Why not offshore my app development project?

April 17th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

onshore your app developmentOkay, you’re going to think I’m bias – I own a web & mobile app development company based in Melbourne, Australia, so of course I want to discourage organisations from offshoring the development of their apps.

However, fact of the matter is that I’ve heard countless war stories of offshored developments that have gone wrong … either the whole development has been thrown in the bin due to a poor quality result, or a project that was meant to be delivered by a particular date for a specific cost has escalated in both time and cost. My organisation has been the beneficiary of such malfunctioning projects, but not before the organisation has been through months of pain and disappointment prior to arriving at my door.

Apart from the issues of getting what you actually want, in an appropriate time, and for the low cost you expect from offshoring, there’s a third concern – security of your intellectual property. How do you really know that your solution isn’t being re-used for other foreign organisations to achieve the same or similar outcomes in their local market or the global market? If you needed to pursue a competitor for theft of your IP, doing that in a foreign country is going to be exponentially more difficult than locally. The risk of reputational damage to a local provider also provides you with additional leverage if an issue arises.

So why do off-shored projects so often go wrong? Anecdotally it would seem that the following issues are the primary reasons:

  1. Communication – first and foremost, effectively communicating your requirements is best done with the person/s carrying out, or at least overseeing, the development in the same room. Offshore developers try to overcome this with business analysts in Australia preparing vast documents on the required solution, adding time and cost to the project. Because the analysts are primarily in Australia, passing on of the information usually relies on the developers reading the vast amount of output and then following it … again inefficient, and developers aren’t known for wanting to read long documents before they start coding.
    Offshore developments usually require additional management in order to manage the offshore teams and co-ordinate communication, reducing the benefit of the lower developer hourly rates.
    Agile methodologies require close proximity of the developers and the clients to be successful.
  2. Time Zone – the effect of working in different time zones almost always adds to the project timeline. Someone has to wait until the start or the end of the day to communicate with the team, and when one team is working, the other isn’t, making asking a quick question in order to keep progressing down the right path either very difficult, or adverse for the work-life balance of team members.
  3. Cultural Differences – written English is heavily subject to interpretation. Cultural differences can increase the likelihood of incorrect interpretation. Trying to achieve a solution that feels like it was built for the Australian marketplace is also less likely from an offshore team, which is why design (UI & creative) is rarely carried out offshore.

From time to time I am asked to manage an offshore team in order for a client to get the benefit of lower cost developers. I always politely decline. We are able to develop great solutions, in a timely and cost effective manner because we have our developers in the same room, can have efficient discussions and decision-making about the developments if a difficulty arises, and because our clients are also close to the developers when the need arises. We also bring to our clients many years of experience, industry knowledge and of course cultural understanding.

There are times when you can’t get the resources you need, when you need them, locally such that offshore is the best option. But perhaps you should instead consider breaking down your development to smaller chunks so that a smaller, local team can meet your requirements. Smaller developments of shorter durations are also more likely to be successful, cost effective and deliver value to your customers and organisation more rapidly.

If you require a web or mobile application to be developed, I’d love to discuss the potential opportunity with you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Why Rebrand?

March 27th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

image-rebranding-squareThe visual identity (aka ‘logo’) of the Contact Point brand has just been updated, so the reason why businesses rebrand is top of mind. We are rebranding and have updated our logo for several reasons including:

1. To communicate our purpose more clearly
2. Modernise
3. Be more memorable

The Contact Point brand was established nearly 11 years ago. The visual identity of our brand comprises a hand-drawn asterisk; the idea was that if you were looking at a list of suppliers, you’d mark the one you wanted to contact with an asterisk. My Gen Y colleagues look at me blankly when I talk about written lists, and marking one with an asterisk. And let’s face it, we’re a technology company, so what place does written lists have in that? Time for a refresh!

Our business aim is to partner with our clients to help them be the contact point in their industry, by using the best technology solutions and digital strategies.

Our new logo contains a C, a dot / point in the centre, and a circle surrounding it which work together:
- To be easy to recognise.
- The outer circle reflects both the global nature of our work, as well as the team it requires to deliver.
- The overall logo is also reflective of a target. Our clients have goals that we assist them to achieve, and we are about making them the target – the contact point – of the right customers.

We would love your feedback re: whether you feel that our new visual identity successfully achieves the above goals. Stay tuned for our new website design which will better incorporate the new logo, as well as bringing the user experience up to date.

