All eyes on you Capture screen activity and user reactions with Silverback usability testing

Posted by jeff.ader June 12, 2009 at 11:39 am

picture-3When designing/building a site, usability testing is often considered a luxury, not a necessity.    After all, there are serious costs involved and the added hassle of finding a usability lab with all the right technical equipment.

This is exactly where Silverback comes in.  Silverback is a downloadable application that lets you easily capture screen activity and user reactions (audio/video).  Then, export it all in one single Quicktime video file.  The software works in conjunction with the Mac’s built-in iSight camera (take that one, PC users!).  While the user doesn’t see anything different on their end, the program is actually recording their reactions, audio, and screen clicks.  Silverback even allows you to use your Mac remote to pause/play the recording, as well as trigger chapter marks where you can then go back and add notes (e.g. a test subject goes to the bathroom…). This is extremely helpful when dealing with a lot of test subjects, and everything begins to blur together.

Thankfully though, you do not have to spend hours supervising your participants in a dreary lab (not to be confused with our cheery lab).  Since testing can be done with merely a laptop, subjects can participate whenever and wherever (Starbucks, in a park, library, on a plane, etc.). Once the testing session is complete, you can add notes to the test subject video, adjust the position/size/transparency of the video, and even choose the file quality (i.e., size) before exporting it as a Quicktime video.

The software isn’t free, though it will certainly save you a lot of money when compared to how much you would be spending to carry out your testing at a usability lab. After the free 30 day trial, the software is only $49.95, with 10% of your purchase going to the The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Clearleft has their hand in many projects, including Edenbee, an online community dedicated to the fight against climate change. Custom applications, environmental social networks, and a love affair with all things usability? Sounds like our kinda shop.

Silverback was developed by the usability experts at Clearleft, a user experience design firm in Brighton UK. Clearleft has taken what used to be a process requiring a significant amount of money and technical equipment and bundled it up in an easy-to-use (and affordable) application.

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  Objects in mirror View and compare your web design across multiple browsers with Adobe BrowserLab

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

browserlab-logoWhen it comes to web design, you may be surprised to learn that what you see is not always what you get.

Webpages display differently depending on your operating system and web browser.  Fonts change, graphic elements shift, and what looks great in FireFox may not look too hot in Internet Explorer (especially if your web designer isn’t savvy enough to check).

Do your own design homework with Adobe BrowserLab.  This product lets you view any webpage from a bevy of popular web browsers, including FireFox, Safari, Internet Explorer, as well as Mac and Windows operating systems. BrowserLab is free, but you will need an Adobe ID, something you can easily obtain and may already have if you’ve played around with Kuler (an idea we discussed in Purple Reign) or Photoshop Express.  Once you’re logged in, simply type in a URL and choose which browser(s) you want to use.  You can view a single browser page at a time or split screen.

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Your website is one of the most important digital marketing investments you can make.  It’s usually the first point of contact a customer has with your company or products, and let’s face it, first impressions count.

So before you sign off on any design, look at your website from all angles.

While features are limited in this free preview version, it's worth noting that BroswerLab lets you define and save Browser Sets, which comes in handy if you're a designer who wants to establish defaults for repetitive browser testing.

Cross-browser, or cross-browser testing refers to the process of checking your website, application, or script in different browser environments. The term became popular during the late 90's when competing browsers would add non-standard features.

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  New from Hasbro! Measure and optimize your mobile marketing investments with Bango

Posted by maggie.hunsucker May 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

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Mobile marketing has arrived, but oddly, mobile analytics hasn’t.  We can’t imagine one without the other.  After all, how do you know if any of your investments are working?  But, the majors haven’t stepped up and produced a viable mobile analytics platform yet.

That’s where Bango comes in. Bango is an independent analytics provider that gives you real-time stats on your mobile website, ad campaign, or search marketing efforts. It can even keep tabs on smartphone users who access your regular site and advertising through their phone’s web browser – regardless of their connection.  A nifty feature since most smartphone users toggle between WiFi and their phone’s network, like 3G.  The service works by assigning each visitor (more accurately, their device) a unique identifier.  Bango then tracks individual user data and history (e.g. what device are they on, where are they located, which network they are), as well as general website analytics like page views, time on site, unique visits, referring sites, conversions, etc.  In other words, actionable data you can use to measure and optimize your mobile marketing efforts.

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So how does Bango work? Simple, just add an invisible image tag to the webpages your want tracked or a tracking link to your search and banner ad campaigns.  Users won’t know it’s there, and Bango doesn’t interrupt any of their site activities.   Of course, you will need to sign up for the service, which will run $50-500/month depending on the level of data you want and your web traffic.  Bango also offers custom pricing for corporate packages.   You can demo Bango by signing up for a free starter account (30 day trial).

