Recap: Net Finance Conference 2015

by Eugenio Santiago

There were two topics in particular that I found most interesting at this year’s NetFinance conference in Miami:

  1. Digital strategies to support the Omni-channel experience
  2. Is Personal Finance Management (PFM) dead?

The first topic was a major focus of this year’s conference (two of three days devoted to Omni-Channel), so I found it rather ironic that the guest speaker, Chris Skinner, who was invited to talk on Day 1 of Omni-Channel has consistently stated “there is no such thing as a channel.” His belief is that in order to be a truly digital bank, which supports the 24*7 real-time world, the core of the bank needs to be a singular digital one.
With this digital core, a bank can deliver the real-time access to information that banking customers now desire. A digital core will also enable banks to provide a consistent experience regardless of how customers choose to access their bank (e.g., mobile, in-person, smart watch, etc.).
Having read Chris’ book: Digital Bank a few months ago, I agree. The outdated Omni-channel structure where legacy sits on top of legacy enables disruptors like Simple and Moven to quickly enter the arena of banking and make huge waves. The transition to a digital core sounds both costly and a tall mountain to climb, and it is, but it’s an evolution that needs to happen for banks to move past becoming a ‘mobile’ bank and towards becoming a digital bank.
The second topic, is PFM dead, was of particular interest to me because it aligned with some research I conducted in 2014. If your definition of PFM is tools by which customers can self-manage their spend and create budget goals themselves, then yes PFM is dead. But if you think about PFM as the usefulness that can be derived from this type of analysis, then no, PFM is NOT dead but very much alive.
Our competitive research has shown that banking consumers (those who are affluent and to a lesser extent all consumers) not only find this type of information useful, but they want their banks to be the provider of such insight. It is not enough for banks to simply present this data to consumers, but rather share this insight in both a contextually relevant and actionable way. Consumers want their bank to be a ‘trusted advisor’.
Banks have a wealth of information, historical and current behavior, to leverage that can enable them to better advise their customers of the behaviors and/or products and services they can benefit from to become more financially secure or achieve their goals. Making sure the message is goal oriented and clear for consumers to see how these actions will benefit them is critically important. However, the push to new products/services needs to be subtle and NOT the goal of PFM 2.x. The value of these types of insights can go a long way to instill loyalty, a more personalized touch, and a greater sense of financial confidence for your customers.

If you are interested in learning more about either of these topics, how to execute PFM 2.x, or are interested in how Key Lime Interactive can assist you in your transition to becoming a digital bank, please feel free to reach out to me.
The transition from Omni-channel to a digital core will happen faster than you think, so stay informed and ahead of the curve.