Other common reasons for rebranding include:

4. Change in purpose
Often such a change means that the brand no longer supports the organisation’s purpose.

5. Reaching new markets
New markets usually comprise people with different demographics, pain points, ways of communicating, and perhaps culture. A new brand may be required to better engage with that new target audience.

6. Consolidating multiple brands
Mergers and acquisitions usually combine brands that clash with one another. A rebrand in this situation will help the organisation to present a consistent message to the market.

7. Changing the name
A new name obviously requires a new brand when the visual identity is tied to or incorporates the original name. Imagine if Coca Cola changed their name (not likely given its value!). Their brand would most definitely need to change.

We regularly assist our clients with creating new brands, or refreshing their brand or visual identity. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss this for your organisation.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Use of Animation in Websites

March 3rd, 2017 by Chris Torralba

headline - website animation
The use of animation in web design is a current trend, although thankfully we haven’t returned to the days of flaming logos. Animations in websites work best when they serve a purpose and enhance the users experience. Adding animation to a website can bring a design to life, even if the motions on the page are subtle. Websites without any animation at all may run the risk of looking outdated. This blog post is going to look crazy busy, and you’d never combine so much animation in the one page, but below we describe the various ways animation can be employed to give websites that extra visual appeal and improve usability.

Attracting attention
Animations can direct the users focus to any point on the screen. As long as there are not many other competing elements on the screen, even the smallest amount of motion will grab attention. This can be used to influence what the user sees, or establish a visual hierarchy pointing them to important points on the website. Visuals like a slow fade, a box crawling in from the side, or a tile spinning to reveal more information are more preferable than the content suddenly appearing out of nowhere. In the example below animation is used to reveal the products tagline followed by a shop now call to action button.
animation to attract attention

Engaging the visitor
Animations can be used to point out possible ways for visitors to engage further with your website. The right animation in the right place can help get your message across and engage users. Animations as simple as changing the look of a button when the mouse pointer hovers over them can make your pages feel more alive and prompt visitors to select press or interact with your content. A good example of this would be an animated call to action button. Such buttons need to be displayed prominently on your website. Adding [restrained] animations make them more obvious and will let users know that they are interactive. In the example below when the mouse is hovered over the button not only changes shape and colour but produces bubbles as well.
Button hover effect

Web Forms
Animations when used correctly allow designers to produce faster, easier to use, and more productive web form experiences. Animating web forms is a great opportunity to add some subtle and interesting effects to a web page. Web forms are elements that your user will interact with and making them fun to use can enhance the experience. Because animated visuals can teach more effectively than words or static images animations can also be used to show a user how to fill out a web form, subtle animations can guide user interactions and make form filling less confusing. In the example below animation is used to let the user know when his details have been correctly processed.
Web form animation

Visual Appeal
Whilst animating for the sake of beauty can be easily overdone, making the user experience that bit more enjoyable or sophisticated will help to bring your visitor back, and help to encourage sharing of your website. Below is an example of a very subtle animation that just adds some class to the design of the image link.
animation for visual impact

What’s your favourite example of animation?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Implications of the new Privacy Act on Email and SMS Marketing

February 13th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

privacy act changes and email and sms marketing Okay … this may seem a little dry, but hang in there; we will get to the nitty gritty as quickly as possible.

Email and SMS marketing in Australia is not only impacted by the Australian Spam Act 2003, but also the Privacy Act 1988 (as amended by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012). The Privacy Amendment Act came into force on the 12 March, 2014 and created a single set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) applying to both Australian Government agencies and the private sector, with some special situations for the medical profession. Whilst the Privacy Act does not apply to small businesses (those with an annual revenue of less than $3,000,000), it is best practice to adhere to the legislation regardless of your size.

As I see it, the most important change in the Privacy Act was more stringent disclosure about where your data can be stored, and ensuring that government agencies do not store their data offshore except in some very specific situations. NB: if you do provide your data to offshore organisations, you are responsible for ensuring that they do not breach the Australian privacy principles.

When undertaking email and SMS marketing, in order to comply with the Privacy legislation we recommend that you:

  • Use eNudge, because your data is stored on Australian servers, not off-shore and because eNudge makes it easy for people to un-subscribe (this requirement is now included in both the Privacy legislation as well as the Australian Spam Act).
  • Only store in eNudge the information that you absolutely require in order to be able to personalise your messages and analyse your campaign results.
  • Do not store or personalise on government identifiers e.g. tax file numbers and the like.
  • Document and follow your privacy policy, and have it easily accessible via your website.
  • Include a link to your privacy policy within your email message – your email footer is the best place for this.

