Sampling the delights of virtual experiences

Virtual experiences title image

Lockdown feels like normal, you’re stuck indoors, and theres a limit of what to do. Things are very different currently. We are all going through huge life style changes and unclear to when life will return to ‘normal’.

I’m generally someone who is quite active when it comes to running, going to the gym and playing hockey. As well as going out a few times a week for dinner, pub, theatre and running events.

This is where the internet steps up to the next level of creating virtual experiences to try and emulate that of the traditional and real world.

As a User Experience Designer I’m always keen to try different experiences in the world of digital, and this was the perfect opportunity to jump in and sample the delights of virtual experiences.

Working from home
Working from home. A screen of different people on video having a meeting.

Tech: Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Working from home (WFH) is nothing new for me. I have been working for a while with the ability to work remotely. This is normally once a week due to hot desking at work as well as working with most of my colleagues in India. Now its been weeks WFH, it definitely feels a lot different.

The benefits as everyone is experiencing are a much shorter commute, comforts of your own home, better work life balance and ability to be in for deliveries! Additionally, speaking with my team we all feel we are more productive and we are delivering more.

However, now we are all online and easy to get a hold of, meetings can be relentless and time can be stacked. This results in joining meetings instantly rather than grabbing a coffee, water or going to the toilet. We do discuss these factors and new kings of etiquette and behaviour are a result of this. We now have a 5mins at the start of meetings to give people a chance to do what they need to do.

WFH for a long period can be isolating, even though I’m seeing my colleagues face to face every day, the experiences are more work driven rather than a quick personal catch up or a chat in the kitchen.

We do have stretching and meditations sessions everyday if we want to join in online, as well as communicating the need to have a break and look after yourself.

In all, working from home is very empowering and saves a lot of time and energy. However it can become isolating and relentless at times. The main thing is to be aware of the new situation and keep a dialogue with your team to not go mad!

Virtual Pub Quizzes

Pub quiz on Zoom in a kitchen having a drink

Pub quiz hosted by friends for friends and family.

Tech: Zoom and Youtube

Quizzes seem to have been all the rage during lockdown. With local pubs taking their quizzes online, to celebrities doing theres for various movie studios, there has been an abundance of online quizzes.

Screen of the Virtual Pub Quiz question with video of the host. Text on screen, Round 1 Question 8. Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of s*** and cam out clean on the other side, is a line from which nineties classic?

The Virtual Pub Quiz on Youtube, with over 170,000 users playing live.

We found out about the Virtual Pub Quiz hosted on Youtube at the start of lockdown. The quiz manages to get over 170,000 users playing live. It was different to play at home rather than with a group of friends down the pub, but it was good fun. My girlfriend and I worked together to start with, then became competitive to see who could win.

As well as The Virtual Quiz, a group of friends who we normally go to a quiz down the local on Sunday night came together to do one on Zoom. One of my friends spend his furloughed time on putting together the quiz. We decided we would all play as a team like normal. Surprisingly with the amount of us, there was a lot of automatic etiquette that we all didn’t talk over each other. You can do the quiz here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5qto3IcRRU

Finally we hosted a quiz to my girlfriends family. It’s a good way to get everyone together but have something to do. It went down really well and next week her niece will be doing one for us all too.

Quizzes appear to be one of the biggest past times of lockdown, as they are a great way of getting friends and family together and either answer questions together or get competitive and see who is the best!

Pokemon Safari Zone

13 people and a cat playing the Pokemon Safari event while live streaming themselves playing.

Zoom and Pokemon Go

Tech: Zoom and Pokemon Go

We were supposed to be going to Liverpool for a long weekend of meeting up, catching Pokemon and exploring Liverpool. Instead we made it onto Zoom for 10am to 6pm on Saturday. People dropped in and out, and we all shared the experience.

It wasn’t as good as what the actual event would have given us, but it was pretty relaxed having coffee and snacks in plentiful supply while sitting down. The actual events contrasting this greatly as manically catching Pokemon, spinning stops and doing research tasks.

