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    4 Reasons Animation is Superior When Teaching a Process

    Recently, Ruth Clark, a specialist in instructional design and training, challenged the use of animation when teaching a process — for example, how a toilet flushes or how brakes work.

    Clark referenced an experiment comparing animation with still images. The experiment begs the questions:

    • What type of animation was used?
    • How well was that animation designed?

    While Clark claims that animations “risk imposing too much mental load,” we suspect that the research is referring to Flash-based video rather than interactive instructional animation where the user can control the time frame and order in which information is presented. And, of course, the quality of the animation could easily impact the effectiveness.

    Well-designed instructional animations (especially interactive) are effective in demonstrating processes for several reasons: [Read more…]

    The Science of Distraction: Why Your Audience May Be Missing Your Message

    Remember the famous airport scene from the movie “Catch Me If You Can?” Legendary con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. successfully impersonates a PanAm pilot by surrounding himself with a bevy of beautiful would-be flight attendants.

    Incredibly, the master distracter strolls past dozens of police officers and G-Men actively searching for him. In real life, Abagnale executed this trick by hiding in plain sight as his pursuers focused on the lovely ladies and overlooked the criminal they were hunting.

    Intrigued by similar real-life accounts of mass distraction, neuroscientists Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde launched a thought-provoking study that confirmed what they’d already suspected — that viewers can be so distracted by faces that they miss what’s happening right in front of them. We found these results especially relevant in light of our previous blog post about onscreen talent and the way it can distract viewers when used in instructional videos.

    Shut Your Face

    When Macknik and Martinez-Conde began to explore the distraction phenomenon by studying magicians in Las Vegas, they were particularly interested in understanding how we can be so easily deceived by simple magic tricks— even though we know that magicians are out to trick us. It turns out all the magician has to do is divert our focus a bit.

    So what’s one of the most effective tools in the magician’s bag of tricks?

    His face.

    [Read more…]

    3 Reasons Onscreen Talent is a Bad Idea in Product Demos

    For traditional advertising and marketing, choosing to use onscreen talent or a spokesperson may indeed be spot on. After all, consumers can relate to them, warm up to them and feel motivated to go buy a product simply because of the personality and trust they can evoke.

    But, when it comes to helping customers with complex installation, instructions or in-depth product details, onscreen talent may actually hurt matters.

    Before booking talent for your product videos consider this…

    Myth #1: The best way to demonstrate complex product details is to use onscreen talent or spokespeople.

    Truth: In instructional videos – such as product demos or “how to” tutorials – the use of talent can actually confuse or even frustrate the viewer.

    Why? On any media platform, your talent’s physical presence can block important product details from your consumer’s line of sight.

    [Read more…]

    Why You Still Need a Flash Fallback with HTML5

    Why You Still Need a Flash Fallback with HTML5When it comes to web-based interactive content and cross-browser compatibility, the future is here and it’s HTML5. The problem is: not everyone’s on board yet.

    In a previous post, we dove into HTML5 – a programming language built into the latest browsers to support multimedia and graphics display without the use of third-party plugins like Flash. It’s recommended to ensure that your interactive content is accessible by the rapidly-growing population of iPad and mobile web surfers whose devices typically won’t display Flash. With mobile devices driving nearly 7% of US web traffic currently and projected to surpass desktop usage by 2014, mobile users can’t be ignored.

    But you can’t neglect desktop users and slow adopters either. There are still a significant number of desktop users with outdated operating systems and browsers – especially in corporate offices where many people access the internet during the workday. Companies who invested in machines running the Windows XP operating system can’t upgrade beyond Internet Explorer 8 (IE’s last non-HTML5 version) because IE stopped supporting XP with its version 9 release (CNET).

    Corporate users running Windows XP and IE8 are a top reason that you still need a Flash fallback. For many reasons, a whopping 31.4% are still holding out with XP and haven’t upgraded to Vista or Windows 7 (w3Schools). And Windows XP means no HTML5 capabilities without an operating system upgrade or a switch to Firefox, Chrome, or another compatible browser.

    [Read more…]

    Will Printed Instructions Slow Down Your Product’s Success?

    As a savvy product manager, chances are you run a tight ship when it comes to new product launches.

    Your company’s strategists carefully research the concept’s viability. Your engineers translate it into an appealing prototype. Production delivers on time and on budget. The marketing campaign rolls out as planned, just prior to launch.

    Under your watchful eye, the entire product development team pulls together and meets all launch targets. Voila! Success!

    Sales begin to grow. Momentum is building. You’re a Product Management rock star.

    Then suddenly, reports start trickling in about increasing rates of returns and consumer complaints.

    Yikes. What went wrong?

    With any product launch, potential risks always exist.

    Almost 75% of newly-launched consumer goods and retail products fail. – Harvard Business Review Tweet It!

    Sometimes, an obvious culprit is the one most often overlooked: customers just don’t understand how to install or use your product. You included a manual, you say? Guess what? That may no longer be enough.

    [Read more…]

    Why You Can’t Ignore HTML5 Much Longer

    HTML5 LogoGot questions about Flash®, HTML5 and cross-browser compatibility? You’re not alone. Since we began rolling out our interactive solutions in HTML5, we’ve received quite a few questions. So we’ve decided to address some of them on our blog but feel free to keep the questions coming.

    Why can’t I see my interactive content on my iPad or mobile phone?

    Interactive presentations, games and applications have traditionally been designed in Flash – which requires a downloaded plugin for display. But most of today’s mobile devices and tablet PCs can’t play Flash – leaving your web content inaccessible to many users. Manufacturers like Apple® cite performance, security and drain on battery life as reasons for abandoning the Flash mobile plugin.

    Why mobile users can’t be ignored:

    • Mobile devices are driving nearly 7% of US web traffic and growing. (Cnet) Tweet It!
    • That non-computer digital traffic is made up of tablets (1.9%), mobile phones (4.4%) and “other devices” (.5) namely the iPod Touch. (ComScore) Tweet It!
    • Apple’s non-Flash mobile devices (iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch®) account for 43.1% of that mobile web traffic. (ComScore) Tweet It!
    • The iPad accounts for 97.2% of tablet traffic specifically. (ComScore) Tweet It!
    • By 2014, mobile internet usage is projected to surpass desktop usage. (DigitalBuzz) Tweet It!
    • 44% of Americans already own smartphones (redOrbit) Tweet It!
    • 75% of consumers use a mobile device in the retail buying process. (Verve Wireless) Tweet It!
    • More stats

    [Read more…]

    Is Your Best Product Content Sitting Under Your Nose?

    Once upon a time in a land far far away, consumers were satisfied to learn about a product by simply reviewing features printed on a sales tag, consulting with an all-knowing salesperson and getting a magical in-person demo. Consumers lived happily ever after — making decisions based on limited product information.

    But enough with the fairy tale…

    Today’s savvy consumers are far more resourceful. They want to be as smart as the salesperson the minute they walk into the store. They want to understand complex product features, feel confident about installation and decide for themselves whether the product will benefit them.

    In short: The consumer no longer wants to be “sold to.” They want to be an educated, informed partner in the transaction.

    In fact, in today’s retail environment, online product information increasingly trumps information from in-store personnel.

    “Over 90 percent of consumers research a product online prior to making a purchase in a store.” — National Retail Federation

    ——

    “43% of consumers said they would trust a sales associate more if the associate was aided by a web-connected device.” — Point of Sales News

    So, how can you produce informational and educational content for consumers without reinventing the wheel or breaking your marketing budget? The answer may be closer than you think.

    [Read more…]