Since moving to New Zealand from the UK nearly a year ago, my roles have focused around Digital operations for major NZ telcos.
It’s great, not least because I’m a geek (and love digital/tech/mobile gadgets) but also because I love where I work.
I’ve recently rolled out some new operational changes that I think are worth blogging about.
I’ve blogged before about digital production, and having worked in this arena for some time now, I can tell you that some of the trickiest things about in-house digital operations is handling workflow – that is, getting requests into the team in the right way – and administration: getting the right info to the right people at the right time. These two things are critical to the smooth running of a digital team.
Getting jobs in to the digital team in a controlled way is important. Here’s how I see it:
- Create a portal that the business can use to get work requests in to the team: I use Formstack as a quick, cheap method of creating forms
- Choose a way of managing your jobs: I’ve used both custom-made & off-the-shelf project management tools. For me, JIRA is the winner at the moment
These products are great, as without the time or budget for a custom-made solution, they let you get a rudimentary process up & running quickly.
This setup is fine to get started with, but… -
- Key info was not being passed from the form into JIRA. This started to become frustrating because I was spending most of my time doing job admin rather than ironing out and evolving the process
- Historically, when people submitted jobs into our department, they felt like the job had disappeared into a black hole – only to reappear magically at the other end with no warning or updates along the way
There’s only so much you can do with these platforms – unless you’re a developer. Which I’m not. You kinda run into a wall where you think “If only I could make it do this…”. Then I discovered…
- Formstack to JIRA integration (obviously), including populating custom fields for trackability, so that we can use…
- …a JIRA webhook and Mandrill integration to keep stakeholders in the loop as to which stage their job is at. We can also…
- …use Webhook & Mandrill to ask questions to stakeholders, even though they don’t have a JIRA account
- Use JIRA-to-JIRA integration to send tasks to our agency’s Agile boards
- Webhooks & Smartsheets to add jobs to trackers automatically
- …all for the paltry sum of $15USD per month
I’ll update with more once I’ve had more of a play.
I’ll make this brief:
AT&T have announced today that they’ll be offering a service called ‘Sponsored data‘.
In a nutshell, this means that content providers can offer to pick up the data bill if you consume their content.
What does this mean? Well, if Spotify struck a deal with AT&T, you wouldn’t have to pay to stream Spotify data. It’d be included with your AT&T service package.
The above example is great if you use Spotify. But what if you use iTunes? Or Pandora? Or Google Music? You’ll have to pay to stream them.
What if CNN paid your data bill for consuming their news stories? You’d perhaps be more inclined to read that rather than, say, the BBC. Or Al Jazeera.
And therein lies the problem. This, to me, heralds a potentially-awful turning point in net neutrality terms. We could theoretically see ourselves being penalised (at best) or even charged extra (at worst) to consume the content WE want. We could see the political party with the deepest pockets having an easier ride into people’s consciousness because it’s ‘free’.
This is a potential problem not only for net neutrality, but also for consumer choice.
I feel there are better ways of doing more for the customer. Vodafone UK, for example, have offered to double your data now that 4G is being rolled out across the country. That’s useful. They also give you the option of signing up to Spotify or Sky Mobile with your 4G plan (not such a great example since one could argue that any Murdoch-shaped is bad) – but the principle is correct. Offer customers something that they’ll find useful: since you’ve just launched 4G, a super-fast mobile network that offers upwards of 80mb/sec download, people will burn through data quicker.
Just a short post today. You may have read my previous blog entry about Derma-Juvenate and their flagrant attempts to misguide users…well, it seems that whoever designed those sites is still at it.
Check this page out:
Looks legit, right? In fact, so legit that it took me a few moments to realise it was a scam based solely on the URL – http://droz.bbc.com-571.net … ‘droz.bbc’ is actually a subdomain of ‘com-571.net’. Urgh.
It’s intentionally set up to look like a BBC news article about how these Snozberries are a miracle cure for someshit. All the links surrounding the main article are genuine BBC links, to help encourage the user to believe they’re reading an actual BBC article.
It leads to this:
Looks awful similar to this layout. What flagrant piss-takers…it really gets my goat that people can be so callous.
Taleo, you and I are going to fall out.
