Exploring the Introduction of 3D Touch for iPhone 6S

November 22nd, 2015 by Hubert Yap

The release of iOS 9 on 16th September, 2015 introduced two significant new features on iOS devices: Multitasking on iPad, and 3D Touch on iPhone. This blog post will explain what 3D Touch means for users, and how it can be incorporated into mobile apps to improve the user experience.
3D Touch for iPhones

At the time of writing, 3D Touch is only available for two device models: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Unfortunately the iPad Pro, which was released on November 2015, does not support this feature.

3D Touch introduces three new ways to interact with compatible iPhone apps:

  • Home Screen Quick Actions
  • Peek and Pop
  • Force Properties

Home Screen Quick Actions gives the user a kind of shortcut to up to four of the app’s key functions from the app icon on their home screen. Think of it like an additional navigation on the user’s home screen that allows them to navigate quickly to a specific screen or feature inside the app. This is a great time-saver for users, allowing them super quick access to their favourite function within your app.

The Home Screen Quick Actions can be a simple static set of shortcuts, or it can be a dynamic list of actions, or a combination of both. The static shortcut will always appear on top of the dynamically generated shortcut. They can contain up to two lines of text and an optional icon. The user can activate this feature by pressing the app’s icon on the home screen until they feel a small vibration which will then open the list of shortcuts (this is instead of the simple press to open the app, which of course is still available).

Peek and Pop allows the user to quickly preview content, such as a web page, from a link in their browser. This feature activates when pressing a user interface component (e.g. a link). If the link has any previewable content, its surrounding will be blurred to let the user know they can preview the content of that link. As the user keeps pressing with additional pressure, they will feel a small vibration, then a preview window (“Peek” window) will appear, displaying the content that will be shown if the user presses the link in the usual manner.

Whilst seeing the ‘peek’ view, the user has 3 options:

  1. Release the link. By releasing the pressed link, the “Peek” window will disappear, returning the user to the previous screen.
  2. Keep pressing. The user will feel another vibration and this is will “Pop” the window and take the user to the next screen as if they have clicked the link.
  3. Slide the screen up. This action shows additional buttons that the user can click to trigger a related action. For example, if they were pressing a website link, there will be an option to open the link, copy the link, or add it to a reading list.

The peek and pop feature is very useful when the user is not sure what will happen if they click a link, or when they are not sure if the link contains the information they require. For example, your application might present a collection of PDF files, listed by name. “Peek and Pop” allows the user to “Peek” on each file and release or “Pop” it instead of needing to click on each file and go back to the previous screen to click another file, until they find the file they are seeking. Again, it’s all about speed and convenience for the user.

Finally, Force Properties allows the app to detect the force applied to a certain UI component and triggers the app to react on the force event. For example, a piano app can now play a piano sound louder if the user presses the piano key harder; a drawing app can draw wider lines when the user strokes with greater pressure. Force Properties adds to pre-existing gestures such as tapping, tap-and-holding, swiping, and pinching, to allow intuitive behaviour upon additional pressure being applied to the screen.

3D touch opens up possibilities not previously available inside Apple apps. Whilst Force Properties usefulness depends on the interactivity of the app itself, we expect that most applications can enhance their user experience with the Home Screen Quick Actions, and Peek and Pop capability.

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Gamification of your online store

October 28th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

gamificationAll of you who attended the Melbourne Business Network event yesterday morning with me, and heard James Tuckerman speak about “5 disruptive trends and tactics that will reinvent how business is done in 2016″, will undoubtedly have been considering how you can implement gamification.

Gamification is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts” (source).

But first, if you are interested in some recent statistics on the impact of gamification, here’s an article I found which is a quick read: Gamification in 2015: Top Statistics and Facts. Here’s some more facts and figures.

Here’s a quick brainstorm on how to implement gamification into the online shopping experience (without culling the ridiculous … yes, aliens may get a mention).

