UX Strategy Musings from Will Tschumy, Microsoft User Experience Advisor

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Photobucket Visual Search launches!

June 18th, 2009 by Will Tschumy
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Photobucket Visual Search from http://photobucket.com/visualsearch

One of the reasons why I love being an evangelist is figuring out how we get great projects done on our platform – this one has me particularly excited.  I’ve been leading the project for the last 6 or so months, coordinating between our great clients at Photobucket and our fantastic design partner, EffectiveUI.  Photobucket, the world’s largest photo website, is launching Photobucket Visual Search today, powered by Silverlight and Windows Live.

http://photobucket.com/visualsearch

From the very beginning, Photobucket recognized that images are almost always social – it’s why they became the defacto standard for image hosting on MySpace and other social networking sites. Photobucket is always looking for ways to make the social experience more rewarding – in this case, they turned to Microsoft for help.

So what does Photobucket Visual Search do?

At its most basic level, Photobucket Visual Search lets you search Photobucket, well, visually. Just type in the search term, and see the results flow over the page. But what if I want to see related images? Here, Visual Search starts to show its value. With a simple click of the related items pulldown, you see terms that are related to the current set of images.  A click lets you see a larger version of the image, but still allows you to move through the collection of images easily. What if I want to share these images I’ve found? This is where Photobucket Visual Search really shines. Because Photobucket decided to integrate Windows Live Messenger into the application, sharing an image with any of Windows Live Messenger’s 320+ million active users is as easy as one click.

Wrapping it all up

It’s really exciting for me to see so much effort finally launching – we’re really looking forward to the response of the community.  More than that, it’s also really exciting to see another major web presence adopt Silverlight and Windows Live Services.

If you’re thinking about a new RIA and want to discuss Silverlight, let me know by contacting me at william dot tschumy at microsoft dot com.  Finally, if you’re thinking about doing something social on any platform, be sure to check out dev.live.com – if you even think you might want to make your site social, live gives you lots of different options with almost no extra work.

Check out http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/Jun09/06-16Photobucket.mspx for more!

UPDATE:  Check out http://blogs.msdn.com/angus_logan/archive/2009/06/19/photobucket-adds-sizzle-and-sharing-via-instant-messaging-to-photo-search.aspx Too!

Related Posts:
-  Photobucket Visual Search wins “Best in Industry” award from Web Marketing Association
-  My favorite MIX07 sessions
-  About Will Tschumy
-  Schematic’s 2010 Cannes Lions Touchwall Launches, powered by WPF
-  Speaking on launches – if you haven’t used eBay Simple Lister, what are you waiting for?!

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See Archetype’s Resonate in action

February 25th, 2009 by Will Tschumy
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Check out the winning solution:

Archetype’s winning “Resonate” solution

Amazing what can be done in a week.  Nicely done, Archetype!

Related Posts:
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-  Intro to Metro, the design language of Windows Phone 7
-  Hey Will, Where ya been?

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And the winner is…

February 25th, 2009 by Will Tschumy
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image

After all was said and done, Archetype won both the judge’s accolades and the people’s choice at the Phizzpop Design Challenge LA last Friday the 20th.

Archetype’s “Resonate” solution combined a desktop application that allows artist management to merchandize singles, albums etc.  For Artists, it shows them current sales, and upcoming events.  It also allows them schedule upcoming events.  Finally, for fans, an immersive concert experience allows them to share the experience, even if they’re not at the concert.  Maybe most impressive was, despite only having a week to work, the working mobile video upload and transcoding.  Archetype shot cell phone video, uploaded it live, only to have it show up in their solution!

About the Judges

Archetype was judged the best by:

Jim Mainard – Head of Production, Dreamworks

DJ Pooh – Frequent collaborator with Ice Cube.  Writer, Rapper, Director and Producer

Jason Turner – SVP of Web Properties, Rhino Records

Rick Barazza – Sr UX Architect, Cynergy Systems (and member of the Winning Phizzpop Team from last year)

Related Posts:
-  Photobucket Visual Search wins “Best in Industry” award from Web Marketing Association
-  Express Yourself: And the winner is…

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Phizzpop Design Challenge LA – Feb 20th, 2009 at Zune LA

February 13th, 2009 by Will Tschumy
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Zune L.A.

