Blog Post: Nielsen All In With Social Media

Just as many have been saying for the past year, Nielsen has launched a new ratings metric that includes Twitter posts into it’s ratings. Shows that have more people talking about it in real time will now be rated higher than their non-techie counterparts.

According to this release from USA Today: 

“The Twitter TV Ratings will measure the number of people tweeting about TV programs as well as how many Twitter users are viewing those messages.

Nielsen says an analysis of the Twitter TV rating found the audience of users viewing tweets about a TV show is about 50 times larger than the authors firing off tweets.”

Cable shows will possibly benefit the most, as anything that can boost their numbers will help. Network television can also seize upon this opportunity as well to incorporate social media into the program (even more than they already do). With the increase in visibility into this rating, however, you can be sure Twitter will be incorporated into every new show pitch.

The challenge will be for content creators to show advertises these metrics still matter. Just because someone tweets about a show, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be more ad revenue.

What do you think? Do you think shows with heavy Twitter use matter more than without?

Blog Post: Nielsen All In With Social Media

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Are Stable Teams Realistic?

Today’s link provide some amazing metrics and studies involving project teams that are in it for the long haul. Whether you are talking about your favorite sports team, church small group, or even your own family: people that do work or life together for a long time are going to be better at whatever they are working towards.

Unfortunately, the reality of today’s IT landscape is teams don’t get to stay exactly the way they are for very long.

As much as I have experience that, though, there are many companies that managed to not only keep some semblance of continuity with their teams, but manage to hold onto employees as well.

I just don’t know how much that happens anymore. How long do teams stay together on one project at your place of work?

Blog Post: Are Stable Teams Realistic?

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Blog Post: Does ‘Delight’ Change The Meaning of MVP?

After my first couple of months in the realm of QA, I noticed something rather interesting. Some of my colleagues, who did the same work I did for the same pay, started describing themselves with different verbiage. Specifically, they changed their titles on email signatures and LinkedIn. Before I knew it, we were all calling ourselves Quality Assurance Engineers, Test Engineers, Test Strategy Coordinators, and so on.

Didn’t change the fact that we were QA. Certainly didn’t change how we were viewed by PMO or development. 

That’s what I think of when I read articles like this very well written piece by Startup Blender on the difference between a Minimum Viable Product versus Minimum Delightful Product. Regardless of whatever differences you see, if the first iteration of a product does not delight stakeholders or the customer, then it’s not viable in the least.

I wholeheartedly understand and support the sentiment the writer aspires to. Viable is boring and utilitarian, which is not what a designer or big thinker wants to put in front of users. He wants to wow them from day one, and if that isn’t achieved you must start over.

Just be careful that you don’t walk down a rabbit’s hole of making sure the title of your idea is perfect. You might make your next pitch session a little peppier than normal, but those you really want to impress won’t be fooled.

You delight your users by finding what is described as the “product gestalt”. This description of the perfect union of design, UX, and ideas was the best part of this post. As that famous person said that time, “form and function are one.”

If you need to change one word of MVP to achieve that, go for it. Go on with your bad self delighting users. Just don’t try and convince me that’s not what viable is supposed to mean. We all know better.

Blog Post: Does ‘Delight’ Change The Meaning of MVP?

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Blog Post: Free Apps Are Popular, But Are They Right?

It’s hard to argue with hard data that suggests apps with zero initial cost are more successful than paid apps. As articles, such as this piece from TechCrunch, argue, developer revenue and download metrics both suggest there is little value in asking users to pay up front for anything.

Tell that to Epic Games.

The maker of the Infinity Blade trilogy has not only made a killing off their hugely popular apps, the price of each subsequent version keeps going up. Doesn’t matter, as download numbers keep rising in addition to the company’s bank accounts.

At the same time, games like Candy Crush continue to beat expectations by asking customers to invest nothing except what they want after playing a few levels. If I’m being completely honest, I have invested more of my Apple credit in Candy Crush than Infinity Blade.

