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Category: Awesome Tips

We hate to brag, but we’re kind of the the best at what we do. But we’re not selfish, so here’s some experience design tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way.

A (Gentle) Crash-Course on Empathy Mapping

A (Gentle) Crash-Course on Empathy Mapping

If you want to create a positive experience for your users, it’s absolutely essential that you understand their needs and feelings. If you’re not taking into account the humanity of your users, you’re doing it wrong. A process called “empathy mapping” can help you get into their heads and hearts to find out what makes your users tick. Here we cover what empathy maps are, where they fit into the overall UX design process, and most importantly, how to create them.

Your users’ needs and feelings: why they matter

It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in psychology to know that your users are driven by a complex of conscious and unconscious motivations. Furthermore, their thoughts and feelings do not fit neatly into a linear format. Your users are not just happy or sad when they first encounter your site/app/product, but confident or fearful, hopeful or suspicious, and so on, often embodying many of these internal states at the same time. So the challenge becomes how to visualize this psychological complexity without losing sight of the unity of your user. Enter empathy maps.

Empathy maps

What they are

Empathy maps are visualizations of the likely feelings, thoughts, actions, influences, environmental factors, pain-points and goals of your users. A general empathy map captures the internal landscape of your users or customers as a whole, but you can also create a series of specific empathy maps to capture particular user or customer segments.

When they’re most helpful

In short, at the beginning. Of course, you can’t create an empathy map until you know something about your users. So you’ll have to wait until after the initial user research stage. But once you’ve done your research and started working on user personas and stories, the time is ripe to try out a few empathy maps with your team.

How to create them

Empathy maps require little to no design skill (evinced by that drawing at the top of the post). Otherwise, following the classic approach, draw something resembling a face (perhaps a smiley if you’re at a total loss for inspiration) in the center of a large whiteboard. Use four diagonal lines radiating out from the face to divide the whiteboard into four equal areas, positioned above, below, to the right and to the left of the face. Although you can come up with your own labels, the area above the face often gets the label THINK and FEEL the area below SAY and DO, the area to the left HEAR, and the area to the right SEE. Many teams also add a PAIN area in the lower left and a GAIN area in the lower right in order to add another useful dimension to their empathy maps.

Roughly speaking, these labels are shorthand for various aspects of a user’s psychological landscape with respect to your site or app:

  • Think and feel = What the user is consciously experiencing and pondering when encountering your site or app.
  • Say and do = The users routines, habits, and activities as they relate to your offering.
  • See = The user’s general environment, including friends, coworkers, the marketplace, distractions competing for their attention, etc.
  • Hear = Statements “in the air” influencing the user.
  • Pain = Pain-points, obstacles, or challenges the user faces.
  • Gain = The user’s goals.

With this basic template in place, give each team member a stack of sticky notes and ask them to write down whatever comes to mind when they consider the various aspects of the user’s experience (represented by the labeled areas on the empathy map). For example, suppose you’re building a site for buying wholesale clothing online. In the THINK and FEEL area you might have sticky notes that read something like:

  • I’ve never heard of this site, can I trust it?
  • Buying clothes without trying them on first makes me nervous.
  • I hope they have the jeans I’m looking for.
  • Their sizes better be accurate.
  • If they don’t fit, is there an easy refund/exchange policy?
  • Free shipping?

In the SAY and DO area you might have sticky notes that read something like:

  • I’m a bargain shopper.
  • I’m willing to hunt for good deals.
  • I buy direct whenever I can.
  • I tell all my friends when I find a scorching deal.

And so on…

After placing all of the sticky notes in their corresponding areas, the empathy map is complete. You now have a rough-at-the-edges, appropriately messy, yet holistic depiction of your user’s inner world as they come face to face with your site or app for the first time.

How do you feel about empathy maps?

Understanding your users’ needs and feelings is essential to creating a positive experience for them. This is where empathy maps shine. They give your team an opportunity to creatively visualize your users from the inside-out. Generally coming immediately after the user-research stage of the UX design process, empathy maps make great complements to personas and user stories. Their flexible, organic, participatory format also make empathy maps easy to quickly create and re-create with the whole team. At its best, the process of populating an empathy map is like an inverted brainstorming session, where the ideas are not yours, but ultimately those of your future users. And their true motivations, if accurately uncovered, will help drive your design in the direction it needs to go.

Want to find out more about how empathy maps can help you connect with your users more effectively? Hit us up!