The Phizzpop Design Challenge will be held at Zune LA this year.  Register to attend the party at www.phizzpop.com.

You’ll see Archetype, Manifest Games and PUNY compete for a chance to compete in the Phizzpop Design Challenge Nationals at SxSW.

What could be better?  Open bar, food and great design.  See you Friday!

Related Posts:
-  Phizzpop Design Challenge LA: December 6th
-  Photos from the Phizzpop Design Challenge LA
-  And the winner is…
-  Scenes from the Phizzpop Design Challenge Nationals at SxSW
-  Cynergy wins it all!

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Problem Statement for Phizzpop Design Challenge LA posted!

February 13th, 2009 by Will Tschumy
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Watch Archetype, Manifest Games and PUNY compete at the Phizzpop Design Challenge LA, Feb 20th, 2009.  Register today at Phizzpop.com.  Spots are filling up fast!

Problem Statement

The music industry has seen dramatic changes over the course of 5 years. As recent as 2007, the largest music retailer was Wal-Mart stores selling approximately 1 out of 2.5 CDs in the country. By 2008 all that had changed with Apple’s iTunes Store eclipsing Wal-Mart as the #1 music seller in the nation. Apple has just sold its 6 billionth song. At the same time this has happened overall music sales have fallen as the "big hit" has become ever more elusive.

At the same time the “mega hit” has become more elusive, so called “niche” media have been driven through users discovering it via Amazon and other internet sites that have recommendation engines. An example of this is the mass discovery of the book “Touching the Void” which drove the creation of the movie. Similarly, “cult” bands are able to merchandize and distribute directly to fans via sites like MySpace.

The retail side of the music business has seen massive consolidation / exits from the business. First we saw the death of most mall music stores such as Sam Goody. This was followed by a massive contraction in the number of CDs carried by “Big Box” stores such as Best Buy. Finally, we’ve seen even dedicated media stores such as Virgin Mega Store scale back significantly, or in the case of Tower Records, close entirely.

All of this represents a massive change for the music industry in specific, and the media industry in general.

Record labels are struggling against these economic conditions. They find themselves have difficulty justifying their existence as artists are able to directly interface with their fans through online channels. In addition, through organizations such as Live Nation and Ticketmaster, artists are increasingly able to promote their own concert tours with little record label support.

Your Task

Congratulations, you’ve been hired by a consortium backed by the major remaining record labels as well as several of the independents. Your job is to build the platform for the next iteration of the industry, similar to what Hulu is attempting.

As the new President of Customer Experience, your job is to define the new platform for our industry. We need to redefine our service offering the artists, engage with fans, and do all this in a way that allows for each artist to still have his or her own voice. Specifically, you must define:

  • Web Site Experience
  • Interaction / synergy / leverage of traditional channels such as radio
  • Event experience and marketing (Concerts, etc.)
  • How artists interact over mobile channels
  • How we leverage the power of social networks
  • Music sales, affiliate partnerships through Zune, Amazon and iTunes, and other merchandise sales

While we don’t expect you to solve each of these channels in the next week, we do expect your design to account for these channels.

Resources

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/music/view/

http://thelongtail.com/

http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2005/08/is_the_tail_mor.html

Personas

Persona 1: Jack, Artist Manager

Jack is an account executive at the record label (potentially change his title). Jack has been in the industry since 1988. He’s managed some major bands, and has seen a lot of water under the bridge.

He was definitely supportive of the RIAA’s efforts to shut down P2P file sharing services. After all, they’re stealing money from his artists pockets, and more importantly, his own. He does wonder, however, if the statistic that people who get music from P2P sites buy *more* music, not less is true. Maybe there’s something to that.

