It’s In (Almost) Every Industry – AI/Machine Learning

Once considered to be something in our wildest dreams, AI/machine learning is now a very real part of our everyday lives. AI/machine learning is currently in many industries and making its way into many more. But not everyone knows how exactly AI/machine learning is affecting businesses.

Wonder no more! Codal breaks down a few of the industries being transformed by AI/machine learning!

Finance

Banks and other financial businesses are using AI/machine learning for two main reasons: fraud prevention and data analyzation.

While fraud is rare, it can be very costly. And as data sets grow bigger, it’s even harder to detect fraud, but with AI/machine learning, it just got a little easier. This technology is capable of mining data and analyzing client profiles in order to garner potential signs of fraud.

Insights provided by AI/machine learning analyzed data include investment opportunities or suggestions for investors as to when they ought to trade. Data analyzation helps risk management, which requires identifying risks early on. And with AI/machine learning banks can recognize risky data patterns sooner rather than later.

Looking for an established agency with experience with both finance and AI/machine solutions? Look no further than Codal! For an insider look at our experience, checkout our Charles Schwab case study!

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Retail/eCommerce

Retail websites are using machine learning in order to analyze your buying history and recommend products based on that data.

Machine learning is beneficial to eCommerce enterprises. For instance, this technology helps eCommerce enterprises make better data driven decisions, optimize processes, and identify new markets.

231AI/machine learning also helps create a more personalized custom experience. Likewise, this technology can predict customer service issues before they even occur.

And with 70% of eCommerce taking place via mobile best believe this technology is usable in that platform too!

Wanting to incorporate AI/machine learning into your eCommerce business? Get in touch with an eCommerce web development company and/or a eCommerce mobile app development company, like Codal!

Healthcare

232Digital transformation in healthcare is here! AI and machine learning has taken healthcare by storm! Healthcare AI is estimated to have a value of $6.6 billion by 2021 and save the U.S. healthcare industry $150 billion annually. These technologies are making significant strides for both healthcare professionals and patients.

AI is being used for medical diagnoses. For instance, Stanford University created an AI algorithm that identifies and diagnosis skin cancer. This technology is said to be available on mobile phones eventually. Likewise, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has an AI in the works that uses high-level image recognition to detect metastasis.

In need of healthcare transformation solution? Contact Codal, experts in software development for healthcare, connected healthcare solutions, and more!

Conclusion:

Industries not included in this piece, but that are reaping the benefits of AI and machine learning include, but are not limited to, transportation, manufacturing, and government.

AI/machine learning isn’t going anywhere. That being said, take a step in the innovative direction and incorporate this wonderful technology into your business with a little help from Codal, experts in AI/machine learning.

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It’s In (Almost) Every Industry – AI/Machine Learning

Designing Platforms For Many User Types – 4 Best Practices

Its not at all realistic to assume you’ll only have a small handful of user types interacting with your platform. To combat this, you need to design a platform that will accommodate a variety of user types.

Below are what we here at Codal, a UX design company in Chicago, deem the best practices for designing platforms for various types of users.

Design Thinking

According to the Interactive Design Foundation, “Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.”

Begin design thinking via these steps:

  • Empathize: research and identify potential problems your users may face and design in empathetic accordance with your discoveries.
  • Define: gather and organize your findings from the previous stage. Analyze and draw conclusions in order to define problems.
  • Ideate: challenge your findings and assumptions in order to solve a variety of problems amongst a handful of different potential users.
  • Prototype: it’s time to experiment with solutions and prototypes as discovered in the previous three stages.
  • Test: don’t just think about these possible solutions, try them out!

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Caption: Source

Personas

Make use of personas!

Personas are demonstrations of potential users in the real world. They help designers design for a variety of people and groups while still addressing individual needs. Personas are created via user research. (In search of user experience research services? Look no further than Codal!). They show the needs, wants, behaviors, etc., of who they’re representing.

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Caption: How to create Personas, a step by step guide.

Once your personas are created, give them some context: apply them to different scenarios. Scenarios will help designers understand user flows (see the following section), which is critical when designing for a variety of user types.

User Flows

User flows are a series of steps a user takes in order to achieve an objective. They communicate the intended sequence of steps that a user would go through within an application or website.

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Caption: UX Flows, and Why They’re So Confusing

User flows put the user at the center of the design process by putting attention of the users needs and wants, demonstrating how users achieve an objective.

An example of success with user flows can be seen in Codal’s experience working with Showroom Squared.

Accessibility/Compliance

Designing for many types of users also includes developing a platform that is usable for those with disabilities. While this is certainly the ethical practice, it also one that is mandated by law. Make sure you site is ADA compliant!