Smoothing the Handoff from Design to Dev

Smoothing the Handoff from Design to Dev

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

One of the most critical stages in the process of creating a website, feature or app is the handoff from design to development. If the design team fails to prepare for the handoff correctly, much of the beauty and efficiency of their design can get lost in translation. So let’s take a good look at a few best practices to ensure that developers have everything they need to build what the designers have envisioned.

Use apps to help with the handoff

Here are a few apps that help with one or more aspects of the design-to-dev transition:

Lingo

You might want to consider moving your image files out of their numerous independent folders, where they can get lost, and into Lingo. With this visual library app, you can search, track, organize, browse and above all share your visual assets more efficiently.

InVision’s Inspect

If you’re building a mobile app, Inspect will help you achieve a “pixel-perfect” design handoff for both iOS and Android.

Sympli

This design-handoff tool has plugins for both Sketch and Photoshop. Once enabled, the Sympli plugin will automatically create specs, style guides and visual assets for you to share with the dev team. Sympli also has plugins for Android Studio and Xcode, as well as a standalone web app.

Zeplin

Zeplin is a design sharing tool that streamlines the entire design handoff process. The design teams at Slack, MailChimp, Pinterest, Starbucks and Shopify (just to name a few) all use Zeplin.

Use a version control system

When we think of version control systems, we think of developers and Git. However, version control systems work wonders for designers as well. While designers can also take advantage of Git for their versioning, there are some dedicated design versioning tools, such as the widely used Folio. Whichever versioning platform you choose, don’t skip this key preparatory piece of the design handoff.

Only share the intended design

In the course of creating a site, feature, page or app, you’re bound to try out a slew of alternative approaches. It’s tempting to include those files with the handoff. At the very least, it shows how much thought you’ve put into the process. However, including all those extra files can draw attention away from the intended design and confuse the development team. So unless you’re undecided about the design and specifically want to offer the development team selections to choose from, then it’s best to leave the alternatives and earlier versions out.

Don’t forget secondary pages and screens

Without a meticulous handoff checklist and protocol, the handoff process will certainly have at least a few missing files. These generally won’t be pages and screens that belong to the primary user flow. Rather, they will be subsequent pages/screens such as the “forgot password” page/screen that it’s easy to overlook. All the same, they still need design treatments, and if they don’t make it into the mix, there will be trouble down the road.

Pay close attention to your copy

Be sure to have all of your copy carefully organized along with your screens. Moreover, the dev team needs to know the precise context, situation or trigger that will call for each piece of copy.

Perfecting the handoff

The design handoff is a critical stage in the process of creating a website, feature or app. If the handoff from design to dev gets flubbed, the end-user will never get to experience how beautiful or awesome the product could have been. Here’s the TL:DR version of your design-to-dev handoff best practices:

  • Use apps, like Zeplin, to help with the handoff
  • Use version control software, such as Folio, to keep all your versions in order
  • Only pass on the intended design, not alternatives and earlier versions
  • Don’t forget to include all secondary pages/screens
  • Pay close attention to the copy, as well as the context where each piece of copy will arise. If you’re able to incorporate all of these best practices into your design-to-dev handoff, you’ll begin to approach the ideal workflow.

 

Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve got the whole design and dev thing pretty locked down. If you’re the maker of a technical product or service, get in touch with us to find out how we can increase your visibility and improve your customers’ overall experience with our bold designs and strategies.

3 Ways to Use Spotify’s API to Create Awesome User Experience

3 Ways to Use Spotify’s API to Create Awesome User Experience

In the world of digital music services, Spotify has earned its place as one of the best and most innovative providers in the industry today. We’re pretty big fans of the service ourselves. But did you know that developers and website owners can take advantage of the brains behind Spotify by accessing their freely available application programming interface (API)? Access to the API means that businesses can offer more awesome web applications with enhanced user experiences.

API’s are the future of website and mobile development, opening up new ways for innovation and web experience. Many organizations today integrate multiple API’s into a single application, transforming their businesses without reinventing the wheel.

The Spotify REST API offers a creative way of accessing Spotify data, while providing a rich user interface for users. The API returns data in a JSON format directly from their catalog such as: songs, artists, and albums. JSON is a data format that is not dependent on any scripting language, and is available for integration into many web infrastructure.

The API can also be used to access account data like playlists and music saved on a user’s account; providing access only with a user authorization token.

Adding some sort of music integration to your digital product’s interface or design hits a lot of sweet-spots for us because we’re music geeks and we love rock-solid user experience.  So we’ve come up with three ways you can use to use the Spotify API to create awesome user experiences for your web application:

Host a Spotify contest on your website

Your business model doesn’t even have to be tangentially related to music to run a music contest. As long as you have customers who are music fans, you can run a contest on your web application using the Spotify API. This will give you an opportunity to connect with your customers in more meaningful ways, and let them show off their musical tastes.

