Importance of data visualisation

The most important common benefit of data visualization is that it allows us to access huge amounts of data in an easily and digestible way. Well-designed graphic representations are usually the simplest and therefore the most powerful to read.

Furthermore the amount of data that is being created by companies continues to grow each year in a bid to understand consumers for streamline operations. It is becoming more important to work with a agency that provides the technology to gather and make use of all this compiled data to understand consumers. However the use of data is not only confined to consumers and end clients. Good analysis of data can lead to valuable insights in streamlining business operations, improving profits, developing product design and identifying emerging trends.

However data doesn’t provide decision makers important valuable insights alone. This data must be well gathered, organized, made readable and presentable, and then analysed and acted on to provide any real meaningful value.

Today it’s common practice to have applications that go beyond the standard charts and graphics used in old software such as word and excel. This can be through displaying data in a more sophisticated and efficient way through infographics, dials, geographical maps, spark lines, and various types of detailed charts. When analysing and working with big data it’s more than ever important to work with an agency that provides these applications.

As Supafonica has breached more into research techniques we have the technical abilities to highlight trends through using such tools. We can provide interactive capabilities and enabling our clients to manipulate them or allowing them to scope further into the data collated. This means that our data visualisations can provide to be more meaningful especially matched with our capabilities into research.

Trends in video background web design

In 2012 we designed and made the Supafonica website with a background time-lapse video of London we made earlier, along with a customised music score to match. As internet speeds for consumers are increasing, browser technology advancing, along with capturing HD quality videos easier, it’s no surprise that the popularity of video background websites are becoming more popular. As we sit in the early part of 2016 we have decided to write up a quick brief of best practices and guidelines for this increasing design trend we were amongst the first to pioneer.

The benefits of background videos are clear to see, matched with audio you are able to present a clear vision of your service or product, how you work, and other important factors you wish to highlight and address to end users. Your brand that is so vital to your business can be strengthened and harnessed. However you must pay close attention to details and visuals in order to give the impression that your company cares and “who you say you are”, therefore working with a creative agency that can deliver would be sensible.

Partial height videos are often used because it may be more sensible to limit the height, for example giving access to the rest of the web page. Another popular trend from designers is parallax scrolling, with the video BG fitted to the divs page. The design often runs without any problems and scrolls just like naturally content. If you do not have any skills in coding and are not a creative agency like ourselves, then investing in a plugin can be the simple solution, however there is the fact that there aren’t many other solution plugins out there available so your options may be limited.

What we see lacking out there today is the lack of usage of audio, this can be a very important element to broadcast your story and vision. Audio can be initiated only from an end user, more so giving your website that extra leverage advantage. Yet we see so many websites and agencies missing out on this opportunity. We at Supafonica recognise this and have built our in house team of music audio producers to help fulfil this role.

The trends of background video have edged closer to modern website design, and although static image backgrounds are still far popular and common we see video backgrounds as becoming increasingly popular with increased support form the developer community, along with easier methods of implementation and build. Matched with the correct audio, we see this trend as staying.

Google are making earth maps look even more beautiful.

From now the tech giant will improve the images that are used for both its Earth and Maps services. Starting this week, Google will be bringing users an even more beautiful and immersive experience with brand new imagery from Landsat 8 satellite, as well as a bunch of new image processing techniques to make images look sharper and even more realistic.

Chris Herwig, the Program Manager at Google Earth Engine, explains that some images often arrive that are cloudy. So the team has been looking through millions of images to find the clearest pixels so that they can “stitch” together lots of different images and create the best possible finished picture.

Enlisting the Landsat 8 images is also part of the plan to make Google Earth look even more breath-taking. According to Google, the satellite is capable of capturing images with “greater detail, truer colours, and at an unprecedented frequency”.

Why not see for your self and check out the new imagery and see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be by opening up Google Earth, or alternatively you can simply turn on the satellite layer in Google Maps.

Have fun!

Act quickly to get your free upgrade to windows 10

For those that have been put off upgrading their old Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 operating system over to the newest incarnation from Microsoft Windows 10, there is now an alternative to get get round to it. Microsoft has confirmed that 29th July will be the last day for anyone to get an upgrade without paying up front any money.