Let’s get the obvious out the way first:

  • For first time customers (you can work that out based on their email address) after successful payment immediately reward them with a ‘first time customer’ badge, and give them something as a reward – that might be an additional extra product thrown into their first delivery, a discount off their next purchase, reward points …

By the way, before I go on … congratulations on choosing to read this blog, and getting past the first few paragraphs! Click here to get your reward. Seriously now, click!

Now where were we … okay, back to the perhaps less obvious ideas (and you wouldn’t necessarily do all of these things simultaneously):

  1. After the customer adds an item into their shopping cart, congratulate them with a badge and explain that they are x steps closer to owning their new item. Sounds, visuals and a feeling of game play are important aspects of gamification; so don’t make it too boring.
  2. As the customer works their way through the checkout, make it into a game … giving them fun visuals showing that they are progressing through the purchasing of their prize.
  3. For returning customers, give them a different reward compared to first timers … perhaps accrue points towards their free / goal purchase. To make this feel like a game, perhaps avoid a “frequent flier points” style point system, and lean more towards collecting cute ‘widgets’ to achieve a goal number of ‘widgets’.
  4. For customers who click through from your purchase confirmation email, to track the progress of their order or shipping, show them another badge – the excited shopper award perhaps! Make this sometimes anxious stage of the wait fun for your customer, and ease their mind that their parcel is on the way.
  5. For customers who click through to view your terms and conditions or payment security page, show them another badge – the careful shopper award perhaps. Again, this helps you to turn this more serious matter into something more light hearted and friendly.

Alright … there’s the brainstorm. You’ve probably thought of a few more, so please add to the above list via the comments!

Or tell us if you have noticed gamification popping up in business websites, like the DropBox example 1 and example 2?

NB: There is a real life prize for the first comment added to this blog post. You will receive your surprise gift in the mail.



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Split Testing Your way to Optimal Web Page Content

September 15th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

What is Split Testing?

Split testing, also referred to as A/B testing or multivariate testing, is a method of delivering multiple versions of a web page in order to gather data about the efficacy of particular content (images, text, forms or video). Incoming traffic is distributed between the original (control) version and different variations without the user knowing that they are actually part of an experiment.

A/B testing involves testing two variations of a web page against each other to distinguish which version of the web page is the most effective.

Multivariate testing involves comparing multiple variations of a web page in order to distinguish which combination of variations is the most effective.

A/B testing is excellent if you are after quick insights regarding isolated page elements, and is best for websites with lower traffic volume. Multivariate testing tends to be a more intricate process. Given the multiple variations and possible combinations, multivariate testing requires more testing time and is better suited to high-traffic websites, in order to yield statistically significant results.

Why Split Test?

Perhaps your website is ranking really well in the major search engines, or maybe your search engine marketing and social media marketing efforts are generating traffic through to your landing pages, but that traffic that you have worked so hard for isn’t turning into conversions (clicks, enquiries, sales, signup…).

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about making the most out of your website visits, gathering data about your visitors’ interaction with your website to ascertain how your conversion rate can be improved. Split testing is an important part of CRO.

What can be tested?

Any element that can be moved on your web page can be included in your split tests, however before testing, like any good science experiment we start with an hypothesis formulated after analysing the behaviour of your current traffic perhaps using heat map analysis.

The most important on-page elements on a web page are likely to be:

  • Call-to-action buttons / text / links
  • Introductory headline
  • Web page graphics
  • Text content such as sales copy and product descriptions

How is it implemented?

Once an hypothesis has been agreed, the alternate content needs to be written or designed, and programmatically added to the target web page using special script that will deliver alternate versions of the content to different visitors. A returning visitor will always see the same content, as long as they are using the same PC & browser.

After a statistically significant set of test results have been gathered, the outcome of the test can then be analysed and if conclusive, the winning content can be permanently applied to your web page, for all visitors.


Running a simple split test on the position of a call-to-action, or the text used in your main headline can make a big difference to your bottom line. Repeating the process and testing another change, and another change, will ultimately lead to optimal content for the desired visitor action.

