New Favorites in 2015 by Isabelle Ringnes

I love new stuff, and especially tech-stuff. I decided I would jot down a quick post on some of my favorite new found things in 2015, even though I know many of them saw the light of day before 2015. 

  • Tesla: I got to drive the Tesla Model S during Christmas break and I was stunned. The car makes you not only feel like BatMan, but it works perfectly and seamlessly like any other non-electric car. Dealing with the hassle of charging stations felt slightly annoying at times, and especially during longer drives. However, the feeling of driving a smooth computer trumps that. 
  • Apple Watch: I removed it for one week to see if I missed it. Surprisingly, I did! I had thought I wouldn't, but I found myself constantly checking my phone and worrying whether I had missed something important. Wearing the watch gives me the added security of never missing anything important, all the while being able to disconnect from the time sucking phone. 
  • Venmo/Swish/Vipps/Apple Pay: I love fast and easy payment. Please, dear banks and financial institutions, continue to make payment seamless and convenient. 
  • Squarespace: I have used it for a while, but it keeps getting better. This year I created four website using it. Love it! 
  • Upwork: Found a developer and created two digital products using a creative and smart guy in India. This platform enables anyone to become an entrepreneur quickly. 
  • Sketch: No words for how much I love this design tool. I tried to navigate my way around all sorts of digital tools earlier, as well as get my hands dirty in the Adobe harem. However, with Sketch, I have everything available, it works, it looks good, it is the preferred design tool amongst modern developers and it is so, so damn easy. 
  • Spontano: I recently moved to Stockholm, and just as I used to navigate New York with Sosh, I now use Spontano to find the stuff going on around town. Never a boring evening. 

I got tons more, but these are the most important ones for now. Hope you find joy in one of them too! 

Product Hunt by Isabelle Ringnes

I literally love Product Hunt. There is an awesome chrome extension that allows you to view all the best new products of the day whenever you open a new tab in your chrome browser. Today, a lazy Sunday, I spent some time digging through the latest inventions. I came across this, which I think anyone with a few minutes to spare should try. Simply click on the door and allow your mind to travel near and far into a random location.

I am assuming the developers have used the Google Maps API to make this, and although Im sure similar versions have been produced, this one got me. Happy travels in 2016! 

The Secret Door

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The Apple Watch- everything I hoped for and less. by Isabelle Ringnes

I remember it vividly. A cold morning, April 10th at 9 AM in Oslo. I was in fight mode, clutching my iPhone, staring frantically at my Mac screen beaming the apple.com homepage "We are making updates to our site. Please check back soon". My sister, living in New York, was staring at the same message ( to her agony as it was 3 AM her time and she had promised me that she would order the watch from there in case Norwegian networks failed me. I have a good sister).

 A slightly frantic sister.  

A slightly frantic sister.  

Not surprisingly, the site crashed. A quick meltdown and 35 iMessages to my sister later, I took to Twitter for advice. My friend in San Fransisco saved me in the most obvious way. I blame my panic for the obvious (and embarrassing) fail. @isabelleringnes : use the Apple Store app. I can't believe you didn't do a test-run of today.

3 minutes later I found myself in a celebratory dance to the ding of Apple's order confirmation email.

8 minutes of frustration pushed me 4 weeks back on the waitlist, but I was still going to be one of the very first million Apple Watch owners. I could feel the nerd-adrenaline all the way to my spine.

6 weeks of feeling like a child waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney passed. The watch was on my wrist.


I have now been wearing the Apple Watch every day since that glorious day, May 28th. Two months. Despite gloomy reviews and rumors about luke-warm early adopters, slow sales and "too little, too late" my opinion of it is biased, but satisfied. Every time I meet someone with the watch, a silent understanding occurs. "You were one of the crazy ones too". 

The good

  • It does what it promised
    • All the features Apple promised are present. Apps, activity, notifications, images, messages, phone calls, payment. Check. 
  • I can text and talk on the go
    • It's surprisingly satisfying to deal with those sweet pings instantly. I can sense the curious looks when I am talking to my hand. 
  • Apple Pay is beyond amazing
    • I can not understand how anyone in the US would choose to not use Apple Pay. Many do not even know it exists. It is the smartest, easiest, safest and most convenient payment today (in my opinion).
  • I am constantly "in the know".
    • Dring. A notification on my wrist tells me its time for a meeting. someone re-tweeted me. My mom is messaging me. It's nice to not check my phone as often, especially in social settings. But I still use my phone more than what I would like to admit. However, looking at a phone is still more socially acceptable than playing with a watch ("don't you have time for me?")
  • What gets measured, gets managed.
    • No more excuses. If I haven't moved enough, it tells me repeatedly. So much so, that I might even do something about it. Like take the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • It looks sexy.
    • I absolutely love the design. It makes me feel cool. I wear it with dresses and sports clothes. 
  • I love the haptic feedback. 
    • The tiny vibration that occurs with a slightly different vibration for each notification is addicting. Everything about it is thrilling. Weird, but true.

The bad: 

  • It is annoying. 
    • I do not want to be constantly reminded every time I am focusing that I need to stand up. Leave me alone.
  • It is sloow.
    • Every time I check the weather it still shows me the weather in a location I was at one week ago. Like now, I know it is sunny in New York. But I am in France. 
  • I don't really use it. 
    • Sure, I wear it all the time. I dismiss notifications. I check the time. I quickly respond "yes" to messages. Maybe I track my activity. But I have never checked any real apps on it, it is too slow and the screen size is too small for that. I save those goodies for the big screen. 
  • Siri is getting on my nerves.
    • She understands what I say about 80% of the time. And because the only way to text is through voice, the language barrier gets frustrating quickly. 
  • No one else has it. 
    • I was looking forward to sending my heartbeat and special smileys to my Apple watch buddies. But no one I know has one, so I have to keep my heartbeat for myself. Poor me. 
  • All the cables! 
    • I am actually pleasantly surprised by the length of the battery time. And the speed at which it recharges. But still, I am now carrying two chargers in my bag. Cables everywhere. Can we invent infinite battery time soon?
  • It has so much potential. 
    • But it is not living up to it yet. Upon questions of how I use it, I find myself sometimes white-lying about all the use cases. Yes, I know they are all possible. But the software is not fast enough for them to actually beat the convenience and speed of my iPhone.

