Archive for June, 2010

Jun 29

Posted by jsteele

Posted in Stage Two

Client News: Pogoplug adds print!

Coming fast on the heels of their recent announcement of a new version of their Android application, Pogoplug has just made public a very exciting update to the product.  Pogoplug has won a legion of fans with their dead-simple, couldn’t be easier-to-use personal cloud device.  Giving users a secure, always available site for storage, music and video streaming, and automatic back-up, however, was not enough.

Now your Pogoplug will allow you to print, from any location and from any Internet device.  Once a printer is connected to a Pogoplug, it becomes web-enabled and can accept print jobs from pretty much anything that can access the web or send an email, including iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry phones, you name it.  And Pogoplug cloud printing will work with all HP printers and any Epson printer from 2005 on, and that is just to start.

The Pogoplug team is committed to not just making a great product, but also to constantly innovating for that device.  Adding cloud printing to the Pogoplug takes it from the “great to have” category to simply indispensable.

Pogoplug announced the news via their blog this morning. Some press and bloggers have written about the announcement, listed below, and we’ll keep updating as they come in.

Ubergizmo

WebWorkerDaily

SlashGear

Jun 17

Posted by jsteele

Posted in Clients

Client News: Pogoplug releases 2.0 version of their Android App

With the increasing popularity of Android Phones, Pogoplug wanted to give their Android phone users an updated version of their Android App. The Pogoplug app is available in the Android Marketplace today and adds some really cool new features.

  • Quickly search and view music by Artist, Song, Album, or genre – Now find and stream music more easily from USB hard drives connected to your home Pogoplug to your Android phone, so all your music can be streamed to your Android phone.
  • Share files directly from their Android phone – Pictures, videos, and other content created on your Android phone can be saved on your Pogoplug connected drive and shared online. Record your child’s first steps using your Android phone and within seconds upload it to your Pogoplug connected drives and share the video with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.
  • Search for a file across all your Pogoplug drives – A search will look through files on any drive connected to your Pogoplug, save time by searching all your drives at once.
  • Create folders on your drives – Use your Android phone to create brand new folders on your Pogoplug connected drives so everything stays organized.

Pogoplug made this announcement through a post on their blog, which you can read here. A few members of the press and blogger community have picked up the story; we’ll keep a running list below and update it throughout the day.

Web Worker Daily

Gadgetell

Androinica

Jun 17

Posted by Meghan

Posted in Clients

Client News: Dropcam Releases the Brand-New Dropcam Echo

Today Dropcam released their latest gadget the Dropcam Echo, an audio-enabled wireless home security camera that is easy to set up, small and affordable. We’ve had a lot of fun helping a new gadget company right out of the gate and launching a new product! With Dropcam, watch your home, business, pets or children using the Dropcam.com service from anywhere including on your iPhone or iPad! The Dropcam.com service allows users to easily share secure live video streams, DVR, set up activity alerts and this is only the beginning. Dropcam will be rolling out many new features and apps in the next few months so stay tuned!  To view some live Dropcams in action click here

We announced this news via the Dropcam Blog, which you can read here http://blog.dropcam.com/announcing-dropcam-echo. The announcement now live and we will continue to track coverage and update below! Follow @Dropcam for the latest updates.

SlashGear

Engadget

Ubergizmo

CNET

Gearlog

eHomeUpgrade

Jun 15

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in UI/UX

The 1st Rule of User Experience: Make ‘em Happy. Fast.

This is the first in a series of posts outlining the Stage Two philosophies and methods surrounding user interface and user experience design. Some of the rules laid out will cover gadgets, some will be more specific to web services, some will just be random observations or critiques of UI’s we run across. Hopefully these rules help you with the product/user experience work you are doing, and if you want to learn more about how we do what we do, get in touch.

Rule # 1: Make the User Feel Happy. FAST.

This first rule applies across the board to virtually any user experience, whether you’ve built the next big revolution in internet connected TVs or you’ve got an awesome Facebook app called “BP-ville” that lets you run a virtual oil company bent on world destruction – Rule #1 is “Make the user feel happy. FAST.”

Human beings, in general, have little tolerance for either uncertainty or delayed gratification. No matter how dumb we are (even the “smartest” of us can still be very dumb at times, particularly when it comes to our first encounters with new tech, or possibly when four cars hit an intersection simultaneously – in which case we advise to wait it out) we hold our inability to easily use a product against the product, not ourselves. We’ve all encountered gadgets, services, and apps that boast incredible utility but, once you get started, the enjoyment gets sucked out of the experience faster than an alien out of an airlock. We’re excited to get started, we jump in and…we don’t know what to do. Worse yet, we may have to go through 12 steps before we get to do anything cool.

Let’s take a look at Tumblr for an example of a good (although not perfect) “Rule #1” execution:

This is the 2nd step I hit when trying Tumblr for the first time. Look at it, it’s beautiful. I know exactly what I need to do, I am given a clear suggestion of what to upload (something simple that everyone has on their computer), and I’m directed to the exact button I should push to upload that first post. If I mouse over the other icons in that row, the suggested “first post” item changes. Check it out:

No muss, no fuss, I’m ready to go. They have even gone so far as to darken every part of their UI except for the actionable element.  This is great, I’m “rewarded” for using the product “correctly”, and am likely to feel “happy” as a result.  This happiness will help get me through the rest of the engagement with the product.