Virtual Run

THIS IS THE WAY $25.00 Join us around the globe beginning May 1st - May 4th by participating in the THIS IS THE WAY 4 Day - 10 Mile challenge. Start your challenge May 1st with a 1 mile run/walk, then May 2nd a 2miler, May 3rd a 3miler and May 4th with 4 miler for a total of 10Miles or go complete your mission as fast as you can with solid 10 miles on May 4th. Double-side Finisher medal and tyvek bib included with each entry. MEDALS WILL ARRIVE AFTER MAY 4TH, BUT DON'T WORRY, YOU ARE GUARANTEED YOUR FINISHER MEDAL. What is a Virtual Run? A virtual run can be done at any location and time during the open event date, simply choose your location then run/walk/jog/bike or even treadmill at your pace. Submit your results and receive your medal. This Item Ships Later

‘This is the way’ – 10 mile virtual run order page

Tech: Virtual Run Series (website), Garmin Fenix 3 (watch) and Strava (app)

I took part in a Virtual Run (with Virtual Pace Series or VPS) purely due to the medal having Baby Yoda on it! It was advertised through Facebook so I thought I would give it a whirl. It was quite costly, at the best part of £40, but missing doing events and getting a medal at the end of it, I thought why not!

I registered online, and straight away my medal was on its way to me. So far so good.

The event I did was the ‘This is the way’ run, inspired by Star Wars The Mandolarian. The event went over Star Wars weekend, being around May the fourth. The race was 4 days that would equal to 10 miles. Starting at 1 mile on the first day and progressing to 4 miles on the fourth day.

The experience was good motivation and fun to do as it made a bigger distance easier to tackle. I use my Garmin Fenix 3 watch to track my runs, and then sync up to Strava.

Results uploader

Results uploader – Confusing as you could only upload one file, when the event was over four runs.

The experience post running was not so great. It was confusing as to how you upload your runs, as I received no service communications, but an absolute ton of marketing messages. Additionally, I had not received my medal, so I was assuming it was some sort of scam.

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My results from Strava, sent awkwardly as one image to VPS as evidence of my runs

The post results page after submitting was useless. It gave some random events and distances. Not a lot to engage with and made no sense. There was no leaderboard and a ‘human’ aspect to it.

Post results submission page

Post results submission page – A confusing and useless page

 

Contacting VPS (Virtual Pace Series) was useful as they speedily got back to me about my concerns.

I finally got my medal after going on toward two months and was very happy to finally get it.

This is the way - 10 mile medal

Baby Yoda wearing the This is the way medal

Overall it was fun motivation to keep running, even though it was quite costly. For someone who did regular events, this was the next best thing, and even though there wasn’t a crowd and people to run with, it gave more purpose to just normal running, with motivation to get out of bed early. I would say I recommend VPS, however as I haven’t still received the medal, I would say to use a different service.

UX Crunch at Home

Big Marker - UX Crunch

UX Crunch at Home – Cognitive Psychology and design (Presenting: Zafer Bilda – Service Design Lead – LovedBy Design)

Tech: Big Marker

I’ve attended a few ‘UX Crunch’ events in the past. The events are an evening of talks, pizza, beer and networking. Generally good value for money. With the lockdown, UX Crunch at Home was born.

There were some interesting speakers, for the ones I registered and paid for the topics were Cognitive Psychology and Design, and Remote Testing.

The platform was decent with a window for the presenter to introduce each of the speakers and seamlessly transitioning.

There was a chat feature for Q&A with speakers, as well as different topic areas to network and share advice.

Compared to the physical event, it lacks the pizza and booze, but the core and purpose of the event is still there. A benefit is the sessions are recorded to watch at a later date, so can view again, or if you miss it have access to watch it another time.

Product Excellence Conference

Webinar

Using two screens to view the presentation in full screen and see the presenter

Tech: Zoom

Our internal work conference was changed from a physical event in Philadelphia, to an online only conference. As time and place are no longer aspects of having a show, the conferences has been setup to have webinars over months rather than days. This way it is less disruptive with day to day work as well as distributing the content in way more of the business can consume and be involved. During the webinars, we are muted, but can send in questions at the end of the presentations.

Obviously this is not as exciting as going to the event itself, however it increasingly shows the possibility that physical events are not a necessity when it comes to running this kind of conferences.

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Chat, raise hand and also present questions to the speakers

Functionality included the ability to raise questions during the presentation that would then be used for Q&A at the end of the presentation. Digitally its a great way to get a question in, and also means that if not all are answered, there is a digital record that can be answered at a later date.