What should be in your privacy policy?

  1. The kinds of personal information your collect & keep.
  2. How you hold it e.g. with eNudge you might say that your information is stored in a secure online database, within Australian servers, and only accessible by appropriate employees.
  3. For what purpose you collect, store, use and disclose the personal information, and most importantly, identifying where the disclosure may take place overseas including identifying the country.
  4. How a person can view & request correction of the personal information you are storing about them.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Design-centric Application Development

December 6th, 2016 by Kaveh Saket

Design-centric application development

A design-centric approach to application development (that’s web applications and mobile applications – is there any other sort these days??) differs from customer-centric or technology-centric approaches which have been more common of recent years. A design-centric approach focuses primarily on ensuring that the user experience is perfect – or perhaps more accurately “nearly perfect”.

There is always room for improvement – another revision, a new update – and users want continual improvement to make their life easier. User experience has been made king because research shows that organisations which focus on design significantly outperform those who don’t.

In a customer-centric approach the customer is asked what they want, and then the designer will set about delivering to their requirements. In a technology-driven approach, the technologists build the best algorithm or new solution to solve a particular problem and then look for a customer who values the technical solution. However, following a design-centric approach the designer will research the best current solutions in the problem landscape, put themselves in the customer’s shoes, and determine to provide the simplest way to achieve the desired goals. Gathering feedback on the design from a variety of potential users of different levels of expertise follows, and leads to iterative refinement until the first version is achieved. The developers – the people who turn the design into reality – are then directed by the design team to ensure that the intended outcome is achieved.

The Uber mobile app is a great example of design-centric application development, which is a significant factor in its amazing success. Anyone who has used the Uber App will agree – from being able to see where the on-approach vehicle is on the map, along with the number of minutes until it arrives continuously updated until arrival, to seeing a photo of the driver and vehicle, one press to make a call to the driver, and immediate payment upon arriving at the destination without needing to handover a credit card. I could go on and on about the ease with which you can hail an Uber, and receive a brilliant experience of private transport…

One of the challenges of current application design is dealing with content. Having little visible content is a very quick way to send users heading for the hills … imagine Instagram with no photos when you launch it, or Twitter with no tweets to read, or Facebook with no posts. However, masses of content with no simple way to navigate it, can be just as off-putting. Requiring a user to search has been the standard approach for many years. Filtering and other ways of helping the visitor to easily drill down to the content they are most interested in, have developed more recently.

At Contact Point we have been embracing SCRUM methodology across our organisation, which also readily supports a design-centric approach. Starting with our client’s goals and objectives within their particular competitive landscape, and their customers’ wants and needs, we will:

  • undertake research into common solutions to the design problem at hand,
  • brainstorm other potential approaches with trusted and experienced colleagues,
  • wire frame the potential solution, getting feedback along the way,
  • apply creative design to the wire framed solution,
  • carry out user testing of the design, iterating as necessary to refine the solution, and
  • finally develop the solution, taking care to ensure that the essence of the planned user interaction is achieved

The above steps will be undertaken for each logical entity that collectively forms the solution, at the same time ensuring consistency throughout the solution as appropriate. After the development of each component, real user testing of people across a broad range of skill levels, will then lead to further refinement. Programmatic A/B testing will allow two or more potential solutions to be tested head to head to ensure the best solution evolves.

The successful execution of a design-centric approach involves many steps, and requires an appetite for iteration, well beyond the launch of a new solution. However, the results are impressive, and for all but the simplest of tasks, likely the only way to achieve raving fans of your solution. Design-centric doesn’t mean that the customer is ignored. In fact the opposite is true with a greater focus on experience combined with needs and wants. Neither is technology ignored – utilizing the most up to date and elegant technology is also paramount to ensuring a great user experience.

What is the best user interface you have experienced from a web or mobile application?

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-consumer-decision-journey
As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Custom Digital Marketing Solutions are here!

September 1st, 2016 by Cameron Collins

image-custom-digital-marketing
Providing a customised Digital Marketing Solution ensures that our services are tuned to your budget, objectives, target market, and current position in the digital landscape. We are tuned into giving your organisation a competitive advantage, and delivering measurable results.

