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The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) — the leading association and voice of the internet business & marketing industry. MITX is about all things digital, about what is next for the web and how it impacts the marketing and business worlds. We are passionate about creating opportunities for individuals and businesses to connect, grow and thrive. And we are committed to showcasing the ideas, the innovations, and the contributions that are fueling a thriving and integral industry in New England and throughout the world. Our mission is to capture and convey the essence of what our industry is doing, and to challenge us all to think differently, think big about what is next, because what is next is here.

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Evolving Beyond The Experience: How Brands Are Connecting With Today’s Consumers

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We have a few posts from our friends at SapientNitro to share with you this week! The first one is written by Katarina Loughlin, Experience Designer at SapientNitro. Katarina give a fantastic recap of her experience at FutureM and how various session discussed the relationships people have with brands.

Katarina Loughlin (@katarina) is an experience designer at SapientNitro. In a past life, she was a product designer for Skype and the enterprise level unified communication client, Lync. She believes in crafting experiences that deliver the most information to people with the least amount of obstacles.

I attended FutureM 2014 as an Experience Designer. However, my job is more than providing a better web experience for customers.

Hedgehogs, Foxes, and the Future of UX

Jonathan Follett

Lots more UX and Design posts coming your way this week and next so stay tuned! Today we have a post my Jon Follett, Principal at Involution Studios. Jon discusses how one-track thinking can hinder design skills and strategies. 

Jon Follett (@jonfollett) is a principal at Involution Studios where he is a designer, business lead, and an internationally published author on the topics of user experience and information design. Jon is the lead author and editor for "Designing for Emerging Technologies: UX for Genomics, Robotics, and the Internet of Things", which will be published by O'Reilly Media in December, 2014. He is a father of two boys, and a classically trained pianist who dreams of one day having a family rock band.

In his essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” writer and philosopher Isaiah Berlin describes two types of thinkers. Those people who excel in a multivariate environment, looking at many different things and approaching each situation in a new way, Berlin refers to as “foxes”. Those who want to focus on only one thing, who seek orderly specialization, he calls “hedgehogs”.

So, What Exactly Do You Do For a Living?

Hilary Basch Headshot

Here is another excellent UX and Design post for you by Hilary Basch, User Experience Designer at Communispace. Hilary takes a look at the intersection of psychology and technology and what exactly a user experience is at its roots. 

As a User Experience Designer at Communispace, Hilary focuses on integrating the voice of the customer into the design and implementation of easy-to-use interfaces for Communispace's community platform. She’s found that by combining her technical chops with her artistic sensibilities, she can speak the language of both the engineer and of the customer. When Hilary isn't spending her time advocating for a better user experience, she can be found baking cupcakes, solving Rubik's cubes, painting landscapes or going for runs around the Charles River.

You may be astonished by how many friends, family, and even coworkers sheepishly (and repeatedly), ask me this question. Undeniably important and simultaneously ambiguous: a good user experience (UX) is something we innately know we need, but can be hard to craft and even more difficult to define. When I try to explain my job to curious inquisitors, I often find myself referencing bad UX. A bad experience is easy to understand and identify: pushing a door that’s meant to be pulled, changing your address when you move, reading a menu with a tiny font in a dimly lit restaurant, reasoning with a cable service provider… the list goes on.

After Omni-Channel: Preparing for Digital Context - A FutureM Review

Andie Tilden

This month we are combining our UX and Design theme with some awesome reviews of FutureM. This review is written by Andie Tilden, Manager for the Integrated Marketing Group at AMP Agency and recaps a fan-favorite session from our Customer Insights track at FutureM 2014. 

Andie Tilden is an Manager for the Integrated Marketing Group at AMP Agency of Boston. At AMP, she helps to drive the strategy behind new business opportunities to tell a compelling story about AMP’s integrated and innovative offerings. Her experience at AMP has allowed her to gain a deep understanding of multiple industries and how social media can be integrated into their core marketing strategies. Her background is in account management where she worked on brands from various industries including casual dining, healthcare, alcoholic beverages, toy manufacturing, and non-profits. Beyond digital marketing, Andie’s interests revolve around fitness and wellness. She is a part time spinning instructor (with the best playlists in town) and enjoys improving wellness programs in the workplace.

One of the most interesting seminars I was able to attend at FutureM was titled “After Omni-Channel: Preparing for Digital Context” presented by Stone Mantel’s Martie Woods as well as Stacey Symonds, Senior Director of Consumer Insights at Orbitz. The content of the seminar focused on what many agencies claim to do already: owning today’s consumer purchase journey and what that means for the future.

Where Did “User Experience” Come From?

Dirk Knemeyer

We have another excellent user experience and design blog post to share with you this week. This post, written by Founder of Involution Studios, Dirk Knemeyer, takes a look at where the idea of "user experience" came from and what's next in this space.

Dirk (@dknemeyer) is a social futurist and a founder of Involution Studios. He envisions new systems for organizational, social, and personal change, helping leaders to make radical transformation. Dirk is a frequent speaker who has shared his ideas at TEDx, Transhumanism+ and South by Southwest along with conference keynotes in Europe and the United States. He has been published in Business Week and participated on the 15 boards spanning industries like healthcare, publishing, and education.

User experience is a nearly ubiquitous term in business today. We gobble up the latest and greatest on methods, case studies, principles, and practices, but do we really know very much about where it came from? Happily for you in 2005 I researched the origins of this creative field and the recent surge of popularity has compelled me to dust that off and share it with you.

On Humans, UX, And Dog Fooding Your Designs

Bob Goodman

This month we have some more exciting UX and Design posts for you! Kicking off October with a post by Bob Goodman, SVP/Director of User Experience at Arnold Worldwide. Bob discusses looking at design from different perspectives to create better experiences.