Should you buy one now? No. Unless you are an early adopter, gadget-geek or an unparalleled Apple fan, it's not for you. The average consumer is less patient and tolerant, and this device requires exactly that. 

Will everyone have one some day? Maybe. It is still too early to say. Perhaps when Apple Pay is rolled out and accepted worldwide the benefits are more obvious. It has a lot of potential, but that's about it. 

Will I keep using it? Yes. I am not giving up. A software release is right around the corner, and being a biased fan, I am confident it is going to be legendary ;)




Learning how to code 101 by Isabelle Ringnes

Code is on my mind! Being passionate about technology makes me want to learn how to create things myself. I see developers get an idea and within a week have a functioning MVP (Minimal Viable Product). As I just graduated and have some time before I go into my job in August, I decided to delve into some front-end coding on SkillsCrush. SkillsCrush is a site dedicated specifically to women who want to improve their coding skills. 

 

I am very interested in design. I want to increase my design skills, but to do that I also want to know how to translate designs into code. Definitely a challenge, but HTML and CSS are pretty logical if you give them a shot. The next 3 weeks I'll be slurping up coding challenges online while I go to Norway to continue my work on TENK and #detkreversinmann. #detkreversinmann is a campaign I am working on together with a bunch of cool and passionate people and our goal is to spread an awareness campaign for gender equality with the overall ambition to decrease subtle gender discrimination issues.

We believe that gender equality can only be fully achieved if men and women work together. Men are not the problem, but part of the solution! Every women experiences some form of gender discrimination on a daily basis and it is prime time to raise the spot light and eliminate many of the subtle factors that hold us back and discourage women from reaching their full potential. Norway is a pretty equal country compared to the rest of the world, but we still have a ways to go. I am excited to launch this campaign in the spring and look forward to telling you more about it. 


Stay tuned and in the meanwhile you can check out the website I made for us here.  It has all the information you need if you want to get involved! 

Product Management Immersive by Isabelle Ringnes

For the past three months I have been a student at General Assembly in New York studying product management. It has been the most fun and intense months of my life! 

 

Before enrolling, I, like many others, was unfamiliar with what a product manager really does. Now that I am done I feel unfamiliar with anything a PM doesn't do! Product Managers are going to be one of the most sought after employees in the coming years as more companies emerge into technology and launch tech-related products. As a product manager you work closely with everyone in a team to help drive an idea to product. That includes sales, marketing, stakeholders such as management and finance, but most importantly UX-designers and developers. What do you do as a PM? Well to start, you identify the product need and demand. From there, a long agile process of sprint planning and documentation is necessary. To highlight a few core responsibilities I can mention: 

  • Epic, User stories, user acceptance criteria
  • Product Requirement Document 
  • Business Canvas
  • Product Roadmap
  • Sprint planning
  • Product Backlogs
  • Feature Prioritization
  • User Experience including: user research, user testing, usability testing and ITERATING
  • Future roadmap
  • Market Research
  • Time and people management

If this doesn't seem enough I urge you to think of something else - because I am sure we do! Being a PM requires the ability to collaborate with a variety of people in an empathetic manner. You need to know you sh** and be able to ship it! You have to be an excellent time manager, people satisfier and help contribute wherever you can. You own the product - it becomes your baby! And even though the process might require you to kill it sometimes, seeing an idea come into reality is very fulfilling. But don't think you'll get the credit. 

 

We had multiple product managers come to speak with us while we were students. PMs from Twitter, New York Times, Etsy, FlavorPill, Soundcloud and Google were some of the outstanding people we got to meet in the field of PM. They told us that PMs take all the blame when something goes wrong, but don't receive any credit when things go smoothly. So don't pursue this career path if you are looking for praise and glory! However, it is nonetheless fulfilling if you like watching people create and make decisions that have big impacts on the product release. 

I urge anyone interested in emerging tech to go into this field. And a PM course at GA (General Assembly) is perfect if you want to kick start your career. 

Beacons - hit or miss? by Isabelle Ringnes

Beacons are slowly but surely gaining traction in the retail market. Brands like Macy's and Apple have been championing the funky looking devices for quite some time. 

Beacons are expected to become wildy popular in the next few years. Obviously the product offers a broad range of opportunities for retailers, service industries and attractions to grab the attention of the customers. 

During a recent trip to Apple's store in Grand Central I got to fully experience the power of the iBeacon. At first I thought it was quite cool (perhaps because it is new to me) but after the third notification as I was passing by the same shelf I started getting annoyed. The fine line separating useful from painful is going to be an imperative one for brands that choose to integrate Beacons into their marketing mix. 

I am curious how Beacons will evolve over the next few years. The technology (Bluetooth) in itself is not new, but it has not been used widely until recently. After the launch of the Apple iBeacon it suddenly became imperative for brands to start following the trends. Below is a list of use cases I can think of. 

Retail:

Imagine walking into Victoria Secret. Within seconds you receive a notification on your phone welcoming you as a VIP member (if you are). The store has your information regarding sizes, preferences, usual spending amount and purchase history. Using your data, beacons can push sales, deals and new product lines that it thinks may be relevant to you. Another use case is picking up your phone signal while you are walking past the store and prompting you to take advantage of a flash-sale. The check-out process can also be simplified by being able to pay for the items through your phone - similar to how Apple operates in their retail stores today. 

Travel:

At an airport they can notify you of gates, and know where you are. Like if you arrive at the terminal it will immediately let you know which check-out counter to go to and whether your flight is on time. It can also be used to identify people in security lines who are about to miss their flights. When you arrive at the hotel it will automatically pick up your signal and prompt you to check in via phone and perhaps give you some tailored information. As room keys are transitioning from key cards to smartphone screens it can also be a way to send you the room key as you arrive. 

