Blog

All posts by Jim Lane

I'm Vice President of User Experience for AddThis.

Learning about cognitive science at the NoVA UX meetup

For our February NoVA UX meetup, John Whalen (PhD Cognitive Science Johns Hopkins and Founder, Brilliant Experience consultancy) shared his insights and experience about cognitive science with the group. Using videos and interactive examples, he shared learnings about how we perceive, remember, and make decisions, and how those concepts can be applied to user experience design. Continue reading

NoVA UX meetup: Learning about eye-tracking research

At AddThis, we’re always excited to participate in local events where technology professionals connect and collaborate, such as Refresh DC and our own Big Data DC meetup. Since our headquarters are based in Northern Virginia and I didn’t see any local UX-oriented get-togethers, I thought it would be fun to organize a new design and user experience meetup group called NoVA UX.

At our first event Jon West of LC Technologies provided a hands-on demo of the Eyegaze eye-tracking system. After a quick overview describing how eye-tracking research works, the group got to try out the system for themselves. Jon even demonstrated how eye-tracking systems can be used to allow people to type using only their eyes – it’s easier than it sounds!

If you’re interested in interface design, visual design, usability, or one of the many other disciplines relevant to user experience, and are local to the DC metro/northern Virginia area, come check out our next event on August 16th. We look forward to seeing you there.

A New Look for AddThis

Last week we changed our name and launched two new tools. We also changed our site’s design to celebrate our new brand identity. Here’s a quick look at how we made that happen.

To start off on the right track, we spent two days with our executives defining business goals and the specific groups of customers we wanted to reach. Then the group had some fun with word association, brainstorming phrases that each person felt captured the “feel” of the brand. This helped us decide which aspects of our new visual identity were most important, but also helped build consensus around the evolving creative direction.

From there we looked at different color palettes, fonts, and image styles to arrive at a design that was more light and friendly, but still captured how much we love big social data and statistics. In the end we hoped to maintain some of the heritage of AddThis, but also spread our wings a bit with an expanded visual vocabulary.

One of our favorite parts of the new design is our home page, the first to include live data. Visitors can watch sharing happen all over the world, and discover interesting facts we’ve uncovered from the huge amount of data we see every day.

So what do you think? We love feedback in all shapes and sizes, so drop us a comment below. And as always, thanks for using AddThis.

Watching the Trends at South by Southwest 2012

SxSW Spotlight

AddThis tracked what was hot at the Super Bowl and the Oscars, and now it’s time to spot what’s trending at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX.  We’ve got the up-to-date scoop of which startups are buzzing and more on our SxSW Spotlight, powered by data from the AddThis network of over 12 million domains.

Over the next twelve days we’ll be highlighting what people are sharing, searching for, and saying as they enjoy music, movies, and technology at this exciting event. Greg Cypes, our Director of Product, is on the ground in Austin as he has been for eight previous SxSW conferences.

Look for him and the rest of the Clearspring/AddThis crew attending the event – we’d love to see you. The best way to reach us is to tweet at our SxSW twitter account: @AddThisSxSW.

Also, If you like the SxSW Spotlight data and are interested in following more stats from our network, be sure to follow @AddThis, #ClearspringData or subscribe to this RSS Feed.

Web Intents Design Push Recap

This weekend I attended the first Design Push in Brighton, UK. At this inaugural get-together a group of 20 or so designers and technologists focused on the problem of implementing Web Intents – see more background in my earlier blog post. It was a pleasure to not only meet other presenters from Google and Mozilla, but to also collaborate with a number of UK-based freelance user experience professionals for the day.

After an introduction by Danny Hope, Paul Kinlan from Google kicked things off by presenting a working demo of an image editing application built with Web Intents. Then, as part of my presentation about AddThis I had the opportunity to share with the team what bloggers and other larger publishers care about with regards to sharing tools and functionality. After my talk, Shane Caraveo from Mozilla provided a comparison of the original F1 sharing tool developed by the Mozilla team, and a more recent client-side interface they’ve been working on. Finally, Glenn Jones, one of the event organizers and founder of Madgex, posed some important questions that would help frame the recurring themes of the day:

  • How important is “social proof” – a propensity to share because a share count or a list of friends who also shared is displayed
  • How important is recognizability of social icons like Facebook or Twitter, compared to a button that simply says “share”
  • How should we balance the automated discovery of available “services” such as Facebook with explicit customization of sharing tools by publishers and “favorites” selected by their visitors?
  • How much of Web Intents belongs in the browser, versus on the page?

After our presentations and a survey of participants, we distilled everyone’s questions and ideas into several topics for breakout groups, including the interplay between the browser and the page, the linguistics of verbs and objects, and how to achieve critical mass of Web Intents.

