integration of the Internet with everything, the experiences on- and offline are naturally flowing together into a single Experience.

In practical terms Customer Experience and User Experience are for most parts interchangeable. The main difference being User Experience has a wider reach as a Customer is automatically a User of the Experience, while a User may not necessarily be a Customer (they could be a competitor, a colleague, a partner etc).

The important takeaway from this article is the difference between User Interface and User Experience as the former is only a single step of the full path that is the latter.