At tourist attractions you will no longer need to purchase audio equipment and guess your way through. By downloading an app and using your Bluetooth connection, beacons are able to fetch your location and tell you about whatever you are observing whether it be a painting, a landmark, a building or sculpture. 

Dining:

My favorite use case. While there are apps that allow you to pay for your meal via an app (like Dash), Beacons could definitely make this transition easier. It could pick up your location, guide you to your table, and enable you to order straight through the app and pay as you go. 

I think the options are limitless. I am looking forward to seeing these devices implemented for more positive, personalized and seamless experiences in the future. 

 

 

The Gig-Economy: set for success or strive to survive? by Isabelle Ringnes

The sharing economy is also referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, mesh economy, gig economy and collaborative consumption model. It is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical assets including the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. The sharing economy is rapidly growing as technology and peer-to-peer communities have facilitated the communication, trust and collaboration necessary to make it work.

The “gig economy”, a term often interchanged with the more well known concept “ the sharing economy”, is a growing trend in New York and in other densely populated cities. The concept is simple and surprisingly familiar; the trading of any one person's time or skill for another person's financial capital. The only distinct difference from the service economy is the enabling of direct communication between individuals, eliminating the added cost and time of third party service providers.

Technology is the driving force behind the influx of peer-to-peer trading and lending of time, space and goods. The Internet and the emergence of social networking sites have increased transparency and level of trust among strangers. So much so that individuals entirely unfamiliar are signing up for services that provide on-demand massages in other’s homes (Zeel), lend couches to lone travelers (couchsurfing), and rent out homes to strangers (AirBNB). Some services are free of charge, other’s have business models with intuitive structures: users express their needs, how much they are willing to pay and vice versa. Workers in the gig-economy are usually unemployed or individuals who want to live less restricted by traditional work schedules.

On Demand

The ability to find instant gratification, an experience in which many have grown accustomed to online, is translating into the physical world with the influx of “on demand” sharing economy services. The trend is also a driving force of people's need to spend their time more efficiently. In busy, high demand cities like New York, people are constantly on the go and value efficiency in their use of time and resources.Time is a bottleneck for many, while need for extra income is a consistent issue for most. As a result, gig economy companies are promoting their ability to resolve users needs “on demand”. AirBNB offers instant booking, Drizly delivers liquor within an hour and WunWun will deliver anything you can dream of within 45 minutes as long as it fits on bike.

Debate

New York is a particularly attractive market for this new economy to thrive. New York Times Opinion-Editor Thomas L. Friedman has repeatedly expressed his positive view of the sharing economy; advocating that companies in the sharing economy are “not the only answer for our economic woes — they create jobs, destroy jobs and create big efficiency savings all at once — but they are surely part of the answer, and it’s a shame that we don’t spend more time thinking about how to multiply them.” While many are commending this growing marketplace of micro-entrepreneurs, concerns are raised in regards to these services recurring lack of security and insurance policies, and these service’ failure to uphold their promises to workers; advocating balanced lifestyles, increased freedom and financial prosperity as benefits of signing up. Fast Company journalist, Sarah Kessler, recently wrote an extensive piece about her experience in the gig-economy. Having taken time off work to explore life as a micro-entrepreneur she described it as little more than “hard work, low pay and a system that puts workers at disadvantage”.

Criticism and concerns

Despite the rapid success sharing economy companies are seeing, concerns of their future prosperity is real.

  • Legal concerns continue to rise as many fail to comply with state laws, often because laws and regulations tend to drastically differ across borders; both on a state-by-state basis as well as internationally. Whether legal systems will be able to keep up with innovation is yet to be determined.

  • Declining payment levels for workers has become an issue as supply and demand levels grow disproportionately. Supply continues to boom with the amount of foreigners adding their inexpensive skills to the marketplace of US citizens looking for web designers, developers and virtual personal assistants. As a result, micro-entrepreneurs in the US find themselves competing with foreigners whom consider $5 dollars per assignment relatively good pay (Fiverr).

  • Safety and security issues have become consistent subjects of concern. Because most of these services rely on peer-to-peer trust and minor involvement of third parties, sometimes, it is to go wrong. Zeel, the app that offers “on demand” massages in your home, has, unsurprisingly, experienced their share of slightly unethical requests. AirBNB hosts have had their apartments trashed. Car sharing services like Uber and Lyft, are consistently dealing with insurance and legal complaints.

However, sharing economy companies are lean; they learn by doing and rapidly find ways to comply with laws to secure their continued service. Background checks, authentication processes, rating systems and public profiles have been implemented to deal with the inevitable pitfalls of a sharing economy that primarily relies on people’s conscience and intention to operate respectfully. As stated in Wired’s cover story in April 2014, “these new mechanisms for creating and safeguarding interpersonal trust may have the power to make us comfortable with people and experiences we would never have otherwise considered”.

Benefits for workers

Despite some of the natural concerns sharing economy companies encompass, they have become massively successful. Social media profiles provide users with sufficient transparency and direct communication elevated levels of respect towards one anothers time and belongings. Many argue that the gig economy functions as a safety net for the many unemployed workers who have become victims of the struggling economy. Although most people would agree that full-time jobs are the better option, the gig economy helps people keep afloat when times are tough. When the alternative cost is no money; some money is better. A more surprising benefactor of the gig economy is the growing number of people are using it to make friends. Lyft, an increasingly popular car sharing service which is currently working to comply with New York’s state laws in order to make their service available in the city, puts a premium on the development of friendships and conversation while sharing a ride. The company encourages passengers and drivers to rate each other; and in addition to marketing themselves as affordable and easy, claim to be “Your friend with a car”. In fact, drivers are prompted to wear pink mustaches to lighten the atmosphere as they navigate the road. Couchsurfing operates by similar principles, advocating that new friendships are the core of what makes traveling unique.

Complements a wider economy

New Yorker’s are famously open to innovation and new services. This very notion is the core of what drives New York’s unique ability to foster new business models and trends. Will the gig economy and the array of services leveraging it’s demand continue to rise? The increasing popularity of the sharing economy and the increasing level of trust people have in using these peer-to-peer services will continue to drive the blossoming of new sharing economy companies that compliment a wider economy in New York, a city filled with innovative, forward-thinking early adopters. As witnessed with the evolution of the service economy, as long as there is demand, someone will find a way to supply. Especially in New York City.