Unfortunately, the ease of use breaks down a little bit in the next step:

You might think that anyone could figure out what to do here – upload a photo, write a caption, then hit the “create post” button – but we’ve lost the nice walk-through element established earlier.  We don’t have the stats to prove it, but we’d wager a significant amount of user “fail” here, which will either result in lower conversion, subscription, stickiness, and overall use.

Here’s what we would have done: how about more “Tips” bubbles to lead the user all the way through the first time process? (eg. “Start by uploading a photo from your computer – just hit ‘Choose File’!” once that’s done, “Give your picture a funny or insightful caption!” and, finally, “Great! Click here to create your very first Tumblr post!”).

Assuming we successfully uploaded a photo and clicked “Create post”, what comes next?

OK, we understand why this is here, but (in accordance with Rule #1) the user should be taken to their personal Tumblr blog, shown their first post, and on that screen given the “Now customize your blog!” box (and have it appear in such a way that their first post is still visible). To make the experience even better, tell the user “Great first post! Now let’s customize the look and feel of your blog!”. It feels like coddling, but it really isn’t. People like to be reinforced, they like to know that they are doing things right, and they like immediate, visible rewards.

We could continue digging into Tumblr’s user experience (and, even though there is room for improvement, they must be doing something right – after all, Wordpress, the blogging standard, has even started incorporating some Tumblr elements), but we gotta save something for future posts. Just remember the key points below:

Rule #1: Make the user happy. FAST.

  • Give the user immediate exposure to one of your core functions and make it dead-simple for them to execute that function within their first 3 steps.
  • Don’t pile on useless steps, email validations, connecting social media accounts (unless that’s your product’s focus), etc right at the very beginning.
  • Don’t forget positive reinforcement. We all grew up with gold stars, letter grades, compliments, and pats on the head. We’re hard-wired for the warm fuzzies we get from the words “Good Job!”. Embrace the warm fuzzies.

And for a final statement on the matter, happy users = returning users (might even = paying customers, if that’s your thing).

Jun 14

Posted by sjohnson

Posted in Stage Two

New Intern: Sam Johnson

My name is Sam Johnson, though I suspect this will be lost amongst “Intern!” and “Hey, you.” I am, however, still very excited to start my internship here at Stage Two.Sam Johnson

Born, raised and educated in Ohio, the California life is new to me. I just completed my junior year at Miami University of Ohio, before that studying for two years at The University of Akron. A major in Media Production combined with a passion for technology and gadgets has led me down the road to Stage Two. I couldn’t be more excited to learn more about this industry from the professionals that surround me.

I’m new to the city, so most of my time is spent exploring and trying out new things, so recommend me something! In my free time you would be hard pressed to find me without a frisbee. Feel free to invite me to a game on twitter (@Sam_Johnson) or follow me just for kicks!

Jun 14

Posted by dtang

Posted in Stage Two

Meet Intern #2! (Also Known as Darren Tang.)

Well, summer is officially here and I’m ready to go as Stage Two’s newest intern. With my shiny, new Psychology degree with Boston University and my experiences as a copywriter at Adlab, the largest student run advertising agency in the country, I’m excited to indulge my inner geek by working with Stage Two’s kick-ass and tech-savvy clients.

A little about me: Despite what you might think, I’m actually native to the Bay Area and grew up loving San Francisco, especially the city’s food and weather. Even after my crazy and amazing experiences in Boston (no you can’t hear about those nights), you can’t quite beat a stroll along the Embarcadero, pigging out in Chinatown, or just people watching in Union Square. Now I get to work just a stones throw away from all these wonderful things!

When I’m not busy fending off giant robots at Stage Two or working on my portfolio, you can usually find me perusing the local bookstores and comic book shops indulging my more artistic side (okay, so I’m not a pure tech geek, but this job needs a creative side too!) as well as trying to write a half-decent short story. If you want to reach out to me across the interweb, you can follow me on twitter @darren_tang or e-mail me at darren@stagetwoconsulting.com.

Jun 14

Posted by jsteele

Posted in Stage Two

Welcome Jen!

After interning with Stage Two last winter, I am excited to start as a full time employee! During my time as an intern, I was able to experience a ton of different avenues in the consumer technology and marketing world. The opportunity to continue to learn more about consumer technologies and marketing is one I am thrilled to have!

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and recently graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California in the east bay. I am an avid St. Mary’s sports fan (Go Gaels!) and like to read, travel, especially road trips, and edit pictures and video.

Jun 02

Posted by David

Posted in Clients

Client News: BOKU launches in-app billing for Android

This morning BOKU announced some very exciting news: the launch of a developer program to enable direct carrier billing system for Android apps.  App developers can sign up for access to BOKU’s SDK, which is now live and in alpha testing.  With a very simple integration, any app developer can instantly have a powerful  billing system that’s live in more than 60 countries around the world, and is compatible with over 200 carriers.  Some of the highlights of the BOKU  system include:

  • Android customers can complete a purchase without leaving the app, using a 1-Tap approval
  • No registration / login / account creation is needed by the consumer
  • Developers automatically get simple carrier billing in more than 60 countries around the world
  • Transactions are secure – all include secure authentication as well as possession of the physical device
  • This will be a developer program that Android developers can use to increase revenue and include in-app billing in any app
The news went out on the wire this morning, and pickup with the press has been strong.  The list of coverage is below, and we will update throughout the day as we see new coverage come in.