Path App…. What is it?

After reading about the second round of investment that Path had received yesterday I was keen to find out a bit more about the social platform I had only heard mummers of faintly in the background until now.

“The smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love”

The tagline from the minimalist website doesn’t give too much away so I had to dig deeper to find out why investors like Richard Branson and Jerry Murdoch are willing to contribute to a $30 million round of investment, currently valuing the company at $240 million.

Path was Founded in 2010 by some pretty big hitters. Dave Morin (previously Co-Inventor of Platform and Connect at Facebook), Shawn Fanning (creator of Napster) and Dustin Mierau (co-creator of Macster). What that means is that its already older than Instagram…. and it hasn’t really caught on has it?!

Path app review, what is path, path investment

But after downloading the app which is a platform built entirely for mobile use I can see what loosened the investors pockets. Path aims to be a combo of Facebook, Instagram,Foursqaure and maybe Twitter all in one. There is also a strong focus on close relationships, (rather than being connected with every Dick or Harry you went to summer camp with) with Path initially limiting you to just 50 friends. This has recently been increased to 150 friends, but the emphasis is that this is a more personal social network than others.

Users can use take pictures directly from the app and use many of the filters that Instagram has become famous for. Part of the attraction to Facebook of Instagram was its ability to take photos directly from the social platform in as few steps as possible. Path allows you to do it in three steps, which is comparative to Instagram.

Users can also check into places or add location tags to any posts they create. They can also let people know what music they are listening to providing a link directly to both listen to the song and to buy it from iTunes.

And of course comments and updates can be provided too.

What I think is key to Path’s appeal is its amazing user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX) where ease of use and navigation features strongly. The platform itself is slick and aesthetically pleasing and anyone that I have convinced to sign up immediately likes it and wants to use it.

Creating posts is incredibly simple: click on an icon at the bottom of your screen and six buttons fan out in a quarter-circle. From here you can write whatever’s on your mind whether thats tagging where you are, who you are with, what you are seeing, how you are feeling or what your listening to. These all appear on a single screen along with your friends’ updates.

What is Path?, Path app , Path user experience

I can certainly see why, with its slick interface and focus on a smaller network between closer friends, Path is appealing. Facebook is the master of social networks, but I’m not sure that it is suitable for certain types of posts that I may want to put up. Photos on Facebook tend to be mainly of people and usually of them having a good time. Photos on Instagram tend to be of things. These arty, beautiful photos of a tree you pass feel a bit poncy and unsuitable on Facebook, yet fit in perfectly on Instagram. In the same way I think in a smaller social network letting people know who I am with and what I am listening to seems more appropriate.

The problem with Path is though that it currently has about 798 million less users than Facebook. No one I know was on it until I convinced a few of my friends to try it out and the fact is a social network is only as good as its network. But with such an interest right now on sites with design at its core like Instagram and Pinterest it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Path comes more and more to our attention in coming months.

If you are on Path let me know. My username is Barrytg! I have included a link to an excellent site about user design called Start ups this is how design works.

Also check out great blog by Shane O Leary.

Path app, What is path, path social platform, path investment

Winding Path to Success?


How websites should be designed – Don’t Make Me think!!

I was recently told that a book by Steve Krug called don’t make me think is the undisputed bible when it comes to web usability. With such a glowing reference I bought the book online for less than €5. When it arrived in the post I realised that it was the first edition of many and scolded myself for not seeing through the low price. However I am not one to be deterred and will read it until some glaring outdated advice forces me to abort!

The book is written in simple language and works off one very basic principle. When some one looks at a webpage it should be self evident, obvious and self explanatory..

The person should be able to “get it” – what it is and how to use it – without expending any effort thinking about it.

The image above, taken directly from the book, shows a site user asking themselves a series of questions when they visit the site.

When you are creating a site is is your job to get rid of these question marks.

Some examples that Krug gives about things that make us think are unobvious names (such as unfamilar technical names or jazzy terms that the marketing department came up with) or links or buttons that aren’t obviously clickable.

Sure these things can usually be figured out in a short period of time but the point is that every question mark adds to our cognitive workload, distracting our attention from the task in hand.

Making things self evident is like having good lighting in a store, it just makes everything seem better. The goal is to make things to seem as effortless as possible so as not to sap any energy or enthusiasm from visitors!

The book goes on to detail the difference between how people actually use the web in comparison to how we often think they use the web.

We often think that people read all the information on a webpage weighing up all their options before decided which link to click on next. This is clearly not the case. At best, most of the time people glance at web pages. The image above, again taken directly from the book shows the comparison really well.

There are 3 facts about real world web use.

1. We don’t read pages. We scan them.

We tend to focus on words and phrases that seem to match either the task at hand or our own personal interests. There are also some trigger words which are hardwired into our brain to stand out like “free” “sale” “sex” and our own name.

2. We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.

The term satisfice was first coined by economist Herbert Simon which is a cross between satisfying and sufficing. When designing web pages we tend to think that people will look at all the available options and weight them up before deciding which one to chose. In reality though we don’t chose the best option, we chose the first reasonable option.

3. We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through them.

The extent to which people use things all the time without understanding how they work. Faced with any sort of technology very few people take time to read the instructions.