Services in the Gig-Economy

Bloom That: On-demand flower delivery. App allows you to select a bouquet, tell them when and where and have it delivered within 90 minutes. Available 7 days a week.

WunWun: Free delivery service from anywhere you want as long as it fits on a bike. Payment is solely for the item and a tip for the delivery man is encouraged.

Task Rabbit: Outsource errands you don’t want to do. Task Rabbit finds nearby qualified taskers that have had a undergone criminal record checks, in-person interviews, identity checks and training sessions. Pay by the hour at yours or theirs set price.

Lyft: Friendly and affordable car sharing service. Request a ride and be picked up within minutes.

Dogvacay: Find a dog sitter near you on the go. Rates start at $25/night and include free pet insurance, 24/7 customer support and daily photo updates.

Post Mates: Delivery service from any restaurant or store within the hour. Real time tracking and ETAs. Pricing starts at $5 and is determined based on distance of delivery.

Fiverr: Hire anyone for your graphics & design, writing & translation, ideo & animation, music & audio or programming & tech needs. Best of all? Flat rate of $5.

Odesk: Network of freelancers that will do anything one can do on a computer, ranging from developing an app to software management. Freelancers can be hired for big or small, short or ongoing and individual or team based jobs. You can also track workers.

Skillshare: Affordable education platform driven and powered by students.

Kitchensurf: Hire freelance chef’s to come to your home and make dinner. Decide cuisine, price, amount of guests and have your food catered.

Exec: Enter your location and find a maid or house cleaner in near proximity.

Other services: breather, air bnb, zip car, instacart, bloom that, zeel, wun wun, task rabbit, lyft, lendingclub, http://foodsharing.de/, parkatmyhouse, rent the runway, dogvacay, post mates, fiverr, kitchensurfing, exec, zirtual, fancy hands, cha cha, skillshare, tradesy, odesk

 



 

 

 

Easy tips for great Visual Design by Isabelle Ringnes

 

Mastering visual design is not easy. Beauty is subjective, but with the technology available most designers have the opportunity to take data from user research studies into account to create digital products that "just work". Jessica Helfand describes graphic design as "a visual language uniting harmony & balance, color & light, scale & tension, form & content". 

I attended a crash course in visual design to gain a better understanding of how to optimize the user experience in terms of perfecting the esthetic aspect. Our professor, a designer at Yahoo, encouraged us to initiate the design process by asking the following questions: 

  1. What will the final deliverable be? 
  2. what is the purpose of the design? Are you informing, persuading, promoting, identifying? 
  3. What are the benefits of the product/service?
  4. How will the site be utilized? 
  5. Who is the target audience? 
  6. Are there any competitors in the marketplace? 
  7. What is the message that needs to be communicated? (The primary meaning is the direct message of a word, sign, or image, the information. The secondary meaning is what is conveyed or suggested by the overall design.)
  8. What do you want the viewer to feel about the design?
  9. What are five adjectives you would use to describe the product and brand you are trying to convey?  

Did you realize how many elements actually went into designing the AirBnb logo? 

In visual design, there are essentially four purposes you need to think about. 

  1. Emotion: Personality, Reaction
  2. Description: Function, Context
  3. Structure: Organization, Hierarchy 
  4. Communication: Visual Storytelling

There is everything from structure, grid, colors, typography, alignment, images that you need to take into account. It is the composition and harmony between all these various elements that determine whether or not your design will be one that is well liked. 

Typography is actually a very important element. It is something we don't usually spend much time thinking about, but nonetheless, a bad font may actually kill the whole UX experience. Fonts should be easy to read, clean and clear. 

Ps. Did you know the most popular font is Helvetica? Even Facebook uses it. A good tip is to avoid sans serif fonts on websites. It decreases the readability. Popular standard typefaces are: Helvetica, Helvetica Neue, Proxima Nova, Open Sans, Avenir, Lato, Futura, Tahoma, Myriad, Arial. Funfact: Comic Sans MS is one of the most hated fonts in the world.

Remember to also think about size, line spacing, line height, scale, contrast, color when deciding the layout on your website.

Color is also very important. Contrasts colors usually go well together, so it is not uncommon to see a blue background with orange text or vice versa. A simple rule of thumb is to not use more than five colors in a single layout. Optimally you only use threee. Color should be used sparingly to highlight only important information. Remember to allow room for white space (negative space). When too much content is pressed in a layout, it becomes cluttered and incoherent. Good design is usually as little design as possible.

Iconography can also be used to convey a message without the use of text. Icons should be simple, easy to understand and universal; they're meant to enhance comprehension, never distract. 

The icons used in Apple's settings are ones that are simple and universally understandable. 

Web design is like fashion- trends and preferences change every few seasons. I recently started flipping through this slideshare to identify some of the most popular trends from 2014. Feel free to check it out as well. 

This post is inspired by my lecture with Julie Krafchick at GA in San Francisco. She also provided the following resources to inspire a career as a graphic designer. 

Happy designing!

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 7.19.07 PM.png

To immerse in UX design or not? by Isabelle Ringnes

Photo by Marek Uliasz/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Marek Uliasz/iStock / Getty Images

I have recently gotten very engaged in the realm of UX design. I find it fascinating. I blogged about it the other day, but now that I am back from San Francisco I wanted to explore what other opportunities I have to delve deeper into the make-it-or-break-it component that is the User Experience. General Assembly has an immersive 3-month program that focuses on developing the skill set and tools in order to create fantastic UX experiences.  I am personally interested in UX because the field requires many of the skills that I already have. I am interested in the business, psychology and design and I want to develop my skills in terms of research and design.