Each group of 2-5 people met for several hours and then presented to the team at the end of the day. My team developed personas for different types of publishers and service operators to help the team understand ways that Web Intents could be beneficial, but also the kinds of questions and concerns each might have.

All told it was a productive get-together, and a great opportunity to meet a number of smart, passionate people. I’d like to thank Glenn, Danny and Andy again for inviting us to attend. While I was flying back to the United States they were working diligently to compile the day’s efforts in a wiki for public use and ongoing work. Look for additional details by following #pushwebintents.

Web Intents Design Push in Brighton, UK

As Director of User Experience for AddThis I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in design-related events and collaborate with other creative professionals. This week I’ll be attending the Web Intents Design Push in Brighton, UK with design and development leads from Mozilla, Google Chrome, and the W3C.

A Design Push brings designers and technologists together to collaborate on a variety of technologies. For this first Design Push, we’ll be working on Web Intents, which make it easier for site operators to offer visitors a more personalized way to interact with content.

Derived from a similar specification used by Android mobile phones, Web Intents determine what kind of actions (“share”, “save”, etc.) a user might want to perform on an object (a page, a picture), and which methods that particular user prefers. The group will focus on the various user experience and technical challenges specific to these kinds of interactions.

As we’ve built AddThis and OExchange, we’ve pursued similar goals in order to provide social tools that meet the needs that publishers have said they care most about:

  • Easy installation and customization of in-page tools
  • Performance, reliability, and security of any 3rd party tool
  • Increased traffic and audience via optimization and personalization
  • Support for rich embedded experiences offered by services like Facebook and Twitter such as Like and Follow
  • Comprehensive tracking and reporting
  • Opportunities for promotion and monetization

I’m looking forward to exploring ways that Web Intents can help publishers achieve these kinds of goals. Also, I’d like to extend our thanks to event organizers Glenn Jones, Andy Dennis, and Danny Hope for the invitation. If you’d like to follow the day’s activities on Twitter, we’ll be using the hashtag #pushwebintents.

 

 

Expanded AddThis Analytics Now Available in Live View

Which pages are trending, right now? Which searches are bringing traffic to your site, and what words are visitors copying in order to search or email friends? What interests your visitors, and what are they saying about your website or blog? Find out the answers to these questions using your newly expanded AddThis Analytics Live View.

What’s Live View?

The AddThis Analytics Live View provides a look at what’s happening right now, across your site or for a specific page, including:

  • A map showing where people are interacting with your pages
  • A list of your top content, right now, based on shares and traffic back to your site
  • Your viewers’ interests, and what they’re saying about your content on Twitter

The Live View also introduces new types of information to help you understand how your audience is interacting with your site:

  • Searches: How many searches are bringing traffic to your site? What are your visitors looking for? Live View displays a list of top search keywords and phrases.
  • Text copy tracking: While searches indicate what brought users to your site, text that visitors copy can help you understand what they found interesting, and whether these keywords align with your search meta-data to help maximize SEO. Learn more

Zoom Into a Page

Interested in a particular page that’s trending? Zoom in for a closer look by clicking on it’s title, and discover how your visitors are interacting with that page, what searches brought them there, and what your audience is saying about that page on Twitter.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear what you think about the new AddThis Analytics Live View. Drop us a line in our forum with your feedback, and if you have any questions or need technical support, please visit our new Support Center.

Is Your AddThis Code Up-to-Date?

[Ed: 12/26/2012 Please note that since this blog post was written we’ve removed this feature until it can be updated to work with our latest tools and plugins.]

If it’s been a while since you got your AddThis code, you may not be enjoying all the benefits AddThis analytics have to offer. We’ve introduced a new Code Checkup feature for registered publishers that can examine your site’s AddThis code and determine whether it is up-to-date, and has the most recent features enabled.

Using Code Checkup

To checkup your own site, sign in to AddThis.com. When you start in Analytics, you’ll see a new link called Code Checkup next to your domain:

When you select that link, we’ll examine the code on your index page and make sure you’re all set to go with the latest AddThis analytics features like measuring traffic back to your site from social destinations, and tracking when your visitors copy your URLs into emails and IM conversations:

As always, we’d love to hear what you think about this new feature.

Not Registered with AddThis?

If you didn’t register when you got AddThis for your site, why not create an account and grab the latest code so you can take advantage of features like Code Checkup and industrial-strength analytics with live reporting and audience analysis? It only takes a moment, and we’ve added the latest sharing tools like Twitter Follow and Google +1.