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Dialogue window of questions to the speakers

As the questions were answered, it was indicated in the dialogue window. Even though not as engaging with being able to ask in person, this provided a great way to see what questions others were asking as well as having it submitted as and when you wanted to.

The Zoom setup meant that everyone was muted which adds professionalism to the webinars removing background noise and ‘phantom chewers’. However, as a presenter it can be rather ‘awkward’ due to no audience feedback or understanding if there are visual or audio issues.

Zoom was a great tool for the event to continue. The event itself now will span over months rather than over 3 days. The benefit means that these webinars are a lot more convenient to fit into the working day to take out an hour or two vs a few days.

In the meantime I have to record my presentation and upload it for everyone around the business to check out.

Virtual sponsored cycle

My Virtual Mission - Map view

Tech: My Virtual Mission, Strava and Garmin Connect (and Mind, please sponsor us if you can)

Since lockdown I’ve had more time to be able to go and do a run or a cycle most days (following the rules of course). Within my company a sponsored cycle had started and were inviting people to join in. It was cycling the distance from our Richmond office and around Europe through out other offices to finally end up at the Austrian office 3200km later.

I signed up as it is great motivation and also for the worthy cause of running for Mind, a mental health charity, which I have raised money for in the past. Originally I thought we would be aiming to hit the distance together, it wasn’t until after I signed up that it was my aim to cycle the distance on my own. Daunting at first, then told that it was more about trying to get as near to the target as possible.

My Virtual Mission - Mission area on the app

Comparing distance to time that has passed

We used the My Virtual Mission app to log our progress and to see on a map where we all were. The competitive and contextualise of this was a fun a very motivating way to push ahead and literally go that extra mile. On the map, there is a pace marker that shows where you should be if you want to be able to get the cycle done in 90 days, this was pretty far ahead of me!

There is also an area you can see the percentage of the time gone by compared to the percentage of distance you have covered. Presenting information these ways helps to push hand motivate as to exactly what I need to do.

My summary - in 6th place

As of writing this article I am 6th place, but looking unlikely to complete the distance in the time allocated.

As of writing this post I am 6 out of 24 people, but still have a lot of kilometres to go!

Theatre streaming

Tech: Youtube

We made a night of it! The National Theatre have been putting different recorded productions onto Youtube for a week at a time. This limited amount of time gives access to some top theatre content that was filmed for the broadcast into cinemas at the time for a limited time only, and now into your living room.

This week was Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle and starring Benedict Cumberbatch (as the creature) and Jonny Lee Miller.

We decided to make a night of the event. How can you emulate the Theatre experience within the home?

1. You’re going to need some tickets

Tickets

Tickets made to emulate the theatre experience

Having a background in graphic design I spent a bit of time to create some tickets for the event.

2. Get dressed up

Dress up

Who says you can’t get dressed up during lockdown?

Dress to impress. With all the misery of lockdown, getting formal and making an effort made the night even more immersive and fun.

3. Go out for dinner before show

Deliveroo - Kokoro Japanese food

Dinner is served….via Deliveroo

Normally we have dinner before a show. This time, Deliveroo came to the rescue and we had a lovely Japanese dinner to kick off the night.

4. Pre drinks before the show

We made it to the theatre bar, now to the beer garden to enjoy a drink before the show begins. Luckily the sun was shining in the back garden of my Twickenham home.

5. Get your drinks for the show, and don’t forget to pre-order for the interval

Luckily there was no queue and we got our drinks right away. G&T and prosecco and we are ready to go.

6. Take your seats, turn the lights down and press play!

Frankenstein at the National Theatre

Theatre at home

Once we took our seats, we lowered the lights and pressed play.

7. Interval break

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Preordered drinks tag

We weren’t sure when the interval would have been, and missed the mark by a few minutes. However we grabbed our reserved drinks and a mini ice cream ready for the second half

Mini ice cream

Attention to detail – mini ice cream at the interval

8. Home time

Once over, it was time to go home. We got up from our chairs and walked over the bedroom. The End!

It was great to see a big theatre production from home and also for free. I feel this particular production benefitted for home release as it was directed by Danny Boyle and some of the camera work would have not been possible to see in that way if you were there in the theatre itself.

Murder Mystery: Race to Mars

 

Murder mystery - Fever original event

Tech: Zoom and Fever

Fever are a company who create immersive theatre experiences. With the current situation have created some great fun ways to keep entertained while staying at home. The experiences are ‘murder mysteries’ where a user groups up with others and have to solve a ‘who dunnit’ type murder mystery.