The following list summarises the activities that may be part of a digital marketing solution for your organisation. We would love to talk to you about your particular requirements, so feel free to get in touch.

1. Content curation

Content curation involves sourcing relevant articles, media and editorial and then re-posting possibly after adding your slant on the content. The aim here is helping, not selling. Curated content must be engaging, or provide a solution to common problems your target audience would face. Curating content is a cost effective way to gain exposure, whilst building trust and demonstrating your leadership and expertise within your industry.

2. Blog / Editorial writing

Looking for a way to add some personality to your businesses image? Want customers to be interested in who you are and what you are doing? Blog posts let you draw your audience in a bit closer and inform them about what is going on in your organisation and industry. Editorials posted into another businesses blog or email newsletter instantaneously broaden the reach of your organisation.

3. Web content writing

You know what you are selling, but not sure how to present it on your website? People have a hunger for information, yet do not have the time or patience to dig through hundreds of words.

Instead of visiting or calling each store, customers are searching the internet to narrow their selection before talking to sales staff. We construct web content that gets your key points across in a clear and concise manner, and in a tone that engages your target audience.

4. Social media posting

How do you reach out and find new customers that are not actively looking for your product/service, but may be very interested once they know you exist? How do you advertise and create brand awareness, without spending a fortune on television ads and billboards? Social media has levelled the playing field, allowing those in small businesses that have creative and unique ideas to compete with much larger organisations.

5. Social media ads writing

Are you looking to conduct an advertising campaign, but you only want to be seen by your target market, instead of wasting money sending it to everyone? Many traditional forms of advertising are expensive and inefficient – you may be selling cricket bats, but your television ad is being shown to people that don’t even play cricket! We create social media ad campaigns that only reach those you wish to target.

6. Social media management (ads and interactions)

Would you like to have an ad campaign, yet don’t have the time to manage your ads and create new posts? Social media does require regular attention and can cause communication issues with customers if it is neglected. We manage campaigns, respond to customer interactions, seek constant improvement in ad performance and report the key results back to you.

7. Paid ads writing & landing page design and build

When was the last time you googled a product, a service or a shop, before making a purchase? Many people turn to Google almost daily to quickly compare their options and make their buying decision.

If you could ensure your business was on the top of the page when someone searched for your type of product/service, how much money would this be worth to you? We collaborate with businesses to ensure that your name is seen by the right people at the right time!

8. Paid ads management

How much is an adequate amount to spend each time a customer clicks on my ad? How many conversions am I making each month? Who is seeing my ads? Setting up and managing a Google ad campaign on your own can be confusing! We manage the ad campaigns for a variety of clients and know how to give your brand the best exposure regardless of budget. Our monthly reports give you the information you need in a simple, easy to read format.

9. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When was the last time you looked at the second page of Google search results? You probably don’t remember! Most people don’t have time to look at every website that appears in the Google search rankings, and if they can find what they were looking for in the first 2 or 3 clicks, then why bother?

How many more sales would you make if prospective customers saw your business ahead of your competitors? We work with a wide range of organisations to lift their Google rankings for relevant and popular search terms.

SEO is a constantly changing field. With more businesses optimising their websites for SEO and Google regularly changing their algorithms to provide the best quality search results, websites need frequent attention to ensure they don’t just make the top rankings, they stay there too.

10. Email Marketing

Email is by no means dead … in fact, it is still the most cost effective tool in the Digital Marketing landscape. Of course… we are all flooded with emails, so it is vital that your email campaigns are executed very well. We assist our clients to design, build in HTML (preferably mobile responsive) and send, ensuring that you make the most of technology opportunities to automate a stream of messages, personalise, track interactions, and encourage social and other sharing.

11. SMS (Text Message) Marketing

SMS is a very personal communication channel for your contacts. It has it’s own peculiar advantages and disadvantages. We assist our clients to ensure that this medium is used well, including the ability to easily unsubscribe and receive immediate replies to your messages.

12. Surveys / Diagnostics

Also known as an online questionnaire, these tools can be highly engaging, help to build trust, and of course feed your pipeline with pre-qualified leads. Often these tools will be combined with a pay per click and/or email campaign.

13. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Okay, so you have lots of people coming to your website, and lots of interactions happening, but in the back of your mind you worry that more can be done … but what exactly?? That’s where CRO comes in – the programmatic adjustment of layout, content and imagery to determine which elements, or combinations of factors, deliver the optimal number of conversions (leads, sales, enquiries, submissions).