Microsoft promised end users upon the commencement of Microsoft 10 that the general public would be able to claim their free upgrade provided they fall between the first year of the OS, presumably to encourage users to upgrade and to stimulate more up take. However this freebie is coming to an end, and from 30th July of 2016 onwards Windows 10 will cost a significant £100 to get on your windows device. Bearing in mind apple does not charge a penny for their operating system or either to upgrade, we think it should remain a free to be on same level grounds as their main competitor.

Microsoft also took this opportunity to brag and create noise about their Windows 10’s successes. According to the company Windows 10 estimated that their OS is now installed on 200 million active devices around the world, with the new Edge browser, an evolution and different brand name over the clumsy internet explorer, recorded 63 billion minutes of use in March which is a a growth of 50% since the last quarter. Cortana which is their voice operated service answered more than 6 billion questions since launch, and Windows 10 apparently has the highest customer satisfaction rate of any Windows OS yet either. which we think is some pretty nice facts and figures considering the bad reviews from their last incarnation windows 8.

We urge you to not miss out and act now if you would like the OS which we think is the perfect blend of what old users found handy in old operating systems and the new such as applications which seems to be the going trend. Either way it provides good scalability and future proofing your system with what’s yet to come.

You probably should be doing more to get ready for the “Internet Of Things”.

ERP software provider Infor,  at its annual Inforum event in Paris, revealed the findings of a new study indicating that Internet of Things adoption is not yet a business priority for most manufacturers. According to the survey, just 10 percent of manufacturers are actively pursuing IoT projects, with nearly a third of respondents admitting to having no IoT plans in place what so ever. It shows that the Internet of Things is a business priority for just 10 percent of manufacturers, with 43 percent saying that it had yet to register on their organisation’s radar.

The report also echoes similar findings by cyber security organisation ISACA, where in October of last year, it released a report indicating that 75 percent of UK IT professionals and security experts lack confidence in the security measures being implemented by manufacturers of IoT devices. ISACA encourages manufacturers looking to improve their IoT security to take a number of steps, including making all social media sharing opt-in by default, encrypting sensitive information, and insisting on automatic security updates, which is a bit like what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 os.

Around the world, the number of IoT devices in existence is expected to spike in the next five years, with more than five billion connected devices a possibility by 2020, so it’s no wonder why it would seem sensible for manufactures as well as businesses to look into what is forecasted to be a very important part of tech business.

What is the Internet of Things and how best to prepare?

What Is the Internet of Things and Why Is it Important?

Internet of Things or commonly abbreviated to just IoT is widely acknowledged to be an important technology trend this year and into the next coming years. The Internet of Things, as the name suggests, is a term encompassing the ever-growing network of connected devices, physical objects, buildings, vehicles, etc. All these devices are connected to the same network and are able to pass information and communicate easily to other devices via embedded electronics (RFID tags), software, sensors and network connectivity.

As technology has progressed further and evolved, more and more numerous devices have developed to become “smart”, such as smart phones, smart watches, smart cars, smart clothes and a number of smart interior products such as thermostats! All of these devices born from the new wave of technology are capable of communicating and transferring data between each other, such as if need be able to send and perform simple to complex tasks. We already live in a world that lets us for example control the temperature of our thermostats, or warm our cars, or record our favorite programs, which we probably would have missed as we are away from our TVs, while we are out and about by simply using an app on our smartphone.

 

Instead of having “slaves” monitoring our devices such as our fridge or TV, we are now able to automate a huge range of these monotonous processes. This makes our lives much easier saving us time and effort, the Internet of Things effectively is changing the way we live and contributing to the quality of our lifestyles. This also presents us and gives us a unique insight into data which we can use effectively as human beings by capturing and drawing insight from the analytics that come with it.

How Can Companies Prepare?