You could create a collaborative playlist that lets users suggest songs for your company’s music rotation. A wedding apparel design business could have customers vote on their favorite wedding music. It’s a great way to keep your business on the minds of your customers without using hard-sell methods.

Create a Simple Search Experience

Search function is used by many web applications to create a rich user-experience for website visitors. Even though your customers can go directly to Spotify and do a search on their own, bringing the search option to them means that you can give them a more memorable search experience from within your website. This also means that users can search and create data records on your application directly from the API. This function isn’t only limited to website applications, there are many example mobile applications on GitHub created using the Spotify API.

The search feature can be used to create a favorite list on social applications, or create a playlist on a website and a whole lot more. It’s simple, and your users only have to do a search and save the data to their accounts. The API is designed for remote access, and because it returns data in JSON format, it’s easy to integrate it into different types of applications.

Authentication and Authorization

Retrieving data is one of the common uses of the API. But you can also access user account information, and use it to authenticate users on your platform. Authentication has to be done with care, because once the API retrieves the credentials, your system will have to decrypt and store the data securely. User’s permission is normally required to access and manipulate the data, so developers use OAuth (an open standard for authorization) to get this job done.

Using the Spotify API to Market your brand is an indirect marketing strategy, and gives your brand more exposure by creating an unforgettable user-experience. We can help you do cool stuff like this too! Give us a shout to learn more.

And by the way, here’s a playlist we made full of some of our favorite artists from our hometown of Austin, Texas.

More Content Tips for Music Tech Makers

More Content Tips for Music Tech Makers

Us Mighty & Truers are kind of music geeks. That’s why we’re always up for helping makers of music tech up their marketing game. We recently wrote up a post talking about what kinds of content music tech makers should create. We wanted to do a little bit more on that theme, so enjoy!

For some blogs, content creation is easy as snapping their fingers. The ideas, titles and posts just seem to come together and never stop. However, for music tech creators, it’s not quite as straightforward. Here are four tips to get those creative juices flowing so you can leave consumers and distributors wanting more.

Make your content valuable

This tidbit applies across the board. You won’t draw too many people if you just post about how much you love a certain brand of midi keyboards or random anecdotes from your life. People want to know how this will affect them. They want to know why it should matter, how much it’s going to matter, and finish reading the article with a better understanding than they had before.

For example, let’s say you’ve been wanting to write an article about microphones. A good idea for any music tech enthusiast, yeah, but that’s all it is: an idea. By expanding on it, you can focus your target demographic and appeal to your niche more. For example:

  • “7 Must Have Microphones for Thrash Metal Bands”
  • “The Best Microphones of 2017”
  • “The Technical Differences Between Stage Mics and Voice-Over Mics”
  • “Popular Mic Brands Used by Popular Bands”

The possibilities are endless, but it’s up to you to decide which one will fit your target audience better. Remember, idea<concept<execution, and you can never go wrong.

Be brief, but dense

There are a few good reasons why brevity is the soul of wit, especially when it comes to blogging. For one, you need to take into account the average reader’s attention span. Most web users are just looking for something quick and easy. Something they can skim while they’re on their lunch breaks. That’s why 250 words are considered the standard for content.

This might sound like a let-down if you planned on a 2000 word post on why the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS is vastly superior to a Blue Yeti microphone, but don’t worry. This actually saves you time, effort, and allows you to spread your content out over time to ensure that you’ll rarely run out of ideas.

Don’t fear the jargon

Chances are you’re not writing for a general audience, so don’t be afraid to you use jargon. If you need to say XLR cables, then say XLR cables. Don’t be afraid that you’ll scare off any new readers because chances are your audience is savvy enough to know what you mean.

But don’t try to stuff jargon and lingo in just to stuff it in. If you do it too often you come across as someone who’s trying to sound like an authority versus someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Try to keep your language easy and breezy, but don’t be afraid to talk shop.

Experiment!

Content has such a wide definition these days that just about anything could be called content. Twitter post, a witty Facebook meme, or even a picture on Instagram. Whether it’s good content is a different story. Your content style should reflect your blog’s tone, style and intention. But don’t be afraid to experiment from time to time. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Though too much spice can change the overall flavor, so make sure you don’t drive off your readers by changing that flavor.

