Following YouTube’s best ever streaming coverage of Coachella, it would have been nice to see the BBC match its ambition. Of course in some areas the BBC coverage was infinitely superior, but the Beeb is still not really getting into social media, and the usually brilliant inclusions of setlists were glaringly absent this year.
I also felt that YouTube’s streaming / interface was smoother and smarter. When viewing the BBC feed it dropped out a few times and needed a browser refresh to re-establish which never happened with YouTube’s Coachella. Switching between feeds on YouTube was slick and effortless, whilst the BBC interface was noticably laggy. Finally, the BBC did not have an ’Artists on now and coming up next panel’ or ’Lineup / Agenda’ panel on the same page - so you had to flit between pages to get a proper sense of what was going on.
The BBC excels though in providing Video Highlights on its iPlayer which allows you to watch most of what went down - in any order.
I caught the following acts - both live and on-demand:
Chase and Status
I particularly enjoyed Disclosure, Iggy Azalea, Katy B, Kendrik Lamar and Rudimental - as well as B. Traits’ DJ set.
As an associate Professor at Reykjavík University’s Law Department, Svala Ísfeld Ólafsdóttir has long campaigned for reforms in the handling and sentencing of sexual crimes, particularly with regards to younger victims. The Vikan article touches on various facets of Svala’s life, trials and tribulations and battles with personal demons. The whole family is justifiably proud of her achievements - Well done Svala!
Comic Book Stores mean much more than just cartoon strips; my favourite - ’Forbidden Planet’ on Saftesbury Avenue stocks an enormous collection of Comics and Graphic Novels, Books, DVDs, Figurines, Art, Toys, and Collectables. I’ve been a long-term fan of comics, from an early obsession with Commando and Starblazer, DC and Marvel, and Frank Miller. This quickly developed into a love of Graphic novels - and particurarly from the mature DC imprint - Vertigo.
My Top 10 Grapic Novels / Series of All Time: (roughly in order of preference)
A few weeks ago, Team Comrz came over to the Mews to experience my recently established Fully-Immersive Home Movie Set-up. The idea was to experience the best in sound and vision, and sample the finest cinema-style food (kind of American / Icelandic Style).
The key components of my AV setup are nowhere near the top of their range as such, but they provide near enough the very best experience nonetheless:
Vision is provided by a Samsung UE46ES6800 46" 3D TV
Playback comes via Sony PS3 Slim Blu-Ray Player
Simulated surround sound comes via Yamaha YSP-2200 Sound Projector - which includes satellite sub
Sound and Vision
For our viewing / auditory pleasure, we started with some reference Blur-Ray sound demo segments - from the following titles:
City / Manufacturing / Chickens sequence from ’Baraka’
Bean / Drum sequence from ’House of Flying Daggers’
’Once in a Lifetime’ from Talking Heads’ ’Stop Making Sense’
D-Day Landings sequence from ’Saving Private Ryan’
There was a lot of debate over which feature film to watch - to get the best combination of 3D and Sound.
The 10 best 3D Titles for picture / effect are generally held to be:
Life of Pi
The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey
The Adventures of Tin Tin
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Transformers 3 - Dark of the Moon
In roughly that order.
For our purposes though, we needed a combination of best picture and sound - which meant it was really between the bottom two, and Tron Legacy was the one that got the most votes. The super-sharp visuals and crisp Daft Punk soundtrack make it a pretty lively and engrossing experience, even though the 3D effects aren’t quite up to the very best.
To accompany the home movie experience, we also had to have the best possible movie food - i.e. hot dogs and popcorn; not just any kind though, Icelandic-style hot dogs (all about the condiments q.v.) and proper movie-theatre-style popcorn.