Let’s not call this list complete! The ways that we can assist you with marketing your organisation using online technologies will continue to evolve.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The evolution of the mobile phone

August 27th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-evolution-of-the-phone

10 years ago, who would have thought that a mobile phone would one day replace your:

  • schedule – and alert you when your appointment is coming up
  • watch – many people no longer where a watch; me … I wear a Samsung Galaxy watch which displays all the notifications on my phone … I accidentally keep calling it my phone, as it nearly is…
  • camera – taking better photos than most of the cameras of 10 years ago. Film free, and easy to share with your family at the press of a button
  • selfie taker – well selfies didn’t exist before the smart phone!
  • photo album – showing off your latest collection of baby photos couldn’t be easier
  • notepad – and store those notes in the cloud so that you can get them from wherever you are
  • weather service – do yo remember the phone number you could call to have todays’ weather read to you. I’m not sure that exists anymore. You probably have todays’ weather showing constantly on your phone home screen. At the press of a button you can get the next 5 days forecast, or the temperature as it will change throughout the day.
  • encyclopedia – need to read up about a particular topic? no problem just type in your search and Google / Bing will have the answer in a jiffy. I wonder who the last person in the world was to buy an Encyclopedia Britannica?
  • map – not only can you find where you need to go, it will also read directions to you as you travel
  • teletext service – write and deliver short messages to anyone in an instant
  • personal music collection – storing not just one ‘album’ of songs, but your whole collection, also backed up in the cloud just in case. Add to your personal collection on the go.
  • word processor – yes, you can write documents on the fly, if you are keen enough
  • calculator – including a scientific version
  • credit card – with the launch of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, it is now commonplace to see people paying at the PayWave machines using their mobile phone. Leave the wallet at home!
  • banking – check your balances, pay your bills, transfer money from one account to another
  • shop – many online stores are now making it super easy for you to shop through their website, even on a mobile phone. Order your new clothes, or your groceries for delivery to your home, while you are on the go.
  • tracking device – let others know where you are, know when the Uber driver is about to arrive, know where your lost phone is …
  • pedometer – not everyone uses one of these, but not having to attach a pedometer to your belt is very convenient. Just make sure it’s not set to track the distance you travel as an indicator of your steps!
  • stop watch – time your sprint, your presentation …
  • health and fitness diary – your smart phone will also come with an app to track your daily exercise, diet and weight. Great for those attuned to the health and fitness of their bodies.
  • your latest novel – reading a book on your phone means one less thing to take with you on your daily commute
  • reference books – for example, the Bible is a hugely popular download, with many options, and allowing you to search and annotate
  • newspaper – catching up on the news is a cinch; no need to buy the newspaper (and don’t the news companies know this!)
  • magazine – most popular magazines now have a phone version
  • dictionary – check the meaning of a word as you read it
  • compass – for those who need to know what direction they are travelling in!
  • radio – and not just the local stations; we’re talking free radio from around the world
  • TV – or playing short videos shared through You Tube and other video platforms
  • in-flight entertainment – connect into the airline provider’s app and play from their collection of TV shows, radio and movies
  • video phone – not just talking … seeing the person you are talking to as well

But wait, you say, some of the above list are only if you have certain apps installed. Well, every function on your smart phone is facilitated via an app. The following are also examples of the apps commonly being used on mobile phones:

  • door key – yes, that’s right … no need to carry your keys; approach your door and voila it opens
  • parking meter minder – one of my favourite apps which makes my life so much easier, particularly as I rarely have coins on my person
  • taxi pager – Uber is the most incredible service combined with app. I’m sorry, but now I’ve used Uber, I’m unlikely to ever hire a taxi again. The benefits are amazing compared to the traditional way of getting a taxi ride, dealing with the driver, and paying at the end.
  • AFL fixture as well as the up to the minute ladder, and scores during the big game
  • watering system controller – another personal favourite of mine, allowing me to stop the watering of my lawn and other parts of the garden if it’s already raining. If I got organised, the watering could adjust itself based on the local weather station
  • mirror – okay, it’s really a live selfie!
  • torch – not the most powerful, but definitely that feature has come in handy for me more than once!
  • spreadsheet – I remember when the first spreadsheet program came out. Amazingly useful for all manner of mathematical modelling or just keeping track of and charting data.
  • expense tracker – there are a myriad apps for keeping track of your expenses, including scanning your receipts
  • shopping list – including ticking off as you fill your basket
  • recipe book – it can be a little tedious keeping the screen alive as you move between steps in your recipe, but I’ve used my phone for this purpose numerous times
  • heart rate monitor – more and more medical apps are coming out to help people monitor not only their heart rate but other important vital readings
  • social commentary – what’s going on in the news / TV / politics / sport … you can be part of it quickly and easily by posting on social media via your phone
  • game console – some games have been developed specifically for small phone screens and the unique way they are held; think tilt