Jack still has enormous industry cred. People ‘kill’ to get a lunch with Jack – that said, he has a feeling, almost imperceptible, that this is changing. Lots of people still care, but it seems like newer artists don’t care as much. These kids today…

Persona 2: Rebe, Mega Artist

Rebe is the lead singer of the hit band, Consonant Number. The band has been around for 30 years, and is one of the defining bands of modern rock. They’ve been “A-list” stars for as long as anyone can remember.

Consonant Number’s last album sold $12 million dollars in album sales, and another $2.3 million in digital downloads. This is the lowest recorded dollar value for a #1 record since 1997. Ironically, their tour, Savage Siren, was the top grossing of 2008 with $280 million dollars in sales.

Rebe would love to flip those numbers a little – first, he’s got a family now, and the tour life is really hard on them. Secondly, it takes a lot of time to be on the road that much. Rebe has become one of the leading philanthropic givers, and has been a spokes person for several important humanitarian causes. As much as he loves his music, he really wants to be able to spend more time and energy on the causes that are important to him.

He and the band have websites and have done a variety of different online activities. All of them feel disjointed – he’s not sure what any of it’s gotten him, other a headache. He certainly doesn’t feel any more connected to his fans.

Persona 3: Ella, Lead Singer / Upcoming Artist

Ella has been the definition of a “struggling artist” for years. She’s been playing local venues for free for years, and has been actually supporting herself as a personal trainer. Recently, though, she’s been able to get some paid gigs, either as accompaniment, or as her band.

Her biggest area of success, however, is really MySpace. Most of her new leads seem to come from people checking her out there first. She’s got 8,000+ friends, has had her profile viewed more than 50,000 times, and has sold a little more than $2,000 in tracks. All in all, pretty good for getting into it about 14 months ago. All this makes Ella feel better about how much time she spends on MySpace.

The thing that excites her most is (maybe) finally being able to quit her day job. She’s talking to a couple websites about listing her tracks, and has even started talking to a publicist. It’s all early, but hope springs eternal. Ella is sure she has the talent; she just needs to get her name out there!

Persona 4: Marsha, Rabid Fan

Marsha is 20, and is in her second sophomore year of college at a local college. She was thrown out of her previous school for a combination of academics (missing too many classes, and then failing those classes), and prosecution by the RIAA.

Marsha is absolutely rabid about music of all kinds. She quickly found that her interest in music far outstripped her ability to pay for that music. After she finish borrowing all her friends CDs and ripping them , she started using Kazza, BitTorrent, or really anything that seemed like it was a good bet.

What really got her in trouble, at least from an academic sense, was a little app that scanned her iTunes library and showed her all the places that artist was playing. Somehow, Econ 201 just isn’t as interesting as seeing a great band at one of the many local spots. There’s just nothing better than feeling the connection with the band. She’s also lucky that she’s cute enough to avoid the cover in most cases.

Marsha is active on both Facebook and MySpace. She’s created several fan groups on Facebook, and is always looking for new bands to get excited about. Recently she just stumbled across this new singer, Ella on MySpace. She really likes her sound – maybe she’ll go to the next show!

Persona 5: Dave, from Roadie to Dad

Dave is in his mid 30s. He got married a couple years ago and has recently had a kid. While he and his wife used to love to go to shows, those days are past. After all, infants and concerts don’t mix very well.

Dave tries to stay on top of new music, but finds he just doesn’t have enough time anymore. More and more, he relies on sites like Amazon to recommend music that he might like. His wife likes to call this his “habit.” While he still buys some CDs, he mostly buys digital now. He works during the day, and just can’t get to the store – there’s certainly no time at night – that’s family time.

Recently, he’s gotten into Pandora as a way to find new music. He tends to put it on as a background. Often, it’s music he knows and likes – sometimes it’s new stuff that he wants to buy. The integration with Amazon and iTunes gets pretty dangerous from a financial perspective.

