IFTTT forming an extraordinary user experience

Hello All! my blog post this week is going to be about IFTTT. IFTTT, short for “If This Then That”, is a unique web service that allows users to interconnect different web platforms together such as Dropbox, Weather, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, etc. The connection between all these web applications is based on the conditional statement “If This Then That” which is called “Recipe” in IFTTT. Each statement or “Recipe” is consisted of two main parts, the first part is the “Trigger” and the second part is the “Action”.

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For instance, an IFTTT conditional statement can be something like this; if I check in on Foursquare, then send a text message to my wife. In that example, checking in Foursquare is the trigger and sending the text message is the action. At the moment, IFTTT can create connections among 85 different web services a complete list of all them can be found here.

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IFTTT platform in built upon a quite innovative idea that is web tool or service that is able to automate the Internet for your own needs. Many well-known organizations like Forbes, Wired and The New York Times have admired IFTTT and published lots of articles about it.

Let’s go through the main points that made IFTTT platform such a rich user experience.

1. IFTTT combine the best of web based application experience as well as exclusive experience for their mobile users by leveraging customized mobile apps. In addition, the mobile app let the users integrate tasks with native mobile apps like the iPhone Photos app.

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2. IFTTT built their entire platform based on a simple and a powerful conditional statement, which is If This Then That. Additionally it featured a high degree of usability for the users.

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3. IFTTT expanded their platform to interact with the physical world by integrating with a home automation device called Belkin WeMo. This step has introduced a whole new level of rich user experience. Users started to automate creative stuff with IFTTT like posting a Facebook status message anytime someone reaches for the cookie jar at home. Another example is turning on the lights when you check-in at home on Foursquare.

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4. IFTTT let users to search on their platform for “Recipes” created by other users. This feature makes it quite easy for any new user to automate their tasks straight away. At the moment there are more than 100,000 ready “Recipes” to search and select from.

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5. IFTTT delivers a quite deep and adaptive personalization experience, which matches different users needs. The numerous platforms connected with IFTTT makes it possible for users to automate tasks on their favorite platforms like Flickr, Dropbox or Google Glass.

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Have you ever-used IFTTT? Share your user experience with us in the comments section below.

Foursquare, an outstanding motivator

Hello Again! Today I’m going to tell you about a fascinating social networking platform that only operates on mobile devices called Foursquare. The reason why it’s only running on smartphones is because the entire concept of the platform is built on the idea of your physical location. All of the smartphones available today have built-in GPS hardware that makes it possible to locate your exact location in order to feed Foursquare app with that geo-information. The main function of Foursquare app is to let your friends know where are you by “checking in” at venues using your mobile. In addition, users are also able to add “Tips” on things to do or places to eat in the venues they have checked-in which then become available for all Foursquare users. The platform also takes advantage of the push-notification feature available on smartphones to send any check-in updates to your foursquare friends.

Foursquare team dedicated a lot of their effort to create methods for encouraging users to interact with their app and motivate them to contribute significantly. Moreover, they have selected two approaches to motivate their users based on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

Here are the main intrinsic motivators

1. Users receive points for various transactions with the platform. For instance, a user checks-in a new place he/she receives 3 points and then they get 1 point whenever they checking into the same place again. The app features a leaderboard, which displays top scores of users against their friends.

foursqaure-points

2. Users are crowned “Mayor” of a certain venue if they have checked into it more than anyone else and to hold this Mayorship status they have to keep checking in continuously. This unique intrinsic motivator has made millions of users compete against each other and contribute heavily to the platform in order to achieve such a status.

foursquare-mayor

3. Users can earn badges once they check-in certain venues and these badges get displayed on the user’s profile forever. A famed badge example happed in 2010 when astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock unlocked the NASA Explorer badge via checking in Foursqaure from the International Space Station.

Foursquare_Badges

In addition the previous intrinsic motivators, Foursqaure created a rather interesting extrinsic motivators, here are the main ones.

1. A quite interesting foursquare method is the use of Mayorship intrinsic status as a way to achieve an extrinsic motivator, via providing Mayors with creative specials in real life. A famous example of an innovative special is providing Mayors a reserved parking space in popular venues like shopping malls.

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2. Foursqaure deal with numerous businesses in order to provide specials for their users, which include discounts and freebies. Foursqaure proposed using their platform as a tool for businesses to attract users visiting or checking-in their venues, thus, creating new customers. A recent case study suggested that there are several Foursqaure users that only uses Foursqaure app to get specials!

Special

What do you guys think of Foursqaure motivation methods? Tell me what you think in the comments below.