I interviewed for the program yesterday (it went well, I got in!) and for my interview I needed to prepare a concept to present. I was encouraged to redesign 3 key elements of the grocery shopping experience. Given the short preparation time I was did some light user research to find out what pain points people have when doing their grocery shopping. It seemed like the main take-aways were long lines, hassle of locating items and hurdle of dragging groceries around the store. I solved this by creating an app that you can:

  • - Add products by scanning or searching for items

  • - View your shopping list and quickly add it to your cart 

  • - See what you have in your fridge; stock up on the stuff that’s running low! (available only for Smart Fridge’s)

  • - View popular recipes and add ingredients needed

  • - Set preferences for special recommendations

  • - Pay however you want- all in one click (Apple Pay, anyone?!

  • - Save your orders for quick re-orders

  • - Store and manage all your receipts in one place

  • - Pick up your groceries packed and ready by the door 

  • - Request Home Delivery

(if you are not able to view the embedded prototype here; you can click this link) -- (sorry this link does not work now, my free trial is up!)

I created the prototype using keynote and invision. 

So what is UX to me? 

User experience is about creating the best possible interaction between the customer and your product. I believe that you do this by thoroughly taking into account all the research and information you have derived about your user and tailoring your design and service with the user in mind at all times.

What is required from the UX designer?

  • Research
  • Interviewing
  • Creation and administration of tests
  • Gathering, organizing, and presenting of statistics
  • Documentation of personas and findings
  • Product design
  • Feature writing
  • Requirement writing
  • Graphic arts
  • Interaction design
  • Information architechture
  • Usability
  • Prototyping
  • Interface layout
  • Interface design
  • Visual design
  • Taxonomy creation
  • Terminology creation
  • Copy writing
  • Presentation and speaking
  • Working tightly with programmers
  • Brainstorm coordination
  • Company culture evangelism
  • Communication to stakeholders

I believe that a user should be able to access your site or app and never have to think. The UX designer should have done all the thinking ahead and been able to create an experience that is seamless, pleasurable and one worth coming back to. I believe that UX is what essentlially defines the success of your product.

I believe in making esthetically pleasing, engaging and delighting experiences with clarity, ease and beauty. An experience that is intuitive, cohesive and desirable. 

What is good design? (Broken down) 

  • What is good design:
  • Innovative
  • Useful
  • Aesthetic
  • Understandable
  • Unobtrusive
  • Honest
  • Long-lasting
  • Thorough down to detail
  • Is environmentally friendly
  • Is as little design as possible

The whole design process should be entirely focused on the end-user and their needs by introducing innovative solutions that the user may not even have thought that they needed ahead of time. To quote the famous Henry Ford: 

If you asked consumers what they want, they would say faster horses.

What is the future of the news industry? by Isabelle Ringnes

The media industry (or actually every industry) has been affected by the internet. The “EXTRA””EXTRA” component of a fresh newspapers on the sidewalk has evaporated along with its emergence.

News is at our fingertips, one click away. Information is no longer a scarcity, but ubiquitous and universally available. But is the quality and quantity emerging in separate directions?

I believe that in order to attract and retain news consumers, readers and subscribers, the industry needs to find means in which people will feel like it is worth coming back to the source. They need to be willing to pay for content; simply because the quality, technology and deliverable of the news experience is unique.

A great example of news organizations that have seen some success from applying these practices are Fast Company and The New York Times. Fast Company Magazine invests a lot in the technological aspect of their articles, making every reading experience unique and magical. Take this article as an example: instead of a static image they employ a format that allows the image to come alive while reading the article. 

This image seems static here, but I urge you to check out the article for the full immersive experience. 

nother example stems from the New York Times. They have invested in interactive content, that tells a story through videos, graphics and interactivity. It is really quite beautiful. They have an entire library of their best work here, but being a slightly biased Norwegian I suggest you check out their feature on a trip through the Norwegian fjords. It is a truly beautiful article and really makes the reader feel like they are present in the moment. 

Technological advancements:

I believe that in the future we will be moving away from the typical smartphone in our hand and start seeing information displayed on the world. Everyone has a different idea of what the future will look like, but it seems that the consensus is that we are moving away from a containment environment to information everywhere. The technology is available, but needs refinement and implementation to transform the world as we know it and disrupt the ways in which we consume news.

But will the news industry as we know it survive the rapid accelleration of technology coming our way?

I believe in the importance of high quality and reliable news sources. But in order to stay relevant, impactful media houses should push to revolutionize what people think of as the ultimate news experience by incorporating truly unique ways of experiencing news such as using augmented reality , projection technology and 3d holoGraphic technology.

The true journalists role will no longer be to just hammer out a script, but build stories that give users a new, innovative and exciting way of consuming news. I believe that this experience will be worth paying for, and without the added cost, it can not be produced.

But is it possible? 

Augmented reality has become a common concept, but this technology is about to transition into a form that can display graphics for each viewer’s perspective.

The technology is currently used by some advertisers to turn print ads interactive, magazines to make stories come alive and corporations pushing direct sales from scanning an image.

I imagine people being able to scan a particular place and and see the current news stories unfold interactively within their mobile device.

Using geo-location, the internet and surrounding data- you could walk around anywhere and receive real-time stories about things going on in your local area from news sources and social media. Imagine walking anywhere, scanning whatever is in your eyesight and see a projected augmented layer providing tidbits of news information on whats going on. By pointing your phone, glass or projector device to an area of interest or conflict you would automatically receive dated and current news, social media posts and pictures about that place in real time.

Haven’t you ever walked by a fire truck or police tape and wondered what the commotion is about? Imagine if you could point your phone at it, and satisfy your curiosity within seconds.

The basics is that a projector (on a phone or any wearable device; glass,watch, earring, necklace, button) can turn any surface into an interactive projected newspaper. A user can essentially examine the world, find and process the stories based on geo-location and personalization, aggregate information and pull data from news sites and social media and then project the information as a personal newspaper (like flipboard) wherever your eyes desire- be it a wall, table or your own wrist. This would give news consumers constant access to news in whatever form they wish in an entirely new and engaging way. The technology would be touch and voice activated, enabling the user to demand any action to be taken with the use of his/hers voice or gesture.

