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Meryl Enerson
I am a senior consultant in the area of user experience. I look to uncover what works and what doesn't work in the digital realm - and why some products and Websites are more usable than others.
Interests: Art, design, literature, culture, media, food, nature, dogs
Recent Activity
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Surely the worst user experience on the Web is a security violation. Having your user ID or password stolen (not to mention the events that follow). Or is it having to remember ALL your passwords for ALL the Websites you frequent and then going around and changing them all? The Heartbleed bug has forced many Websites and Web services to send out requests for users to change their passwords. A list of likely sites affected was issued by Mashable recently. They include many major Websites, from social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube), to email providers (Google, Yahoo), and other vital... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at User Experience Monitor
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Not every site has a search feature, and not every site needs one. But once your site starts amassing any amount of content at all (whether through an integrated blog, a large number of pages, or different downloadable resources), search is a high value feature to add to your site. One of the best tools for running search on your site is the Google Custom Search Engine. This feature allows you to add a search feature to your Website that runs a search using all of the power of Google Search. Results are simple, but that's all many sites need.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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The major eLearning companies are using social media for promotion. It’s no surprise that a consumer-focused company like Rosetta Stone is heavily involved on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. They have big budget marketing campaigns and the social web is naturally part of their marketing mix. They have 2.1 million followers on Facebook, and have an extensive library of YouTube videos that promote their products and provide complementary information on travel for their users that are learning a language for a vacation abroad. But other eLearning companies like Blackboard, Skillsoft and CompassLearning are not only using some of these same... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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Digital tools and social media technologies have changed every company’s communication strategy. Databases enable writers and editors to maintain single-source blurbs of boilerplate and standards of particular definitions or titles. Content management systems (CMS) enable writers and editors to update content and make it live on the fly. Social media outlets make customers and users part of the conversation instantaneously. Reusable content, speed-of-light publishing, and an unmanaged multitude of voices don’t always make for successful online narratives, however. The tools alone don’t make the process work, after all – that requires teamwork, measurement, and management. Successful content creators maintain quality... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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The jury is still out on the results, but the government is using social media to try and drive enrollment on the healthcare exchanges. The focus is on getting younger people to sign up – a necessary ingredient for the success of the exchanges. The insurers are counting on younger, healthier people enrolling to reduce the risk pool. Healthcare.gov is using all of the most popular social sites to get out the message. The content is similar across their selected social sites: Facebook (310,000 Likes), Twitter (158,000 followers), YouTube (5,400 subscribers) and Google+ (126,000 followers). They seem to trying to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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I have been looking for this speech for weeks. Google, Bing, and Wikipedia were of no help. Although finally, based on a tip from a recent University of Michigan emailer, I was finally able to locate it amongst my folders and sub-folders. It is a speech given by a man named Louis Lipson (1921-1996) in 1979 a the Yale Law School graduation ceremony. It is remarkable for consisting entirely of one-syllable words. Sound impossible? Read the Louis-Lipson-Speech. Yale apparently enjoyed it, because they had him repeat it again in 1992. The speech lacks nothing, and is as inspiring as any... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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There have been a lot of cautionary tales about how what you post onf Facebook can affect your chance of getting a job or even getting into college, but it turns out that high school students are turning the tables and checking out the Facebook pages of colleges as part of their decision-making process. Although Websites and brochures can tell part of the story, Facebook can provide a deeper insight into what campus life is really like. A study from Uversity found that about two-thirds of graduating seniors from the class of 2012 used social media to research colleges. Facebook... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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Can you be buttoned-up and business-like on your Web site and then accessible and casual on your social media networks and still maintain a cohesive corporate voice and tone? Yes, most definitely. With a little strategy and planning, all of your content channels can be representative of your brand and ethos. Think of it as a variation on a theme. But, before you put fingertip to keyboard, you should define the separate purposes of your Web site and your social media outlets. Then, think about how you want them to work together. For example, your Website is your core corporate... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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What is the difference between "user experience" and "customer experience?" Are they the same thing, to be spoken of interchangeably, or is there a difference? Broadly speaking, customer experience refers to the entire interaction a customer has with your company and brand, including interactions: In-person (such as with your sales representatives) In-store point-of sale devices (such as ATMs and kiosks) Via Phone (automated IVR systems as well as Call Center conversations) On your Website (for information or transactions) Via Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Via Mobile apps Via email (email newsletters, special offers, and correspondence) Via regular mail (paper correspondence)... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
So true!