Dave will still see the occasional concert – the Consonant Number show last year was amazing – but he’s just not interested in seeing that many anymore. As much as he loved the show, his ears rang for two days after. Better to listen to it on his stereo at home anyway. Now if he could just get the bootleg of the show…

Related Posts:
-  Phizzpop Design Challenge LA: December 6th
-  Cynergy’s winning entry, Ben, posted
-  Phizzpop Design Challenge LA – Feb 20th, 2009 at Zune LA
-  Scenes from the Phizzpop Design Challenge Nationals at SxSW
-  Cynergy wins it all!

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Slideshare, meet WPF, WPF, meet slideshare

December 17th, 2008 by Will Tschumy
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slideshare logoSo for those of us that live and die by PowerPoint, Slideshare has become an indispensible tool to share presentations (you can check out mine here).  I’m very proud to say that we’ve just recently released a plug-in for PowerPoint 2007 to allow direct upload and management of your presentations.

Get the plug-in here.

Once installed, you’ll see this:

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Great stuff!

Related Posts:
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-  Presentation on UX and its relevance to Line of Business Applications
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-  Meet me in Vegas…

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Y! Brickhouse, RIP

December 11th, 2008 by Will Tschumy
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At least according to TechCrunch.

I don’t usually comment about news articles, but this one just makes me sad (particularly not from TechCrunch – but where else am I going to go for Valley news?  Valleywag?).  I had a special place in my heart for BrickHouse, not so much for what it did (which was pretty cool), but rather for how it did it.

Numerous organizations within the valley modeled themselves on the hack days that Brickhouse became famous for.  It was a great way to take and idea and get it to a prototype quickly.  We used this at Flock, and I know several other orgs that use similar processes to get ideas fleshed out.

It’s particularly sad for me because I used Brickhouse hack days as a model for the work for the Phizzpop Design Challenge.

One of the most troubling things during the bust was the wholesale abandonment of the ideas and processes of the web 1.0 start-ups.  Let’s hope in this downturn that practices like Brickhouse hack days don’t get lost.

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Wireframing: there’s got to be a better way

September 5th, 2008 by Will Tschumy
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So I’ve come to wireframing in a little bit of an odd way.  Way back in the day, I started out, like many of us, by just hacking around in HTML.   I found that this was an invaluable way of learning the medium.  In addition, it meant when I was using a tool like Dreamweaver, or GoLive, I could actually fix the code that it generated.

In 1998, I began using HTML prototyping as a way to capture the interaction design for the projects I was leading (while I may have described them as a ‘web app’ at the time, I certainly wouldn’t now…).   Now mind you, CSS1 was barely out the door at that point, and it was all table all the time.  Despite that, I had some great creative developers working with me, and we were able to iterate very quickly.  This experience was transformational for me – it’s one thing to develop a concept map as a way to structure your thinking, it’s another thing to develop an HTML prototype to show the interactions your proposing.

Fast forward 5 years, I’d gotten really good at making Dreamweaver behave the way I wanted it to in a prototyping environment.  I’d also gotten really good at getting teams on board, and getting clients to focus on the interaction, not the fact that they’re looking at a bunch of gray boxes.

Once  I decided I wanted to move back to CA, and managed to convince my wife of that as well, I started looking at the typical players here.  I settled at a large eCommerce retailer here, and started my work.  What amazed me was even though I was responsible for the most ‘application-like’ portion of the organization (I was responsible for digital photos, (digital) music, books, and (digital) Videos), the organization used Visio as a way to represent the layout of the page.  This created problems:

  1. In order to accurately represent the states, transitions, etc, it meant that *massive* documents were required 
  2. rent a car bulgariaCapturing animations was extremely difficult and describing behavior is ambiguous
  3. Review of the document is very difficult, long process.  Additionally, the review is prone to error, misunderstanding and requires the participants to imagine how the final experience will ‘feel’

All this is compounded by the process that many firms use down the line from the wireframe:

image

‘On paper’ this looks like it makes sense in the same way that waterfall methodology makes sense on paper.  The fundamental problem with it is that 

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Want to join the best damn UX Evangelist Team in the world?