Split Testing is a tool used by the most savvy websites, and is now available to Contact Point clients – please get in touch if you have a web page that isn’t delivering the conversions you are seeking!


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Enhance your website with animated graphics

September 2nd, 2015 by Tamar Smart

In my early years as a Graphic Designer, I worked a lot with incorporating animation onto a website via Adobe Flash. This was all the rage back then – mostly for use within large banner images/dynamic elements. Over the years, Flash became outdated and impractical, especially with the introduction of Apple devices and their lack of support for all Flash animation files.

Finally animation on websites is making a comeback, but in a slightly different form. Animated graphic files can be created as a Gif image, using HTML5, or a video animation embedded into a website. These formats are supported across a wide range of devices too, which is great news.

Animated graphics can really bring life to an otherwise plain website. They can be eye catching, entertaining, informative or tell a story.

One particular favourite style of animated graphics, is called “whiteboard animation”. This style looks exactly as it sounds – a series of images and text are “drawn” onto a whiteboard, and wiped off or moved around on the whiteboard. This type of animation really works when there is information to explain or a story to tell – it feels natural and makes sense to a viewer. The reason for this is because, when we want to explain something to someone, we often write or draw rough sketches on paper.

As I was browsing the internet today, I noticed that Google had created an animation in whiteboard style. Google has just created a new logo, and used the animation to tell the story of how it was created (in basic dot points). The animation works really well – it’s eye catching, a little bit fun and it makes sense.


In case you missed it, here is a link to view Google’s animation explaining their new logo:

At Contact Point, we have recently created video animations for our clients to help engage with their audience, and welcome the opportunity to create an animation for your website also.

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Review of my Samsung Smart Watch, 2 months on

July 30th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

Two months on, I’m very happy to keep wearing my smart watch – a Samsung Gear which connects to my Samsung 5 smart phone – albeit quite chunky on my skinny wrist, and taking up another power point for charging approximately every 3 days. It’s also important to appreciate that you need to have your smart phone nearby – about 15 – 20 metres, so the distance between my board room and my desk works perfectly well.

Samsung Gear 2

Heather’s Samsung Gear 2 watch

The Gear 2 is by no means the latest Samsung smart watch available – I chose that, nearly obsolete, model because it has a smaller face size than the new ones, a larger face will just look silly on my wrist. Perhaps the larger faces will eventually becoming thinner making it more palatable… we’ll see.

During the last 2 months, it’s been quite the talking point. Here’s my list of benefits of having a smart watch:

  • phone call screening – when I am not my desk I often don’t have my phone with me, and when I’m walking somewhere, handbag over shoulder, getting my phone out of my handbag can take several all-important seconds when you’re trying to get to a call. In these situations, I can simply lift the watch up and it automatically activates the screen so that I can see who is calling.
  • phone call answering when I can’t get to the phone – it’s as simple as swiping on the green answer button to take the call. The caller is of course on speaker at that point, but it can be better than missing an important call. Switching back to normal phone mode is easily done once I get back to my phone.
  • time :) I am happy to report that I can tell the time very easily using the watch – as you lift your wrist, the watch screen automatically turns on. You can choose a clock face from a variety of options, and also choose the background colour to match your clothes. However, it being an orange watch, I don’t tend to choose colours very often.
  • pedometer – I have just recently taken up exercise again (to deal with the winter pounds) so I started up the pedometer on my watch, and the watch automatically sent through the number of steps to my Samsung Health app on the phone, and automatically resets everyday so I can see whether I have been active enough on any given day, and of course do something about it!

Some things I don’t like:

  • email notifications – having your watch beside your bed going off at all hours of the night because another email came through was never going to be good, so that was left on all of about 5 minutes. The number of notifications I would have on the watch during the day as well would drive me mad, so I don’t use the phone to view emails.
  • running out of battery in the middle of the day – you end up with a useless piece of technology strapped to your wrist, and don’t know the time!
  • heart rate monitor – not that I’m too concerned about this, but I don’t find the heart rate monitor very successful on the phone; probably something to do with not having it strapped tightly enough to my wrist.

