11 January 2005

XML product demos: Tips on showcasing your aggregator in Flash

Summary

This discusses how to showcase aggregators in Flash:

  • Demonstrate how the end-users objectives are solved.

    Rather than focusing on the aggregators as a product to feature, use the flash demo to show how the end-user's objective is solved using the aggregator; and

  • Get the end-user involved and let them see how the "new product" compares with what they are familiar with.

    Let the end-user decide "which internet task or function" they want solved; showcase how this objective is achieved using an aggregator; and then compare those steps at the same time with how an "non-XML approach" might address the objective.

    Discussion

    Sage has an interesting Flash Demonstration.

    The Flash Demon does a nice job at pointing out features, resizing boxes, and showing how to make administrative-type adjustments to the aggregator.

    For people who have never used an aggregator before, the demo can be somewhat confusing. It's not all that clear where we are in the process of doing research or a task.

    Analogy: Learning how to drive a car

    We learn how to drive a car by keeping in mind, "When I drive safely, I will be able to visit with my friends at the beach and enjoy music." Show how the product will achieve the end-result: Spending time with friends, or doing things we enjoy.

    Let's take the aggregator from the perspective of an end-user doing research on the internet. Remember, your end-user may have never used XML.

    So, going back to our car analogy: It doesn't make sense to keep showing a picture of the break pedal, when the drive of the car has no notion of passing, slowing, other traffic, and the importance of breaking before we drive into the ocean.

    Right, now Sage simply shows a cursor moving back and forth. That's fine if you want to demo the product, but that's not why the end-user is looking at the product.

    A better use of the flash animation would be to demonstrate tasks and goals, rather than functions.

    This means showcasing "what is it like to do research on the internet", and then incorporate all the web tools, plus the featured product, into that end-user task.

    The end-user really wants to know: "How can I use this tool to solve problems:

  • Finding stuff
  • Reviewing content

    In other words, the current Sage demo doesn't capture the time-feature of aggregators.

    Let me state it another way. When an end-user is using an aggregator, they aren't there to play with the aggrgator and 'look at all the functions.'

    Rather, the end-user has a specific problem or question or task in mind:

  • I want to look at cartoons like ____

  • My favorite movie star is ____

  • I have a school project related to _____

    What the demos need to do is show how these end-user objectives are solved over time.

    To really show the benefits of the aggregator, marketing needs to take a step back and have several-options for the end-user to go down.

    This means getting the end-user involved in the demo by offering a variety of end-user-related functions and letting the end-user pick "which one of these tasks would I like to accomplish:

  • Objective: Look at cartoons

    User goal or task:: I want track Dilbert cartoons over this week

    Demo presentation or demo:: So show them how to use the aggrgator on a day-by-day basis with a clock spinning [hand turning]...and a daily-calendar scrolling by....

    Show how the XML feed for that particular task is added, and then what to do to go back and finish that task: Day by day, review the feed; show how the content changes; show how new cartoons are added; and show how the displayed content scrolls up and down; and then give the end-user a nice walk through of things to notice in the aggregator that helps out to better enjoy the "viewing the Dilbert Cartoon" than they would otherwise have.

    In other words...have a side-by-side comparison of "This is how the experience is with an aggregator like Sage" ...and then on the other side...show the same task...but compare..."This is what it is like to do the task without the aggregator."

    The results will speak for themselves: Either the end-user will understand and make a choice; or the end-user will say, "I have no clue what all the fuss is about" and stick with a bookmark.

    You need to demonstrate why the current tools is Better at addressing the end-user's tasks than what the user is currently enjoying.

    If this means you need to make up a dummy-browser because you can't get permission from IE, then go ahead and pretend you are using a "normal browser."

    Also, you may want to compare the flash-movements with that of bookmarking. Again, contrast the moves on the left panel in the Sage aggregator [adding the links, enjoying the cartoons] with that of the Bookmarks.

    Again, the end-user may say, "I don't want to have all this hassle of an aggregator"...so be prepared to show them what they will not have to do each time and why [when comparing the aggregator to the linked-bookmarking option] what the savings in time, number of clicks, etc.

  • Objective: Finding a person

    Task: "I want to find pictures of ____ movie star"

    Demo: Show, using a simulated search engine-Image search...why an aggregator is better, or how the "task of finding images with a search engine or non-XML method" compares with using an aggregator.