There’s no need to stumble around in the dark.  Mobile analytics exist, and they can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your brand’s mobile prescence and marketing efforts.

Bango is also a mobile payment gateway, so you can set-up subscription or pay-per-download services for your mobile content. Coupled with Bango's analytics, you can analyze transactions, see what campaigns are leading to the most conversions, and even identify who your most loyal/returning customers are.

It may seem like everyone has a smartphone these days, but the reality is, most cell phone users have limited internet access and rely on mobile versions of your website. If you haven't already, it's a good idea to create one. Mofuse, an idea we discussed in Moe's Tavern can crank out a simple mobile version in minutes.

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  Mobile intercepts Conduct a mobile survey via iPhone with the Surveyor app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker April 14, 2009 at 1:41 pm

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If you’re looking to gather survey data, your best bet is usually to hunt in the wild, wherever your prey might be – the mall, the grocery store, just anywhere. 

On your next marketing research adventure, consider using Touch Metric’s Surveyor iPhone app for your mobile polling needs.   Surveyor is free, but it does require participants to download the application and install on their iPhone – something that can be done easily from the phone itself (through the App Store).   Once you, the administrator, create a survey through Touch Metric’s web interface, simply send out the 4-digit invite code and sit back as the data collects.  

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To get started, you will need to create a Surveyor account.   This too is free and comes with 600 credits, a custom URL, and a sample survey to guide you through the set-up process.   Questions can be designed to be multiple choice with a single answer, multiple with multiple answers, short form, numbered, URL, email, and conditional.  In other words, no matter how you want participants to answer or what information you are gathering, Surveyor can do it.   

Once you’ve saved your survey, you will need to assign your survey to a device – or who can see/manage what. This is where the credits system comes in.  You can link to all – all surveys, all accounts (for 200 credits), link to a single iPhone device, or create a single account, accessible by any iPhone with the login information.  You can also monitor survey results in real-time from the web interface, viewing answers by user and filtering out certain responses. 

These days, if you’re waiting for everyone to get back to their computer to complete your survey, you may be waiting a long time. Here’s a tool that will help you catch survey respondents wherever they might be, ideally when they’ve a few minutes to take your survey. 

TouchMetric offers users 100 credits for every system bug they report, so get to earning free credits as you use and test this survey system.

Have the possibilities of iPhone applications for business piqued your interest? Count us in, too. Not only are we reviewing more and more iPhone applications on feed growth (let us pay those pesky fees and get the skinny), but we will be covering the Top Ten iPhone Apps for Marketing and Sales in our next Atlanta Digital Marketing Meetup.

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  Poll position Get quick marketing insights with Twitter app, Twtpoll

Posted by maggie.hunsucker March 4, 2009 at 8:46 am

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Marketing research doesn’t always have to cost a ton or require months to process.  Sometimes, all you need is some quick and dirty feedback to help steer your course.

That’s where Twtpoll comes in.   It’s a simple survey tool that lets you tap into the collective knowledge – or opinion – of your Twitter followers or website visitors.  Twtpoll is a free service.  To create your own poll, fill in your Twitter username, your poll question, and multiple choice answers.   Twtpoll automatically generates a web-based version of your poll that you can share through your Twitter or Facebook account – or embed into your site or blog.   While you don’t have to give the service your account information, you will need to login to the respective sites after you are redirected.   You have the option of tweeting your the poll URL through Twitter or posting on your Facebook profile or sending as a message to your friends.  Here’s an example of a poll and/or poll results in a webpage:

Here’s the skinny:  Twitter boasts approximately 4.1 million US users/month, with an audience makeup that is young, educated, and tech-savvy – a virtual gold mine demographic for marketing insights.  If you’ve built a decent following through Twitter (or Facebook) or already have a fair amount of site traffic, here is an opportunity to capitalize on those connections.  We’re not saying stake your reputation on Twtpoll or make it the centerpiece of your marketing strategy, but it is highly useful for seeing how the crowd will react.  If your looking to introduce a new product or service, or make a change to an old favorite, keep Twtpoll on your shortlist.

The creator of Twtapps also works on YowTrip, a social network dedicated to world travelers. You can connect with old friends, share your travel lore through blogs, pictures, or video, or let the service match you with people who have the same travel plans as you.

Twtpoll is part of the Twtapps suite, which includes Twtvite and Twtcard - services that captialize on the simplicity and elegance of the Twitter platform. While you only get 140 characters to communicate, you can utilize various Twitter apps (and there are many) to give your tweets additional functionality and reach.

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