Large tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Apple to note a few are already investing heavily and preparing in what looks like a very  important sector of business tech and what is forecasted to be a revolution forward. It’s only inevitable that smart devices will become even smarter, producing more detailed data numbers, figures and deep analysis as we move along into the future. The unlocking of the insight of this data accumulated will be an important success in business as it gives us invaluable information to how business and consumers work and come together.

To prepare for this inevitable influx of data, some of the challenges include infrastructure, data storage and an analytics platform capable of reporting on the huge volumes of live data created, after all we are living in the modern age of big data accumulation.

Infrastructure
We have to ensure that there is an appropriate network bandwidth to cope with volatile data. For example, traffic data is known to be a little unpredictable and could cause data spikes. Companies need to be aware of this and take necessary measures to be able to cope.

Data storage
The large variety of data produced by IoT devices may render certain current storage systems and data warehouses obsolete. Utilizing alternative agile storage infrastructures is essential in order to cope with the new, diverse data being created, such as customer behavior information, weather data, geo-location data and sensor information.

Analytics
After you have revamped your infrastructure and data storage technologies in order to capture and store this data, would need an analytics platform to turn your big data into insight and action. But you need the right one, that is one that can scale to keep up with the new formats and ever-growing volumes of data. One that is able to cope with the integration of diverse data providing users with only one version of the truth. And one that is agile enough to be able to deliver reporting and analysis capabilities over live-data.

Benefits

The obvious benefits of IoT are quite simple to see, which is the more data available to us should theoretically equal more insight. However it’s not that straightforward…If managed and used correctly, real-time data brings with it some real-time insights, where then decisions can be made faster and therefore business changes can be implemented  much quicker and efficiently.

An example of this would be fine-tuning marketing and sales campaigns, where they would becomes more powerful due to the faster and more accurate insight that this real-time data brings. Effectively this would be the same work as a supply chain manager who is able to push forward refinements faster to the supply chain leading to increased efficiency and potential cost-savings.

Performing better, but quicker and efficient should be the mantra that IoT should bring and stand for, but it’s only achievable with the best and most agile technologies however this necessarily doesn’t mean heavy, expensive investment.

Microsoft has plans to integrate Swiftkey features

Microsoft has plans to integrate Swiftkey features

Microsoft and SwiftKey have made a joint announcement that they will be joining forces in an attempt to integrate Swiftkey features such as predictive text into it’s products in the future. Their plans seems to be wishing to integrate SwiftKey into its Word Flow Keyboard, which some of you might recognize having resembles with the older Swype application software interface. However this feature seems to be more common across a number of applications using similar software ui keyboards these days, SwiftKey’s has been showing off what they call their “neural network engine” as demonstrated in the video link below. They hope this will be useful in predicting whole messages, based on how the software records your writing style.

In the meantime SwiftKey has announced that their app across Android and iOS platforms will continue to remain free and available.

 

Changing face of web design

Recent innovations in web design such as developments in code, strategy & accessibility have shown a threat to webdesign as of the past, we recently read an article expressing the end of web design as a result of fashions in UI & UX. Some suggest that from this point there is no need to be creative as there are no further innovation possibilities & some even stating trying to get more creative can be pointless & harmless. While we agree that platforms, premade templates & a shift towards minimalist white design have made it more easy & accessible we don’t agree that this will be the complete end of website design.

The popularity of mobile & tablet devices have led to terms being created such as UI, & UX. Sergio Nouvel in a recent article on UX magazine expresses his concerns over how mobile is killing the web indicating in particular given the size of a mobile screen there are only so many things that can fit & be included. While we have experienced this in our agency first hand years ago when the emergence of apps on mobiles came around, we like the fact mobile interfaces & apps force you to take you to the bare minimal requirements & start from fresh. Because there is limited space on a mobile designers are presented with a new challenge, this is where the simplicity of design & UX really come into effect.

Certainly the emergence of social media platforms & the fact that a lot of business have started purely & rely on social media, you could argue the need for a website these days & more of a focus on brand establishment. Given trends you can say social media platforms & directory websites like Yelp, which work by a push-based content consumption model where content is being delivered to you based on context, are going to overtake the current paradigm of actively going to a certain business’s website to intake information. Webpages still remain a focus for informative resources, & as websites are still conceived on a desktop device which are much bigger than their new counterparts, we think there will always be a case for website design as long as the working environment revolves around larger screens.

