Good UX can mean revenue

Although I did not attend the MX conference (being in San Fransisco) I came across a talk by Hotwire’s Melissa Matross, titled Better Revenue through UX: Bringing Down the Banners the Hotwire Way. It really spoke to the need for the practice of UX to hold a seat at the business table.

She takes us through her solution to a common problem for UX professionals, what to do with a feature that increases revenue but negatively effects your users’ experience?

Key points include:
– If you want to remove something that brings revenue, replace it.
– Understand the business’ metrics and learn how to use them (if this is to hard, find the people in the organisation who do and get them to help you).
– Know your customers.

Melissa Matross’ ‘bad revenue’ issue was meaningless banner ads that existed solely as a tacked-on income stream. Often distracting, flashing and ugly, she and the team had little to no control over what appeared in them.

Her solution was to take that screen real estate and allow shoppers to easily compare their prices with their competitors. Why was she sending their customers to competitor sites? Because customers where going there anyway. They knew that almost all of their customer were comparing anyway, so why not support this behaviour and make money through referral fees.

And it worked, it build brand confidence for Hotwire – as people felt that if they were supportive of comparison than they must be confident that their prices were the lowest. S

That might seem crazy, sending traffic to the competition, but her research had shown that users were comparing across multiple sites anyway, and wouldn’t it be better for Hotwire to get some money (through referral fees) rather than no money at all? The strategy paid off big — users were happier, and Hotwire had more revenue.

Here’s the talk

Here’s the slides

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“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

—William Gibson, quoted in The Economist, December 4, 2003

I went to see a few events as part of Creative Sydney, but my highlight was Future Smarts: Education for the 21st Century.

A child born today will enter the workforce in 2030 – the aim of the session was to discuss what skills they will need to compete in tomorrow’s marketplace and how should education be changing to meet these needs.

First panelist, Raju Varanasi spoke about what is currently happening in NSW schools. He recognised the enormous challenge in keeping teachers up to date with technology, but gave some positive examples of co-creation, interactive game-based learning, the use of multimedia, collaboration and cross-curricular learning.

One particularly interesting example of the gamification of education was Murder under the microscope – There are some great videos on the site, explaining the program and promoting its positive engagement. I highly recommend taking a look.

Next up we heard from Christopher Nicholls – Founder of Sistema Australia, that is achieving great results with low socioeconomic kids in Melbourne.
There is a great TED talk about this so I won’t go into details:

Joes Abreu on Kids Transformed by Music

Great quotes from Christopher Nicholls – “what it achieves is imagination. It’s innate but needs to be activated… Show these kids they can be more then they are now.”

Then Sharon Clerke – Foundation for Young Australians/NAB Schools First program was next. Their motto is “it takes a village to raise a child”. Research showed that school/community partnerships were happening but there was no data. After undertaking extensive research which can be found on their site. They want to encourage schools to look into their community for support and expertise.

Other highlights:

  • There are currently 164 languages spoken in Western Sydney schools.
  • Burwood High (state school) is achieving as well as selective schools and better then private.
  • Three schools in Western Sydney had a connected class, as students wanted to learn Filipino is a (Tagalog language) but didn’t have a teacher so they learned from video conference.

Best quotes from the night:

  • “In 2030, who knows what class rooms will look like. What is a class room? A social learning space, we as policy makes need to question because if we don’t the kids will and they already are.”
  • “Remarkable changes are already happening, we all grew up in factory schools but the dynamics are changing with the socialisation of process.”
  • “If we found a way to measure excellence we would still find seven ways to slice it.”

Change the panel would like to see (very lofty):

  • System needs to question itself.
  • Embrace change.
  • Understand our humanity.
  • Embrace community
  • Make things free, only then can they be unlimited.
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The First Annual Sydney Service Design Conference

Held recently in Sydney, one stream with seven presentations. Well positioned for the crowd, the speakers dived straight into the content, rather then discussing definitions.

A big thanks to Steve Baty and Donna Spencer for pulling it all together – the team behind UX Australia.

My highlight was Iain Barker and Janna DeVylder from Meld on Mapping a service.

Mapping is a process to capture, an artifact to express information and a tool to move forward – customer touch points are crucial but they are only the tip of the ice berg.

Things to capture when mapping a service:

External – (Intangible) Intent, temperature, time waiting, flow, emotion, ambiance and brand. (Tangible) Menu, space, website, packaging and store layout.

Internal – (Intangible) Goals, principles and strategies. (Tangible) Systems and tools.

They should contain the customers actions, physical evidence, onstage and backstage actions, systems, failures and the emotional journey of the customer.

The Meld team also discussed what a successful service map should achieve. At 20 thousand feet it should draw people in and create discussion, which should then be used to iterate. Up close it should communicate the detail.

Service mapping enables you to complete a service audit, understand what’s working well and what’s not. To design a service vision, an aspirational vision of what the service should be, to create a shared focus. And to develop a service road map, to design for the transition, clarify dependencies, illustrate processes and brake down work.

Another thank you has to go to Iain Barker and Janna DeVylder themselves. The slides can be found here and the audio at Mapping a service.

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