Discussing Stupid tackles ‘stupid’ in digital customer experience through tongue-in-cheek discussions and practical, real world examples. Hosted by Virgil Carroll, this podcast features discussions with industry pros while exploring the crazy things our consumers do and the bad practices we use. All wrapped up in some useful and sometimes sarcastic advice.
Episode 9: The Semantics of Search | Brett Matson, Funnelback
In this episode of the Discussing Stupid podcast your host Virgil Carroll has a conversation with Brett Matson, the Managing Director of Funnelback Search Technology, about search, semantic search, knowledge graphs, artificial intelligence in search, and the related leverages and pitfalls.
Brett shares that there are several big things coming in the area of search, after reaching a plateau and stagnation for a few years. Some of these are paradigmatic (understanding the search has multiple purposes, not just page rankings,) and some include changing the approach (i.e. modifying queries,) changing presentation of results (modules,) knowledge graphs, semantic search (detecting the intent of the query,) and many more.
Brett explores how some of these new technologies are intrinsically more attractive to people. For example, knowledge graphs are (or can be) visual and show relations between entities in them. Thus, they are much more intuitive in contrast to being faced with a wall of data to choose from. The point is, of course, making content a lot more intelligent and hence more useful, by treating it as a product and perfecting its delivery.
In Brett’s opinion, during the next decade we will see a real proliferation of smart tools that will help users and companies perform a significantly better search. Virgil and Brett also discuss how it is very important to avoid making too many connections when using a new, powerful technology that can do that. This can bog down the whole organization, its data servers, employees, and finally, users.
Virgil’s conversation with Brett is very rich and diverse, so make sure to listen to the whole episode and pay close attention to what he had to share.
Future-proofing your experience delivery strategy with Intelligent Content by Kate Skinner.
Siraj Raval's YouTube channel is full of short, fun videos that teach all different aspects of machine learning and AI.
Coursera's Machine Learning course, one of the original online machine learning courses, delivered by leading AI researcher Andrew Ng.
A great article by Sebastien Dery discussing the challenges of knowledge graphs.
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Episode 8: Consistent UX across multiple channels | Kanwal Khipple, 2toLEAD
In this episode of the Discussing Stupid podcast, your host Virgil Carroll has a conversation with Kanwal Khipple about successful and consistent user experience (UX) across multiple channels. The question is how to design consistent user experience for people across different interfaces developed by different companies to provide different experiences. Kanwal is the CEO at 2toLEAD, and great UX innovation is his passion. Virgil and Kanwal dive deep into the past and recent trends of tools, the challenges that user experience design faces across tools, and offer advice on the best approaches to cultivate successful cross-app user experience.
One of the major challenges of UX is adopting a tool (or tools) that can sometimes be too complex and can feel burdensome. For UX design to be successful, it is important to understand the users themselves and how they utilize your services or business’s tools. For that reason, it’s important to note and map how consumers find your tools and how they use the tools. Another important aspect of UX design is to not overwhelm users. For example, one common error is overloading them with notifications that they cannot manage or turn off. Building a road map where the whole process will help the users and the company as well.
There are 3 facets of UX – navigation, search, and the actual content. The best approach is to focus on one of these, excel at it, gather feedback, and continuously improve.
Buzzword for this episode: seamlessness
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Episode 7: What's Old is New Again | Chad Heinle & Joel Baglien, High Monkey
In this episode of the Discussing Stupid podcast, the first in 2019, host Virgil Carroll and Principal Solutions Architect at High Monkey, has a conversation with Chad Heinle and Joel Baglien about how technology has changed due to people’s needs changing and how certain technology has been recycled to reflect a market that’s now ready to utilize it. Chad Heinle and Joel Baglien are both VPs at High Monkey. Chad heads the production team and Joel, co-founder of High Monkey with Virgil, heads the sales and marketing team. Both Chad and Joel briefly discuss how they became interested in web work and got to where they are now in their careers.
Virgil starts the discussion by highlighting the developments and changes in web design. While previously a web developer was essential to program and put together a website, today with advanced CMSs almost anyone can build a website and almost everyone does. Chad voices his concern of a current issue that was not present before – now people who are not well versed in web development have tools at their disposal to create websites; however, many of these non-developers tend to make subpar websites. Chad believes, however, that people are coming to realize that for the sake of efficiency and ease of use, more consideration is going into who makes a website. Virgil also shares his take on user-friendly website development and its correlation with technology growth. Joel brings to light the fact though many years have passed; yet for many organizations, institutions, and companies, their websites are still inaccessible to certain site visitors. Joel suggests that this can be rectified with proper design, development, and content role allocation. With the recent push for more simplistic, accessible sites the need for knowledgeable web developers and programmers has returned.
This trend has also changed things in the domain of search engine design. Search engines have become better at finding and displaying information. However, if a user is drowned in information and is not able to quickly find the information he needs, he will most likely not use the search engine or the website that he happens to be on again. There’s the simple truth that some companies and messages resonate with visitors and potential customers, while others don’t. In order for your message to resonate, you need to be efficient. One should also aim to use the platforms that fit your company, message, and brand – for instance, don’t focus on Twitter if you are a visually oriented company.