Icelandic Style Hot Dogs
One of Reykjavik’s must-do experiences is a hot dog and coke from ’Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur’ or literally ’The Best Hot Dogs in town’. The Icelandic ones
It’s that special time of year again - Record Store Day! (Tomorrow April 20th) When you get to do good in your neighbourhood and keep your local record store alive. My favourites are still Phonica on Poland Street, Sister Ray on Berwick Street, and the HMV Flagship on Oxford Street, but I occasionally pop into all the stores in my local area, as featured on the map below:
The most significant of the eCommerce introductions in the Affino 7.1 release is our new Store Credits system. This of course bolsters the existing Service Credits - where Consumers are rewarded for their onsite activities with access to premium features and functions. Store Credits of course give your website a fully monetised approach to incentives.
Customers can accrue Store Credits in three ways - by making a purchase, similar to the Boots / Frequent Flyer / Nectar / Tesco loyalty points schemes, secondly by triggering any of the circa 40 Conversion Events (various online activities), and finally - Credits can be assigned manually to Users - either for incentive purposes or for transactional refunds.
The Checkout Screen (top) makes customers aware of the Store Credits system (name it what you like!) and displays ’Total Points’ accrued and ’Points received’ for that specific transaction.
The above, second visual, is actually a composite of 2 different control-side screens - a ’Store Credit Profile’ above and the ’Incentives’ panel below - as appears on any of Affino’s 40 Conversion Events. For the former, you set the Point limits - the Threshold / minimum points required for redemption, and the Maximum Order Percentage for which the points can be redeemed. There are two different conversion rates - the Points to Currency Conversion Rate - i.e. how many points to a penny/cent; then you have the Currency to Point Rate - which is how well you reward customers for their purchases. A typical rate for Points to Currency is 100 points = $1 in value, whilst $1 spent typically renders 1-5 points or up to $5 in credit for every $100 spent.
On each Catalogue Item you can activate the Credits via a ’Credit Scale’ setting - default value is 1, but you can increase multiplier up to 10 meaning 10x points for that Item - a ’0’ value means the Item is exempt from Credits.
The bottom panel in the visual shows how you can assign ’Store Credit Points’ for each of the 40 Conversion Events - so that you can monetarily reward loyal participants on your site - i.e. Customers who post reviews, ratings, recommendations and other useful editorial or social content / media.
My favourite introduction in the Affino 7.1 release is something I have been campaigning after for a while - Panel Design Elements.
The versatility and utility of Panels in Affino is really quite remarkable, as you can combine any of Affino’s 80+ Design Elements into a separate Design Object - which can pop-up from any Button DE.
Several sites already have made use of a Login DE as a Panel on a login button - as you can also see top right on this site. In fact the top right corner of the Comrz site is quite heavy with Panel elements. Apart from the Login, we have Forum Highlights on the small Forums icon button, Team Time Who’s Online on the Team Time button, Article Listing DE on the Rated button, What’s New DE on the ’New’ button, and a combination of Article Listing and further Button DEs on the ’BLOG’ button. 3 of the mentioned Panels are illustrated above.
The beauty of the Panels is that they can provide users with quick and concise information in a rapid, easily-accessible manner, and which can take up hardly any of your page real-estate.
I’m sure we will see some very clever implementations of panels in the forthcoming months; hopefully you will like the new innovations forthcoming in the new Comrz.com site design which is due to start implementation soon ...
The Coachella festival always signals the start of Spring proper for me, I of course look forward to hearing some of my favourite bands play live, as well as seeing what advances YouTube / Google make in their coverage.
As far as the YouTube interface goes, I preferred last year’s version - with the Social Media shout-outs appearing to the right of the main video. I also felt the who’s playing and who’s on next was better done last year too. As per last year - shout-outs were evenly split between Twitter and Facebook, with Google+ messages barely 1 in 50.
What really stood out this year though was the ’Rebroadcast’ service YouTube provided - where they looped the live footage 2-3 times after each night. This is how I watched most of the acts - and it enabled me to dive right in and see who I wanted to see and skip those who did not spark my interest.
YouTube / Google are still fairly poor at the Video highlights / edit thing and the so-called ’Highlight Reels’ are attrocious. The BBC is far better at the editing thing - and providing full and set highlights per artist.
