Don’t Let the Buzz Fool You: Trends May Not Be Your Friends

Every year, articles appear in the blogosphere touting new UX trends or technologies. Some trends have merit and value. Here at The Nerdery we love to constantly push boundaries. However, sometimes when companies implement a trend, they put the cart before the horse. No matter what tactics you choose to employ, it’s always best to start with defining the problem you need to solve for the opportunity at hand.

Many of these trends appear engaging and beautiful on the surface. Designers and stakeholders may have the best of intentions when implementing the latest trends. However, blindly implementing trends can also fail miserably without a sound strategy.

Here are examples of trends or tactics that may have their downsides:

Parallax Scrolling

Parallax scrolling is a technique used where background imagery moves at a slower speed than images in the foreground, creating the illusion of depth. It can be very successful in the right situations and when implemented well.

User Experience Design considerations:

• If users need to find content quickly, scrolling through large volumes of content may deter impatient users. The Crate and Barrel parallax site requires users spend about 15 seconds browsing Christmas tree ornaments.
• If there is a large volume of content, it may be difficult to find hidden content and it may be difficult to search the site.
• If users are unsavvy, they may also be confused by the moving parts and animation.

Technical considerations:

• Content may take longer to load, if developed on one page.
• Depending on the way it’s built, parallax sites may limit search engine optimization.
• Parallax sites add a level of complexity for responsive design.

When Parallax works:

Parallax sites can be effective if you are providing users with linear experiences like stories or walking through a process. It’s also important to include sticky navigation to allow users to skip ahead to topics of greater interest, if applicable.


I love games and appreciate how they can be used to engage users. However, Gamification is not as simple as slapping on badges, leaderboards, points and “gamifying” your website with rewards. Some big brands have failed using gamification and companies continue to waste money while providing poorer user experiences.

Audiences and customers vary in their contexts, motivations, interests and desires. People are complex. Without user research and a sound strategy, you may be designing a product that users will not find valuable or impactful.

Oftentimes, games are built with the goal to increase user engagement. But engagement can be achieved in a variety of ways.  Games are just a means to an end.  We must first justify the means.

Think about the Harry Potter books. There are no badges, leaderboards, nor even pictures, yet children and adults spend countless hours of engaged reading.  It’s due to the story, relatable characters, themes and other content that conjures emotions. Engagement can come in many forms.

It’s critical to understand what drives people.  What are the things they need to learn and do?  How are they motivated?  What drives their behaviors?  After a thorough discovery process we can better determine if a gamified system is actually the best tactic to achieve your goals.

Strategy Before Tactics

In general, any tactic without a sound strategy has a greater potential to fail.  It doesn’t matter if it’s mega menus, blogs, social media tools, or infographics – it’s best to begin a project with a discovery process and user research to help align business goals with user goals.

At The Nerdery, we create strategies that help identify and prioritize business goals and user goals. Our discovery process may include workshops, stakeholder interviews, analytics evaluation, user research, surveys, contextual inquiry, personas, and many other methods to create a laser-focused strategy for your business or organization.

Design for People First

It’s certainly important to understand what new technologies and trends are being implemented.  However, instead of designing with the tactics and technology first, we should first consider the people and their motivations and goals. Ultimately, we are designing for people—people who happen to use technology.  If we begin with a solid foundation and target goals, we have a higher likelihood of achieving those goals.

How Games Can Engage Users and Impact Real Business Objectives


At The Nerdery, we are technology agnostic, meaning that we do not advocate for a particular platform or technology.  Instead, we begin by researching and defining user goals and business goals and then determine the platform or technology solution.  If the goals are to track user performance or change behaviors, consider using games as a vehicle for change.

Some may ask, “Don’t games just waste time?  How do games actually help with my business objectives?”  Consider the engagement users experience with challenges, achieving goals, advancing to higher levels, and learning new skills. These are all desirable objectives for business.