There are lots of other things I can do using the watch, including checking social media updates and the like. Practically every notification you can get on your phone you can also get on the watch. However, I don’t really need more notifications of that nature.

I’m still considering a feature/app to have our app development team build, in order to help me benefit more the device.

Of course the Apple iWatch has come out in the last couple of months. Here is an interesting review of the iWatch.

I look forward to hearing from others wearing a Samsung Smart Watch, or an Apple iWatch for that matter. How do you benefit from your smart watch?

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Integrating your shopping cart with the Google Shopping API

July 29th, 2015 by Harry Liu

The use of Google shopping is becoming more popular in Australia. The norm used to be that you would use the main Google search box, or more recently just type your search terms into the address bar and press enter, to find and compare products. Using this method, the search results is usually a list of websites, requiring you to view many sites to find the best purchase, or if you trusted them, you could use a comparison site to find you the best deal. Now we can use Google Shopping – https://www.google.com.au/shopping – to search items from a collection of ecommerce websites.

A search in Google Shopping returns an easy to navigate set of products (images, names, ratings, price) with multiple searching options, a powerful filter to narrow down the set of recommendations, and a Shortlist feature to help you select the product to purchase. Clicking on a product allows you to see more details, including any reviews, and then click through to purchase the product from the original vendor. However Google will only list products that have been submitted by an eCommerce website – Google doesn’t go out and gather product information to populate Google Shopping, as it does with the regular search engine results.

The simplest way to submit your products to the Google Shopping engine is to use the API (application programming interface) supplied by Google. We have recently implemented an automated product feed into Google Shopping for Miami Stainless, so now you can find their stainless steel products through Google Shopping e.g. search on ‘balustrade wire’.

On average it will take around 4 – 5 hours for us to implement automated integration of a Contact Point Shopping Cart website’s product information with the Google Shopping engine. You may elect to only send to Google products that aren’t on sale, or perhaps, certain categories of product – these sorts of rules can be programmed into the automated product feed from your online store.

Why not make the most of this opportunity in Google to place your products in front of more customers?

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Mobile-friendly algorithm update: More Than Paws

June 29th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

It’s been 2 months since Google rolled out its mobile-friendly algorithm which was set to enhance rankings for mobile-friendly / responsive web pages in mobile search results, so now is a good time to measure the impact of Google’s latest algorithmic update by reviewing one of our clients’ websites.

In order to obtain an accurate gauge between desktop and mobile search results, we needed to select a website without a mobile-friendly website version or responsive design.

More Than Paws is an e-commerce website specialising in clothing, accessories and costumers mainly for our canine friends, as well as other household pets. The More Than Paws team have been thinking about adopting a responsive website since there was first talk of the mobile-friendly algorithm update.

More Than PawsIn order to review the impact of the change, we selected 4 search terms that the More Than Paws website had been ranking well on in the months leading up to the Google algorithm change. The following search engine ranks are for Australian only results in Google, for both mobile and desktop devices – we performed these searches manually, without being signed into any Google Account in order to get the most accurate results.

Dog Bandanas
Desktop: #5
Mobile: #5

Dog Clothes
Desktop: #12
Mobile: #12

Dog Costumes
Desktop: #6
Mobile: #8

Dog Hoodies
Desktop: #3
Mobile: #5

The above results show a small impact on our client website’s Google ranks, with the search terms: ‘Dog Costumes’ and ‘Dog Hoodies’ both showing a 2 position rank deficit compared to the desktop.

We also reviewed the number of impressions for the More Than Paws website via desktop compared to mobile devices, pre and post the algorithm change.

Impressions from March 25 to April 21 (mobile-friendly algorithm introduction)
Impressions pre algorithm change

From the 23rd of March up until the advent of the mobile-friendly algoithm, the More Than Paws website received 5,752 impressions via desktop and 3,530 via a mobile device, which equates to a 47.87% difference.