Consider making video reviews, conducting interviews with leading figures or users of the tech in your category. You could even do some cross-platform promotion to further engage your target audience, and attract the consumers and distributors you’ve wanted for years.

 
If you’re a music tech maker looking to up your marketing game, drop us a line! We’d love to talk some shop.

Four Useful Content Types You Should Create as a Music Tech Maker

Four Useful Content Types You Should Create as a Music Tech Maker

You have a sick new piece of gear. Maybe it’s a guitar pedal. Maybe it’s a drum head made from space-age materials or an ultra-sensitive, omni-directional mic made from discarded cicada shells and Italian marble. Whatever it is, you need to get it in front of distributors and consumers. How do you do that?

There’s a simple hack: content marketing. But with so many content options, it can be pretty overwhelming trying to decide where to start or what attracts customers in the space. Some brands aren’t even sure where to start let alone make content marketing work in their digital strategy.

The good news is there are simple, yet highly effective content types that you can begin to focus on to draw likely prospects to your company. We’ve outlined four things that will help get your gear in front of the right folks.

#1 Live-Streaming Videos

Did you know that people spend three times longer watching a live video versus one that’s been pre-recorded? Tools like Facebook Live, Periscope and Instagram Stories are generating crazy engagement on social media. You can use these platforms to draw your audience into your culture and sound, humanizing your brand and making you more relatable.

Live-streaming is a brilliant way to connect with your social followers while increasing brand awareness. Here are a few ways you can begin leveraging this content type for your music tech brand:

  • Take your audience behind-the-scenes in how you put together a product
  • Put on an exclusive “mini-concert” featuring an artist that uses your product.
  • Host Q&A sessions; give prospects and customers an opportunity to ask you questions and receive immediate responses
  • Provide a live demo to give your users and prospects a chance to see what your product can really do

#2 High-Quality Images

Visuals absolutely ROCK (heh, see what we did there?!) on social media. In fact, Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than posts without. Also, articles that have an image once every 75-100 words receive double responses on social media than those lacking visuals. Speaking of which:

Instagram boasts over 600 million active users who are regularly liking, commenting, and reposting visuals on a daily basis.

The point: ramping up your images will get you noticed on social media. Publishing visual content that complements your message enriches your marketing, and keeps followers coming to your page. The beauty about the music tech industry is that there are unlimited opportunities to share photos that showcases your brand culture.

Commit to sharing at least two to five images a day on social media. On sites like Instagram, using hashtags is a must to new followers finding your content. Sites like Top-Hashtag and Hashtagify.me are ideal to finding popular ones in your niche.

#3 YouTube Videos

YouTube is the second largest search engine site. Mobile consumption of YouTube videos rises 100 percent every year. Your market is definitely engaging on this platform (see the gazillion demo and how-to videos made by actual users), and it’s important that your company shows up as a credible force in the industry.

There are many ways you can build up your channel to boost traffic, increase engagement and generate new contacts for prospective clients. In addition to creating product videos, here are a few other topics to consider along with SEO tips to optimize your YouTube videos for better ranking:

  • What are the most common questions distributors and consumers have within the industry? Use each of these inquiries as video topics
  • Tell your story. Video storytelling is a powerful method to building relationships and making you more relatable
  • Leverage keywords that your audience is actively searching for. Include it in your title (preferably at the beginning) and organically sprinkle it throughout your description
  • Upload the video using the keyword as its filename
  • Always end your video with one strong call-to-action. Tell your viewers what to do next (either click on the link to opt-in to your list or comment, like, share your post)
  • Repurpose your blog content into video

#4 Blog Posts

Blogging is one of the best ways to position your brand as an expert and authority in your niche. You also significantly increase visibility. In fact, companies that blog have 55 percent more website visitors. Also, 71 percent of business bloggers say their blog increased visibility in their industries.

Your blog is another way your audience can find you in search engines. No matter how slick your website is, it simply isn’t enough. Every post is an additional piece of Internet real estate connected to your brand. You’ll attract qualified leads and generate sales by having a consistent blogging cadence in place.

Use an editorial calendar to help you plan, organize and schedule your content. Keep your audience in mind when publishing your content. What problems can you help them solve? What frequent questions are asked? How is your brand the solution that musicians, engineers or techs need? Your responses will help you generate winning topic ideas to blog about and share with your social media followers and email subscribers.

Conclusion

Implementing these tactics in your marketing will better position your brand for success online. In 2017, your customer is actively engaging in these content types so it’s kind of imperative that you build up your strategy to appeal to your audience. With consistency, you’ll increase your exposure, drive more traffic to your site and begin capturing leads to grow your brand.

