By Lindsay Herbert, Head of Digital Marketing
This weekend was a heavy one. I meant to stop after just one on Saturday at the Tate Britain at the Schwitters exhibit, but before I knew it, I was binging on Lichtenstein and ‘A Bigger Splash’ at the Tate Modern, followed by blowing the last of my mind on Sunday at the jaw-dropping Russian exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery.
To try and redeem myself this Monday morning, bleary eyed and sore, I’ve collected three thoughts that relate well to my work as Head of Digital Marketing that I hope will also be a help to others. Two of the thoughts have a strong digital connection, whilst the last is just a general thought I need to remind myself of more often.
1) Untitled. (Really?)
First, knowing what a picture is about doesn’t just help to understand it, it can give you an appreciation of its value. Cartoon-like tattoos of chains and sad, busty women on moustached men, looking not unlike aged portraits of Shoreditch hipsters in the Saatchi Gallery, took on unsettling new meaning when the captions revealed them to be the gang tattoos of lifelong Russian criminals. Or at the Lichtenstein exhibition where the captions showed just how many of the paintings were borrowed from private collections – meaning that despite their iconic status and societal value, when the exhibitions ends we’ll likely never get to lay eyes on many of these famous works again.
It made me think back to my work on the web and the time it takes to load those big carousel banners many brands are so fond of (or at least, fond of the in-fighting they often resolve internally), and it’s worth thinking of the potential value added when making the call on whether to include space in the carousel template for that precious, value-adding editable text.
2) Yours sincerely, the Tate Modern
My second thought relates to the DREAM Destinations seminar series we’re currently running (next stop, Edinburgh!) and how attractions like galleries can (and are) using technology to forge closer connections with their visitors, and bridge the time between in-person visits.
The moment I scanned my membership card at the Tate Modern, an email popped into my Hotmail account asking what I thought of the Lichtenstein exhibit. Whilst I thought the wording could have been a little less praise soliciting (‘Looking at the comments so far, it’s clear that people have enjoyed…’) I was still impressed, first by the efficiency and then by the fact they thought to ask at all.
It’s also noteworthy though that it was my second visit to the exhibition (yes, I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my membership!) and the second time receiving the same email. Should the second email have been different and recognized me as a repeat visitor? In an ideal world (where the Tate gets the unlimited marketing resource and advanced CRM it deserves), yes, but it did prompt me to wonder what other ways the Tate could have bridged the virtual and real life gap.
For example, I was disappointed when my favourite paintings weren’t available for sale as prints at each of the galleries I’d visited – could I have been asked to vote online for which additional prints should be procured for their online shop? Could QR codes have been added to the paintings so scanning saved them to a list of favourites that I could then share and refer to later (rather than have to surreptitiously snap photos of the captions for my own un-shareable records)?
One thing I will say, even though I didn’t click through on either email from the Tate, was that I was touched to see the curator’s name pop up in my inbox. It was a sign they are keeping track of my interactions with them in a meaningful way – one that should later result in fewer ‘email all’ messages down the road – but more importantly, tells me my visit is helping them shape future visits for everyone.
3) Art: The brain’s drain cleaner!
The last thing I’ll mention is how standing for hours in four different galleries this weekend, overloading my brain with creativity and introspection, is making me oddly eager to get stuck back in at work this snowy Monday morning. I don’t know how some of the most impressive things I saw (like a giant painting at Saatchi gallery that from far away looks opulent and intricately detailed, but close up is actually made from systematically torn and paint-soiled cardboard sheets) are going to factor into the projects I’m working on, but the feeling in my head right now is a bit like the one you get right before a great idea pops in.
Not a new revelation I suppose, but a good reminder as to why we should all reboot our brains and trade staring at pixels for paint strokes whenever we get the chance.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Attractions should ensure that every aspect of their digital engagement works simply and intuitively in order to minimise drop out and maximise conversion rates.
One of the main recommendations I made in our recent DREAM day out report was that attractions should be constantly evaluating and refining the usability of their websites in order to maximise conversion opportunities. In truth it was difficult to find examples of effective ticket booking interfaces in all but a few of the 200 odd websites I looked at to compile the report, and there was little evidence of considered user-journey mapping, or UX design principles.
Jakob Nielsen a renowned usability guru has maintained for many years that 10% of any digital design project’s budget should be spent on usability. He contends that such expenditure will result in an average improvement in key performance indicators of 83% (see http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/). Of course this is for a new project, but having looked at so many attraction sites recently it strikes me that the vast majority could benefit significantly from improved usability.