Impressions from April 21 to June 22.
Impressions after algorithm change

Since the introduction of the update, up until the 22nd June, the More Than Paws website received 20,488 impressions via desktop and 11,931 via a mobile device, which equates to a 52.79% difference, or reduction of 4.92% of impressions between mobile and desktop devices.

It should be noted that most of the websites ranking well for similar search terms do not yet have mobile friendly / responsive websites. We expect that the difference pre and post the algorithm change would be more significant where well ranking competitors have mobile responsive websites. We also expect to see the difference between the ranks to become more significant over time, as Google adjusts the algorithm to achieve its aims in this area.

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Reach Mobile Melbournians billboard

June 27th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

After passing the billboard on the Westgate freeway several times, I just had to know what the advertising was all about. I mean … a Google search box containing the search phrase “reach mobile Melbournians” had to be somehow relevant to the endeavours of Contact Point!

So I grabbed my mobile phone (hubby was driving so that presented no problem) and typed in the search term “reach mobile melbournians” only to find a collection of random unrelated search results for page after page. Very frustrating! I am fairly of-fey with searching, having been involved in search engine optimisation since it began, so I continued on regardless to find what the billboard was all about. I refined my search to ‘reach mobile Melbournians billboard’ and was fortunate enough to get to the right place. The answer? A big new digital billboard coming into Melbourne City. So the ‘mobile’ in those search terms referred to people on their feet (rather than on a mobile device), and the Melbournians was actually people visiting the heart of the city of Melbourne.

Actually, to be completely honest, this was the second I had searched for this search term – the first time, after passing the sign at a pretty good speed, I searched for ‘reach mobile Melburnians’ because I thought that was how it was spelled.

Today I was glad to have my curiosity satisfied, however it struck me that the effort I was prepared to put in so that I could find the answer to the burning question raised by the billboard surely wouldn’t be the norm, and therefore the cost of that billboard wasn’t capitalised on with a complementary search engine marketing campaign.

If Contact Point had been engaged to assist the promoter we would have recommended the following:

  1. Write an article or two like this, explaining the meaning of the billboard advertising, and publishing the blog a day before or on the day that the billboard ad appeared.
  2. Ensure that the blog was well optimised for the search engines.
  3. Include a custom, short URL in the billboard to help the curious find it.
  4. Use social media simultaneously on the launch day or just before, to talk about the billboard, pointing to the explanatory webpage, and using useful hash tags to help searchers find it (eg multiple spellings of words if necessary)
  5. Once the billboard was actually out in the public, take a video of it and post that on the company YouTube account, including appropriate hash tags and including a URL that points back to the landing page on the website.

There’s more you could do if you have budget, but all of the above could be done for very little cost and effort, making it much easier for me to solve my burning question. That’s my two cents worth!

We love helping businesses to grow using technology, so if you are planning to reach mobile Melbournians or Melburnians for that matter, especially through search engines or through the use of mobile apps or a mobile responsive website, feel free to get in touch.

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Highly Personalised eCommerce snapping at the heels of traditional online stores

June 25th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

personalised ecommerce
The June Business Essentials audio program features an interview of one of the Australian entrepreneurs responsible for the recently launched personalised online shoe store Shoes of Prey. After choosing a base style (flats, mid-heel, high-heel, sandal, ankle boot etc) the Shoes of Prey online shoe designer tool allows you to customise your shoe to the nth degree. You can choose from a wide range of colours and materials, add straps, bows and other add-ons, even customising the colour of the insole, and toe sole (yes they are different). You can interact with the look of your unique shoe as you customise it. The end result can be a truly unique pair of shoes, made exactly to your size requirements, or if you are spoiled for choices and can’t decide, the website shows you the designs other customers have created allowing you to select one of those instead (and then add your own personalisation).

This blog: Personalised Shopping Services: How a bunch of menswear retailers found the future of ecommerce describes seven different online mens clothing stores which address the problem of men not liking shopping, but still wanting to look good and have new clothes. The retailers solve the problem in a variety of different ways, but personalisation is key – understanding the man’s size, shape, style preferences, budget, and then delivering to those preferences on a regular basis.