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Caption: Source

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) make designing your platform accessible easy! An example of a WCAG guideline includes consistent navigation. More specifically, for users with visual impairments or cognitive limitations, having a predictable site or application makes it usability easier if repeated components (like an expanding navigation menu) occur in an identical order.

Accessibility allows all types of users to enjoy websites and web applications across many platforms without jeopardizing the quality of the experience.

Conclusion:

You can’t make everyone happy, but you can make your platform usable for a variety of user types. Whether you’re in need of custom software development services, UX research services, or anything else necessary to develop your platform, Codal has you covered. Checkout out our technologies and solutions!

Designing Platforms For Many User Types – 4 Best Practices

Edtech On The Rise – 5 Noteworthy Innovations 2019

With the ever increasing advent of technological solutions and innovations, across many disciplines and industries, it’s of no surprise that the rise of educational technology is among us. And it’s not going anywhere!

As an advocate for a more educated future, as well as being a leader in edtech solutions, us here at Codal would like to share our five favorite edtech innovations of 2019!

1) Livescribe Smartpens

Research has proven that handwritten notes contribute to better retention of information compared to typed notes. However, handwritten notes have a greater potential for getting lost, ruined, or eaten by your dog. Via a high-tech stylus, Livescribe eliminates these worries by digitizing them into PDFS, editable text files, and recorded audio. This impressive edtech is a product of Anoto.

2102) Handshake

With education, particularly higher education, comes the need to put your acquired knowledge and skills into practice within the context of a job. But finding a work that’s complimentary to your area(s) of study can be challenging. However, with Handshake students need not worry. Handshake is an online career network/platform that helps students find jobs/internships with the ability to do specific to their areas of study. Similar to LinkedIn, Handshake lets students build profiles that can be seen by companies (potential employers) who are connected to the platform.

2113) EDX: Free Online Courses by Harvard, MIT, & more

This is a non-profit online platform that aims to democratize learning. Managed by leading institutions in higher education, EDX provides free online courses; a concept, similar to open-source software, referred to as MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses. With great accessibility and the potential to be a tradition college education or continuing education supplement, EDX is an encouraging edtech development!

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4) MATHia & MATHiaU

These two intelligent and responsive math-teaching softwares are an edtech must! MATHia is for grades 6th-12th and MATHiaU is higher education. Both softwares provide one-on-one tutoring, as well as personalized learning paths for math students. Math learning ought to be differentiated in delivery in order to solidify knowledge and retain understanding and that’s exactly what this software provides. These softwares are easy to use have aesthetically pleasing interfaces, and integrate seamlessly with Learning Management Systems (LMS) (essentially CMS specific to education), so school teachers and instructors can utilize the resource too! This software is a product of Carnegie Learning.

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5) Remind

214Remind is a communication platform and mobile app designed to bring students, parents, and educators together. More specifically, Remind allows teachers and school administrators to communicate with parents and students via mobile all within the context of a neat platform. Additionally, this application integrates seamlessly with LMSs, like Canvas.

Conclusion

Edtech is the future of education. The possibilities are endless, with innovations ranging from hardware to software. Either way, developing said innovations requires solutions. Who better than to contact than Codal, an application development firm specializing in custom software development services.

Edtech On The Rise – 5 Noteworthy Innovations 2019

User Experience For Wearable Tech – What You Need To Know

Wearable technology used to be something in people’s wildest dreams. Now, not only is wearable tech available, its popularity and functionality is ever increasing. Wearables connect the digital world to the physical world. And as such, it’s time for serious consideration when designing a wearable product.

200Let’s examine the two parts of the product and how to design accordingly for both.

Hardware

There are two main concerns when designing hardware: comfort and aesthetics.

If the device is not comfortable there is no way users will wear it (unless it looks cool, but designing for comfort really should be a must). When designing consider how the device would best fit on someones body, or rather the hardware could integrate or enhance the body.

Hardware must be aesthetically pleasing. This is the intersection of fashion and function. Consider what’s popular when creating your wearable, but also consider the ability for user customization as you won’t be able to accommodate all aesthetic preferences.

Lastly, make sure your hardware is cohesive with your software. If you’re having trouble bringing these two together seamlessly, consider some custom software development services, like the ones offered at Codal!

Software

The software design for wearables should be treated like any other development process; i.e. putting the user at the center.

The software for a wearable should be intuitive on the front-end for users. They should experience the perfect amount of disfluency, but still be able to easily navigate your product to complete their objectives.

Keep in mind, wearables are often meant to serve a specific function, or accomplish a certain objective, opposed to accommodating a handful of potential tasks, like a computer. That being said, when designing your software less is more. Don’t aim for mass functionality, rather strive for a seamless singular or small set of functionality.

