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I recently attended a talk given by Russ Whitman of Ratio Interactive during Seattle Interactive Conference (#sic2013, #sicmobile). Russ and I actually worked together in the 90’s on a product called the “icebox” – an internet enabled kitchen appliance. (Basically, a TV with the internet on it with a washable keyboard and mouse). Oh, how far we’ve come in 15+ years. (And where are we going?)

The industry is now:

  • Big and Micro data; the small things and moments build big data – don’t discount micro-data
  • Personal and Enterprise data
  • Native and Web
  • Cloud and Local
  • Multi-screen beyond smartphones and tablets – TVs, cars, airplanes

Our world is made up of touch, mouse, controller and gesture interaction. Design and UX matter. The shift is worldwide, particularly with rapid adoption.

Consumers have a series of devices, no longer just one computer that stays in one room and does everything:

  • Tablets for reading, browsing
  • Smartphones for staying in touch, killing time, searching
  • PC/laptops as workhorses, transactional machines

The reality is we have screens in front of us every day, and we need to make them more useful. Whether it’s on your wrist, in your hand, on your desk, or in your car. Smart TVs are coming on strong. 67m Smart TVs were sold in 2012; 90m are projected to sell in 2013. It’s time to start thinking about branded, second screen experiences.

Digital video consumption grew exponentially through 2012 on non-PCs; more people are bypassing cable. Brands recognize this and are going digital only. Consider Netflix. They are the first non-TV network (cable or broadcast), to receive Emmy nominations (and awards) for their original series, “House of Cards.”

App downloads drive everything, they are not going away. Brands are working to build their own connected ecosystems through features and capabilities while keeping other brands out – aka “The Walled Gardens”  of Apple, Windows, Kindle/Amazon, and Android.

Why do people seem to use the same 5 apps? It’s a question of viewability and access. Consider how many app tiles/icons a user can see on the screen at one time, and how many screens do they have full of apps? What’s first, what’s last? We need to be smarter about bringing content forward – such as in contextual format, or time of day.

Also bear in mind that not all apps are created contextually equal. For example, a user may have and use up to 3 different note-taking apps, depending on the environment, the device, their immediate needs and goals.

When choosing between contextual experience over consistency – contextual experience always wins. A user won’t use your app or site if it doesn’t work for them in a a particular, preferred context.

The reality is that it’s software and it’s going to break. You can only test so much. Get real people in front of it, using it, as soon as you’re able and as much as possible.

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