 

Get the Latest AddThis Sharing Tools

We’re always looking for new ways to improve the user experience of our tools and offer elegant new ways to make sharing easy and fun. Along the way we strive for solutions that are simple, streamlined, and respectful of the look and feel of sites in which publishers install our software.

We’ve added three new entries to AddThis Labs that demonstrate these ideas and introduce some exciting new sharing tools you can use in your site or blog.

Design Updates

All three tools utilize enhanced AddThis sharing experiences that include:

  • a vertical sharing menu that presents more of the viewer’s personalized services to boost sharing
  • a redesigned email interface
  • a redesigned expanded service selection menu, to make finding your favorite services easier than ever
  • a redesigned share counter to visually match other counters you might be using on your site

 

Updated Toolbox

The first addition to AddThis Labs is an elegant 32x32px Toolbox which includes the design enhancements above. See it in action or just grab the code.

We’ve also create two other new surfaces for your sharing enjoyment:

 

Floating Horizontal Bar

Imagine a sharing tool that only presents itself when your readers are ready to share. The new floating horizontal bar is easy to install and remains out of the way until the viewer begins scrolling down your page. You can customize the size of the sharing options, as well as the color of the bar. See it in action or just grab the code.

 

Floating Vertical Bar

Like its counterpart, the floating vertical bar stays with the reader as he or she scrolls down the page, but does so in the margin of the page instead of across the top. Like all AddThis Tools, this menu is completely customizable and includes the design enhancements above. See it in action or just grab the code.

 

We want to hear from you!

We’d love to hear what you think about these features. Please visit our forum and leave us some feedback and as always, thank you for using AddThis.

Jim Lane
Director of User Experience
AddThis

Recent Account Updates

In our release on Feb 24, 2011, we made a number of changes to how AddThis accounts work. We made these changes to make it easier to access the site, organize multiple AddThis configurations, and share analytics data with others. Many of the updates we’ve made were requested by publishers like you. Also, many of these updates allow us to more easily help publishers resolve support requests.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback about these updates. Please visit our forum to post any questions or feedback.

Easier Registration and Signing In

Our goal with these changes was to make is easier than ever to join AddThis and enjoy benefits like our in-depth analytics suite, tips and tricks from our monthly newsletters and much more.

  • If you are currently a registered AddThis publisher, you no longer have to remember your original AddThis username to sign in – now you can sign in with your email address. Your original username will still work, if you would prefer to keep using it, just enter it instead.
  • New AddThis publishers will now register using an email address.
  • New and existing publishers can now also register and sign in using a 3rd party account from Facebook, Google and OpenID. For example, if you register using your Facebook account, and you are currently logged into Facebook, you can sign in to AddThis with one click. Easy!
  • If in the past you created multiple accounts with the same email address, you’ll need to sign in with that account’s original username. We’ll help your recover it if you forgot it. As always, if you forgot your password, we can help you reset it.

Using Profiles to Get Organized and Share Analytics

We’ve added an organizational convention we’re calling Profiles to provide publishers more control over their implementations of the AddThis platform. Put simply, profiles are just collections of analytics data and configuration settings associated with a user account, that can be used as a powerful organizing device.

AddThis accounts can collect analytics data for multiple domains, and take advantage of more advanced configuration settings like blocked domain lists and custom email templates. However, in the past publishers couldn’t share analytics data without revealing their account information, nor could they have separate custom configurations like default email templates or blocked domain lists for individual domains without creating separate AddThis accounts for each domain.

Now, publishers can create a profile for each domain or set of domains for which they want to collect data. Including that profile’s ID (formerly “pub” or “username”) in the code on that domain’s pages will ensure that data collected from those pages ends up in that profile. Publishers can then share each profile separately with team members or clients.

  • If you are a registered AddThis publisher, you already have a profile. Your Profile ID is your account’s former “pub” or “username”.
  • If you are a newly registered AddThis publisher, we’ll create a profile for you automatically when you get AddThis code.
  • Profiles can be created and managed in Settings, and if you have more than one, you will be asked to choose a profile to use when getting AddThis code or reviewing analytics reports.
  • User accounts can have one or more profiles, and a profile can contain analytics data for one or more domains. This provides larger publishers more flexibility to organize multiple implementations of AddThis code.
  • Publishers can share access to a profile with other user accounts. Recipients of a shared profile will receive an email notifying them. If they don’t already have an account, they will be asked to create one.
  • Access to profiles can be “View and Make Changes” or “View Reports Only”. A publisher might grant a team member’s account full access, while granting a client permission simply to view reports and not make any changes to configuration settings.

To learn more about creating and managing profiles, please visit our help page, Using Profiles.