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Blogging Blues at User Experience Monitor
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I had a boss many years ago who wouldn’t review anything until it was in near publishable form - with design and graphics almost complete. This often meant that by the time he did a first edit on the content of a report or a white paper or a presentation, the entire production team had already put in hours and hours of design and build time, hoping that he wouldn’t make a lot of changes. But he always did make changes. In one case, the team wasted so much time pushing a report through production with initial copy that the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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I hear from a lot of Website and product managers who express an interest in "improving" the look and feel, navigation or customer engagement of their Websites, without a clear concept of what their current metrics are. My question always is, how can you know what you're improving unless you know where you are now? The short answer is, you can't. Survey Monkey did a thoughtful article recently on benchmarking (and benchmarking surveys). They define benchmarking as setting the standard for a business, so you know when you make improvements (or go downhill). It can also be the standard for... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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You can’t always keep your Web content short and sweet. Some of your narratives are going to take longer form: case studies, white papers, e-books, presentations, conference proceedings, and other long form narratives can help build your brand, sell your services, and be valuable take-aways for your users. Writing longer narratives for the Web requires a special approach: you need to engage your user for a longer period of time while competing with their desire for instant gratification. How can you write in a way that keeps them focused for the long haul? Summarize – state up front what your... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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2013 was the year of Performance Boo-Boos in user experience. August was a particularly tough month with Amazon and The New York Times Websites both going down, at least temporarily and we will all probably long remember (some more than others) the disastrous rollout in October of the various Healthcare.gov Websites. Performance is a critical component of the user / customer experience. It is not always the most talked about in user experience circles, however, and minor glitches are often ignored or discounted in usability testing, because tests are often run with rough prototypes and staging servers, where performance issues... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2014 at User Experience Monitor
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I will make a confession: as a writer, I prefer to write new work. It’s more fun and more exciting to create something fresh. But, as a Web content writer, I recognize the need to edit my existing work. Whether it is updating old content on your company’s Web site, responding to the comments on your blog, or managing themes and memes in your social media streams, you must return to the pages that you’ve built and update them. Otherwise, unmaintained and out of mind, these neglected content components start to rust, dragging down the rest of your site and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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One of the most critical steps in redesigning any website - whatever the content and whatever the size - is planning the information architecture. The top level and secondary navigational options on your website need to be right for your information, or your users won't be able to find what they're looking for. And when they can't find what they're looking for, everybody loses - your information doesn't get find its audience, the users don't buy what you want them to buy - and it's costly and time-consuming to fix after the site is complete. Although you may think you... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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In this age of content strategy marketing and organizational storytelling, very few Web sites provide “just the facts, ma’am.” This is a good thing, because humans love a good story. A memorable story can elevate your company by creating camaraderie among your customers, helping you stand out from your competitors. There’s nothing wrong with using clever, compelling language to sell a product or service, as long as you take an authentic approach, as well as an entertaining one. A good solution is to combine information with narrative. Information comprises the facts, data, and statistics about your organization: what do you... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
It can seem daunting to launch a business blog. We’ve written about the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social media benefits, but taking that first step is hard for most people. Not only are workday schedules and responsibilities already full, but writing for an external audience is not something most of us feel qualified to do. Let’s start with the positives – most of us know about our company and our products, and are comfortable talking about them to others. We also have some good industry knowledge and keep up on the latest trends. Well, writing a blog is just... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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Time and time again I find myself (and my projects) coming back to the same core principle for improving the user experience on information Websites, Web apps, and the like. That principle is: Simplify. Three areas where simplifying can help are in: Language Visuals Navigation Simplify Language I came across a great article in New Scientist about technical writing and simplicity. The author points to a set of 1,000 common English language words, and challenges scientists to use these in explaining technical concepts. The same can be said for any Website or Web-based application. I can't count the number of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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An article in the upcoming issue of Scientific American, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: Why Paper Still Beats Screens, discusses how - even for people who have grown up with computers, tablets, and smartphones - reading on paper is still the human brain's favorite and most efficient way to digest, recall, and use information. The ubiquity of digital delivery devices, along with their robust features and long-lived batteries, is actually part of the problem: reading from digital sources is distracting. Digital interfaces require their own level of comprehension - how do the buttons work, where do I touch... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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I've seen all kinds of organizations, including media giants and Fortune 500 companies, who have published content to their Web sites with gross, embarrassing typos. One recently even misspelled the name of their organization, and it went unchecked for two weeks. Mistakes happen, of course - but when an organization upholds quantity over quality, or pushes out unreviewed material in favor of meeting a tight schedule, mistakes become commonplace and even an acceptable part of publishing online. Not only does this practice damage your message, it damages your messengers: every writer needs an editor and a review process. In fact,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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What are the character limits on different social media channels? How does that affect how you promote your blog posts? Social media, an engaging blog, and an easy-to-navigate website are the key parts of 360o online marketing strategy and, to optimize all three, you need to understand how they interact and be educated on best practices in each domain. In the User Experience Monitor, we’ve focused our blogs on these three areas, and today, I want to share some of the basics of how a blog interacts with social media and how to avoid simple mistakes that could undermine your... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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There's been a lot of hooplah around the rollout of the new IOS for iPhones and iPad. Some of this is attributable to the very different approach to the UI for both devices. The look and feel has changed: instead of apps that look like their analog components, the UI is very minimal and streamlined. David Pogue of the New York Times calls it "a radical, huge redesign....No more fake leather, fake woodgrain, fake green felt, fake yellow note paper. It’s all blue Helvetica Neue against white." But some users have been upset at the changes. This is a update?... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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A 2013 study from the Content Marketing Institute and marketing Profs shows that 26% of B2B marketers are using Pinterest. Although considered by many to be a social haven for craft aficionados, its emphasis on strong visuals can be used to advantage for B2B businesses as well. With more than 70 Million users (including 500,000+ business accounts), Pinterest is a great space to flex your creative wings. As anyone who has experience in marketing knows, great visuals can support a story. When it comes to selling to or educating a prospect, mixing words with graphic images provides clarity and makes... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at User Experience Monitor
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When most people think of social media, they think of Facebook or Twitter…that’s what all the buzz seems to be about. However, as a B2B marketer you need to think about where you reach your target audience, and if people are there to have fun to or to accomplish something. Although more people are on Facebook, a solid 225 million are on LinkedIn and, more importantly, they are there to do business. On Facebook, the mindset is typically personal. It is “me” time – time to share personal stories, express political opinions, promote causes, and let loose. B2C businesses, politicians... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2013 at User Experience Monitor