Obvious trend this year was the dominance of what the American’s like to call ’EDM’. In terms of legendary performances though, there were very few of these - Major Lazer put on a spirited show, but it’s really only dance music acts like Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada who know how to put on a proper show for this genre of music. However good James Blake’s music is, I’m not sure how well it works in a lively festival setting - I tend to agree with Glastonbury die-hards in that you need a proper spirited ’band’ mechanic for a live performance to really work - and on that basis, the standout highlight for me was Janelle Monáe. Of Monsters and Men, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grimes, Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Metric and Poliça were pretty good too...
I caught whole or partial sets by the following artists:
In my definition, the essence of Retail Social Commerce is not just the ability for customers to interact with ecommerce catalogue items and convey their likes and recommendations - it is the ability for other customers to correlate those recommendations with their own personal preferences.
The above illustration touches on the 4 key areas in my opinion, and I will reference examples of each here below:
LIKES - largely popularised by Facebook, these are now pretty much ubiquitous on most sites - you simply tick an option or click on a ’thumbs up’ icon to indicate you like something - Facebook then cleverly references all these likes on the User’s Timeline. This is the simplest form of recommendation.
HOTLISTS - Amazon popularised these with their ListMania Lists, but there are lots of different examples of this - for instance the various DJ charts on juno.co.uk. In some ways these are really just more structured listings of ’liked’ items, but their impact is far stronger as when you see several examples of something you like in a list, you are more likely to check out the other entries. In various types of retail, Lists and Featured Charts are key to the selling process.
COMMENTS - The postive ones of these are a stronger form of ’likes’ - in that a positive comment not only indicates a liking for something, but offers up additional collateral / reasons to buy. ’Likes’ may have a nominal value of recommendation while the impact of positive comments / reviews is far stronger. I particularly like how Amazon lists the comments on the same page - I find comments hidden behind a tab are less impactful - far better to have a summary list of a couple with a more link than hiding all of them behind a one click selection.
PROFILES - Profiles are really useful as the final convincer for a recommendation, and this is one of the few areas where Amazon needs a lot of improvement. Being able to go to a user’s profile - something like the Facebook Timeline - and get a real context for a person’s likes and recommendations is key to the impact of those recommendations. We humans are always looking for like-minded souls, and really only pay heed to those we think are on the same wavelength as ourselves. In viewing a User’s profile - with a full outline of
As covered in earlier blog posts, ’Responsive’ design is one of Affino’s key priorities for 2013. Affino already handles ’Adaptive’ design, but what are the differences and benefits of each of these methodologies? A key trend in current web design is that people are increasingly accessing websites via their mobile devices - i.e. smartphones and tablets. Where before desktop / laptop was king, now customers are much more likely to access a company’s services via one of their mobile devices. The 3 methodologies each set out to tackle this shift in behaviour, and each has its pros and cons.
This essentially means designing several different interfaces - each to tackle a different screen resolution - Affino currently allows you to design and target different interfaces / Skins for: Web | Mobile | iPhone | Android Phone | Tablet | iPad | Android Tablet. You can create as few or many Skins as you need to suit your purposes. You would start by doing generic Web, Smartphone and Tablet skins and then specific per platform. The interesting trend is that tablets are approximating laptop / desktop resolution - so for Comrz.com we currently only have desktop and smartphone variant Skins. The key benefit of Adaptive Design is that you can create a dedicated interface for each screen resolution / access device.
This essentially means creating Apps - which means a different solution for every device. In doing this you can create the perfect environment for your customers - for each device, but obviously this means a lot of work, and a lot of overhead as platform software / firmware is relatively frequently updated, and you need to prepare various assets for each of the different mobile platform stores. Customers will also obviously need to download and regularly update your app to make use of it. Morevover, you still require a core website as that’s where most of these company-centric apps get their data from in any case.
This methodology involves creating just a single interface which expands and contracts to fit the various different access devices. There are numerous ingenious aspects to responsive design - how text and media re-size to fit, and the column / design element structure varies to accommodate