So if people are only glancing at your site what things can you do to make sure they see and understand as much of your site as possible? There are 4 important things.

  1. Create a clear and visual hierarchy on each page
  2.  Break pages up into clearly defined areas
  3. Make it obvious whats clickable
  4. Minimize noise
Most of these are pretty self explanatory so I won’t go into to much detail but creating a clear and visual hierarchy has some steps worth mentioning
One of the best ways to make a page easy to grasp in a hurry is to make sure the appearance of the thing son the page clearly portray the relationships between things on the page ; which things are related and which things are part of other things.

Pages with a clear visual hierarchy will have three traits

  1. the more important something is the more prominent it is.
  2. Things that are related logically are also related visually
  3. Things are located visually to show whats part of what.

We encounter visual hierarchies all the time, in news papers or other media, but it happens so quickly that the only time that we become aware of them is when they don’t work. When a page doesn’t have a visual hierarchy  we are reduced to a much slower process of taking into the information as we need to scan the page for revealing words and phrases and then trying to form our own sense of whats important and how things are organised.

Well that’s as far as I have got in the book so far, so there will definitely be at least one blog post to follow after this. I would love to hear any feed back from people who have read  the latest edition!


Our Google Chromebook Preview

We are getting the use of brand spanking new Google Chromebooks later on today. As far as I know we get to keep them for the year and we will give feedback as to how we found them and how amazing they are! I thought I would stick down a few thoughts regarding my expectations before I actually get mine, as it could be useful to look back on in the review stage! They are mainly presumptions and queries!

It seems like this is a whole new way of doing things that takes advantage of the buzz concept of the moment. The Cloud.

what is the Cloud all about? icloud. Chromebook

A lot of people think that Apple invented the (i)Cloud. But in reality a cloud is really just somewhere remote that you can store data. Gmail for example has been storing all our emails in a “cloud” for years.

But having an entire laptop run off a cloud is exciting. Its bound to be a lot faster. With nothing actually stored on your laptop and no memory taken up, there will be no need for  it to boot up?

All your information is a lot safer because even if you lose (or throw into a river) your laptop, your data will remain in the cloud. It also means that you could switch devices really easily. Say you were working on your Chromebook at work. You could then easily make changes to the same work via your phone.

It removes the need for an operating system like microsoft which is really interesting. I wonder what their response will be. I presume this is the direction that all computers are going now? That means there will be no updating of software, as everything will be ungraded automatically in the cloud. Presumably that means that there will have to be some kind of on going support charge?

I presume that it will come automatically connected to all of Googles products?

But does that mean that your laptop is going to be constantly connected to the internet? What if you have no internet? What does this mean for marketing? Are people going to be more reachable now?

Hmmmmmm I am excited!


The Changing Consumer Buying Decision Process

As you might know if you have read my profile, I am currently doing a post graduate in Digital Marketing. It’s going very well, thanks for wondering!!

Our very first lecture was a refresher in consumer behaviour. It was like a stroll down memory lane with old theories and graphs from the past being put up in front of us. The first thing that struck me was how the understanding of consumer’s behaviour came about in a really unplanned way, largely by the work of economists. The famous diagram that we all know starts with a consumer recognising a need or a problem.

Traditional Consumer Buying decision process outdated?

Once the consumer is aware of a need and I suppose in a position to do something about it, they will search out their options and evaluate the various alternatives. They will then make their choice and eventually come to a conclusion as to what extent this choice has lived up to their expectations.

The problem about this very lateral decision making process is that it seems to presume that the consumer is logical, rational and bases their decisions on facts.

First of all consumers can rarely be considered to be rational. The effects of smoking are now widely documented but people still choose to buy a product that harms them. The same can be said for people who pursue dangerous pass times.

Not rational customer buying decision processOther purchases are compulsive or addictive and even though the evaluation stage might yield a negative experience or even regret, the consumer repeats his actions again down the road. This  could be the case for drugs or gambling .Even when logical analysis of the benefits versus consequences of the purchase point alarmingly at a bad choice.

Consumers also don’t make their choices based on facts. They make them based on opinions and perceptions. Opinions are subjective so while one person might like a certain colour another person might not. This is not something the marketer can spend too much energy thinking about, because ultimately what we are concerned with is the areas of consumer’s decisions that we can influence.

But perceptions are different to opinions. In the context of purchasing decisions, people’s perceptions take into account how they want to project themselves. People have an image in their mind of how they want to be seen by others. Realistically there is usually a gulf between how people want themselves to be seen and how they are actually seen. But purchases and ultimately brands give people power to control their image.

The image that people want to display begins as a blur but as they become older things like personality, social class, reference groups and their lifestyle will all bring it more into focus. It’s not necessarily possible for marketers to alter how an individual wants to be perceived. But they do have control of how the brand is perceived and therefore can influence a consumer attitude to a brand and make it desirable to be associated with it.

The role of the marketer has always been to have

  1. A cognitive effect on consumers (make them aware of your brand)
  2. An attitudinal effect (get them to have a positive attitude towards your brand)
  3. A connotative effect (Get them to have an intention to buy)

However the consumer buying decision process has changed. Marketers now need to change with it. 

Check in with my next post to see marketers are trying to adapt