Synopsis:

Premium Star, Mars Two, Texas Cosmos, Aerospace, eXpace and Galactic Design, are the six ships that compete to reach the first to the red planet. When it is about to land, Premium Star suffers a strange accident that makes it explode … what could have happened? The rest of the ships are now suspected of causing this terrible accident and you will be part of the investigation to uncover the truth! This event will undoubtedly go down in history, but why? For being the first settlement on another planet? For being the first murder in outer space? What is the reality behind this accident?

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A report sent by expace as a clue to what had happened to the Premium Star.

For ‘Race to Mars’ my girlfriend and I registered one account and logged into Zoom, with a bit of fumbling about being sent dead links we finally joined the party a few minutes late. In here was a briefing, and on the screen were other households ready for the mission to begin.

We were then split into groups where we had 5 minute rotations to interview each of the five ships captains. This was trickier than it sounded. Being put into groups and not having much time to say hello to each other we were in with our first interview. The captain (who is an actor) started telling his side of the story. Time was flying by and by the time we started to get some questions in, the line went dead, and we had a hilarious awkward, ‘errrm ok’ moment with the other participants of  the brutality of the situation. We realised we had to push in.

Screenshot 2020-05-09 at 17.38.08

Morse code – could this help solve the mystery?

During the interviews we chatted briefly with the other participants about questions to answer. The actors were good at their roles playing people from different parts of the world. They would also send pieces of evidence such as images, video, reports and even morse code to help flesh out the mystery and also some times throw you off the scent.

Youtube video clip - Fever labs

Video clip adding more depth to the mystery

It was difficult to get in questions, and some times there were ‘echos’ due to others not muting. It was a very intense couple of hours and great fun. Once we had done two rounds of interviews, we had a discussion to who had done it and why. This zipped past quicker than the interviews and we seemed to have narrowed down to two solutions. We then all joined up with the rest of the participants where our representatives would give our answer and rationale. Our team was way off as we missed a vital piece of evidence.

Final verdicts

The verdicts are in. The final part of the murder mystery.

Overall it was good fun, very intense but worth £10 and two hours of our time. I feel I would do this again, and this time I would be better prepared.

Summary

There are a surprising number of different virtual experiences to explore online. Most of them are a lot better than anticipated. There are many others that I have not got to yet. Even when lock down is over, these experiences will still be fun. The advantages are that you can do some of these with friends and family no matter where they are, and also means you don’t have to leave the house on those cold and wet days!

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The Reservoir of Goodwill – Steve Krug

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Steve Krug – Don’t make me think (quote and image from p162 second edition)

Users go through a site or journey and encounter problems, their tolerance will go down. This isn’t a ‘one strike and you’re out’ kind of ordeal, but something that accumulates can ultimately cause users to go else where.

Additionally, the metrics of success we may look at such as ‘conversion’ may look healthy, but if a user gets there while encountering problems, then next time they may not consider giving you their business.

Steve Krug documents this perfectly in his book Don’t make me think.

Krug came up with the concept of The Reservoir of Goodwill. The view is that users have a limit of goodwill that can diminish through running into problems and not having their expectations managed.

The Reservoir of Goodwill

The reservoir is limited, and if you treat users badly enough and exhaust it there’s a good chance that they’ll leave. But leaving isn’t the only possible negative outcome; they may just not be as eager to use your site in the future, or they may think less of your organization.

Steve Krug

 

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UX Book club (London) – The best interface is no interface by Golden Krishna

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I found out about UX book club about 5 years ago but never got round to going.

I got an invite to UX book club and said it would talk about ‘The best interface is no interface’. The book title really grabbed me so I bought it. Once I had read it I got another email notification to go to the UX book club. I decided this would be interesting to experience and feedback to you guys.

The UX book club is a strange event, on the meetup it looks like there’s going to be over 40 people coming, which in reality it was eight. This was a much better amount of people for a book discussion.

 

UX book club consists of having some food, drinks and discuss the book of the month. The book is announced one month before the event to give you some time to read it.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.45.51This is my view of the book:

Tone of book

Ranty pub conversations about the problems with technology. (Some genuine laugh out loud moments).

Memorable quotes

On putting a screen on a vending machine – “Order your favourite drinks through a series of menus and error messages”

View of UX – “UX stopped being about people, and started being about rounded rectangles and parallax animations.”