    If you need to make up a bogus-search tool to illustrate the contrast and have a "side-by-side comparison," do it.

  • Doing class work

    Task: "I have to do a research project on ____ and it is due in a week."

    Demo: Show, again...how someone might use the internet to research material with an online library; then compare to a search engine [without RSS]...then show how the SAGE-aggregator will do the task.

    Again, to be clear: Show how the various tools work together. Do not fall in the trap of saying, "This aggregator will solve all your problems" because that is not true.

    An aggregator cannot necessarily do detailed searches with complex search routines like Google; but what an aggregator can do is have recurring searches automatically do the searches.

    Also, need to show that a real-specific search using complex terms may be beyond the scope of an aggregator; yet, at the same time, show how the aggregator can be used to do some types of research, but no others.

    Summary

    I liked the Sage flash demonstration. It was a nice effort and very easy to follow. However, the problem an end-user is going to have is the question of, "What is going on here?"

    The end-user doesn't want to save links. The end-user has an objective in mind: To find content; to do a task; or do something.

    "Saving links" is boring. Finding interesting content day after day without much hassle is fun.

  • Rather than focus on the mechanics of the aggregator, use the flash demos to highlight how the aggregator can be used to achieve certain tasks.

  • Contrast how the aggregator is a tool with other non-XML products;

  • Demonstrate what the aggregator can do to solve the problem; and

  • Highlight the time-passage aspect of XML in that the feed-content changes in the aggregator, and things scroll.

    Remember, at this juncture of the lifecycle, you're trying to solve problems, not sell people on the idea of "what is an aggregator."

    Link your product to end-user tasks and their outcomes. If you focus on what the user is trying to do, you can better showcase the features; in the end, the user will come to understand "why this click-link-image" is a benefit to me as the end-user.

    Right now, the demos do a nice job of showing the product as a single entity; but they do not focus on the end-user, their objective, or how this aggregator will solve their problem or help them provide content over time.

    Show by comparison. Focus on the end-users objective. They don't want to see the product features. They want to see how the product will solve their problem.

    Focus on the end-user. Use the demo as a means to show how the end-users current objectives and tasks can be more easily done using an aggregator.
  • Summary

    This discusses how to showcase aggregators in Flash:

  • Demonstrate how the end-users objectives are solved.

    Rather than focusing on the aggregators as a product to feature, use the flash demo to show how the end-user's objective is solved using the aggregator; and

  • Get the end-user involved and let them see how the "new product" compares with what they are familiar with.

    Let the end-user decide "which internet task or function" they want solved; showcase how this objective is achieved using an aggregator; and then compare those steps at the same time with how an "non-XML approach" might address the objective.

    Discussion

    Sage has an interesting Flash Demonstration.

    The Flash Demon does a nice job at pointing out features, resizing boxes, and showing how to make administrative-type adjustments to the aggregator.

    For people who have never used an aggregator before, the demo can be somewhat confusing. It's not all that clear where we are in the process of doing research or a task.

    Analogy: Learning how to drive a car

    We learn how to drive a car by keeping in mind, "When I drive safely, I will be able to visit with my friends at the beach and enjoy music." Show how the product will achieve the end-result: Spending time with friends, or doing things we enjoy.

    Let's take the aggregator from the perspective of an end-user doing research on the internet. Remember, your end-user may have never used XML.

    So, going back to our car analogy: It doesn't make sense to keep showing a picture of the break pedal, when the drive of the car has no notion of passing, slowing, other traffic, and the importance of breaking before we drive into the ocean.

    Right, now Sage simply shows a cursor moving back and forth. That's fine if you want to demo the product, but that's not why the end-user is looking at the product.

    A better use of the flash animation would be to demonstrate tasks and goals, rather than functions.

    This means showcasing "what is it like to do research on the internet", and then incorporate all the web tools, plus the featured product, into that end-user task.

    The end-user really wants to know: "How can I use this tool to solve problems:

  • Finding stuff
  • Reviewing content

    In other words, the current Sage demo doesn't capture the time-feature of aggregators.

    Let me state it another way. When an end-user is using an aggregator, they aren't there to play with the aggrgator and 'look at all the functions.'

    Rather, the end-user has a specific problem or question or task in mind:

  • I want to look at cartoons like ____

  • My favorite movie star is ____

  • I have a school project related to _____

    What the demos need to do is show how these end-user objectives are solved over time.