201Additionally, considering a great majority of wearable tech involves biometric data, you must be designing in accordance to HIPAA compliance. (If you’re not experienced with designing within these parameters, consider contacting Codal, a leader in software development for healthcare!).

Caption: Picture from Study: Wearable Technology & Preventative Healthcare.

Conclusion

The experience of wearable tech is just as much physical as it is digital. Designing an experience that brings together hardware and software seamlessly is easier said than done. Though, it’s not impossible. If you’re in search of a wearable tech solution, contact Codal, a UX design company.

User Experience For Wearable Tech – What You Need To Know

5 Free Shopify App’s for Your eCommerce Startup

You’ve made a couple of important decisions recently.

Order Printer

If you’re in the eCommerce business, you’re going to be sending goods through the mail. Decrease costs and hassle with Order Printer; a must have for any eCommerce operation on Shopify.

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Caption: Order Printer screenshot

Not only is this app free, it allows users to customize and print custom packing slips, invoices, labels, or receipts. It’s worth noting, that customizations need to be done in HTML and Liquid, both of which one would need experience using.

SEO Site Audit, Benchmark Hero

Startup or not, you should be concerned with SEO. With SEO Site Audit, Benchmark Hero, bolster the success of your eCommerce site by improving your SEO.

In order to do so, this app runs an audit on your site and answers questions like “how does Google scan my site?”, “what is the percentage of recurring customers?”, and “how fast does my site run?”. Answering questions like this will drive traffic and boost conversion rates!

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Integrates with StoreYa.

Kit

You’ve secured your next marketing expert with this app. Vowing to support your company’s need for sales growth, Kit will analyze your business and reccomend marketing solutions.

Kit prides itself on helping small businesses overcome the folllowing three challenges:

Lack of time to both learn and execute marketing
Not enough capital to hire a marketing professional
No experience in online sales

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Caption: Kit’s interface

Kit integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Customer reviews by Yotpo, SEO Manager by Venntov, and Kit Karts by ShopPad.
Improved Contact Form

A well designed and fully functioning contact page and/or pop-up is a must for any business, espcieally a start-up! Give users and customers interpersonal access to your business by enstating Improved Contact Form to your Shopify store.

This app automatically adds a contact page to your website without any coding, as well as providing contact pop-ups. Additional functionality includes recieval of contact form submission directly to your pre-existing mail box, bot spam protection, customizable contact form fields, and smart contact form, which provides users information (like city, state, IP address, how they found your site, and more).

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Caption: Improved Contact Form’s automated email email notification to your personal email.

Integrates with mailchimp and Constant Contact.

Compass

A Shopify store is incomplete without an analytics plugin and with Compass you’ll get just that! All you have to do is download the app, create your dashboard, and get started!

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Compass track over 30 eCommerce metrics, like Customer Lifetime Value, Repurchase Rate, Refunds, Customer Acquisition Costs, and more.

Types of reports include: Benchmark Report, Insights Report, Acquisition Report, Revenue Report, and an Executive Report.

There’s no excuse to not know your eCommerce business, especially given the analytics tools abailable. Use Compass to understand your business inside and out.

Integrates with Paypal, Stripe, Amazon, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Adwords.

Conclusion

Starting an eCommerce store can be daunting and costly. However, it doesn’t need to be. Take advatage of the free apps recommended above in order to jump start the success of your Shopify store. But if you’re looking for a more specialized app, get in touch with an eCommerce app development agency.

If you’re looking for more eCommerce solutions, consider contacting Codal, an eCommerce web development company.

5 Free Shopify App’s for Your eCommerce Startup

Statamic CMS: A WordPress Alternative

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Caption: image courtesy of Statamic blog post.

Many people and businesses count on WordPress for their CMS, and rightfully so. WordPress has earned its positive reputation. However, there are alternatives to (almost) everyone’s favorite CMS, like Statamic for content-based websites.

Statamic vs. WordPress

Although WordPress is free, which is always nice, you might save money in the long-run with Statamic. For starters, Statamic is far more customizable than WordPress. The core of Statamic is already fitted with Advanced Custom Fields, a backup utility, a forms module, search plugin, and a better caching system, unlike WordPress. As a result, the cost of ownership is lower.

Additionally, 90% of hacked sites from 2018 were WordPress sites. However, Statamic is built on Laravel which is one of the safest and most secure PHP frameworks ever. Other benefits of Laravel include mail integration, authentication/authorization system building, and separation of business logic code and presentation logic code.