 

What I didn’t like

Very exaggerated Solutions are not very ‘real worldly’

Examples are very specific

Very biased

Mostly web based ‘research’

What the reality is

UX designers should wireframe

Apps are an established technology, of course companies will make them Users see companies as ‘sites or apps’ – comfortable

Screens are not a bad thing

You get paid for delivering digital experiences

 

General summary

UX book club is cool

Great examples for stakeholder management Challenge the screen

Krishna bloody hates screens

People are uniquely special

The reality – not so simple to apply Krishnas thinking

Overall I give it 4/5 – I recommend giving this book a read, its pretty quick to get through and pretty fun.

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Guerrilla Testing – top tips

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In my current position we have run multiple guerrilla testing sessions within the work place. Guerrilla testing is a quick way of getting your designs in front of people. It isn’t always the best testing method but to be able to get real users feedback is at least better than nothing to have some form of guidance and validation with your design decisions.

Here’s what I have learnt from guerrilla testing:

On boarding – Let the user know its going to be quick, they will be more likely to help i.e. Have you got 30 seconds to test our app?

Let the user do the work – Don’t be too guiding, get a user to interact as raw as possible

Be approachable – Introduce yourself properly with a hand shake. Make it clear what you are there for

Get the user to speak aloud – getting the user from the start to speak aloud while going through a design is just a great way to get them to really communicate whats going through their head

The user is testing us, not us testing them – make it clear that they cannot fail the test. They are testing our designs, and we need them to pick holes in it

Test with other industry professionals – if working in-house try and get people who are more likely your users. We tested with cafeteria staff, people who work in the post room and security guards. These people won’t be as biased as those who work in a similar industry.

Bribe – Bribery is good. Give the user something for their time i.e. biscuits, coffee etc

Do not test with devs/QAs – A biased is set from the start and you will soon realise they will repeat saying ‘users generally would…’ rather than ‘I would generally…’.

Short and sweet – make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of the testing. Keep it small so you can focus on more incremental changes. On the flip side if you’re testing something BIG, look for more flavours and themes rather than the details.

Have you done much guerrilla testing? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Would be great to hear your experiences.

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Tech Insight – 30/03/2017 (takeaways)

User Interaction 2.0 – Kathryn Webb

 

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Resources:

Honda Emotion car

Ava Sessions – Ex Machima promotional site

Mivor – Mood interpreting voice orientated robot

Crystalknows.com

 

Progressive web apps – Rowan Merewood

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Resources:

Lighthouse – Automate checks

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Parti and the Design Sandwich (summary) – Luke Wroblewski

I recently watched the talk ‘Parti and the Design sandwich by Luke Wroblewski.

It was fantastic talk looking at a ‘structure for better design decision making’.

So what is a parti and a design sandwich?

Parti
A parti is the central idea or concept of a building, like a mission statement but more articulate.
In design, this plays the role of a guidepost for the design sandwich.

Design sandwich
A design sandwich is the structure of a project which is contained by design principles and design considerations.

Parti and design sandwich diagram

How is this useful?

  • Helps pull all data and information together
  • Great tool for getting buy in – at the right level
  • Guides a project to keep the ‘vision’
  • Vets out subjective ideas
  • Rational decision making
  • Helping people to let go and move on from design that doesn’t align with the vision

Informed decision making

In all situations where bad design decisions were made, people lacked some information that would have helped them make the right decision. – Jared Spool

Decisions can only really be made when we have all the information. If we go about making decisions without all the information then our solution won’t work too well.

As you can see from the design sandwich diagram the real meat is the design decisions that are characteristics of use and evaluate the design decisions.

Patterns and best practices take up a big chunk of the sandwich filling. These are the pieces that will make up our interface. Testing is also just as important, but has a smaller focus due to the reality that we can’t test everything.

Change is ok but don’t give up on having a parti

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Mathew Frederick (screenshot from Luke Wroblewski original talk)

Rather than patching local fixes or loosing the integrity of the project over continuing with the current design, we as designs need to change if we aren’t going towards the common goal. The parti can be adapted if impacting the design process. Either way, don’t keep doing something if you clearly see it isn’t going to work in the long term.

