Fundamentals of Digital UX

User Experience, UX, has a simple goal: engage the consumer and guide them through to a goal. You can determine what the goal is – it could be a purchase, registering a form, downloading a document – but the intent is the same. There are many elements to the UX journey. Here you will focus on core fundamentals of UX.

Know who you are building the solution for using Personas

Who is your customer? This may seem like an obvious question but consider this: how many times have you started building a solution when you have been told about a problem. For instance, you might get a request such as we need a website to promote our products! The next move is to build a website. Work and effort are put into creating a complicated and expensive solution that is likely to fail on day one. Fortunately, getting to know your customer is comfortable. There is a lot of work that has gone into the concept of “Personas.” The following is an example of a persona, the characteristics, and motivations of that person:

With one page you now know who you are building a website or app for. Companies, such as GM, have been using Personas to help design their cars and marketing materials for many years. 

Using Mood Boards to drive emotions, colors, and textures of the experience

The next stage in your UX journey is to identify the key emotional drivers for the experience. Mood Boards are an excellent way to collect together colors, textures, and images that will be used in the final solution. Reviewing the following Mood Board immediately drives a set of emotions the persona can engage with:

Your client should be able to sense the feeling you want to use from the Mood Board.

Use Storytelling to drive an engagement

The final stage in the fundamentals of UX is Storytelling. UX is a strategy that can be applied beyond software to all products. The successful products tell you a story. For instance, there are thousands of smartphones, but Apple dominates with the iPhone. The iPhone (despite Apple’s claims) is not better than any other phone. However, Apple sells a story in all of their iPhone commercials. The iPhone is about friendship, family and captures the moments of your life. The story is used to sell a lifestyle that the product will let you live. Also, the Storyboard is a tool that can be shared with the client to illustrate what the final product will achieve. This is a good time to check and adjust with the customer.

Learn from the best

The techniques listed above are foundational to User Experience. The good news is that the best companies share the knowledge of how great UX should be accomplished. Here are some useful links to keep:

Let me know in the comments what fundamentals of UX you use to get a project started.

Is the timing right for Mobile Commerce?

Today, more than 2.2 billion people connect to the internet from a mobile phone. This number is expected to double by 2020. As a frame of reference, Android is now the most popular Operating System globally and in 2016 more installations of Apple’s iOS 10 were installed than Microsoft’s Windows. It is a mobile world. But there is one problem: do consumers buy from their phones?

A year ago, I would have said a resounding “no”. The facts bore out the statement: people browsed on their phones but did not buy. The perfect storm of technologies had to be put in place to ensure that Mobile Commerce can happen.

That perfect storm has happened. Black Friday for 2016 saw the largest number of online purchases: over $3 Billion. The staggering element to this story is that Mobile accounted for ⅓ of all Black Friday purchases. Yes, that is right, people are buying with their phones.

For Mobile Commerce to be effective and to happen three things needed to be in place:

  1. Everyone has to have a smartphone. Everyone. This is the foundation.
  2. Check out technologies need to be easier on the phone than on the PC. Check out Apple Pay, Amazon, and AliPay and you will see that they are all very easy to use. One swipe and you buy your products.
  3. Social is a key part of buying. Adding in effective social selling and you have a gold mine of opportunity waiting to happen

Expect 2017 to be a breakout year for Mobile Commerce. mCommerce is already a reality in many Asian countries. It will be in the USA, too.

Should I use Open Source tools for mobile development?

There is a love-hate relationship with many companies when it comes Open Source. There is a perception that Open Source is riddled with viruses and has not support. The reality is far from this perception.

Mobile development is almost all Open Source. Here are some Open Source tools you can use today:

  • Convertigo ( for Mobile Device Management
  • Bootstrap ( for Mobile Web
  • Ionic ( for hybrid mobile app development
  • QuincyKit ( for mobile app testing
  • Swift ( is an Open Source language that Apple is using the principle language to develop iOS solutions

As you can see from the list above, Open Source solutions can be used across all levels of work. If you are a small team or a new to mobile, I would strongly encourage using Open Source solutions to get started. The investment is free and the learning curve is no different to paid products. What will surprise you is that the Open Source community is very generous with their knowledge. In other words, there is plenty of support.

31% of all online sales are now from Mobile devices

Mobiles sales are on a tear. The 2016 Holiday season saw more than $24 Billion in sales from mobile devices from Nov 1 through Dec 20. This is an incredible number as it accounts for 31% of the $79 Billion spent online. In other words, 1:3 people now buy from a phone vs. a PC. The data is from Adobe’s report that tracks sales for the top 100 online retailers (link).

Key data points include:

  • Total Online Sales: $79.2B
  • Total Online Sales Growth: 10.7%
  • 49 out of 50 days have resulted in over $1B in revenue
  • Desktop Share of Sales: 69%
  • Smartphone Share of Sales: 21%
  • Tablet Share of Sales: 10% 

What is stunning is that Mobile accounted for 28% of online sales in 2015 and only 19% in 2014. The trajectory is clear: Mobile will likely hit 33% of online sales in 2017 and 35+% in 2018. 

The Challenge for Online Sales

The challenge for retailers is now complicated. On the one hand, you must continue to support traditional PC commerce, but on the contrary, you must also support the emerging trend for mobile commerce. An interesting data point missing from Adobe’s report is the number of sales driven by platforms such as social business. While social commerce, a new channel where the consumer buys from a chat app such as Facebook Messenger, is new to the USA, countries such as China are now masters of social buying. 

Digital Commerce Fragmentation will likely be the buzz words that describe online sales over the next few years. How do you plan to address this thorny issue?

