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Welcome to All Things UX for September 3, 2013. My name is Ben Snyder and I’m your host this week. Jenna and Newman have the week off.
As I promised you last time – in BUX podcast 100 – when we came back with a new episode, we’d be back with a new format.
It took us seven weeks but here we finally are. We’ve got a new format, a new podcast name, new music… really, the whole thing has a bit of that new car smell. And not just because I’m doing this podcast from inside a new Toyota Corolla.
So let me tell you how this works. First, our name. Starting with this podcast, we are now the All Things UX podcast. Each week, we’ll be bringing you three segments. We’ll start the show off with the UX news of the week. Get a quick fix of what’s new and happening in our industry.
From there, we take a quick look at our Tool of the Week! We have the opportunity to try out a lot of tools and we use many of them on a regular basis. Which tools are worth your money and which ones just waste your time. You’ve told us that you wanted the low down, and that’s what you’re going to get.
Finally, our third segment is called Hashing It Out. This is our conversation segment. Some weeks we’ll be chatting with other folks in the UX community. Other weeks, it will be just us. Each week, we’ll tackle some issue, topic, product, service, or question.
It’s 20 minutes or less every week where you can learn more about a topic near and dear to both of our hearts, and hopefully, yours as well.
Now, let’s do the news!
1. Facebook Unveils Shared Photo Albums
According to Mashable, a picture’s worth a thousand words, and now Facebook is letting others add to your conversation.
The world’s largest social network announced shared photo albums on Monday, a new feature that allows multiple users to upload images to the same album. The album creator can share access to as many as 50 “contributors,” who can each in turn share up to 200 photos. Album creators can choose a setting that allows contributors to invite others to the album, or retain total control over album invitations.
Previously, users could only upload photos to albums they created, and each album was limited to 1,000 total photos.
The new shared albums have three available privacy settings: public, friends of contributors and contributors only. This gives the album creator control over who has access to the group’s images.
Shared albums will clearly be useful for group events like concerts, weddings, parties, events and family reunions.
Facebook is currently rolling out this feature to a small group of users and expects to unveil it to the rest of the US before going International with it.
2. Madden 25 Is Out
We’re now officially less than a week away from the opening game of the NFL season. Luckily, last Tuesday, the last installment of EA’s signature football game – Madden – was released with Madden 25.
By now, a quarter-century in, you should know what to expect out of this game. Play as all your favorite NFL players in the most accurate representation of the game to date. This year, EA has added Owner’s Mode, which I’m playing through at the moment.
As an owner, you’ll be able to have even more control over your team. Now you can control your team from top to bottom. Make personnel decisions for both players, and coaches. Manage your stadium, including concessions and merchandise. Your team’s fans will hang on your every word and what you say to the media affects how your fans feel about the team. If you say you’re making the playoffs, you’d better make the playoffs, or feel their wrath.
I’m always interested to see how they change the menus from year to year. This year they stick with a broad “box” style that makes selecting items via the Kinect a breeze. However, once you get into the detailed stats, you’ll still find yourself doing the left-trigger, right-trigger shuffle.
As usual, the weakest part of the game is the audio. For a game that regularly gets played 100+ times, both the audio commentary and included music is pretty repetitive. After hearing Phil Simms say the same 40 things in Madden 13, it’s nice to hear 40 new things, but even so, commentary is limited. As for the music, expect to hear a lot of “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and Boom Boom Power by the Black Eyed Peas.
As somebody who was ready for some football. You know, a Monday night party, 3-months ago, this game couldn’t have come out soon enough. If you love your football team like I do, this blast of wish fulfillment – for my team to go to the Superbowl – couldn’t come fast enough.
To top it all off, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Madden, the game includes the All-Madden team, the best player from each year of the game. Remember when the 2004 Mike Vick was so good that he almost broke the game? He’s in there. Looking for Jerry Rice to streak down the sidelines? He’s in there. You name the player, and chances are, like EA says, it’s in the game.
If you need a break from web design and analysis, Madden 25 is a great way to blow off some steam. You can find out more at ea.com or by heading over to your buddy’s place. Seriously, he’s probably got it already.