Another trend that contributed to the recent strive towards simplicity is that the everyday activities of people have become digital. This digital-centeredness can be overwhelming and socially stressful for some people with having to deal with different media sources, information, platforms, and passwords on a daily basis. Hence, the desire to have more simplified search capability and user-ability, since having to navigate the daily digital landscape is complicated already. The difference between today and a decade ago is that things that are done now need to have a purpose – rarely are elements on websites there just to have them there (Macromedia/Adobe Flash anyone?).
Developments in various markets and niches are cyclical, as can be attested by the recent renaissance of the muscle car. The recent trend towards simplicity might develop towards complexity when it has run its course. Virgil, Chad, and Joel’s advice to you is that it pays to follow trend developments and not forget that things happening now, probably happened before at one point in time in the past.
Buzz words for this episode: digital workplace
Episode 6: Reducing friction in your digital content creation | Martin Michalik, Kentico
In this episode of the Discussing Stupid podcast, host Virgil Carroll sits down with Martin MacCulloch from Kentico Cloud. Martin is a product manager at Kentico Cloud. Kentico Cloud is a cloud-based environment for content management and delivery. Martin joins Virgil to discuss content friction, common workflow problems, and how Kentico Cloud is harnessing technology to improve content efficiency and cohesiveness. After their interview, Virgil shares his frustration with a new buzzword in the Stupid Buzz section of the show.
As the conversation unfolds, Martin defines content friction as everything that causes inefficiency or damage throughout the content lifecycle. Martin breaks down some of the friction his teams experienced around new product launches. Namely, how they found it difficult to decide who would write the content, how to craft a cohesive message, and how to collaborate efficiently as a team. Martin and Virgil talk about how to build beneficial workflow systems and avoid perpetuating the problems you’re trying to fix.
Next, Martin shared numerous technological and workflow issues that he has witnessed throughout his career. Some of these issues include inefficient file storage where hundreds of emails are exchanged, failing to work on the most recent version of a file in collaborative projects, bottlenecked team structures where a plethora of decisions have to be made by a single person, and more. Virgil then asks Martin about how Kentico Cloud is working to streamline the collaborative content-creation process, help brands craft a cohesive message, and improve the journey from ideation to execution.
After the conversation winds down, Virgil dives into Stupid Buzz, where he talks about a buzzword that gets on his nerves. This week’s buzzword is “omnichannel.” Virgil shares his concerns about the way that people use the term incorrectly and points back to its legitimate meaning, which implies understanding your content on a microscopic and big-picture level as it relates to the various platforms it’s being published on. In short, omnichannel content is far more complex and specific than many people suggest through their inaccurate use of the term.
Learn more about Kentico Cloud
Download a free handbook of templates and best-practices from the Content Strategy Alliance
Episode 5: Making sense of diversity in digital messaging | Heather Newman, Creative Maven
The digital world of today challenges marketers to carefully craft their messaging or risk causing the type of public relations nightmare most don’t want to think about. Now, digital marketers have to not only appreciate the power of the words and imagery they use (or choose not to), but also recognize the need to elevate their messaging to tell a much broader, more diverse story around our brands and products. To help shed some light on some of these challenges, Virgil is joined by the always delightful Heather Newman from Creative Maven. Heather is not only an experience marketer, but is also known for her endeavors in the promotion of better diversity and inclusion in the workplace, especially in the field of technology.
During the discussion, Virgil and Heather ‘get real’ on how the conversation around diversity is changing the digital marketing landscape and share some big (and sometimes funny) screw-ups and successes along the way. In the end, the conversation explores the complex topic, pokes fun at many of our predisposed ideas about how diversity in messaging works (its not just about your person count in images) and gives real world examples on the dos and donts we should all try to follow.
https://www.creativemaven.com/ - Heather's marketing agency
https://storybrand.com/ - Story Brand
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/ - Microsoft Global Diversity and Inclusion
https://www.womeninsharepoint.com/ - Women in SharePoint
https://www.womenintechnology.org/ - Women in Technology
https://www.womenshistory.org/ - National Women's History Museum
Episode 4: Creating inclusive digital experiences – getting your content contributors onboard | Doug Burgett, University of Illinois
In today’s digital world, creating an inclusive visitor experience is often discussed but never really implemented. One of the biggest challenges facing successful implementation is taming the behaviors of a large base of content contributors. In this episode, Virgil is joined by Doug Burgett of the University of Illinois, to discuss his first-hand experience with this topic. Doug is the Creative Director for Marketing Communications for Enrollment Management (translation: he markets for admissions). In this role, Doug has primary responsibility for the most important areas of the University of Illinois website and must ‘wrangle’ a diverse population of contributors who possess a variety of skill levels.
During the podcast, Virgil and Doug discuss the challenges we all face keeping our digital properties accessible. Add to the mix that we have to train our contributors to use the tools at our disposal in an educated way. According to Burgett, “When content editors use WYSIWYG editors they don’t realize that as the enter content into the editor, code is actually being created in the back end. Knowing this helps content editors to Realize the power they have at their fingertips.” Once consistency among content editors has been achieved, Virgil and Doug discuss bad practices to avoid, look at some of the monitoring tools and techniques you can employ, and explore how to provide your customers with all-inclusive digital experiences.
https://developers.google.com/amp/ - Google’s mobile first development methodology
https://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices-1.1/ - Understanding the use of ARIA tags
https://fae.disability.illinois.edu/anonymous/?Anonymous%20Report=/ - University of Illinois’s Functional Accessibility Evaluator
https://webaim.org/ - Online accessibility compliance auditor
https://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser - Accessibility color contrast tester