    To really show the benefits of the aggregator, marketing needs to take a step back and have several-options for the end-user to go down.

    This means getting the end-user involved in the demo by offering a variety of end-user-related functions and letting the end-user pick "which one of these tasks would I like to accomplish:

  • Objective: Look at cartoons

    User goal or task:: I want track Dilbert cartoons over this week

    Demo presentation or demo:: So show them how to use the aggrgator on a day-by-day basis with a clock spinning [hand turning]...and a daily-calendar scrolling by....

    Show how the XML feed for that particular task is added, and then what to do to go back and finish that task: Day by day, review the feed; show how the content changes; show how new cartoons are added; and show how the displayed content scrolls up and down; and then give the end-user a nice walk through of things to notice in the aggregator that helps out to better enjoy the "viewing the Dilbert Cartoon" than they would otherwise have.

    In other words...have a side-by-side comparison of "This is how the experience is with an aggregator like Sage" ...and then on the other side...show the same task...but compare..."This is what it is like to do the task without the aggregator."

    The results will speak for themselves: Either the end-user will understand and make a choice; or the end-user will say, "I have no clue what all the fuss is about" and stick with a bookmark.

    You need to demonstrate why the current tools is Better at addressing the end-user's tasks than what the user is currently enjoying.

    If this means you need to make up a dummy-browser because you can't get permission from IE, then go ahead and pretend you are using a "normal browser."

    Also, you may want to compare the flash-movements with that of bookmarking. Again, contrast the moves on the left panel in the Sage aggregator [adding the links, enjoying the cartoons] with that of the Bookmarks.

    Again, the end-user may say, "I don't want to have all this hassle of an aggregator"...so be prepared to show them what they will not have to do each time and why [when comparing the aggregator to the linked-bookmarking option] what the savings in time, number of clicks, etc.

  • Objective: Finding a person

    Task: "I want to find pictures of ____ movie star"

    Demo: Show, using a simulated search engine-Image search...why an aggregator is better, or how the "task of finding images with a search engine or non-XML method" compares with using an aggregator.

    If you need to make up a bogus-search tool to illustrate the contrast and have a "side-by-side comparison," do it.

  • Doing class work

    Task: "I have to do a research project on ____ and it is due in a week."

    Demo: Show, again...how someone might use the internet to research material with an online library; then compare to a search engine [without RSS]...then show how the SAGE-aggregator will do the task.

    Again, to be clear: Show how the various tools work together. Do not fall in the trap of saying, "This aggregator will solve all your problems" because that is not true.

    An aggregator cannot necessarily do detailed searches with complex search routines like Google; but what an aggregator can do is have recurring searches automatically do the searches.

    Also, need to show that a real-specific search using complex terms may be beyond the scope of an aggregator; yet, at the same time, show how the aggregator can be used to do some types of research, but no others.

    Summary

    I liked the Sage flash demonstration. It was a nice effort and very easy to follow. However, the problem an end-user is going to have is the question of, "What is going on here?"

    The end-user doesn't want to save links. The end-user has an objective in mind: To find content; to do a task; or do something.

    "Saving links" is boring. Finding interesting content day after day without much hassle is fun.

  • Rather than focus on the mechanics of the aggregator, use the flash demos to highlight how the aggregator can be used to achieve certain tasks.

  • Contrast how the aggregator is a tool with other non-XML products;

  • Demonstrate what the aggregator can do to solve the problem; and

  • Highlight the time-passage aspect of XML in that the feed-content changes in the aggregator, and things scroll.

    Remember, at this juncture of the lifecycle, you're trying to solve problems, not sell people on the idea of "what is an aggregator."

    Link your product to end-user tasks and their outcomes. If you focus on what the user is trying to do, you can better showcase the features; in the end, the user will come to understand "why this click-link-image" is a benefit to me as the end-user.

    Right now, the demos do a nice job of showing the product as a single entity; but they do not focus on the end-user, their objective, or how this aggregator will solve their problem or help them provide content over time.

    Show by comparison. Focus on the end-users objective. They don't want to see the product features. They want to see how the product will solve their problem.

    Focus on the end-user. Use the demo as a means to show how the end-users current objectives and tasks can be more easily done using an aggregator.
    " />