So is there such a thing as a “correct” model?

Just remember that the goal of every app is not to make money in today’s market. A restaurant like Chick-fil-A or Starbucks can release an app as part of their branding strategy and not necessarily make their money back. If the app helps drive customers to their locations, it is a success.

An upcoming movie release may choose to have a free game integrated into the marketing campaign to help generate excitement. It also helps keep the movie top of mind for when the DVD is released. In that vein, any revenue generated is secondary to push a tentpole movie into pop culture conversations.

Granted, if the goal of the developer is to have a profit generated just from the development of a single app, it is very hard to argue with freemium. Unless you have a proven brand people are willing to pay for like Infinity Blade, it can be difficult to ask users to pay without trying.

Yet, I see more and more apps hit the iOS and Android stores with that request. Will they be more successful than their free counterparts? If downloads are the goal, then there is no way for that to happen. Hooking some dedicated first-adopters with great UI/UX and concept and making a profit off them is for sure on the side of paid apps.

Don’t let articles such as this scare you away from your strategy. Build your users up with anticipation for your upcoming release and they will gladly reward you with their discretionary income. Great software will succeed no matter what price you set it at (with some obvious exceptions).

What has worked for you? Which pricing model do you see taking off in the next year or two?

Blog Post: Free Apps Are Popular, But Are They Right?

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Blog Post: Don’t Let iOS 7 Scare You

I wasn’t sure how to take this Business Insider piece about concerns over how iOS 7 was going to break all my apps at first. What most likely happened is someone at uTest saw this as a great marketing opportunity, and the folks at BI gladly responded.

What concerns me is the intended panic the headline intends to create.

Rest assures, iOS users, the developers behind your favorite apps have been working hard to upgrade their code to be compliant with the coming update September 18. The customers at uTest probably encountered frustration a month or so ago and have most likely fixed the issue.

Apple did not leave its users high and dry with the update from 6 to 7. Even though I don’t work there I am confident they are not in the business of doing so.

I am excited to see all of the new UI enhancements with all of my favorite apps next week. One thing is for sure, iOS 7 will do a good job of weeding out the bad apps from our home screens. The ones that didn’t utilize forward compatibility or put in the time to refactor probably weren’t worth my time to begin with.

Blog Post: Don’t Let iOS 7 Scare You

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Blog Post: Why Twitter Will Be Rewarded For Thinking Mobile First

Everyone has talked this Twitter IPO thing to death, and I was wondering if I was struggling to find a great take on the situation. Many have speculated on the success metrics, but nobody really nailed why the social media platform had reached this point.

Enter the Wall Street Journal with the main factor: mobile-first strategy.

Think about it. As they launched, many were passing in its usefulness because they were on desktop machines. That was how Facebook reached out to so many. LinkedIn the same. Yet, even today, I do not really enjoy the web interface of Twitter.

Of course, we all know the story of the famous South by Southwest that truly put Twitter on the map. The momentum gained from tripling its user base in one week has not faded. That doesn’t happen without the iPhone and a fantastic mobile experience.

The pairing of the platform with TV works even better because anyone who enjoys tweeting knows the best time to do so is during live events. When I went to a Dallas Cowboys game on Monday night in 2012, the experience would not have been complete without sharing.

Wish I could have tweeted the ‘Boys to a victory!

I am not going to speculate on the success of the coming IPO because so many factors will go into that beyond my purview. What I will point to is how companies trying to formulate a strategy of success for the rest if this decade must think like Twitter and go mobile first.

We aren’t putting our devices down anytime soon. Be a part of that experience.

Blog Post: Why Twitter Will Be Rewarded For Thinking Mobile First

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Blog Post: Announce Your Refresh with Gusto

Releasing updates can be a pain sometimes. In the mobile space, it usually includes asking the user to download something again as well as refreshing their credentials in some way. Luke Wroblewski — who writes some tremendous material on mobile development — mentions in this post how you can announce your refresh with some panache and reward your users for continuing to use your product with some Easter eggs.