I was struck yesterday by a massive promotion of the new ride at Alton Towers in the Sun newspaper. Around four pages of the red top was dedicated to an offer encouraging readers to collect tokens from the paper to secure a couple of free tickets to the Towers.
Now I am sure that such activity increases awareness and to an extent footfall in the real and virtual attraction worlds, but I am convinced that attractions, particularly Alton Towers, would benefit by forsaking one or two of their traditional marketing activities and using the money saved on increasing the effectiveness of their websites in order to ensure conversion and actual ticket purchases.
As Dan Baker, our Head of UX says in the report “A philosophy of measurement and continual improvement needs to be adopted which, if fully embraced, is guaranteed to deliver digital success”
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Recently I have been researching and writing a report looking into how attractions use digital to promote and enhance the visitor experience of their venues. The report’s central premise is that today, more than ever, digital communications and engagement plays a crucial role in not just recruiting visitors to an attraction, but also in ensuring that they have a satisfying and rewarding experience at it; one that they will want to talk about and share with their family, friends and peers.
To this end the report is framed around the DREAM model. The implication of which is that attractions need to look at their digital landscape holistically in order to complete the engagement cycle. The tricky parts of this are the stages at which the visitor actually attends and after they have left. However, in terms of word of mouth recommendation, and attracting the next tranche of visitors there is no stage more important, get this bit right and marketing efforts have the potential to be less scatter-gun and more targeted and personal.
With this in mind I was intrigued to see an article last week describing Disney’s new initiative aimed at making their visitors’ experience of their parks seamless and cash-free http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671616/a-1-billion-project-to-remake-the-disney-world-experience-using-rfid#1 The idea is that visitors have an RFID wristband, which allows them to eat, drink, buy souvenirs, and potentially interact with Disney characters hassle-free. Disney will be able to collect data on their visitors’ habits from the time they enter their parks to the time they leave. Monetisation of the experience must be front of mind for Disney, but so too must be the enhancement and improvement of the experience, identifying pain points and remedying them as best possible.
This is all fantastic of course, but other than visitors not having to get their wallet out, how does it enhance the visitor’s experience, and could it actually add to the apprehension of a family on a limited budget? There is of course an app that can be downloaded from the Disney site that helps visitors plan their day, see queue times etc, but a look at what it offers suggest that there is little attempt by Disney to include in the app tools to allow people to share their experiences as they happen, or to encourage visitors to interact with the ‘Disney community’ subsequently.
Maybe with a brand like Disney’s it is all about the experience, and ongoing user-generated marketing material and word of mouth recommendations come naturally due to the aspirational nature of their attractions. For the less well resourced there are any number of digital approaches that will help them close the circle and use their satisfied customers to generate real digital assets and goodwill contained in our report – The DREAM day out – Digitally enhancing and promoting the attraction experience. To find out more download a copy of our free report.
By Mark Russell, Consultant
If you’re anything like me, you probably walk on by feeling somewhat useless, with no real understanding of what you could do about it, or where you could turn if it ever happened to you.
Launched in December 2012, Streetlink, the new initiative from Homeless Link and Broadway aims to change this. Building on the successful No Second Night Out project launched in London in 2011, Streetlink enables members of the public, police officers, healthcare professionals, and rough sleepers themselves – to make contact with local authorities and support organisations, ensuring that rough sleepers are located and given access to the services they need as quickly as possible.
With over 2000 people estimated to be sleeping rough in England on any given night, Streetlink is an essential service, and arrives at a time of year when it is vital that rough sleepers don’t spend a second night on the streets.
When Homeless Link and Broadway approached us to help with this project, we were proud to be involved, whilst at the same time quite daunted by the numerous challenges the project presented – not least of which were a fairly tight deadline, and the need for a flexible, intuitive back end interface for the staff managing referrals.
But most interesting for me were the unique aspects of the site’s user experience. How could we ensure that reports were as detailed and useful as possible, without making the process too arduous – especially given that most referrals would likely be made on dark streets, at night, using smartphones? How could we enable people to report when back at home or in the office, while still allowing them to precisely pinpoint the location of the rough sleeper?
The guiding principles behind the Streetlink site were simplicity and direct action. The homepage of the desktop and mobile versions focuses on encouraging users to refer online, or to call Streetlink to make a referral. The referral form itself contains very few mandatory fields – asking at the very minimum for a location and description of the rough sleeper’s surroundings to help local authorities and support agencies find them. Users can add more detailed information, or leave their contact information for follow-up by phone or email.