The “Reddit” way in encouraging online contribution

My blog post this week is going to be about an interesting web platform called Reddit and how their strategy of encouraging users to contribute made it one of the most active online communities. Essentially Reddit is an online bulletin board platform where registered users can submit content such as posts, images or just direct links to other websites. Reddit platform make it possible for users to organize their entries under different areas of interest called “subreddits”. There are thousands of “subreddits” that covers vast topics such as science, technology, music, books, etc. In addition, Reddit also allow the online community to create new “subreddits” as new areas of interest which occur on day-by-day basis.

Since the early days of the platform, Reddit adapted a serious and successful strategy for encouraging the online community to contribute and help Reddit flourish on the World Wide Web. Here are some of the fundamental steps that supported such a strategy.

1. Reddit allowed their users or “redditors”, as they call them, to vote for or against any content submitted to the platform. So if a user like an image or a text he can show a positive feedback by “upvoting” that item. On the other hand, users can also “downvote” any item that they dislike. This process makes it possible for Reddit to rank the items submitted by users based on the online community opinion. Therefore after calculating the feedback ratio and the total vote-count certain items can rank all the way to the front page of Reddit making them visible to millions of users.

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2. Reddit took another further step in their voting procedure by applying the same method to the “comments” section under each posted item. So users are not only able to up-vote the post but also comments by other users, making the most voted comments raise to the top and displayed first!

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3. Three years after launching the platform, Reddit took another step to empower the online community via making their platform an open source. Going open source provided a great opportunity for the online community to contribute to Reddit and develop new features and tools that they would like to use on the platform.

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4. Interacting with the online community in real life via organizing social events at local parks and bars around the world. As a result, many users started creating “subreddits” on Reddit for their local meetings.

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After all, taking such steps in encouraging contribution established a quite powerful online community around Reddit, which in return played a vital role in the success and growth of the platform.

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Have a good day…

Make money selling your art design using Zazzle !

Hi guys! A few months ago I came across an interesting web platform called Zazzle, which is an innovative on-demand web-printing platform. Zazzle allows you to sell your art designs and drawings printed on all sort of different products like t-shirts, cups and even iPhone cases. A guy called Robert Beaver in 1999 created Zazzle involving both of his sons in the process of designing and building the platform. Zazzle’s business concept turned out to be one of the most profitable business models, empowered by the World Wide Web. Zazzle clearly understood the power of enabling the users to create the content and products. Further, the more users participated and interacted the better Zazzle’s platform became! forming a concept called “harnessing collective intelligence”. This concept was identified by Tim O’Reilly as a key element in most of the modern web platforms or so called “web 2.0“. In addition, they are lots of interesting features built around Zazzle which contributed to the huge success of this platform and supported their vision of enabling collective intelligence, such as :

1. The use of innovative web technologies that makes it possible to illustrate your art design on any product instantly. This also helps the users to keep tweaking their designs in order to make them look much more appealing on the actual products.

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2. The integration of social media to share products effectively and implementing additional social tools like “like button”, products rating and user reviews.

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3. Leveraging crowdsourcing to reach for micro niche markets and products.

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4. Making use of other platforms APIs and integrating them with Zazzle like Instagram and Google drive APIs.

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So I decided to give it a shot and make my own design! The process of creating my store, which will display all my products at a later stage, was quite easy and fun. Once my store was up and ready, I started making a cool design that will be printed on my products and ended up with a funny animation of Alan Garner holding a watermelon from the movie “The Hangover”.

Cool like a watermelon

After you upload your design to your store, Zazzle asks you to include keywords that describe your design which are called “Tags”. These tags help the platform index your product efficiently and also make it easier for other users to search and find your products. Finally pick as many products as you want from Zazzle product’s catalog that will have your design printed on them. Zazzle constantly updates their products list to keep up with current trends and market demand. For instance, when the iPhone 4 was introduced Zazzle added a case for it and later on when iPhone 5 came to the market they updated their phone cases to include that too.

My experience with Zazzle web platform was very engaging and fun and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who’s into art design. Nevertheless, building a successful Zazzle store takes more than creating an attractive design. Here are some tips any serious new comer should consider.

1. Keep an eye on new market trends and make use of the available and free web tools out there. For instance, Google Trends is a great source for gathering intelligence about what people are searching for on the web.

2. Social media is key! take advantage of the powerful social media tools available on Zazzle platform to spread  the word about your designs.

3. Be patient, such web platforms are used by thousands of users which make it a highly competitive marketplace.

Happy surfing everyone. Thanks..