Using  gesture recognition technology, the users could interact with the projected information without using their phones, but simply by gesturing onto or around the image projected. They would flip pages like an old school newspaper by waving their hands over the projected interface.Readers and consumers could comment real time, using side notes and social media.

Sidenote: What is side notes? (click link to see how Livefyre is doing this)

News organizations can incorporate comments in their articles using “side notes” technology. This means that when you are presented with news anywhere at anytime- be it your bathroom, bedroom, livingroom, kitchen table or car- you can comment by voice/or a projected keypad to a specific sentence and contribute to the overall crowdsourcing of information derived from a specific segment in an article.

The projection hardware could read stories out loud, or the consumer could read or watch them themselves. In that way you can both experience the newspaper in a technologically advanced manner while still being a contributor and narrator of the global curation of news.

3d holographic technology:

This technology can unfold in two dimensions- both projected on a surface or contained within your phone’s screen.

Imagine reading an interesting story on your phone. Now picture being able to click it and see it come alive as a holographic 3D version in front of your eyes. Like a theatrical experience you would be able to see the events in Syria or the latest inventions from South by Southwest in holographic 3d directly in front of you.

Maybe I am wrong, but I believe that if journalists expand their skill set to offer these kinds of experiences consumers will come back. Not everyone can generate this high quality content. It will disrupt the cold, passive newspapers as we remember them.

And it may already be in the works. On april 29th, 2014 Apple acquired a patent for a holographic display technology that allows users to interact by gesture and touch with 3d objects for possible implementation in their hardware.

What do you think is the future of the news? What big trends do you see coming our way? What are the implications? 

Content Marketing - Customer value or questionable journalism? by Isabelle Ringnes

Content marketing is becoming an increasingly discussed topic, especially in Norwegian media. Certain people within the industry are worried that it questions the ethics of journalism and blurs the line between what is advertisement and what is editorial content. However, this is called native advertising. Native advertising is advertising that is created by the brand in an editorial format, and then integrated into a website or newspaper. If you aren't used to this or aware of the *sponsored titles, readers may feel confused as to whether the content is based on facts or merely a sales pitch from the brand behind it. If readers eventually do find out, they may feel deceived, retain a bad impression of the brand and question the moral of the news outlet. However- content marketing is something different. Content marketing is about giving your customers information and tools that provide real value. It is high quality content, often produced by a content marketing company or journalists, and then shared with the brands customers on social media, websites and email newsletters. Content marketing is stepping away from the intrusive and ongoing sales pitch and rather focusing on how you can empower your customer, give them information and thus build a loyalty bond with them. The content does not necessarily reflect your brand or product, but the fact that your customers get information that they find valuable from your brand creates a positive perception; and hopefully increased sales as an indirect result. 

Let`s take your average bank as an example. Instead of participating in the war of attention and advertising online, they may choose to build a reputation as a bank that profoundly cares about their customers financials. By providing them with relevant, non-biased, high-quality content based on real facts they can help clients make better decisions. Content that doesn't tell clients what to buy and why to buy it from them, but empowers their clients to make informed and sustainable choices in their daily lives. 

I appreciate content marketing. Not only as a consumer, but as marketer myself. It is much more challenging to take the time to investigate, research and create content that your target audience will find interesting or entertaining. At New York International, we did a lot of content marketing. I spent my time coming up with article ideas that could prove useful to international startups coming to establish their business in New York. I would cover anything from "best NYC apps" to "sharing economy trends" and "Interviews with international entrepreneurs that have made it in New York". The content we pushed was written with the intention to show prospective clients that we know the city, we ca provide relevant resources and are genuinely committed to help. However, we would very seldomly mention our own company. Our company would function as the distributor, and that was sufficient to get the idea across. We do not want to make our customers feel like tangibles, but rather someone we trust will have the ability to make personal, smart decisions when provided accurate and factual information. 

I truly hope that we see more content marketing. Not only does it provide more opportunities for the increasingly competitive role of journalists, but it may also be a way for news organizations to develop a new form of monetization.

By leasing existing editorial content to brands or freelancing journalists to create fresh content on relevant issues, this marketing trend has the potential to benefit the customer, brand and media industry as a whole. 

What do you think of content marketing? Is it a positive or negative trend? Please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments section. 

 AirBnb is one of the many innovative brands that have conquered the world of content marketing. Instead of advertising their product, they provide prospective customers with travel guides about destinations they may feel enticed to visit: and thus book an apartment through them when choosing to visit the destination. Not only does this challenge the team at AirBnb to develop more knowledge on the various city's they operate in, but it also is a non-intrusive and helpful way to attract customers to their website. 

AirBnb is one of the many innovative brands that have conquered the world of content marketing. Instead of advertising their product, they provide prospective customers with travel guides about destinations they may feel enticed to visit: and thus book an apartment through them when choosing to visit the destination. Not only does this challenge the team at AirBnb to develop more knowledge on the various city's they operate in, but it also is a non-intrusive and helpful way to attract customers to their website. 

TENK- Tech-Nettverket for Kvinner by Isabelle Ringnes

Today I am very pleased to announce that my former boss at VG and I have launched a new network for women who are passionate about technology. It is launched in Beta and we have yet to decide how we are going to move forward and what our game plan is, but it is exciting to have gotten it out there. My partner Camilla is extremely talented, creative and passionate about technology so I think it has the potential to turn out pretty awesome. I for one cannot wait to connect with other girls my age and trade useful resources, trends and tech-events with each other. When I moved home from New York I found that the Tech-bubble I had gotten so comfortable living in did not exist in Norway. I couldn't seem to find any women deeply passionate about tech, wearables, software tools... However, there is not a lack of men interested in technology. They are everywhere, carving their way up to executive positions. 

I followed a very important series on NPR before the summer, called Woman in Technology. Featuring a variety of female innovators in tech they were able to produce in depth stories, insights and key facts and figures about females position in the tech industry. The series helped open my eyes to the importance of women taking a stand in what has become a highly male dominated industry.