Of course … you can also make phone calls! And you can make those free around the globe, if you have the right app installed.

No wonder people experience anxiety when they lose or break their phone!

Want to re-live the transitioning of the mobile phone? This article captures the main mobile phone models from 1973 through to 2008. The first smart phone only hit the market in 2006. How far they have come in just 10 years!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

UI UX Design Trends in 2016 and beyond

June 14th, 2016 by Chris Torralba

image-ui-ux-design-trends
A Google search of the definition of ‘user experience’ returns: the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

The definition of user interface is the means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software.

Clearly user experience is significantly impacted by the user interface design, but it is also affected by text content and process flow. The overall aim is the creation of websites and apps that provide unique and clean designs, communicating clearly with the user, which not only attract users, but make them want to come back. User interface design uses typography, colour and layout to create the best possible user experience. Below I have described 7 user interface design trends that contribute to a great user experience and which I expect will be very popular this year and beyond.

#1 Responsive Design

Responsive design takes a website and re-arranges and resizes certain elements to display better depending on the size of the screen being used to view the content. With the enormous uptake of mobile devices for internet browsing, responsive design is becoming less of a trend and more of a common practice when it comes to web design. Last year Google announced that mobile responsiveness will affect a websites rank in search results, making responsive design a must have. “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” You can read more about this announcement in our previous blog post: Mobile Responsiveness just became even more important for high ranks in Google and you can read more about responsive design techniques.
image-responsive-design

#2 Flat Design

Flat Design is a minimalistic approach in designing websites and user interfaces where all 3D elements, gradients, shadows and other effects are stripped away. Flat design is about allowing the content to speak for itself. By removing unnecessary styling, it makes for faster loading pages, simpler code, and adaptability. Whether viewed on a desktop or on a mobile screen, flat designs are always legible and adaptable.

Below are some examples of flat design icons.
image-flat-design

#3 Material Design

A few years ago Google introduced Material Design which is a design philosophy, or more simply put, a style guide for designers to follow. The name “Material Design” is a metaphor for physical materials (such as paper) which have thickness and are impacted by light sources such as directional light and ambient light, and content which is placed upon the materials. The style guide seeks to apply the rules of physics to the way material is depicted in designs, and the way content is placed upon it. Based on these guides, the goal of Material Design is to allow a unified experience across all platforms and devices. It breaks down everything from colour palettes, font choices, spacing, and animation. Just like flat design, Material Design is also content focused. The popularity of this minimalistic design approach will continue to increase as it makes a website or an app look cleaner and load faster by taking out unnecessary elements.

You can view Google’s complete guide to Material Design here.
image-material-design

#4 Card Style Layouts

Card style layouts for mobile and desktop websites are boxed pieces of content that looks like it is featured on a playing card. Card style boxes typically hold one unique piece of content or information. The Card style layout is a great way to organize large amounts of content. It is highly functional and can be easily integrated with responsive layouts; designers can add and collapse columns of cards to fit the shape and size of the screen. Card style layouts have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years and developing together with other techniques such as responsive design and flat design.

Below is an example of a website designed by Contact Point which uses card style layout. Read more about in our Henry Langdon website case study.
image-card-style-layout-2

#5 Dramatic Typography

Today’s minimal and streamlined web and app designs allow typefaces to be more dramatic and have stronger impact. With free type kits like Google Fonts, designers and developers are able to use fonts that look great on all screens.
image-typography

#6 Large Background Images & Videos

One way of making a website stand out is by having great imagery displayed prominently. Large background images and videos can help engage users more; it is captivating and focuses attention on the content. With browsers supporting HTML5 video, increased bandwidth, the popularity of background images and background videos on websites will grow even more.
image-large-backgrounds 2

#7 Greater Use of Animation

When used in the right place and at the right time, animations can truly enhance a users experience and it can convey a message more effectively. Well executed animations can help guide and offer context to the user. Conversely, too much animation or transitions can disrupt the flow and distract the user from an otherwise good digital experience.

