GaP->GaS #8: An eye for a UI, or the UX Factor!

Another day, another “Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers” networking event. You may have been able to tell from all of the extra emails that have been plopping into your inbox from your beloved HHH that we have been expanding our repertoire, and helping entrepreneurs, start-ups, corporates and sponsors run events from Tooting to Tottenham, Haringay to Hounslow, Kensington to Camden, and…well you get the picture; HHH is the most active Meetup in the Capital with over 12,000 members and it’s growing by 300 members each month. And, ahem, it’s kind of the best! Here’s why:

How many members groups are free to join and yet still capable of running some of the best events in town, from Speed Pitches, to Hackathon’s, conferences and intense and brainy discussion groups like GaP->GaS? And how many can take you skiing for a week in Tignes/Val D’isere with fellow founders to network and gain a different perspective on your beloved company, for less than a grand? Or help you put some oom-pah-party into your project and uber-charge your start-up at London’s first ever teutonic TechtoberFest?!  Or pitch on a roller coaster? I know, I know, we are unique, and you’re lucky to have us, and we’re lucky to have you. It’s the most virtuous circle since Stone Henge. Oh, and we’re hiring too, so drop us a line if you’re an organiser, leader, social media guru or can run a jobs board.

So anyway, we’ve been so busy with new projects and events that coming back to host an event at Google Campus (our spiritual home) felt like nestling into our favourite old brown leather armchair and lighting a huge cigar. Even though “Got a Problem->Get a Solution” is only 8 iterations old it remains one of the most cutting edge formats in Tech City, with start-ups coming on stage, taking a seat on our virtual “couch” and outlining the issues they have been having as they look to build, start or grow their businesses; it’s then up to the audience to collaboratively help solve the problem.

But hey, 8 iterations is a lot right, so we decided to pivot a little. Well, we had some new technology to show off! Glisser is the latest and greatest gadget to become an essential part of the presentation process, allowing you to share your slides with your audience’s devices and interact with them even while you are speaking as attendees update a live feed (which we cleverly broadcast on the back of the stage so everyone can see) with questions and notes, displayed in order of the number of audience “likes” they receive. Terrifyingly simple, it makes making speeches a smidgen less terrifying, and a little more meaningful and interactive.

The first to benefit from the new tech on Tuesday were Sergei and Vitalij at UX Reviewer, who know a thing or two about great design themselves; hence the name of their presentation: “Why UX matters”. It matters because it’s where your customer draws their first conclusion about you, and decides whether they like your brand and your product or not. Sergei and Vitalij have worked with Microsoft, BNP Paribas and Universal Music Group, amongst others, but the brands they name-checked on Tuesday night were Uber, and Airbnb. Why? Because these were two companies who invested heavily in properly researched design. They waited until it was perfect before they released the product. And the rest is history!

The guys took us through some of the tips and tricks you can use to thoroughly research and find the UX that is appropriate to your brand or product. Firstly, start with a plain old pen and paper; for one thing, paper never runs out of battery! For another, if your plan goes wrong, you can tear it up and start a new one. No harm done, no cost incurred. It’s how the UX Reviewer team start all of their projects. Try to take the “lean” approach; go agile, avoid fragile, as they say, and read Ash Maurya’s “Running Lean”! Mock up a prototype, and get an MVP out there; validate your design as early as possible; make sure it’s something that will appeal to your target dempgraphic, and once you have it, stay true to it!

In terms of the tools you might want to use, try Balsamiq, inVision, or Marvel; listen to your users and iterate, iterate, iterate! Where SEO is concerned, optimise for users, not for Google. Never try to outsmart Google, they’re too big and clever, and they will squash you (like HHH do to rival networking events ha!). Find a great designer and work with them, don’t let them go off alone. When they are gone, you’ll need to understand what they did. Vitaly and Xavier showed what they could do with a TFL ticketing app in 30 minutes: they made it make sense! Maybe they can do the same for your site, and help you bridge the gap between your understanding of what your product does and your customer’s.

So finally on to the problems (and solutions)! Potted highlights only, for the whole experience, you must come to the event!

Bob @ Coachmaster has built a comprehensive guide for coaches to learn from one another but it’s kind of cluttered, hard to navigate and mobile unfriendly:

Audience says: so give the user fewer options, or start with a user story; nobody climbs into a jet plane and starts pressing all the buttons at once. Start simple, and introduce new ideas slowly and methodically. “Give it a time and a date, and a simple, one line pitch so new users know where they are and what they need to do”, advised the UX Reviewer guys.

The guys at Weengs have built a site that lets you ship anything, anywhere, by snapping a photo of the item of the item you want to send. But take-up is slow and people tend to drop off the site before they sign up:

Audience says: categorise what kind of people are most likely to sign up, target them on the site, and offer them deals and incentives. Or do the opposite and find out who is dropping out. Your marketing budget should be spent on shipping keywords so you get the right kind of visitors, who have intent to use the site, not window shoppers. Reward people who sign up, and give it an edge!

Michael at Camera Express has built a site for enthusiasts but in order to maximise the UX you need to add widgets. How can Michael communicate this to users without adding all the widgets to the user’s page, which will confuse them and put them off?

Audience says: Do it off-site, was the ingenious response to this one, email your customers with tips and tricks until they get the message about the widgets.

Thomas has built an app that donates a sum to charity every time a user watches a sponsor’s ad. How does he tell users they have to watch all of the ad for the donation to work?

Audience says: A strapline is vital, explaining clearly what the user must do. Use graphics or gamification to make the process more entertaining. Add a timeline; change the UI, according to one designer.

Jesse at is running a free haircut aggregator site!

Audience says: Will customers object to paying up front (yes, apparently), will they mind that he levies a charge for his service (maybe, audience undecided), how can he explain what he is trying to do better (pictures! Before and after!), how does he win repeat business (vouchers, find a hook that keeps them coming back; 50% off your next visit etc. etc.)

Wow, is that enough info for you? Do you need to go for a lie down and let it all sink in / download. Is that some hints and tips dribbling out of your ear? Haha, try hosting one of these! Seriously, IMHO there is no better place in London to hear real experts solve real problems than GaP->GaS. And I’ve been to a few events! Don’t believe me? Come to the next one!

That’s all folks; until next time ; )









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