Just this past week I heard an interesting story on Planet Money about why women stopped coding. Apparently the marketing industry has had quite an influence on womans role in tech. In 1984, when computers began entering households for the first time, they were marketed to young men as a way to play games. Women started to shy away because computer-ads were so heavily focused on science fiction movies with typical male audiences. Computers were given to the boys, or placed in their rooms. Even though I was one of the first ones to enter the computer class in first grade, I was the only one of 15 guys and 3 girls. And when I didn't understand it, I felt stupid and would shy away. Our teacher was male and he focused on teaching us games. The girls were not interested in games. We wanted to create nice invitations for birthday parties and create pretty presentations for each other. Not surprisingly, my younger brother got our families first laptop, and I was lucky enough to inherit it two years later. 

I intend to encourage my children equally in all subjects in school. I hope that by the time I have kids, computer science is a required class in middle-school. But more importantly, when we teach young girls about computers; teach it to them in a way that appeals to them. Studies from Harvard show that when it comes to technology, women are interested in learning what more they can do with it. Guys are interested in why they are able to do what they know. Both are important skills, but when you teach a class described as "how technology  X works", that is not going to appeal to women. 

In fact, a very interesting study was conducted at a school in California. The university wanted to increase the 10% female presence in computer science classes and were successful- times four! How? It was a 3 step process including changing the name of the class from “Introduction to programming in Java” to “Creative approaches to problem solving in science and engineering using Python.”

Apparently, using words like creative and problem solving seemed more approachable to women. I find this fascinating. Women and men are not driven or motivated by the same things. By taking into account the passion and needs of women, the school was able to increase the female to male ratio from 10-90 to 40-60. 

- - -

Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a meeting and the power point won`t work someone immediately cries for a "tech-guy"? If a girl gets up I am ashamed to say that I am both proud and surprised. It is has become one of those unnoticeable moments we experience on a weekly basis. The frequency of a male getting up to "fix the tech" has made us blind to the fact that women should be and are very capable of "fixing the tech" it as well.  And it goes both ways; I can't remember the last time a manager asked a man to take notes or get coffee during a meeting. 

Women have come a long way in Norway. We still have a long way to go, but we are further ahead than most other cities I have been to. There is no time to lay back and reap the benefits of what our previous generations have fought. This is not a competition between men and women. It is the scientific fact that we are better together. The belief in one gender does not indicate the disbelief in another. I believe that women are capable of becoming equally interested in technology as men. There is no doubt that they are out there. Now I am looking forward to connecting with them, encouraging and learning from them.   

 

The iPhone 6 plus by Isabelle Ringnes

Being the tech-maniac that I am, of course I was going to purchase it immediately. I even stayed awake for hours in Hong Kong in order to be the first one to snag one off the shelves. Five weeks ago, following the launch of iPhone 6 and 6 plus, I posted on Facebook:

"So what should I get, the iPhone 6 or 6 plus?"

The response was overwhelming. Despite having read in the news that the demand for 6 plus was soaring, my friends were in no doubt: 6 plus is too big, too clunky, don't get it! 

So I was persuaded by fear and cancelled my order for 6 plus. The cancellation lasted about an hour before I scrambled, got in the car and drove to the Apple Store where I was met with the two most beautiful phones I have ever encountered. Hello Mr. 6. 

Considering the sizable drama (no pun intended) about the iPhone 6 plus I was almost dissapointed. It is not THAT big. It is perfect. It has lost weight, and fits sluggly in pocket, purse and hand. Yes, texting and driving is no longer an option; it requires two hands to efficiently navigate the screen. But is that a bad thing? 

On the pro side- the camera resolution is unbelievable (especially in snap chat!?), the gold design slick and elegant and the readability perfect. No longer in need of a charger every five hours, I can listen to music, read news, post photos and Google Map the whole day without problems. The battery is great. 

If you are a person who spends a lot of time on you phone, who prefers to get things done on it, depends on it a lot for work, reads longer articles and generally are tech-savvy- this is the phone for you. Talking on the phone may look a little awkward, but who really talks on the phone these days anyway? 

I give iPhone 6 plus my very best recommendations. Don't let size scare you. Bigger is better. 

User Experience - the make it or break it component by Isabelle Ringnes

I am currently in San Francisco taking an intensive course at General Assembly in User Experience design. I find it fascinating how important this is considering it is a thing the user never really thinks about. Or at least, if the UX designer is good, never needs to think about. 

What is UX to you? In an online environment I would define great UX design as an interface layout that requires minimal thinking. We are bombarded with information every second of the day, and when I enter a site that has done all the thinking ahead of me I tend to come back. Take Airbnb. I don`t know how they did it, but they nailed UX. It is simple, beautiful and provides you with all the information and options you need. 

User research is a huge part of UX. No matter how ingenious your product may seem to you, you are not your user and they will not interact with your product they way you think they will. Sufficient research gives you the ability to create a product that your users actually want, as opposed to a product you think that they want, but don't know how to use and thus; don't want. 

You need to understand your users. You need to put yourself in their shoes by creating an empathy story in which you define everything from their moods, thoughts, feelings, context and worries. You can understand how they interact with your site and what they think is important by conducting eye tracking research. By monitoring their eyes movement, you can lock down which parts of the site they find interesting, which parts they ignore and what attracts their attention. Maybe your layout is something completely opposite of what information they desire? 

Another classic example of UX is Google. Not only due to their clever algorithm and "page rank", they have become the most popular search engine in the world because of their UX design. It is simple, straight forward and valuable. 

A good way to find out if your site is working optimally is by conducting A/B testing. By creating a duplicate version of your site (a great tool is Optimizely) and tweaking a few aspects of the user interface you can measure the response for various products in different designs and alter your site based on the data feedback. 

But what makes good UX design? What does it encompass? In my opinion, great UX includes the following aspects:

  • visually appealing, aestethic 
  • simple
  • intuitive
  • requires minimal to no thought process
  • minimal decision time
  • minimal navigation effort
  • significant understanding of users reason to visit your site
  • comprehensive understanding of what information they need immediately 
  • minimal clutter, options and confusion
  • as precise and little text as possible
  • visual features that explain or classify concepts (thus lessening the users need to read)
  • makes the user come back for more

It is important to understand the utter importance of UX. It will make or break your product. Your idea can be great, but if your target users don't know how to use it or how it will benefit them within the first minute on your site- consider yourself beat by the next best thing. 