Recap: Lean UX Conference 2015

by Rick Damaso
Let’s face it. We have become a “Google it” society. We can answer almost any question in .00012 seconds (according to Google’s search results page) and get a pretty accurate response. So, before attending the LeanUX15 conference in Brooklyn, NY, I wondered what would Google’s response be for UX’s impact on modern day Systems Development Life Cycles (SDLCs)? Was it even possible to wrap terms like DevOps, Kanban, Lean or Agile into a neat package with a UX bow on top?
More importantly though, does this matter? Or were these terms just the buzzwords from the “The Valley” that larger companies all around were simply talking about emulating? Do new philosophies really only announce themselves when blue chip companies start adapting them?
To say it depends is a boring answer. But, of course, it depends. As a researcher, however, I wanted a straight and narrow answer.
I thought it would be prudent to first set the stage. Here are some quick snippets of what a quick Google Search will give you relating to these new SDLCs and UX.
Agile- Developers focus on sustainable development. Sustainability is about good estimation, effective branching strategies for managing code, automated testing to protect quality, and continuous deployment to get fast feedback from users.
DevOps- DevOps is a software development method that emphasizes communication, collaboration (information sharing and web service usage), integration, automation, and measurement of cooperation between software developers and other IT professionals.
Kanban- Technique for managing a software development process in a highly efficient way. Producing software is a creative activity and therefore different to mass-production (Kanbans’s roots are in auto manufacturing) allowing us to apply the underlying mechanism for managing “production lines”.
Lean UX- Lean UX is a set of principles that may be used to guide you to better, more desirable solutions for users. It’s not a process in which each tool is rigidly applied. Instead a group of ideals and principles to guide you in the design process.
So, that makes sense. If I was a designer sitting in a room with other designers, communication and putting this philosophy in practice shouldn’t be that difficult in theory. But, when you take these practices out of Silicon Valley and introduce it to the landscape of companies like Microsoft or Spotify with teams of designers on separate continents, it can make your head spin. How could you package what looks and feels like a startup mentality and scale it up effectively?
LeanUX15 took this challenge head on during a four day event in Brooklyn, NY. This conference was not all that different from any other, unless you consider flamingo colored windbreakers and Paul Bunion beards different. But, all “hipster” jokes aside, the usual laid-back vibes you find in the heart of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood was noticeably different. Product managers, Lead Designers, Software Engineers and representatives from some of the world’s most iconic brands were buzzing with excitement on bringing these results driven practices to companies everywhere.

As UX researchers, we encounter organizations along all stages of the UX maturity cycle and work on projects from formative to summative stages, so I was pleased to hear that UX research is taking a prominent role in these SDLCs. As opposed to traditional validation testing, we were now seeing rapid production of software married with UX researchers, architects and designers alike.
So what does this force us to do? To borrow from one of the themes of the conference, it means we are now in the age of Designing for Service, Not Just Software.
Here are some quick hits as to how UX is impacting development and strategic vision:

  1. Visualize your work, in knowledge clusters. Ideas are then disseminated to users as solutions in terms of their problems.
  2. With a UX lens, setting realistic Work In Progress limits for each stage of production is critical. Accounting for time slots within stages for user testing as opposed to piecing it together at the end.
  3. Manage flow to clearly identify bottlenecks and accurate metrics. When infusing UX research into your design process, you are hedging against expensive “revamps” at the tail end of your SDLC.
  4. Make Policies Explicit. Stick to your design, research and implementation policies! However, the #1 policy should always be, “If one of your policies does not work, change it”. By first following your process and analyzing what is wrong, you will be in a much better position to fix it.
  5. Implement Feedback Loops. Communicating accurate measurement with your target market is key. Measurements need to be relevant to the timing of your project, not “at the end of each quarter” or when “you have time for it”.
  6. Empowering yourself and your team to think- you are allowed to think and change processes. These SDLCs are not recipes, instead they are thought of as disciplines. Every question you ask yourself must be phrased as, “is this a driving force to consider design for servicing users or just designing software?”

The message for us as researchers when entering a new frontier of rapid development and testing can be wrapped up with a quote by Prof. Barbara Adam:
“The message for research is unambiguously clear: learning is a process with a history and a future; it is thus not containable within observable moments. It entails a joining of life-worlds, a drawing on collective and individual past knowledge as well as projected vision, all of which are brought to bear on the interactive present.”

ESPN Revamps Their Web Design – Data Driven or Data Informed?

by Eugenio Santiago
For all you sports fans I’m sure you’ve seen and formed an opinion about the new ESPN responsive website. Most of the comments I’ve seen have been negative. In fact, most site visitors who have expressed their dislike for the redesigned site have done so in a very colorful way:

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I spent a fair amount of time on Apr 2, 2014 reading through thousands of user comments and was only able to find three that were not negative:
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I can’t really say they were positive, just not the common variety of “this is the worst thing EVER!” or “is this an April Fools joke?!”.
Now we all have heard the adages: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” or “people don’t like change”, but many of the comments were very specific in detailing WHY they disliked the new design. In short, it is different, but more importantly it forces them to change the way they normally interact with the site. No longer are they able to scan headlines, but now must scroll endlessly through entire stories that ESPN deemed newsworthy**This has been changed since the writing of this article. The homepage now features bi-lines of top stories instead of displaying them in full. 
Here’s an example of how site visitors indicated they typically interacted with the siteI would normally come to ESPN for a quick glance of the top stories then, as time permitted, would dig deeper into the topics / articles that are of highest interest to me. 
What I read over and over in the user comments was that site visitors would normally use the homepage of ESPN primarily as a means to scan. Therein lies the problem with the new design. It’s much harder to do that now. The number of stories/headlines that are available, above the fold, has decreased.
Those in charge at ESPN have taken their 6+ months of user testing along with their business objectives and have decided that the homepage interaction should now be different. Did they underestimate or misinterpret their data and come away with a design that didn’t meet the needs of their site visitors? Or did they intentionally redesign the homepage in a way that would force users to interact with it differently?
As of the afternoon of April 3, 2014 the answer is clear, they goofed. Midway through my article I noticed a change on the homepage. The endless scroll of the homepage where you had to view full stories before advancing to the next was replaced to only include snippets of the main stories. Scanning is now much easier than its initial release, however, some may still not enjoy the endless scroll. While many site visitors commented the design was yet another example that ESPN didn’t “listen” to them, I’d have to say this is clear evidence of how responsive ESPN can be.
If this is any indication of things to come, I could see ESPN making continued updates to further refine the interaction, but how many customers did they alienate in the first two days of this new release? Since I started this story, not only have they changed how they display stories on the homepage, they have darkened the background from white to a gray to increase the contrast, which too, was another complaint site visitors had.
There still remains much to do. Some secondary pages still have the endless scroll from story to story (e.g., ESPN Cities blog pages), which is even more difficult to deal with when on your smartphone. Navigating horizontally through the site content once you go 1 or 2 levels deep is a major issue, and not every team page has the same layout (e.g., Boston Red Sox = New/Good, Boston Bruins = Old). These are some of the first enhancements that would go a long way to improving the user experience.

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New Team Page Layout

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Old Team Page Layout

Conducting user research is important, but what you take away from that research is much more important in our opinion. At KLI, we like to call that ‘being data informed rather than data driven.’ ESPN has shown they can be responsive and make on-the-fly changes that correct/improve the user experience, but are you as flexible?

We at KLI pride ourselves in making sure the insights you learn from research are in alignment with user needs and respect, not only what they do, but why they do it. Whether your user research need is at the concept/ideation stage, pre-launch phase, or post-launch phase, Key Lime Interactive is ideally suited to partner with you.
To learn more about what Key Lime Interactive offers and how we can help you with enhancing your user experience, contact us at: 305-809-0555.

Personalization Is All The Buzz [SXSW Recap]