Good websites do not necessarily mean relying on flat design, whilst we are a fan of flat design & minimalist approach, there’s plenty of scope to be different from the rest which is what we try to do. If anything simple flat design should ensure that the real creative agencies & individuals are easier to find & given more prominence as eventually good design will stick out from the rest who are simply following fashion trends which is not particularity difficult to do.

Today websites are apart of a larger ecosystem, with company’s brand identity & consumers at the center. Delivering an experience that’s rich & engaging is ultimately as important with making sure content is very easy to understand & get across to the end user. Simply making sure you have a nice looking website is not enough these days. Consumers are more alert & experienced to be fooled. For example is the content easy to understand? Is it easy to find? Is the identity of the business something your target end users can identify with and connect with on an emotional level & intellectual level? Are you excluding a large chunk of your audience by not paying attention to certain issues such as responsive design or accessibility for disabled users? All of these questions and more should be included & thought about in a business’s complete strategy.

Is there a best time to post on social media?

Have you ever wondered that time is a factor to consider when posting you content on social media? It makes sense to think that for a certain location users prefer to view their social media streams at a specific time. Therefore if you share you content at a certain time you might gain more shares & attention, as with an increase in traffic.

Through our work we have managed to gain a perspective to how social media works, & it’s different per social media channel. For example with facebook the best times we have found to post are middle of the end of the working week on Thursday & Friday. The less people want to be at work, the more they are likely to be on Facebook.  The best time of the day to post on facebook we have found to be between 1pm & 3pm where the working day is at it’s optimum.

According to twitter users are 181% more likely to be on twitter during their commute, with 119% more likely to use twitter during school or working hours. The best time of the day to tweet for B2B engagement are weekdays, & for B2C engagement highest on weekends. Certainly for brands engagement would make sense if it were highest during the weekends.

Linkedin users are predominately professionals who like to engage with each other. Therefore we have found the best day to post is during the middle of the working week with best times of the day being early after 9am & after 5pm. Linkedin consists primarily of a B2B audience which is the reason behind these facts.

Pinterest compared to Linkedin are from the other side of the spectrum so it comes to no surprise that the best times we have found to post was during the weekends & according to Fannit best times being 2am-4pm & 8pm-11pm. According to SEJ Pinterest activity peaks at approximately 9pm.

According to TrackMaven Instagram engagement remains consistent throughout the week with slight spikes during Mondays & lows on Sundays. Fortune 500 companies overwhelmingly put photos up on Instagram during business hours, with posts spiking between 3pm-4pm.

In conclusion social media marketing can be improved by taking into consideration quantitative data like in the results above. One should try to ascertain where & whom their target audience are & not only focus on the correct timings but overall good quality, rich & engaging content to bring out this new emerging sector to it’s full potential.

innovation in map interfaces

We love map interfaces & here’s a latest design from Google which shows signs of things to come. Integrated maps in our mobile phones have become an every day part of our lives, which are very easily overlooked & underestimated. Convenient maps made available on our phones have made it easy for us to navigate around complicated city demographics around us & enabled us to discover parts we have never seen before, even the world. However they can be seen as a bit dull & vulgar.

Patricio Gonzalez Vivo of mapzen, & Ryoji Ikeda a mathematical artist have come together to create a stunning map which may be signs of things to come. The effect has come about from re-skinning the open source maps found at Mapzen & overlaying them with a artistic brush. Odd as may it seem to be the 3d finished look is visually stunning with the black background & highlighted white  interfaces to give it a strong contrast. Details can be seen when an end user zooms into the map where office lights left on are visible, to the on going flow of traffic. Matched with a red grid pattern when you zoom out, we think the end result is stunning to look at whilst intriguing & even thought the black & white contrast is strong, we liked the possibility of 3d interaction with buildings mapped out in digital format which may be a sign of things to come.

Try it out for yourself here

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