No Database

Statamic stores all your information/data via flat files opposed to databases, making information/data more accessible, as well as easier to edit and use. For example, ease in doing the following: version control, migrations, and development. Furthermore, not having a database makes the operating speed of Statamic faster than its database CMS counterpart.

Using Statamic

First off, the UX/UI of Statamic easy to use and easy on the eyes. (Interested in improving the UX/UI of your website,web-application, or platform? Check out UX/UI design company, Codal!).

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Caption: control panel illustrates user friendly and aesthetically pleasing UX/UI, image from Statamic | Self-Hosted WordPress Alternatives Part 4.
Secondly, Statamic is user friendly on the back-end. Set up and customization on the back-end is easy, inpart due to the Laravel framework.

eCommerce

While Statamic has eCommerce capabilities, such as addons like Charge and Statamify, it doesn’t stand a chance relative to platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce.

However, if you’re an online retailer using Statamic (or any other CMS), but you’re in need of some custom tweaking in order to bolster your eCommerce business, take it to the experts in eCommerce website design and development: Codal.

Plugins and Add-ons

WordPress has considerably more plugins/add-ons than Statamic. It’s worth noting the control panel of Statamic doesn’t allow you to download plugins/add-ons within it. If you’re using Statamic or another CMS and need custom plugin/add-on assistance, Codal, an application development agency, can help.

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Conclusion

Both WordPress and Statamic have a lot to offer. Choosing between the two of them will ultimately depend on your specific CMS needs.

Interested in exploring these needs with a ux company or a mobile app design company, even a WordPress development company? Come talk to us here at Codal! And for more useful information, visit our blog!

Statamic CMS: A WordPress Alternative

5 Tips for Conducting User Interviews

By gathering information regarding users feelings, behaviors, motivations, objectives, and routines, UX designers learn how to improve user experiences. They do this via user interviews.

User interviews are great at all stages! Before you design as to provide information concerning personas, journey maps, and feature ideas. Or even after a user test in order to provide verbal responses as contexts to your findings.

Below are Codal’s, a user experience research services company, five tips for conducting user interviews!

1) Ask the right questions

Anyone can ask questions, but asking meaningful questions that elicit informative feedback takes some preparation.

Don’t ask “yes or no” questions and avoid vague questions. You want to ask thought provoking questions that require users to provide genuine, and explanatory, responses. For example, “Why or why don’t you like the checkout process?” or “Tell me about your experience using our product.”

Also, keep in mind the interview is not a sales pitch. Keep your questions neutral. This is not an opportunity to promote your product.

2) Try to anticipate follow-up questions

161While you can’t predict the future, chances are you will have at least some idea as to how your users will respond to your questions. That being said, try to anticipate their answers with follow-up questions in order to keep the interview moving forward and gather even more information.

3) Remember human flaws and limitations

User interviews receive self-reported data that reflect feelings and perceptions, both of which are inherently subjective. While we proceed to conduct user interviews seeking out these subjective responses, they are not void of human flaws and limitations.

Important flaws and limitations to keep in mind:

  • Some people may feel pressure to answer questions a certain way and as a result either omit details or include unnecessary details.
  • Human memory is not entirely reliable – take this into account when receiving any and all answers.
  • People prone to cognitive biases – this is certainly something to for both the interviewer and interviewee, however answers given in bias can give skewed results research.

Caption: image courtesy of Visual Capitalist

4) Topics to cover during the interview

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While this list is not exhaustive, nor should you limit your interview to these topics, start here:

  • Background information – general info about the user, such as age, location, demographic, ethnographic, etc..
  • General technology use – user’s experience with technology, frequency of using technology, and types of technology being used.
  • Use of the product – determine how your user uses your product.
  • Objectives and motivations – why your user uses your product.
  • Pain points – users are usually pretty aware of their frustrations and where they originate so take advantage of this!

5) Make sure user interviews is what you need

163There are many different means to address the UX of your product, including but not limited to user interviews. However, oftentimes a user, or usability, test is needed opposed to user interviews.

If you’re needing to know things like whether a design is easy to use or what technically makes a design easy or difficult, then consider a usability test.

Caption: Table highlighting some differences between user testing and user interviewing from Nielsen Norman Group.

Not sure which test is right for you? Chicago ux design agency, Codal, can help!

Your conducted your user interview: now what?

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Hopefully your user interview was a success and you acquired plenty of valuable information. Time to start using that data!

Maybe the goal of your product is digital transformation in healthcare, maybe your product aim is digital transformation in logistics, or maybe you’re looking for an eCommerce solution but your user interview results require a solution.

Contact Codal! Let us apply our user research services to your product and business.

5 Tips for Conducting User Interviews