by Kathleen Henning

One of the big themes of nearly every SXSW event we attended was personalization. Even events about the Future of TV had panelists talking about supplemental apps or making sure people could watch on the devices they chose. A news discussion with Dan Rather and Dan Pfeiffer also discussed how people consume news on the platforms of their choice, like Facebook and Twitter. Customers are looking for a more personal, customized experience in the place of their choice.
Predictive technology is making big strides in making these more curated experiences accurate. Facebook’s facial recognition technology is making use of their extensive data on user tagging so they can auto-tag your photographs when you post them. This technology may be more accurate than that of law enforcement. Netflix’s House of Cards was famously made by using data to understand that a political drama starring Kevin Spacey directed by David Fincher would be popular. An important consideration with using predictive data for customer recommendations is providing said data to customers.
Personalization is changing the landscape all over. I went to a talk by Karlie Kloss and Sara Wilson about technology and its role in Fashion Week. Models andFullSizeRender 29 editors can now deliver a more personal experience to a massive audience using Instagram and Twitter. They can let people into their lives remotely and enable fan interaction. Vogue recently had a cover featuring nine models with large Instagram followings.
Companies are integrating data into their operations in a variety of ways. Capital One is experimenting with personalized financial recommendations AND personalized offers / rewards recommendations in new apps Ideas and Level Money. Ideas provides recommendations for different types of activities in 4 beta markets: NYC, LA, Richmond, and DC. Level Money lets customers link accounts and program in budgets and receive alerts and content depending on their spending.
For television, companies are looking to make the experience more intimate for viewers. Some companies are experimenting with companion apps, especially in the UK. These might let viewers answer quizzes or play related games while watching. Other companies are trying to make promotions / advertisements more personal. For Game of Thrones Season 5, HBO ran a promotion called The Sight in which people would get text messages with video links that would disappear. The videos would be different for different users but communicate small snippets of information about the upcoming season in the guise of visions / dreams. In Spain, Canal + ran a promotion called 19 Reinos that turned all of Spain into an interactive Game of Thrones-themed game played via multiple different channels: Twitter, Facebook, brand websites, and physical stores.
FullSizeRender 49Customers all over the world are looking for targeted, personal experiences. User experience research is one way companies try to identify what kinds of experiences are most valuable to customers. Airbnb mentioned that when they redesigned their website, they made sure to keep the hosts involved in the process since their feedback was critical to its success. There was a fantastic talk by Etsy about how user experience feedback, both from users and from their clickstream data, was extremely valuable to their design process and their feature prioritization. Part of Capital One Labs’ approach to every project is a pilot study with 5-10k end users to understand how they’re using the product.
Stay tuned for more SXSW recaps in the coming months!

How to Win Customers and Influence Shopping Behavior

by Kathleen Henning
While interviewing participants about online shopping habits, regardless of the product, the same issues appear:

  • I don’t know if it’s true to size
  • Will this fit?
  • Is this item good quality?
  • Will it be as pictured?
  • What is it made of?

These are the questions that determine whether or not they will make a purchase. Many customers, if they do not get satisfactory answers to these questions, will choose to either locate the item in stores or simply purchase something else from a competitor.
When customers are researching products online, they’re trying to understand what the product would look like in person. There are a variety of ways they currently expect companies to help them do this, but their main research method is customer reviews. They’re looking for information about the quality, the fit, the size, the accuracy of the photos, etc. They’re also looking to see if the reviewer is someone like them. In our research, we’ve found that some users really value a reviewer profile with some demographic details (i.e. age, location, style, size, etc.). Users also appreciate retailer efforts to aggregate some of this information, like the size charts Nordstrom and Amazon use.
Recently, retailers have started providing customers with some of this information on their own, like the features and fit. The most critical element of any website trying to sell tangible products is a good zoom feature. If someone is looking to buy clothes, shoes, or furniture, they want to get an up close view. They may want to buy it online, but they’re looking for the feeling of seeing it in person. The more they can see of the item, the more likely they will be to purchase it online. Some websites, like Saks Fifth Avenue and West Elm, have videos of the products available for purchase that show the product ‘in motion’. Customers find this to be very helpful.
When trying to better understand fit, customers are looking to retailers for support. Some users have mentioned that they find it helpful when the site tells them the height of the model and the size he / she is wearing. Others use services like Fit Predictor, available at Saks Fifth Avenue and other department stores. This uses your size in brands you have purchased to determine your size in other brands and different items. The FitPredictor predicts the right size for you based on what size you wear for other brands. For example, if you wear a size 8 jean from The Gap, then the FitPredictor will predict the correct size jean in the brand you’re shopping.

Companies should think about the fundamental product questions their users have when determining which features to include on the product page. Will these features help users make a purchase decision by addressing common issues such as quality, fit, size, color, etc.? While much of the initial decision about an item is visual and focused on whether it fits a shoppers personal style, the final decision is based on whether customers believe they have a full understanding of how that item will fit into their lives.