Gallup reported that 70% of workers are not engaged in their jobs, which costs businesses billions of dollars every year, so finding new ways to engage people is even more important than ever. Continue reading How Games Can Engage Users and Impact Real Business Objectives

Tips & Tricks: Creating Efficiencies For Your Development Projects

Ryan Carlson Employee Photo

As referenced in Episode #7 of the NerdCast, “Launching Successful Agency-Partner Projects Under Pressure”, our guests discussed a lot of things that can be done when partnering with a development company to help projects go a lot smoother. These are efficiencies that can directly impact projects on tight deadlines. Below are tips and tricks that can be employed by anybody that is engaging a development partner like The Nerdery.

Highlight Reel:

  • Developing a partnership versus a vendor-client relationship. This allows for building new process and workflow dynamics. Partnerships are built on trust and working around one another’s processes. Vendor-client relationships have a tendency to suffer from a lack of communication or a lack of understanding of the creative and development process on both sides of the fence.
  • Continue reading Tips & Tricks: Creating Efficiencies For Your Development Projects

Food for Thought: Agencies & Tech Innovators Need to Get on the Same Page

AdAge has a thought-provoking piece about how agencies & tech innovators need to get on the same page.

Some of it feels a little link-baity. For instance, “Great marketing is a multi-layered, long-term, tech-enabled creative process that spans multiple touch points. Great tech innovation is focused on producing the next ‘billion-dollar single-trick platform pony.'” While a lot of the post seems to blame the problems of conversion and ROI on the flakiness of the quick-moving tech world and not at all on the inability of marketers and advertisers to quickly adapt, it’s still an interesting read. It’s good to see what the other half are thinking.

How Funny Advertising Lowers Our Guard

Forbes has a post about a Dutch study that shows how funny advertising lowers our guard. The study found, “As expected, those students who were primed to be resistant tended to perceive the brands as having more negative connotations … unless that is, the brands were accompanied by distracting text, be that humorous or neutral. The distracting text appeared to interfere with the automatic processes that usually underlie our resistance to aggressive marketing. Separately from nullifying resistance, positive text (humorous or not) led to the brands acquiring positive connotations.”

Read more about it on Forbes.

How to paint 150-foot tall Batman

This one combines two of things we love best, Batman and Advertising. Over at Tor Books they have a great post about How to paint a 150-foot tall Batman. The painting is a recreation of The Dark Knight Rises poster, and as Irene Gallo the post’s author points out the New York City wall is, “one of the only places where advertising is still painted. . .”

Nerdery Partners LBVD’s website is Communication Arts’ Web Pick of the Day

Mad props go out to Nerdery Partner Lawler Ballard Van Durand (LBVD) whose new website was chosen by Communication Arts as today’s Web Pick.

The site was built using WordPress and HTML. If you want to get the inside scoop on this project & LBVD’s objectives, take a look at the Project Case Study. The site was also featured on Cool Home Pages.

Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up

Have you seen Google’s latest ad for Google docs? It features Hall & Oates and is hilarious.

Props from ±rad32 on Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition Official Website

Like Matt, aka @the_nerdery, said “How could we say no to ±rad32 when they asked us to help develop a site for the MythBusters,” especially when they wrote such nice things about us:

“So in true MythBuster spirit, we did our homework to make sure we could pull off the experiment. Just as the MythBusters turn to professional explosives experts, academics and stunt people for help, when it came to developers, we turned to the best in the business—the Nerdery. Together, we put on our safety goggles and jumped in with both feet, immersing ourselves in the wild, wacky world of Adam, Jamie, Kari, Grant and Tory and their adventures in debunking popular myths in the name of science.”

Read the entire post to learn more about the project and get links to see the official website.

Super Chatter’s findings: Madonna won the Super Bowl

Colle+McVoy’s Super Chatter is my favorite post-Super Bowl place to go. Instead of having to wade through all kinds of pundits weighing in on the sexiest and most-sexist commercials, you just get to go right to the people and see what they thought. At least the people on Twitter (and do the others really matter?).

It seems the Halftime show garnered the most social media interest, even more than the game — even in the nail-biting ast minutes. Of all the great little pieces of trivia served up at Super Chatter, the best piece is that only 4% of people used the official hashtag #SB46.