2015 – the Digital Year

Your Digital Life

It’s a brand new Year! Over the last five years we have all seen a massive change in how we use technology in our Digital Lives. We have progressed from PCs, to Social Media, to Devices and we are surrounding ourselves with Internet of Things (watches, health bands, smart carts, connected TVs, smart health and smart homes). Some technologies will be adopted faster than others.

What is clear is that 2015 is the first truly Digital Year. More and more we can capturing and recording everything about our lives. Here are five activities I am going to be doing more of this year to keep engaged with Digital Trends:

#5 – Get A Smart Band

The Internet of Things is upon us. Now is the time to start experimenting. My knee-jerk is to use the new Microsoft Band (it is relatively cheap and loaded with sensors) before investing in a more expensive Android or Apple Watch.

#4 – Leverage More Cloud Services

This year has been awesome for Cloud services. I know use Office 365 for all my work, Photos are all loaded into DropBox with Carousel and Netflix is how we watch TV. This year: going deeper into Cloud. My goal for 2015 is to move all my data off my local devices/computers.

#3 – Balance Work/Home Life

This is getting easier and easier. It used to be that I had to travel 2 hours to the office each day. Now I work more out of my home office. The goal for 2015 is to use more video conferencing services to keep connected to my teams.

#2 – Code and Learn More Coding

I am an English Major. But I appreciate the value of coding. My JavaScript skills are pretty good but I need to get more up to speed on Android Java and iOS Swift coding. In addition, I really need to learn how to use more APIs to make it much easier for me to glue technologies together.

#1 – Read

This is easy, but essential. The digital world changes very fast. Reading each day is the only way to keep on top of all the changes. Spend 30 mins during the day exercising your brain on new Digital Trends.

What will you do in 2015?



What makes up the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a buzzword that has been around for a couple of years. But what the heck does it mean and why should you care? Essentially, the Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to any device that can connect without wires: phones, tablets and watches are the first generation IoT. The next generation of IoT is already hitting the roads: next generation cars are coming loaded with sensors. Google just released the first self driving car and you have already seen cars that can park themselves and warn you as you reverse up. Future IoT will include sensors in your clothes, your homes, healthcare and a thousand other places. Quite literally, the Internet of Things will be made up of billions of devices. You think the Mobile Revolution was big? You ain’t seen nothing.

There are three main components to the Internet of Things:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Cloud

The Internet of Things Hardware

What you will immediately recognize when you see an IoT solution is the hardware. Let’s take first generation IoT and look at the hardware: Phones and Watches.

Common elements in the devices include the following:

  • Communication services – WiFi, BlueTooth Low Energy, NFC, GPS
  • Touch Screens and battery support/power
  • Low energy sensors

The focus of these first generation devices is to illustrate that you do not need a plugged in PC to get complex problems done. Smaller can be better. Next generation IoT will see the size of the hardware continue to shrink and energy will have to come from either better batteries of leverage latent electricity that surrounds us all the time. Yes, devices will be powered without batteries. Crazy, isn’t it? But think of this: why not use the static in a shirt to power the device monitoring your blood pressure sown into your shirt?

Smart Clothes for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things Software

The second important element to the IoT is the software that powers it. Again, first generation software is found on your phone: Android, iOS and Windows. First generation software is loaded with APIs and SDKs that let you build incredible solutions. First generation software powers phones, tablets and your Smart TV (Apple TV is powered by iOS 8 and Amazon’s Fire TV runs a version of Android). Second generation devices will be different. Power is premium to second generation devices. Samsung’s choice to use Tizen to power their new Smart Watches reflects this. Microsoft has made a similar move with their newly released health band.

A difference you will likely see with second generation IoT is the disappearance of the screen. You don’t always need a screen. But you do need software to connect to the screen. This is why your phone may become the center of your digital life.

The Internet of Things Cloud

Tying everything together is the Cloud. Cloud solutions allow large, complex processes to be completed away from the device. Your phone can now store infinite data thanks to DropBox and other storage services. Cloud services can perform massively complex solutions – Adobe’s Cloud Apps demonstrate this through moving complex image processing off the phone and into Adobe’s own Creative Cloud services. In many ways, the Cloud is the key element to the success of the Internet of Things. Hardware can become simpler and smaller; software can become more niche and Cloud can do the heavy lifting.

The future for the Internet of Things

If you are looking to start a new business then the next step must be looking at IoT. The Smartphone and Tablet wars have been fought. The new Green Field is IoT. What will you build?


Digital is a Trend and not a Fad

A trend is defined in Merriam-Webster as: a general direction in which something is developing or changing. The following chart is from Business Insider “The Future of Digital“, an annual peak at where the tech industry is and where it is going. It is a brilliant PowerPoint. There are few slides I’d like to focus on.

The Digital Trend

Digital is a Trend that is here to stay

Do you have a computer, phone and a tablet? My guess is you do. Will you be getting a smart car, smart watches and smart clothers? The knee jerk answer is “probably not”, but I am here to tell you that you are wrong. The trend is clearly showing that you will buy smart-everything. Why? A simple reason: price. Let’s take Tablets. The iPad shipped in 2010 as a premium device. Today, you can pick up really great tablets for $99. The price is free-falling. Companies such as Amazon have come to realize that the value is not in the Tablet. The value is in the services that are delivered to the tablet. Why pay the cable company $100 per month, when you can get Netflix for $8.99/mth on your one-time investment of a $99 tablet?

The trend for tablet prices is falling fast

We are spending more time using our Devices

This is no surprise, but the trend for how we use our devices vs. how we use traditional media demonstrates that we LOVE our devices. All traditional media is falling but device usage is skyrocketing.

The trend for a device first world for media consumption

There are a number of other areas worth checking the BI deck:

  • Android now dominates as the top computer platform
  • Android will soon overtake Apple for app revenue
  • Digital will grow for decades

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.