Bob Goodman is SVP/Director of User Experience at Arnold Worldwide. He’s worked in UX for over 15 years, including 10 years managing UX teams, and focuses on creating deeply useful, usable, and engaging user experiences for leading companies. He sees UX as a driving force for product and process innovation through user research, information architecture, content strategy, and interaction design. 

I don’t think it is overly controversial on the surface to say that the agency, design, and technology communities should design for humans. I’ve always aspired to design with other people in mind, as opposed to dogs, cats, or a mongoose. However, dig deeper and there is plenty to consider.

Why Simple Website Designs Just Work

Christian Habermann

Post FutureM we are excited to share some user experience and design guest blogs with you all! Here is one by Christian Habermann, Founder of Auctus Marketing that discusses how a good web design is not often the most complex.

Christian Habermann is the founder of Auctus Marketing and is a leader and innovator in the online marketing world. He lives and works in Boston where he is very involved in the start up scene. He loves to help companies of all sizes, from big Fortune 100 companies to start ups, embrace the online marketing world and help to grow their business. He is the author of "SEO for 2013" and holds and MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt.

“The way we’re running the company,
the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this:
Let’s make it simple. Really simple.” ~ Steve Jobs

Ever wonder why we all seem to just love simple homepage designs or simple designs in general? I was pondering this the other day as I was looking at some of the furniture in my apartment. When my father was retiring a few years ago, he offered me a desk that he had in his office for many years. It was actually an architect’s drafting table and I loved it ever since I first laid eyes on it. The design of this table is true simplicity. It is very basic and plain. Essentially, it’s like a coffee table or a desk, but with very long legs. I was thinking, what really has drawn me to this table or other things in my life that are designed with no thrills, but with just simplicity and grace.

Raja Rajamannar of MasterCard to Keynote FutureM 2014 Conference on September 17th

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Online registration for FutureM closes SUNDAY the 14th. Registration will be available on-site and passes will be $650. See everyone next week!

FutureM, the annual event showcasing the future of marketing, today announced that Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer of MasterCard, will deliver a keynote address at this year’s conference. Co-located with the HubSpot INBOUND conference, FutureM will take place at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center from September 16-18, 2014. Register today at


All That Data: Is It Enough and What Does It All Really Mean?

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I know August is over but we had to squeeze in one more data and analytics post for you. Ali Hyatt, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing & Product at Upward Labs takes a look at how the quantity and quality of data can impact insights. 

Ali is the cofounder and head of marketing & product for Upward Labs, which creates software for brands to build and manage their own ambassador programs to drive consumer engagement and increase reach and revenue.  Ali was previously a brand strategist at Interbrand and Desgrippes Gobe, launching brands for Hulu, Victoria’s Secret, Kmart, Moet Chandon and American Express, and the digital strategy manager for Avery Office Products.  Ali was also a past MITX Future Leaders Group member.  Follow her @UpwardLabs or @arrobbins.

As a marketer, have you said to yourself recently:

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How to Measure Engagement Without Optimized Analytics

Brendon Attebury

Another data and analytics post for the month! In this post Brendon Attebury, User Experience Designer at Boston Interactive dives into some creative ways to measure website engagement. Interested in guest blogging? Email taylor[at]mitx[dot]org.

As a User Experience Designer at Boston Interactive, Brendon Attebury understands how optimizing user experience can turn good website design into great website design that can help companies achieve digital marketing objectives. Brendon also operates the state of the art eye-tracking lab at Boston Interactive which plays a key role in quality assurance of their website design. The eye tracking system is a technology that provides visual analysis into how someone engages with your website by tracking gaze and pupil data. Follow Boston Interactive on Twitter @bstninteractive

Let’s face it. As user experience designers, we often deal with sites that are not optimized for analytics tracking. Understanding, let alone measuring, engagement of your website can be tricky especially if helpful tracking tools, like content grouping, have not been setup from launch. If this is the case for you, there is still the non-automated option of doing things manually.

In my experience with analytics, there seems to be no silver bullet for measuring engagement. Only looking at the audience engagement rate is simply not enough. You still want to understand metrics in relation to the visual design. Which means looking beyond a simple bar graph. Viewing engagement analytics is not an exact science and there are weaknesses, but let’s not worry about outbound linking, tabbed navigation or any other inherent flaws with time on page (e.g., a user walking away from a page and coming back later).

For our purposes we are focusing on timely deliverables and need a simple snapshot of what users are doing. If we can use time on page as a semi-reliable indicator of engagement, then breaking down time on page per URL is one way to get a quick understanding about what users are doing on your site. However, I should preface this by saying you need to look at several key metrics to get a more holistic picture and remember to always keep in mind the site’s goals.
Successful design often surfaces important information in the navigational hierarchy to the front. For example, navigation should go left to right, with most importation sections to the left and least important to the right. When you look at time on page per section, you should then see it drop as you move from left to right on the navigation. A navigation that works well will have the highest time on page attributed to the left-most section, as it should be the most important section in achieving website goals. Total sessions per section is another metric that can be considered alongside time per page to determine engagement.

Another quick metric to consider in unison with time on page is pages per session. If users are coming to the site and only staying on one page then that would not meet our goals. We want users to peruse pages and engage on as many levels as possible. We also should be aware of looking at pages per session and bounce rate to see which pages have a low bounce rate with a higher number of pages per session. This is not a guarantee, but it is a good indicator of engagement.

These are just a few of the ways we can measure site engagement without optimized analytics. Always keep in mind that in measuring engagement you are looking for connections between the visual design and site metrics in relation to the goals of your site.

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