All of these examples make it clear that the next phase of ecommerce is here, and snapping at the heels of the “traditional” online stores. This phase of ecommerce takes personalisation to the next level. It’s not about personalising the person’s name in the emails you send and sending a birthday card & discount a few weeks before your customer’s birthday, it’s about combining the power of technology with personal service in order to provide exactly what each customer wants and needs.

I know where I will be ordering my next pair of shoes … it might even be worth a trip to Sydney to try on the various sizes and base shoe styles in the Shoes of Prey range.

The following points are clear from the stories of the abovementioned online stores:

  • The existing marketplace vendors believed that personlisation of their products was too hard
  • There certainly were lots of difficulties to overcome and significant effort required in order to support a personalised service – this lead some retailers taking on the manufacturing themselves
  • The more highly personalised model has delivered rapid growth of market share for the entrepreneurs who took on and solved the challenges
  • Customers receiving a highly personal service are likely to spend more, spend more often, and have greater loyalty to the store

I’ve been banging on about richer personalisation, particularly as it relates to email marketing, since the launch of eNudge in 2006. Marketers have been talking about marketing to an audience of one for about the same length of time.

Now that the greater personalisation is being experienced by consumers via solutions like those described above, all businesses need to think about how they can provide a more personalised service, creating customers who don’t want to go anywhere else. If you are already providing a personalised product through your online store, you still need to think about how you can take that up a notch … for example, think about the monthly service provided by one of the male clothing store vendors, sending a regular package to their customers to rent, buy or send back. It’s proactive, not reactive, but isn’t just sending the same things to everyone – the service is personalised based on in depth knowledge of each customer.

Perhaps you would like help to take your ecommerce store to a higher level of personalisation, or perhaps take your offline solution onto the internet providing a highly customised experience? I believe there are similar opportunities for B2B solutions and professional services. We need to stop thinking “it’s too hard” and start working out ways it can be done utilising a combination of technology and customer service.

We’re here to help you grow using technology, so feel free to get in touch.

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The New Contact Point Master Code

May 31st, 2015 by Mark Solly

There are many PHP code frameworks and ecosystems, including the more recently popularised WordPress environment.  However, both myself in pre-Contact Point days, and Contact Point, have preferred to work based on a purpose-built codebase which has the following benefits over using a framework:

  • Our code is highly efficient and lean, helping to ensure the quick operation of your website, and enabling easier maintenance.  Because a framework such as Word Press has to be all things to all people, they usually contain a large amount of code and functionality that will never be used for your website.  This unused code not only takes up room and makes it harder to find the exact piece of code we may need to alter, it may also create an undetected security vulnerability. Any additional functionality can be easily incorporated into our codebase, still keeping the overall code lean and efficient.
  • Our code is robust; security to prevent SQL injection and other malicious activity is built into the core removing the need for constant security patching.  Security patches will still be required from time to time, but much less frequently than the very well known frameworks which are often a target for hackers due to their large user base.
  • It incorporates the latest user experience elements which website users have come to expect … things like immediate prompting when the visitor enters information incorrectly into a web form, and animated page and style transitions.  Should new user experience elements present in future, it will be relatively easy to add those also.
  • Easily customisable to facilitate bespoke requirements of each website.

We have recently overhauled the Contact Point Master Code in order to bring the best aspects of the Solly codebase and the Contact Point codebase.  In particular the new Contact Point Master Code:

  • Combines the environment for the content management system and online administration systems of websites
  • Supports the concept of page plug-ins giving the webmaster the ability to quickly add components, such as online forms and image galleries, into new pages of the website
  • Ensures a more intuitive user interface for both the website visitor and online administrator
  • Incorporates into the shopping cart solution a collection of features that have become “standard” in more recent years such as automated SEO friendly URLs, meta tags and meta descriptions

If we built your shopping cart or web application many years ago, and you would like to benefit from some of the features described above, please don’t hesitate to contact Heather Maloney to discuss how we can most cost effectively deploy the new codebase for your solution.

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