After referring rough sleepers, users are given more information on what will happen as a result of their report, and also given advice on other ways they can get involved in helping rough sleepers in their area.
The desktop site integrates with Google Maps to allow users to search for a location or postcode, before dropping a custom pin to refine and adjust the location – crucial for referrals made from home or work, where a general location might be known, but the specific location of the rough sleeper might rely on recognising a nearby landmark or an unmarked location. This information is matched against local authority location data to ensure that the referral reaches the correct services. An interactive map also allows users to see figures on rough sleepers in their area, and numbers of people helped by Streetlink.
When viewed on a smartphone, the user is redirected to the mobile version. Featuring a further stripped down site structure, and building on our experiences in creating the Crimestoppers mobile site mobile utilises device features such as ‘tap to call’ to enable quick referral to the phone line, and geolocation to pinpoint the user, while allowing them to refine the position and location description in situations where geolocation does not behave as expected.
Finally, the mobile app reproduces the mobile site functionality, but capitalises on the interest shown by users engaged enough to download it in the first place by allowing them to save their personal details not only to save time on referrals, but also to receive information on future initiatives and ways to get involved in helping rough sleepers, as well as a mobile optimised version of the rough sleeper numbers by local authority from the desktop site. The app is now available for Android from the Google Play store and for iPhones from the iTunes app store.
Streetlink has already started making a difference to people’s lives – and we can all help. So download the app, or bookmark the site today, and next time you pass a rough sleeper, you’ll know exactly what to do.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Keeping an eye on the buzz can be cheaper than a PR event
Lessons from our latest industry report ’20 Scottish single malt distilleries: No time to sit still – building brand awareness in the digital world’
Back in June Diageo announced that it was set to invest £1billion in Scotch whisky production over the next five years. This announcement, coupled with Precedent’s interest in the industry, provoked me to research the online presence of 20 of Scotland’s top single malt whisky brands.
Diageo, and a number of other distilleries in the market, are showing great ambition for expansion, particularly in relation to growth in emerging markets. We wanted to discover how prepared distilleries are to leverage the awareness of single malt that will inevitably be created when Diageo, and others, up their marketing ante?
The report can be ordered from the Precedent website, in it are lots of examples of how the featured brands are using digital both in the UK and China.
One of the interesting observations contained in the report is that whisky brands’ digital presences seem to be managed, populated and created by agencies with a PR-led view of how to measure success. This manifests itself in digital properties containing a lot of references to physical events, PR stunts and so on, all of which are part of the brand awareness mix, but we found little evidence of any imaginative use of digital.
In the graph above there are two obvious peaks in the buzz volume generated by one of the brands in our report Laphroaig. Each year Laphroaig broadcasts an event known as ‘Laphroaig Live’ across the internet. It is a reasonably large set piece event, which is keenly followed. This year the event came from the Oktoberfest in Germany, and the buzz generated related to the simple key words ‘Laphroaig’ and ‘whisky’ is represented by the left-hand peak on the graph.
The second and of course considerably larger peak in buzz volume is directly attributable to a posting on a long established blog called Kottke.org about a collection of videos on the Esquire website in which actor Brian Cox teaches anyone interested how to pronounce over 40 whisky brand names, an interesting asset in itself.
However the main feature of the blog post is an embedded tongue in cheek YouTube video teaching people how to pronounce the Laphroaig name. This video on YouTube has been viewed 81,411 times, 7,018 of which are directly attributable to the Kottke blog!
A short investigation of the blog revealed that its abiding principle is that ‘People are Awesome’. Match this to the assertion on Laphroaig’s website home page that Islay, where the whisky is produced, has ‘created a hardy people whose single-mindedness and honesty is as distinctive as Laphroaig’ and it is not much of a leap to understand how with a little creative thinking Laphroaig could have leveraged this exposure to its advantage at a fraction of the cost of a live broadcast from Germany…
To order a copy of the full report email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.precedent.co.uk.
Cardiff Design Festival is bigger and better than ever before – so this year, our Cardiff team have challenged local creatives and design professionals from all disciplines to come together for a unique event: ‘Bodystorming Cardiff: UX gets physical’.