Big Design Talk – Produce Like Picasso

by Kelly Nercess
Produce like Picasso
We all know Pablo Picasso and we all know he was a genius.  Primarily known for his role establishing Cubism, he was also an efficient artist.  He brought this discipline to each of his artistic periods including Traditional, the Blue Period, the Rose Period, his African-Influenced work, Neo-Classicalism and Surrealism. His innate talent and unstoppable drive meant that he produced an average seven new pieces of art every day. Today we have over 147,800 completed works of art from this amazing artist.  At this point you may be comparing your own productivity to Picasso’s his jaw dropping feat; try not to feel too bad about yourself. There was a method to his madness.
The presentation was not a Picasso art history lesson, but rather a lesson on how to apply this work ethic to your daily tasks. How can we apply Picasso to our work?  Brian Sullivan and J. Schuh presented their findings on how the average worker can apply these Picasso techniques to achieve success.
It all starts with the five P’s of Productivity: Passion, Purpose, Proficiency, Persistence and Partnership. These five components will pave the road to ‘producing like Picasso’.

The first words that came out of Picasso’s mouth was a form of the word ‘pencil’. Jose Ruiz, Picasso’s father, taught brush technique and was popular for his painting doves. When he noticed that his son loves to draw, he began giving him lessons. The start of his passion for art began at a young age and eventually led to his first oil painting at the ripe young age of 9. The name is the brand. Noticeably, Picasso has a different last name than his father. Could you imagine the iconic name being Pablo Ruiz instead of Pablo Picasso?
Picasso began art school and found himself daydreaming in class rather than focusing on what was being taught. “For being a bad student, I was sent to detention. I liked it there, because I took along a sketchpad and drew incessantly. I could have stayed there drawing forever.”
Passion Points of Picasso:

  1. Find your passion (drawing for Picasso).
  2. Family support for focus and education.
  3. Find a mentor, early on (Picasso’s father).
  4. Get an education (for the sake of learning).
  5. Know life events will fuel your passion.

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Stealing allows you to make something yours.
“Copying is doing exactly like someone else does. Stealing is when you take something, change it so much, the innovation is so disguised, so changed, that it looks like it belongs to you.” Steve Jobs can be known to use those words to his advantage. He took the branding that Picasso created and made it his own. Jobs considered Picasso his mentor and built the Apple brand using the artwork that Picasso created. If you notice the famous Apple ‘finder’ symbol, you will find a very close relation to the artwork of Picasso. Steve Jobs was shameless to steal ideas and build his brand off the work of this extraordinary artist.
There was no stopping the Apple empire, Jobs also wanted to be considered the Ritz-Carlton of retail. Someone is always there to great you at the door and the genius bar is a place to get advice on your products, rather than drinking a gin and tonic. Again, this goes back to the idea that Apple was shameless bout stealing great ideas. In order to be the best, you had to follow the footsteps of the best.
Looking back at the work of two brilliant innovators, they both continued to reinvent their brand and give their work a purpose. Picasso established his work in the Blue Period, Cubism and Neo-Classical, while Apple continued to push the boundaries with new technology including smartphones, tablets and computers.
Picasso held a great influence to Steve Jobs. Without his impact on the Apple brand, I would imagine some of the products we use today would not be the same.
“Steve Jobs admired Picasso because he could have taken a conventional approach and done it well for the rest of his life, but Picasso (like Jobs) tried to change things.” – Dr. Enrique Mallen, Forbes 2013
Purpose Points of Picasso:

  1. Have an open mind to new experiences.
  2. Be original. Challenge the status quo.
  3. Look beyond your own design discipline.
  4. Steal great ideas, but make them your own.
  5. Take risks. Do not copy other people.

In part two of this article, I will deep dive into findings that Brian Sullivan and J. Schuh shared on the remaining three P’s: Proficiency, Persistence and Partnership. Stay tuned in our March newsletter for the final article!