 

Resources:

Original talk: https://vimeo.com/4420806

101 things I learned in Architecture school – Mathew Frederick

 

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Creating design principles

design studio

Working as a UX architect / designer for the past five years has given me a good view of a variety of different processes. Some of those being great and others being ways that I do not want to ever do again.

Joining my new team recently there is a big emphasis on collaboration with our stake holders as well as getting validation early on from our users. As part of our process design principles are required in order to keep integrity within a project. Before working here I had used them more generally as a  company view, where as here they change on a project by project basis.

The project I am currently working on is communicating ‘incidents’ to user, meaning when things go wrong we need to communicate this so that a user doesn’t get stressed about what’s causing the problem. The solution really should be ‘things shouldn’t go wrong’ but the world we live in is flawed so this is never going to be the case.

The principles for this project were formed from experiences our incident managers have had as well as running a stake holder work shop to collaborate on the vision through the means of a Studio workshop. A studio workshop essentially gives stakeholders a platform to align through visuals and ideas and permission to not have any right or wrong ideas. The end results are a few ideas from each person that are shared and critiqued. The result of this means that we have some ideas to start with but more importantly themes are made clear.

The next step is to take these themes, the business goal and user requirements to create the basis of the design. I found this article really useful in creation of the principles for this project: https://www.cxpartners.co.uk/our-thinking/design-principles/ There’s some great examples but also it shows the bad examples to get a better idea of how to write these.

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Retro tea time – UX Dev retrospective

I was given the task this week with my development team I work with to run the sprint retrospective. A retro is something that is done at the end of a sprint (agile two weeks of work) where everyone reflects on the past two weeks and gives feedback. The idea is to come up with a set of action points and learning from the sprint in order to improve through time.

I came up with the idea of the ‘Retro tea time’ by originally just thinking about it as a time to have a bit of a tea break and reflect on the past two weeks. The idea was to use the cup of tea as a metaphor for the sprint/project. The idea was using different elements that affect ‘a perfect cup of tea’.

Retro Tea time

A cup of tea is made up of different things – a mug, a tea bag (including the water) and milk and or sugar. The other factors are heat needed to keep it nice and warm and cooling, who wants a cold cup of tea?

The different elements represent:

Tea bag (and water) – The integrity and consistency (Are we still following the road map / vision?)
– The tea bag represents what we are working on. Have we cut corners? Is the work what we set out today? Have we lost or gained anything during the sprint in terms of the final product?

Mug – Team work (scale score)
– Rather than typically scoring ‘how we thought this sprint went’ I decided that a teamwork score would work. Just like the mug the team work itself is was keeps everything together. The score would be 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.

Milk and Sugar – More of / Less of
– Just like milk and sugar when it comes to a perfect cup of tea, these are the variables items that can vary from person to person. In this case, as a team what do we need to do more of and what do we need to do less of?

Heat – What’s kept us going?
– A perfect cup of tea needs the right amount of heat. In metaphor sense the heat represents the good things we have done.

Cool – What’s going wrong?
– Tea is supposed to be warm, so we don’t want a cold cup of tea. The cool represents those things that people have thought haven’t gone too well.

There is overlap in some of these categories i.e. something that we should do less of could also come under things that aren’t going to well. The point of this metaphor is to more highlight different areas in order for conversation and collaboration of actions and improvements can be facilitated.

All you need to do is print out this page and get everyone to write on some post-it notes to fill up the categories. Going through the post-it notes afterwards in order to create conversation and get together a list of actions.

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Branded Movie Trailer: Crazy QR codes

I recently saw the trailer for Branded. A film that seems to be a conspiracy theory on acid. The premise of the film is simple, the human race have a code in their minds that makes them susceptible to advertising. Oh yeah, and also there are loads of messed up CGI demon things flying around. I’m kind of hoping this film is really some kind of dark comedy as I clocked Arrested Developments Jeffrey Tambor looking rather serious for once (he will always be George Bluth Snr to me).Image

 

Anyway the use of the QR codes is what mostly interested me about this trailer. 

There seems to be around 40 odd different QR codes in the trailer, which is a hell of a lot for a 2min 30secs trailer. As part of my masters last year I researched into the use of QR codes and the platforms that are most suitable for them. One of them was television or moving image. It seems like a good idea but a lot of flaws always come into play, and yes I know this has a more ‘viral’ vibe about it, making the user dig and scrape around to find scraps of information. The main problem was the platform moving image and more specifically Youtube.