Using real-world experiences to inspire better design Bodystorming is a user-experience research technique in which practitioners use real-world environments to inspire new ideas or approaches to solving problems in the digital world. It’s a bit like method acting for designers. Cardiff is a vibrant hub of art and design culture, and we’re teaming up with artists and illustrators from Morgan Arcade studios to give participants a real insight into the user experience design approach that we bring to all our client projects, whilst also giving often under-promoted local talent a platform to show their work to a wider design-savvy audience.
Intrigued? If you come along this is what you will gain…
• You’ll learn a new user-experience technique that you can use to improve your own work, project or product
• You’ll explore the Morgan Arcade Studios, meet inspiring local artists, learn what it’s really like to be a creative in Cardiff and gain a better understanding of how to tackle the brief based on actual experience
• You’ll have the chance to work directly with Precedent’s UX Strategists, Designers and Developers, see how we tackle projects and hopefully leave inspired and confident that these kinds of approaches can work for your business too!
Ready to take up the challenge?
Here’s what you need to know:
When: Wednesday 10th October 2012, 2pm – 5pm
Where: Morgan Arcade Studios, St Mary Street end of Morgan Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AF
How: Book online or email Cory direct
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
For reasons that will become apparent I found myself today looking for the origins of the phrase that forms the title of this blog. As is often the case I was distracted by an apparently unrelated news article, this time on the Boy Genius Report (BGR) website.
The item concerned the unveiling of Microsoft’s new tablet device and was titled ‘Microsoft Surface tablet is sincerest form of flattery for Apple’. I was intrigued.
The article quoted Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White writing in a note to investors:
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night. At the same time, this event indicates to us that Microsoft is still searching for its own identity in the post-PC era, something that has come naturally for Apple with the rise of the mobile internet.”
Of course the question that everyone is asking is whether the Surface is a serious contender for the space that Apple has dominated in recent years. White’s assessment was quite blunt when he said; “we found little in yesterday’s presentation that would convince us that a consumer would prefer Surface over an iPad”. (more…)
With many structural changes, mergers and service changes within the NHS, it can be a challenge to communicate these successfully to your audiences. However digital can be the perfect way to not only keep your audiences informed about these changes but also help them to embrace new ways of delivering services.
We’ve recently been working with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust to help them with their digital communications following their mergers. Together we’ve learnt some important lessons and would like to share some tips with you.
1. Make practical information easy to find
No matter how important a new brand, partnership, department or building is to your organisation, your service users’ priorities will still be access to information about practical services and care. Ensure they can quickly find this without having to figure out your internal restructuring to do so.
This practical approach can also be extended to GPs and referral information. This can be as simple as providing downloadable referral forms.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (shown below) do a great job of providing clear practical information aimed at different audiences.
2. Provide reassurance
With the news full of headlines about NHS cuts, bear in mind you are talking to a suspicious audience who now more than ever need reassurance they are getting top quality care. Show them how delivering familiar services in new ways, for example through integrated teams or at home can actually be a better experience for them. Consider using video to explain new services; having staff or even patients explain changes will help you instil trust in your users.
By Harry Rees
With graduation only three months away, and the final hurdle fast approaching, I felt my placement at Precedent could be my most important one to date. Previously I had been mentored by Ed Richards (senior designer, Precedent Cardiff) for a live brief at Cardiff Met. Within that short space of regular one hour discussions, I always took away something positive and a fresh perspective. Hungry for more, I was keen to reunite with my former mentor.
The two weeks I spent at Precedent where highly enjoyable and memorable. Not only did I learn so much about the industry I’m passionate about, but essentially what makes it so great.. and that’s the people!
Precedent’s friendly, welcoming vibe allowed me to slip right in and feel at home. They allowed me to explore creative avenues, ideas and thoughts in a number of discussions and presentations.
By , Senior Designer
Ed Richards tells of the design student mentoring taking place at Precedent’s Cardiff office in conjunction with UWIC and Cardiff Council.
After mulling over the design brief set by Cardiff Council, our students Sarah, Ashleigh, Alex and Harry were given a week to go away and do as much research as possible based around stats, facts and how creative ideas could in some way change people’s commuting patterns in and around Cardiff.
We began with an initial discussion on how we could really hope to change people’s habits. We talked about ideas around awareness on climate change and how by making one small change, it could make a big difference.
However, we knew that using climate change as a hook for people to alter their behaviour in today’s current climate was not enough; people now worry more about their finances and grabbing a bargain than global warming. This fed into the idea that to change people’s patterns we would need to reward them in some way which would make it attractive to change.