As a digital design professional, UX afficiondo and general online dogsbody, I’d like to state something for the record: for an online career/recruitment portal outfit, you have some work to do.
Here’s my 6 key things about Taleo portals that are in dire need of help, starting at the very beginning. Apologies in advance FOR THE SHOUTING.
For the record, I’m not looking for a new job – we use Taleo at work to manage our vacancies – but in order to illustrate my frustrations, I’ve used HSBC’s Taleo implementation as an example journey for a potential candidate.
Privacy agreement page:
Firstly, the link opens a new page, taking you away from the journey. This is admittedly a minor point, since if you press ‘I decline’, it makes no difference. You can still register as a new user.
Secondly, the button ‘weights’ (i.e the hierarchy – “Which one should I press?”) are identical. Too easy to hit the wrong one, but more importantly it makes the user squint and forces them to think.
Login/New user screen:
Oh look! A new button style; and look, these are ALSO the same weight as each other. Which do I press?
New user registration:
Let’s get something straight. Telling someone who wants to apply for a new job – a process that is already the most insanely laborious ball-ache of a task – the following WILL NOT MAKE THEM WANT TO CONTINUE:
“Please take a few moments to register. You will need this information to access your account in the future.” Oh good. A few moments. This’ll be easy.
“- The user name must contain at least 4 characters and may not contain spaces.” Easy. Go on.
“- Please note that the password must meet the following criteria: Passwords must be at least seven characters and you cannot reuse previous passwords. It must contain at least 1 English uppercase letter (A, B, C..Z), 1 English lower-case letter (a, b, c..z), 1 Westernized Arabic numeral (0, 1, 2..9), and 1 Nonalphanumeric special character (@, #, %, &, *).” Errrr I stopped reading at ‘seven’ …
“- Passwords should not contain more than 2 identical consecutive characters, your Username, your first and/or last name or your email address” Um…you want an executive practical username or your last email address…something?
Let’s break this down. Make things easy. Make them intuitive. Make them seamless. This doesn’t mean you need to be lax on security – just make it EASIER.
Oh and your button styles are the same weight. Again. So it’s easy to ‘Cancel’ what you’ve just painstakingly been ’round the houses 18 times with to comply with your stupid registration rules. Let’s be clear: THERE IS NO NEED FOR A CANCEL BUTTON.
Your CV analysis algorithms need work. It managed to understand my 2 most recent roles, but then – inexplicably, since they’re all laid out in the same way – it couldn’t understand ANY of my roles prior to Vodafone.
This is the ‘Equal opportunities’ section that is apparently optional – see the last paragraph. So why do they all have the mandatory * next to all the fields?! BECAUSE THEY ARE MANDATORY.
So, if these are ‘optional’ – how confusing is this lot? Not Specified? Other? Prefer Not to Say? Undisclosed? All in one dropdown menu of Hell. Great work.
By the way, it’s pretty easy to do some geographic auto-detection to make this Country Of Residence field already completed. Make a guess, at least.
None of these phone number fields are ‘required’ apparently. But the preferred contact field IS. So…which is it?!
With no warning, there are character limits to job titles. Thanks for the warning. I now have to go back and edit ALL OF MY ENTRIES.
Asks for my name and my email address. Except it doesn’t matter what email address I put in there – it certainly wasn’t the one I registered with. Therefore I’m not sure what this is meant to prove.
I ‘successfully’ applied for a role. But the email I got from the portal was UTTERLY AWFUL. It looks like a spam message:
Look at that domain name! Phishing much? So what happens if I click that link… -
Oh and none of it is responsive. You can’t use it on a mobile.
I’ve been lucky enough to beta test the new Google Maps. It’s pretty awesome, and I’d like to share a few bits of it with you.
- More space: the persistent top bar has gone, and the UI elements are hovering over the map
- Different colours: the A-roads, motorways and side roads are all different colours now
- The directions: there’re much easier access to alternative routes in the top left
- Extras: there’s a feed in the bottom right of the map that pulls in thumbnails of publicly-available photos of that area
- Context: if you click a road, it’ll show you a Streetview thumbnail in the top left (if available). If you click a restaurant, it’ll hide non-restaurant-related landmarks and show more of the same
Overall, I think the new directions functions are great, but I must admit the recolouring of the roads is slightly jarring at first. In the UK, motorways have been blue on printed maps for years…this is a pretty ingrained pattern.
