UX Designer, Melbourne

Got a Team launches

Got a Team

It’s been a while in the making but I’m thrilled to announce that last month we launched Got a Team.

Got a Team is a startup idea of mine that aims to make it as easy as possible to organise a sports team. It’s focused on centralising the communication of when and where games are and who can and can’t make it.

It’s taken a while to get to this point, working away on the side of full time jobs and family life but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved to date and excited about what’s coming.

The initial version is a beautiful responsive website that works nicely on both mobile devices as well as desktop computers. Working well on mobile is critical for us and a mobile app is where we are heading but as we needed the web services in place to support the app we thought we might as well skin them with a slick website as it’s was the quickest way to get a product in market that we could learn from.

Thoughts and feedback welcomed.

My new project – GOT A TEAM

I’ve been having a lot of fun over the last few months designing and developing a new app with a friend of mine Gonzalo. It’s called GOT A TEAM and it’s for those involved in social sports teams and aims to make it easy for the players to organise and manage those teams. It’s getting close to an initial launch but I wanted to share the idea and the initial design and see what people think.

App mockups
Home screen
View game

 

I found the logo on Dribbble and bought it off designer Isaac Grant.

To sign up to be notified when it’s ready, head to the website www.gotateam.com.

Your website is for selling, not marketing

I’m working for a big company who is in the midst of a rebrand at the moment. (When I say rebrand, it’s more the difficult task of altering the associations customers have with the company then the simpler task of updating their identity.) The rebrand is much needed and the direction they are taking I really like and makes a bunch of sense. It’s exciting to see it happening and I’m confident it will be a success.

One thing the digital team has been struggling with though is how that rebrand plays out on the companies website. There’s been a bunch of work and thinking going on by some smart people about how to update the website to reflect and support the new brand initiative but it all came to an interesting impasse the other day when we user tested the website. I’ll spare the details but it did prompt me to capture and collate some of my thoughts around where marketing sits in regards to a companies primary product website:

  1. If customers are at your website the marketing has worked, you can stop now and support them to do what they came to do.
  2. You’ve won their attention, now use it wisely. The job of your primary website is not to promote a marketing or brand initiative but to convert those coming through from a marketing or brand initiative. Don’t prioritise links off to marketing related content, you don’t want your customers to come looking for a product and head off to check out something else.
  3. Use language they are used to. Unless your marketing or the media has changed their vocabulary (“smart phone” is perhaps a good example of this) then use the language your customers would use. Users are often disorientated on a website and trying to understand where things may be found and how the site is structured, don’t add to this by using language that they are not used to even if it’s saying the same thing in a subtly different way.
  4. Treat your website like it’s a sales person, not a person on the street dressed in a chicken suit grabbing for your attention. Think about how a sales person would talk to a customer and guide them to what they are looking for with some soft selling along the way — your website should aim to do the same.
  5. And lastly, be careful about putting a campaign front and centre on the homepage. Your homepage should reinforce to customers that they are in the right place for whatever the bigger picture thing is you offer before spruiking a promotion you have on.

Product development is like gardening

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I was recently reminded of the analogy between product development and gardening. I think it’s a great analogy because:

  1. You can’t just plant something and leave it unattended – it needs to be nurtured.
  2. If you don’t nurture it, it will die.
  3. The bigger it gets, the more people you need to nurture it.
  4. A dieing part of a garden reflects poorly on the overall garden.
  5. If a part of the garden is not contributing to the greater good, cull it.
  6. There’s a complex ecosystem at play, changing one part will impact other parts.
  7. You shouldn’t wait for the garden to be fully finished before you enjoy it.
  8. Walking through a well nurtured garden is a wonderful experience.

Evolving the design practise in a startup – my 99designs story

99designs has grown at an amazing rate, in many ways it’s the dream rags to riches startup story — from a team of 4 locked away in a meeting room to a worldwide team of 90 in just a few years.

I joined 99designs in late 2009 as I saw the potential it had and I believed I could help them realise it. Now, as the longest serving Designer at 99designs, and the Head of UX, I thought I’d share the journey the design practise has gone through in the 4 years I’ve been here and how the team has both responded to the growing demands of a company brimming with ideas as well as improved the way we design. Hopefully there’s some lessons in it for other startups and Designers who are looking to scale their design practise.
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Conversion at what cost?

Every online business should be focused on conversion – it goes without saying. A/B testing (which I’m including multivariate testing in even though they are different) is a great way for businesses to help determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to converting leads into customers. The recent rise in availability of A/B testing tools is helping many online businesses gain valuable insights they never could before, and to test ideas more accurately than ever. But should it be given the credence it seems to have at the moment?

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Baffle them with bullshit or keep it stupidly simple

There’s a saying in advertising that campaigns can take one of two approaches:

  1. Baffle the audience with bullshit, or
  2. Provide one stupidly simple idea clearly.

I think it applies to user interfaces as well. I think websites often do the first one and struggle to do the second.

I’ve been to (and worked on) websites where the businesses intent seems to be to baffle potential customers with an array of bullshit (features, functionality and even content they don’t need) and make them feel like they need it. Maybe this tactic works, hell it must do given how many infomercials exist in the world, but I like to think customers are maturing.

I’m noticing that companies who take the second approach are becoming more prevalent and successful – I’m thinking Apple and 37Signals. These companies that focus on doing one thing well and not diluting their market perception are the ones flourishing while others (I’m thinking Microsoft) get weighed down by their own bloated products, features and offerings.