If you’re a music tech marketer looking to get yourself noticed, drop us a line. We’d love to talk shop with you.

The Official Mighty & True Austin Bar Guide

The Official Mighty & True Austin Bar Guide

At Mighty & True, we’re proud to have our world headquarters in Austin, Texas. From the music to the food to the chill vibes, ain’t no better place to call home. So we take it as a sacred honor to enlighten travelers as to the delights to be had here in the Violet Crown. Whether you’re in town for SXSW or just barnstorming through–you’re gonna want to wet your whistle while your here. The map below is our gift to you–some of our favorite local bars and watering holes.

3 Big Ways to Making Content Marketing Work in Music Tech

3 Big Ways to Making Content Marketing Work in Music Tech

Content marketing is a huge piece to promoting your music tech brand online. From social media posts to blogging, videos, and email marketing, your content strategy plays a big role in getting your business in front of those who are interested in what you have to offer.

Since more consumers are using the Internet to look up information, search for businesses, and connect with brands on social media, it’s vital that you maintain an active online presence so you can be found by your intended audience. With a strong digital marketing strategy, your content will “show up” when people are looking for you.

The good news is content marketing works for all industries. Even in the music tech niche, you can leverage this strategy in a big way to boost brand exposure, get more eyeballs onto your website, and begin generating leads and sales online. In fact, here are three major steps to start making content marketing work in your industry.

#1 Get Clear on Your Target Audience

It’s important that you’re crystal clear on the audience you’re targeting for a successful content strategy. You see, all of your content will focus on speaking this specific market. The more clarity you have on who you’re promoting to, the more effective your content marketing will be.

One of the best ways to understanding your target audience is through developing buyer personas. This process allows you to delve deeper into knowing your ideal customer like their pains, obstacles, and challenges. You’ll also map out their goals, what keeps them up at night, and their role in the buying process so you gain a clear view of what your person looks like.

Creating detailed personas gives you ammo to publishing content that resonates, making it easy to draw prospects to your brand.

#2 Choose Your Marketing Platforms

Another advantage to establishing your buyer personas is that it gives you an idea of where your potential customers hang out so you can promote your content on these platforms. If your market tends to find your competitors on Google, for example, then blogging is the marketing platform you want to leverage to give you more opportunities to show up in search.

The following offers different marketing platforms that you’re likely to use in your content marketing. Discover the ones that most of your target audience gravitate towards and start there:

  • Blog – your best online marketing asset that allows you to showcase your expertise, report trending news in the music industry, give how-to demonstrations, and keep your audience informed. Optimize your blog content for the search engines
  • Social media – perhaps a no-brainer in a digital age where there are over 2 billion active social media users, commit to building your presence on your customer’s favorite network to foster relationships. You can never go wrong with starting with Facebook and ramping up from there
  • Live-streaming videos – apps like Facebook Live, Periscope, and Instagram Stories are generating massive engagement from social followers. Use these tools to your advantage by giving live-demonstrations, sharing a quick tune, or taking your viewers behind-the-scenes of an event
  • YouTube – this is the perfect channel to grow your video vault and capture attention quickly. Use keywords that your audience is actively searching for and include them in your title to gain more exposure
  • Email – growing your leads list is the lifeline to your business. Use tools like webforms and a landing page to capture prospect’s contact details to continue building relationships with followers

#3 Measure and Analyze Results

The final component to a strong content marketing strategy is testing and measuring your efforts to discover what’s working…and what’s not. By analyzing your results, you’ll know which tactics to focus on that are yielding favorable outcomes. Also, the ones that are not creating results, you can make the proper adjustments or tweaks for improvement.  

The point is that you’re not just publishing content and hoping it works. You actually have a strategy in place that allows you to progress and get better.

Consider the following questions to measure your content results:

  • What keywords are people searching to find my content?
  • Which content type is read the most?
  • How long are readers staying on my page (what’s the bounce rate)?
  • Which content generates the most shares, likes, and comments (engagement)?
  • How many page views did my content receive?
  • How many leads did my content generate?

Typically, you can glean this data from Google Analytics for your blog and website. For your social media content, utilize social media management tools that not only supplies helpful facts and figures, but will also schedule and post your content to keep you organized.

Conclusion

Content is still king in 2017…and that applies to all niches and industries! Implementing a content marketing strategy for your music tech brand will position you to attract those who are interested in your services online. Use this how-to guide as a starting point to building your strategy. With consistency, you’ll notice a difference in your online engagement and results.

Much success.