The Mollard website designed by Contact Point using parallax techniques is a great example of the use of animation.
image-animation-2

Let me know if there are other UI / UX design trends which you believe I’ve missed!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Getting Started with Google Adwords for your Website

April 5th, 2016 by Trevor Robinson

You’ve heard about Google Adwords or Pay Per Click campaigns to bring people to your website, but you don’t know what’s involved, or how to get started. This blog post will help you take your first steps to enticing additional visitors to your website, and inspiring those visitors to take action (buy, browse or enquire).

Before we get into that, a quick summary of Google Adword… Google’s paid text ads can appear at the top, in amongst, or at the bottom of, the regular (referred to as ‘organic’ in the web developer world) search results. The text ads have a set format specified by Google. You can recognise the ads by a small orange image that says ‘Ad’ – well, that’s for the moment, Google changes ad positions and styles from time to time. Your ads can also appear in the ‘Display Network’ – websites of organisations or individuals who have decided to try earn some extra revenue by being paid by Google to display your ads. The feature embedded into 3rd party websites to show Google ads is called ‘Google Adsense’.

GoogleAd

You can also setup image ads, which can encourage more people to notice and click through. Google more recently has implemented an initiative called ‘Re-marketing’ whereby Google tracks who is visiting the websites of advertisers, and then show that advertisers’ ads to those same people when they visit other sites containing Google Adsense. In a way the ad “follows” the person. This strategy is clearly very effective in getting a person to return and buy the product or service being advertised, however, it can be disconcerting / annoying for some. You need to specifically set up Google Re-marketing if you want your ads to follow people around.

GoogleRemarketingAdsinGumtree

The Google Shopping Feed is another tool for inserting your products into search engine results.

GoogleShoppingFeed

Whenever a person clicks on your ad, they are taken to a page of your website that you specify, and in doing so, are causing you to owe Google a small fee for that click. The fee amount depends on numerous factors, but will usually be around the same amount for a specific ad – when you setup the ad, Google will tell you the likely cost per click. When you setup your ads, you will also set a daily budget for click costs per day, and Google will not exceed that cost.

That’s the summary… now, back to getting started!

Step #1 – your objectives

Knowing what your objectives are is essential for achieving them!

Your objectives for your Google Ads are likely to be phrased in one of the following formats:

  • Attract 50 new visitors looking for product/service XYZ per month, in order to receive 25 enquiries and convert 10 into new customers
    OR
  • Attract 500 new visitors requiring service XYZ, in order to add 400 people to our email database
    OR
  • Attract 1000 people wanting to purchase XYZ product, in order to sell 250 products

It can be tempting for business owners to think that they want unlimited new visitors to their website… why put a number on it!? However, in reality, unless your product or service is 100% delivered in a hands-off manner, there will be a limit to the number you can sell in any given month based on your current stock / staffing / processes etc.

Step #2 – writing your ads

Your ads will potentially appear in amongst ads of your competitors and/or in amongst other search engine results, so it is important that your ad stands out or grabs the attention of the searcher, to be more likely to be clicked.

Before writing ads for our clients, we always look at the ads of competitors, and ensure that we take a different approach.

The set format for ads means that there are very few words for you to play with, so writing a succinct but attention-grabbing ad, which appropriately represents your organisation and the destination page, can be tricky!

Step #3 – tailoring the destination page

Your ad needs to deliver – when the searcher clicks on the ad, it MUST take the person to a relevant page of your website that meets the expectation set by the ad. If it doesn’t, the searcher will disappear in an instant (but you’ve paid for that visit), and your reputation will suffer a tiny bit of damage because you have just wasted that person’s time.

The destination page – also called the ‘landing page’ – will likely need some adjustment to ensure that the searcher knows in an instant that they are in the right place. Repeating that text of your add in the first heading and paragraph of the landing page is one way to achieve this.

The landing page should also include a relevant ‘call to action’ related to the ad. Depending on your objectives, your call to action could be ‘sign up for our newsletter‘ or it could be ‘buy now’… Calls to action are often brightly designed images hyperlinked to another page of your site, or text hyperlinks.

Because of the need to tailor the destination page to ensure that the ad, for which you have paid, delivers the highest return on investment, often you are better off creating a specific landing page for every ad you run.