3. World’s Greatest Hoodie Is Back!
Remember last year when Farhad Manjoo declared the American Giant hoodie the “greatest hoodie ever made“? This was the hoodie that was made in America in the highest quality possible. This is a hoodie that can be worn for 20 years and passed down from father to son or brother to brother.
Well after Slate published the piece, orders FLOODED in. It was a case of having too much of a good thing. To put it simply, American Giant couldn’t keep up with orders. Not even close.
According to Wired.com, American Giant’s CEO, Bayard Winthrop searched high and low for factories that could make his hoodie only to discover that they practically didn’t exist. The American apparel knitwear industry, to quote Mr. Winthrop, is in a race to the bottom.
Rather than join the race, American Giant decided to expanded as fast as they could while maintaining quality. Now, nearly 10 months after the initial article, American Giant hoodies are rolling out of the door within a day or two of ordering them.
If you want to get your hands on the world’s greatest hoodie, like I do, they’re available at american-giant.com from $69-89.
And now, let’s talk tools!
Tool of the Week – tagboard.com
Today’s tool of the week is for social marketers. It’s called TagBoard and it’s a free tool for researching hashtags across multiple social networks. This includes Twitter, Instagram, Vine, App.net and Google+. What’s really neat about this is that it saves you the trouble of having to log into each network to see what’s trending and being shared.
If you’re new to hashtags, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded with a # (pound) sign. You know what I’m talking about. It looks like a tic-tac-toe board.
Think of hashtags as keywords. Once included in your post or tweet, they become words you can filter and search.
And now a few fun facts about hashtags.
– 24% of tweets contain hashtags
– There’s a 21% higher rate of engagement when tweets include up to 2 hashtags.
– One or two hashtags per post is ideal. More than that and reader participation begins to fall off.
Hashtags are crucial when you are trying to reach an audience outside your usual followers. Tagboard allows you to easily research hashtags you want to search or share to see how they have been used (if at all) in the past. By researching first, you can avoid selecting a hashtag that is being used in another campaign or that is being used for something vulgar or inappropriate.
Also if you are marketing or researching a specific topic, campaign, or are following a specific event or incident in the media, you can see what everyone is saying about that topic on one page.
Jenna works with a local interior designer that travels worldwide for clients so by using hashtag #interiordesigner, #homedecor, #interiordecorating, and #windowtreatments, she can reach an audience searching for posts that include those hashtags.
Hashing It Out
On Hashing it Out this week, I wanted to talk about the term “UX”. UX, as we know is short for the phrase “user experience”. The user experience describes any and all contact points that a user has with your website slash company slash digital experience.
This, however, isn’t the impression you’d get if – for example – you were to browse the User Experience subreddit on Reddit. By all accounts, Reddit thinks that UX is mostly comprised of user surveys and website prototypes.
This isn’t wrong. It’s just myopic. Both of those are elements of UX. But it’s important to talk about what the universe of UX encompasses, and it encompasses so much more than that.
The way I think about the user experience is, to borrow a phrase from the restaurant industry, “front of house” stuff. In a restaurant, think of everything that could impact the quality of a meal. This includes everything from the quality of the food, if it was cooked properly, the atmosphere, the cleanliness of the restaurant, the outside appearance, and the service delivered by the wait staff.
Similarly, online the user experience encompasses how websites work, but it also includes social marketing profiles and interactions, online ads, sales funnels, tracking and analytics, messaging, and just about all aspects of marketing.
In other words, the term “UX” is an umbrella term. It can be used to describe almost anything that has to do with the user experience.
And this will give us some latitude in terms of what you hear on this podcast from week to week. We’re excited to continue to bring you news, stories, and interviews, on the topics that are core to UX but we’re also looking forward to those bits that come out of left field.
That wraps it up for us. I’m Ben Snyder. I’ll see you on Friday with a new edition of This Week In UX.
Have a good evening everybody.
Sponsor – Little Wing Marketing
All Things UX is supported by Little Wing Marketing. Little Wing Marketing has been helping businesses for over 5 years with strategic planning, web design, social marketing, and user experience testing. Little Wing Marketing leverages UX principles and marketing analytics to create online experiences that your customer will love. Find out more at littlewingmarketing.com.