The problem with using QR codes on Youtube is the inability to accurately rewind. This crated such a nightmare to be able to actually get the QR code up clearly for the length of time needed in order to scan the code. Also, why should I invest my time in scanning the code for a trailer that looks like it’s going to lead to a bad movie? Anyway I did.

For those who couldn’t manage to scan or do not posses the ability to scan the QR codes can see a link below which leads to one of the many codes. All you need to do in order to see all the QR codes is just change the code number in the URL and you’ll be linked to a different image. 

http://www.brandedmovie.com/code001/

The images provided are a mixture of in film screen shots and parody posters of famous brands. I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve seen so many posters, films, programmes that have all done similar things to this before. Since seeing Morgan Spurlock’s latest film outing The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, this kind of Sci-Fi romp couldn’t have come at a worser time. 

After looking into the QR code use I can see now there is more of a viral campaign that has come out of it to ‘crack the code.’ I really could not be more bothered to do this as the film looks like a joke. Either way I guess this is a ‘fun’ way to hide a message

In all it’s nice to see QR codes integrated subliminally as it relates to the films subject but again, QR codes are not really a good idea when it comes to moving image. Anyway, the films looks like a bit of a ‘laugh’ but the message has already been broadcast many times before…advertising is evil…yawn.

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The Cookie Law – What’s it all about?

What are cookies?
Cookies are small files that are left on a users computer. Cookies are used to save data in order to track what the user is doing in order for a users experience to be tailor made. The cookies trigger the server in order to display the information that the user has interacted with.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how to go about categorising cookies:

Zero compliance risk or ‘strictly necessary’ cookies Always first-party and not persistent. These include functional navigation and user session cookies for shopping baskets.
Low compliance risk Always first-party and may be persistent. These cookies include accessibility options for visually impaired users and, arguably, analytics cookies.
Medium compliance risk Usually first-party and persistent. These might be used to store personally identifiable information, or limited cross-site tracking, in order to present content based on previous visits. Another good example is the Facebook Like button.
High compliance risk Third-party and persistent. These are mainly used to track and record visitor interests without prior consent, and aggregate this data for use by third-parties, normally advertisers. This also includes cookies set through the provision of embedded content which is not ad-related, such as Google Maps and YouTube videos.
(Reference: http://www.netmagazine.com/features/beginners-guide-new-cookie-law)

Cookie Law
The new cookie law states that a user has to consciously allow the use of cookies when browsing on sites. An example of this would be an alert indicating to the user that cookies need to be enabled in order to use the site. Some sites now are going one step ahead and already enabling cookies straight away but indicating to a first time user that this has been done so the user can then switch cookies off if they choose to.

The law also requires that the user can easily access more information about cookies.

Image displays an example of a prompt for a site that has already enabled cookies. The user is made aware of this and can gain further information and turn cookies off.

Why is this law a good idea?
Due to the amount of data that is vastly growing and being stored by numerous different machines, cookies are pieces of data that the user until this point has had not much control in the information that is stored about their browsing habits. By introducing this law the user is now more aware of some of the data that is being tracked and more importantly they are in control of their data.

Why is this law a bad idea?
The downside to this law is that this may make people more sceptical about browsing online especially their favourite sites. Ultimately your online information is captured elsewhere, this is inevitable but cookies are one way in which now the user can control. However the problem websites face is that a lot of functionality especially in e-commerce depends on cookies being used, this way the products that the user is shopping for can then be added to a basket for example. If the user is able to switch cookies off then this means that they will no longer be able to use the main functionality of these kind of websites.

How does this effect the user?
So to speak, it doesn’t effect the user. Once again most websites are automatically enabling cookies but just notifying the user. The negative side to any of these will be for first time users getting a lightbox containing an agreement that the user has indicated that they have seen this prompt.

How does this effect the world wide web?
This mostly effects the people who are building a website. The cookie law needs to be abided by, if not a company can be charged around £500,000 for not abiding. This makes this part of the build important to discuss with a client in order to not get them a hefty fine! Ultimately the cookie law will not have much of an impact on the web. As long as it is taken into consideration and websites work alongside it, then we should see a more open web…potentially.

(Refereneces:
http://www.whatarecookies.com/
http://www.netmagazine.com/features/beginners-guide-new-cookie-law
http://www.aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=3)

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