As of late May 2013, Spotify’s “Discover” feature is live to all users.
It’s a genuinely great bit of functionality, basing recommendations on what you’ve listened to previously.
As you can see, it’s dominated by a main banner shout at the top, and then features a persistent left column of stacked modules:
The centre alternates between 1/3 and 2/3 module(s):
All of these callouts give really easy access to reading about an artist, listening to a taster track (the ‘play’ icon overlaid on the artist image). I’ve already discovered some ace stuff like this, including Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightnin’ … get an earful here, and start your Spotify experience too!
Wondering what the fuss is about? Confused with the recent media furore about what is ACTUALLY going on?
Yeah, you and most of the world. Take a look at this awesome Youtube vid – it explains the concept better than I ever could:
I was asked to review ‘Bounce‘ coffee, a strength-5 espresso ground little number.
Now, the problem I have is that I’m no coffee connoisseur – in fact, I’m somewhat of a philistine: I don’t have it black, and I tend to put sugar in it. This, therefore, somewhat precludes me from the “I’m getting whiffs of Hollyhocks!” review-writing brigade. That said, I DO brew it properly in a cafetiere, so perhaps I’m halfway there.
Anyway, as a colleague rightly pointed out, 80% of the coffee-drinking population are likely to be in this “Just give me caffeine” camp too. So here goes nothing!
This is really rather good coffee. Whilst I couldn’t point out a specific aroma, it does make my drawer at work smell of lovely, fresh-ground coffee. I think this is helped somewhat by the ziplock-style bag that helps keep it fresh.
It tastes good – not too bitter, and no weird lingering after-taste.
I’ll be honest: what I look for in a coffee is a good caffeine hit, and this stuff is strength 5 – so pretty near the top of the scale. And I can confirm, it does the job. In fact, it does it better than some comedy “Wake The Fuck Up” coffee that another colleague brought back from the USA.
Overall, I’d recommend this coffee. Go buy it.
Our son, Sam, has MCADD (a rare inherited metabolic disorder). It can be fatal if left undetected. Sam was very ill when he was a few days old, and if it weren’t for the newborn screening program, things could’ve been worse.
I will be running the Brutal 10km race for CLIMB – a charity who provide support to families with kids with similar disorders – on 27th April.
Please, if you can spare any money, it’d be awesome if you could donate to the cause. Please visit the link below, or simply text MCAD50 £5 to 70070 to donate a fiver (or any amount you can spare). Thank you.
I recently decided to buy some half-decent trousers for work, and popped into a NEXT outlet to find something suitable. They didn’t have my size, so I ordered it online. I wish I’d not bothered.
Firstly, I navigated the site and found my trousers. I got as far as creating my account, and then spotted the ‘enter a promo code’ field. This is essentially an invitation to go & find a promo code…so I tried.
I found one on http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk/next.co.uk for “Order By 10pm for Next Day Home Delivery at Next” … clicked on it, got sent back to the site, and carried on creating my account.
Go to the checkout stage, and then experienced my first “wtf?” moment. Just read the box headline, and then the options on the right:
So, having come into the site via a ‘Free Sunday delivery’ vouchercode, am I getting free Sunday delivery? Or am I getting Monday delivery? Am I paying? I have NO idea.
Then, I click the green ‘Complete order’ button:
The next ‘WTF’ moment:
Yay, I’m getting free jeans because I’ve not been asked to pay!
Oh. Wait. I’ve just been signed up for a credit account with no warning. I call the 0844 helpline (see that number below?), and am first told they can’t help me & am transferred to another dept…and THEN am told that I was given the option of clicking ‘Pay now’…and that since I didn’t click that, I was signed up for a credit account.
The final “WTF?!” moments?
I’ve apparently ordered 2 pairs (it’s showing £64 instead of just £32);
…yet I apparently have no orders.
I implore anyone at Next who reads this to help me believe this is a one-off. Unfortunately, I doubt anything you say will convince me, because my wife had this exact same issue around 6 months ago. She even warned me before buying from the site…but me being me, I thought “How bad can it be? And I work in the industry, so should be able to plot my way through this successfully…”