There are probably so many amazingly useful services out there that we don't know about because they never caught on due to bad UX. User Experience is one of the most important aspects to invest in as a business. I look forward to delving deeper into the research methods and tools to optimize the UX designs of future clients. 

 AirBNB nailed UX

AirBNB nailed UX


Electrifying Jewelry by Isabelle Ringnes

Anyone who is addicted to their phones knows the hassle of having to drag along a charger wherever they go. A NY based company recently launched a product that aims to solve that problem- while also adding a little esthetique flair to the mix. This new bracelet from Q Designs doubles as both a fashion accessory and a charging station. It's compatible with both Android and Apple devices, and can offer a charge of about 60% of battery life. 

 Visit the  website  to purchase one, prices start at $79. C omes in black, silver or gold and is a unisex product.

Visit the website to purchase one, prices start at $79. Comes in black, silver or gold and is a unisex product.

Another win for wearable tech!

Read the whole story here

Google "gives" glass to the public's eyes by Isabelle Ringnes

Google is expanding their initial glass explorer program to include anyone who wants to test the company’s wearable computing glasses, which are famously still in the beta development stage.

The giant tech company initially launched the (in)famous innovation last year to a small pool of lucky “glass explorers”. Curios techies were encouraged to creatively express what they would do #ifIhadglass on Twitter. The most creative tweets won the opportunity to pay the company $1500 (excluding tax) for a chance to see the world from behind Google Glass. But the majority of these “Glassholes”, a popular term in which these explorers have famously claimed, are not defending their pricey investments.

According to many of the beta-testers, the battery life is poor and their use limited, crediting it to essentially be a wearable camera with worse image resolution than your phone.

Google released the product targeting engineers and developers hoping that they would help improve the product before it reached the public eye. The device has received a significant amount of media attention, primarily for the flux of raised privacy and safety concerns. In addition to lobbying for it’s legal commercial usage in Washington, Google’s engineers are working hard to further improve the product, which currently offers video recording, email access, turn-by-turn driving directions and Internet search by voice and touch commands. However, the command phrase “OK glass” combined with the unusual design has yet to become socially acceptable. But despite the glasses exclusivity stamp, they are likely to be considered too expensive for the general public whom have shown little interest in acquiring a pair. Industry experts estimate the actual manufacturing price to be below $200 and express Google’s need to lower the price significantly before the average consumer will consider taking on more cyborgian appearance.

It may be smart to stay on the sideline for now, as both the product and price are expected to improve in the near future.

 

Read your book and drink it too by Isabelle Ringnes

Another amazing invention is about the rolled out and may save millions of lives. The "Drinkable Book" essentially teaches water safety, but the real magic lies within the pages themselves that are made of a material that cleans drinking water. The pages, coated with bacteria-killing silver nanoparticles, are meant to be ripped out and used as a filter to kill bacteria that can cause cholera, E.coli and typhoid among others. And the pages last for a month each! 

This book may provide clean water for up to four years.

Waterislife, the organization behind the invention, has launched 100 copies printed in English and Swahili in Kenya, but plan to distribute them globally with time. 3,4 million people die from water related disease each year and most of them have no idea that the water is unsafe to drink in the first place. 

The chemist, Dr. Theresa Dankovich, invented the pages with the bacteria killing effect. Watch the video to see more. Go to this page to help support the project. 

3D print your own make-up by Isabelle Ringnes

Grace Choi demonstrating the Mink printer that may revolutionize the beauty industry. 

Harvard graduate, Grace Choi, recently introduced a new technology and product that may disrupt the beauty industry. Essentially, Choi created a product that allows consumers to 3D print their own make-up in whatever color they want using high quality ingredients- within the comfort of their own home. 

The prototype, called "Mink", let's users choose exactly what colors they want and print out the make-up in that exact hue using a specific software that she has designed. Consumer's can simply locate colors online, use a software that identifies the hue's hexadecimal number and then print the colored dye onto a powder substrate that resembles the raw material of branded make-up. 

The material is described as high quality and FDA-approved cosmetic-grade dye. The printer's cost is estimated at $300 USD and will be about the size of a Mac Mini. 

The product will target young girls who want to experiment with new colors and make-up. 

The Internet of Things by Isabelle Ringnes

The Internet of things

As wearables and the recent rumors surrounding Apple's (hopefully) upcoming iWatch I started thinking more about the Internet of things and how Internet-connected devices will change online advertising in the near future.

Presently the online advertising and marketing industry have not paid much attention until recently, perhaps not fully understanding that it may mean a future without "traditional" online advertising. The first signs can be found in native ads, curated content, and the introduction of voice-assisted apps Google Now and Microsoft Cortana.

If you have not tried Google Now, I highly recommend it. I can't quite explain how satisfying it was to receive a reminder and direction to the restaurant I had made a reservation for on Friday night without even lifting a finger. 

Consumer-packaged goods companies have begun testing semiconductor chips and radio frequency identification technology (RFID), to monitor the movement of finished products to distribution facilities and on to retail store floors at Walmart and Target.

Car manufacturers have used this technology to replenish parts in their supply chain for a while. The electronics industry has been in the forefront of realizing that the Internet of things will someday materialize, and that consumers will be reachable in ways the industry currently have not imagined.

The developments will enable companies to personally connect with consumers on an entirely new level. If one is able to develop security and privacy standards that consumers are comfortable with it, talking electronic appliances like refrigerators, televisions, heaters, cars, even electronic chips operated into our bodies will be able to predict our next need before we are consciously aware.

The move for marketers will happen in waves as market segments begin to understand the transition and the use of data to push information and content to consumers. Automotive manufacturers are among the first to build a business model, connected cars, aligned with this shift. Agencies can now take that technology and push information to the consumer, telling them to take a specific route to save money and gas. They can then navigate them to a specific gas station based on that stations daily offerings.