July 23rd, 2008 by Will Tschumy
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imageландшафт After a little less than 2 years in existence, Microsoft has decided to extend its investment in UX Evangelism.  We’re looking to add a “breadth” UXE, based out of Southern California (LA, San Diego, Inland Empire).  We want to talk to you if:

  • You like getting your hands ‘dirty’ to build great experiences
  • You’re deep with competitive technologies (Flash, Flex, AIR, AJAX libraries), like learning new things (e.g., WPF, Silverlight, Expression Studio)
  • You like meeting lots of new people

This job will have some travel, so be prepared.  Your job will be to build or integrate with design communities across the west coast (read: conferences, IxDA, BayCHI and the like).  When you’re not doing that, you’ll be working with our agency partners to help them with  readiness, training and support.

Of all the companies I’ve worked for (and I’ve loved some of the places where I’ve worked), Microsoft is, by far, the best. 

If you’re interested or just want to have a conversation about the role, send me a resume at william (dot) tschumy (at) microsoft (dot) com

Job Description below:

The User Experience Evangelist (UXE) position is situated within the Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) business within the US subsidiary. This position will be located in the West Region and will cover the entire West Region from the Southern California geography. The overall mission of the DPE is to secure platform adoption, drive satisfaction and revenue growth through evangelism, community engagement, relationship marketing and a vibrant solutions ecosystem.

As an UXE, you are Microsoft’s representative to the designer/agency community helping to win the hearts and minds regarding the Microsoft platform. The notion of “User Experience” lies at the center of Microsoft’s continued long term success as a platform company by enabling our partners and customers to build rich, immersive, compelling end-user experiences that stand-out and differentiate them from the competitive offerings. The “creative professional” audience is a critical element of the overall development process. In order to realize improved software UX, designers will need to be empowered to design and build the best possible content in the most productive and efficient collaborative environment together with professional developers.

The UXE is a role with the mission of engaging with the broad community of designers and influential’s driving excitement around design related technologies for both the standards-web and Windows platforms. This position is a great opportunity to build perception of Microsoft in the design space and to create usage of Microsoft’s platform and tools technologies through breadth marketing programs and depth engagement with key accounts.

UXE’s must be able to talk about both design technologies in-depth and the business value of great design in software industry. UXE’s must be able to speak compellingly and enthusiastically to many audiences within the design ecosystem, including designers and production artists, producers and client/services managers, as well as creative directors and general management. UXE’s must also be able to engage in technical dialog with more traditional “development” organizations such as ISVs and IT departments, where the art and business of “design” is less understood and developed.

Passion for design and the creative process, technical skills in design and web development technologies, curiosity, and exceptional communication and presentation skills are required.

Responsibilities:

· Able to engage and build relationship with designers including participating in online and offline designer communities, engaging with influential’s and third party communities.

· Able to deliver and articulate effective audience-appropriate presentations/ demonstrations with designer oriented content to both small and large audiences

· Convey a compelling and convincing case for Microsoft technologies vs. the competition

· Extend reach in the designer community by partnering with Audience Marketing.

· Win the hearts of Designers to build positive perception of Microsoft with designers and Microsoft products.

Qualifications:

· Experience with professional design tools, the market and customers for these tools, or as a professional designer/developer in the interactive and web design space is strongly preferred.

· Production experience as part of a team building/delivering web and interactive content and applications, either in a creative or technical capacity.

· 3 – 5 years related experience:

· Demonstrated expertise with products such as: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dream weaver, Director, and other professional design tools for photography, video, 3d, animation, and layout is a requirement.

· Technical skills should include web standards expertise (HTML, CSS, XML, AJAX), and interactive programming with languages eg. JavaScript, Actionscript, Lingo, or Flex.

· Passionate about rich internet applications, web design, interactive design, and user experience in all mediums from software to consumer products

· Individuals may come from either a Technical or Creative background if they possess reasonable capacity in the other.

· Flexibility in regards to work schedule and travel

· Strong communication and negotiation skills

· Solid understanding of the competitive products and how to differentiate Microsoft from its competitors

Related Posts:
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-  Who am I and why am I here?
-  Hello world!
-  Cynergy wins it all!

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