Don’t make the update a pain. It might mean some additional work will need to be done to include the artwork or new graphics. The UX team might need to rethink some of the work they thought was done. 

Regardless, it’s important to the process and allows users to enjoy and share in the hard work you are doing!

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Blog Post: View Your Mobile Product Properly

I have no idea how old Jonathan Libov — one of the creators of the mobile app Snapix — is, or where he is from, but there is a lot of maturity from this young man’s post on Whoo.ps. It’s hard to see the forest from the trees with products you have had a hand in creating, even harder to understand when to make tough decisions.

The post talks about the genesis of his software, the reasons for creating it and how it rose in popularity very quickly. As with many apps in the mobile space, though, there reached a time when traffic slowed to a crawl. He argues it was because it was only a side project for the creators and as such it’s tough to keep the fires stoked part-time. 

As the community knows, mobile is tough to maintain momentum because of all the offerings and the rapid use cycle. If an app keeps a solid user base after only six months, it has accomplished something.

Re-read that last sentence and think about what that says for creators.

After much deliberation, they decided not to slowly watch their creation die in the wilderness and sunset the app. While it must have been tough to do, I think it shows maturity in the product development cycle. It also probably informed them for whatever they build next and can only make them better creators.

Many don’t even get the initial spike that Snapix enjoyed. Many fizzle before there was any shock and awe. Either way, if you are going to work in this space, you have to realistically know how your product is doing in the marketplace and prepare for the inevitable: your software will lose all it’s users eventually to something newer and shinier.

This also inspires someone like me to look at my own work and take an honest look at how it’s doing. Maybe there is something that needs a fresh coat of paint on it, or sent out to pasture. That idea in the back of my mind might need to be ushered to the front of the class for some attention. 

Don’t be afraid to look at the feedback on your product honestly. If there’s no feedback, that’s just the same (or worse) as bad feedback. You might need to ask for some more, or start asking yourself the tough questions. It can only lead to better offerings to the marketplace.

It will definitely lead to better creations.

Blog Post: View Your Mobile Product Properly

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Blog Post: A Mobile Workforce Isn’t Bad

I think the headline of this Ars Technica piece on the mobile workforce can be a bit misleading. When you read the nuts and bolts of the piece, a different message is sent. Compared to this headline, it’s clear an agenda was meant:

“How Mobile Technology Created A Workforce That Never Stops Working.”

Some vision-casting for the future of our workforce is necessary, and what better way to think of them than with a mobile device or two in their hands. It does beg the question of how connected we should be, though. 

As someone who can’t put their phone down, or manage to let it out of my sight, I see the conundrum  We should be able to disconnect and allow ourselves some space from everything that’s going on. There’s also some physiological issues that can stem from needing to be available at all times.

Instead of looking at it that way, I would like to focus on how being connected can help us manage our workdays a little better. 

For many of us, work used to be a time where you put your head down and cranked out as much as you could so that you could be home in time for dinner. There was no ability to take work home once. If you could, there was no way to collaborate or manage workflows correctly. As a result, our time in office was very stressful.

Now, I can go throughout my day knowing that work will get done by the talented people I collaborate with every day. If that means I respond to an email before bed or over the breakfast table, it means my time in the office can be used for tasks that are more important. Face-to-face interaction, building each other up, making the best products possible, and more. 

Instead of getting bogged down by all the electronic communication requirements we have, get them out of the way during off-peak hours and focus on enjoying the day with some great people. That’s how people build great things together.

The next time you feel bad for checking your email in bed, or answer a text from a colleague during your morning run, consider it one step further towards sanity from 9-5 (or whenever you work). Don’t overload yourself, but use the right boundaries for work and home.

Blog Post: A Mobile Workforce Isn’t Bad

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