Call-To-Action-Button-Examples

Step #4 – setting up your ads

Once you have your ads written, and landing pages ready to go, you need to setup your ads inside the Google Adwords tool: https://www.google.com.au/adwords/ You need to have a Google Account to login and start configuring your ads. You also need to attach a credit card to your Google Adwords Account in order to start your ads running.

The Google Adwords tool can be a little confusing at first, because there are so many settings and options for your ads. So, if you are going to do this step yourself, you are wise to work your way through some Google Tutorials on how it is done.

Some important settings to look out for when setting up your ads:

  • Keywords – you associate each ad with a set of keywords, and these keywords are the main factor in the cost per click charged by Google for your ad. Google provides a tool for helping you choose appropriate keywords. The most cost effective keywords are those with low competitor activity (few others bidding for that word / phrase) yet a high number of monthly searches.
  • Exact or broad match – the Adwords tool defaults your keywords to ‘broad’ match, meaning that if any of the words in your keyword or phrase appear in any part of the search term entered by the searcher, or synonyms of your keywords, then your ad can be displayed. For example, if the key phrase you are bidding for is ‘ladies hats’ and the searcher types in ‘baseball hats’ in Google, then your ad may appear if you specified broad match. Google defaults to broad match because it is trying to give your ad the most exposure possible, and relies on your ad being written well enough so that only your target market will click on it. However, you run the risk of people mistakenly clicking on your ad, and costing you money.
  • Negative keywords – these allow you to stop Google from presenting your ad if a particular word (the negative keyword) is included in the searched for words. For example, if you sell top end perfume and bid on the search term ‘perfume’ with a negative keyword of ‘cheap’, then if a searcher types in ‘cheap perfume’ your ad will not be displayed. Use of negative keywords is an obvious way to ensure that only the right target audience sees your ad.
  • Time of day – you can specify which days of the week, and the time of the day, that your ad should be displayed. If it is very unlikely that your target audience are looking for your services at 2:00 AM in the morning, then displaying your ad at that time would be a waste and attract people from the wrong country.
  • Location – you can also specify where the searcher can be located, either by city, region or country.
  • Budget – you can specify not only your daily budget but also how quickly you spend that e.g. spread over a month, or spent as quickly as possible. If your ads are not displayed or clicked on, then your budget won’t be spent.

There are many other settings for your ads; reading Google’s tutorials about these will go a long way to helping you work out the best setting for your ads.

Step #5 – managing your ads

In order for your ads to start displaying in Google search engine results you must have a valid credit card attached to your account, and your ads must be approved by Google. The approval process can take several hours, and is necessary after every change to the text of your ads.

It is important to check on your ads on a regular basis with regard to the following:

  • Ensure they are still running!
  • Ad Impressions – if your ad is never being shown, then it will never be clicked on. You may need to adjust your bid, keywords, or ad copy to improve impressions.
  • Ad Position – you need to check that your ads are being placed high enough in the ads to actually be likely to be seen and clicked. This will depend on advertiser competition, and the amount you are willing to pay per click for your ad.
  • Click through rate (CTR) – some ads will attract searchers more than others – these will have higher CTRs, and are likely the ads you will want to spend more money on, and perhaps pause the others – but only if they are also delivering against your objectives.
  • Actual cost per click – if the average click cost is very close to your maximum bid, you may be missing out on potential clicks and therefore should try increasing your budget. If your daily budget, because the average cost per click is so high, won’t deliver enough potential customers to meet your objectives, then you need to consider increasing your budget or choosing different keywords that attract a lower cost per click.
  • Keywords – over time, the terms being used by searchers to find your ads may evolve, so you may need to adjust the keywords associated with each ad. You may also find that people are clicking on your ad
  • Display Network – if you allow your ads to appear within the display network, you should check that your ads are showing in appropriate sites. It’s time consuming to check each website in which your ad has appeared and then adjust, but you can prevent your ad from appearing again in particular websites.

Managing your ads is a little involved, and not managing them well can either cost you serious dollars or mean that you are missing out of potential customers and not meeting your advertising objectives.

We understand that setting up and managing Google Adwords can seem daunting, so if you need any assistance we’re happy to help.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Subscribe to our monthly

Contact Point Email Newsletter

Each email newsletter is filled with technology updates and great ideas to help your business grow.

To subscribe, simply fill in your details below: