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Although our main focus is obviously video, we do have a significant chunk of clients who use our audio player. And we have been noticing more and more feedback telling us that it needed a bit of an overhaul. We listened.

Until now the video player layout was working for audio. But, you might remember we’ve improved our video player quite a lot in the last year. It’s now got a new look and feel, with streamlined controls and navigation. Which is great…for the video player. Less handy for the audio player :(

It was time to give the audio player a bit of love…

What Was Our Aim?

Quite simply, to work on all the feedback we have been seeing in recent months. We wanted to understand our customer needs and find the best solutions to make them (you) happy!

The final objective was to improve the end user experience across all devices. Now, if you’re using the vzaar audio player, your listeners have the best possible experience – whether this be on desktop, mobile or tablet.

What’s Changed?

audio

1. Consistent Design

First things first, we updated the overall design so that the audio player is now consistent with the fresh, clean style of our video player.

2. Streamlined Features

We took a look across our user base and worked out which of our features were most important to all our audio player fans. From this we identified that Brand Text, End Screen Text and Social Sharing needed to be reworked and made clearer within the audio player.

We also looked at which features weren’t being used. For instance, Mail Catcher, Tinypass & Password Protection just don’t make sense for the smaller layout. So we stripped ‘em.

By removing these features in the audio player we have made it more simple, intuitive and kept the space for what you really use.

3. A More Accessible Player No Matter What The Screen Size

Even when the screen size gets very small, the new audio player is still clear and easy to use. See?

< 72 px height

150px – 190px width

< 150 px width

And that’s about it! We hope you like what you see. If you have any feedback do let us know – we’re all ears :)

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vzaar Support Superstars: Joe

Hayley
article by:

We’re pretty fond of our support team here at vzaar, and we know that you are too! So, we thought it was about time to introduce you to its newest member: Joe.

Joe at vzaar

Biggest Claim To Fame?

Once, when we were kids, my brother and I were in the local supermarket. I can’t remember why, but for some reason we both had helium balloons with us. Inevitably, my brother’s balloon escaped and drifted up to the ceiling. He was just starting to tear up when, out of nowhere, Tom Baker appeared. He immediately reached up and grabbed the balloon from the ceiling for us before disappearing down the dairy isle. Needless to say, the whole experience was very surreal.

Most Frequently Asked Support Question?

One of the most common questions we get asked has got to be “How can I stop people downloading my videos?”. It’s a hugely important question when you’re looking to monetise video content and we have a very straightforward answer – RTMPe video delivery!

3 Interesting Facts:

    1. I once turned down an invite to a party at Stanley Kubrick’s mansion because it was cold outside.
    2. I have driven a speedboat down the Thames right through central London.
    3. My friends named their band after me for a laugh and it stuck.

Super Power I wish I Had:

It’s got to be teleportation. Hands down. Just think about the amount of time you waste travelling. And think about how that time could be much better spent.

Football or Soccer?

Honestly, I’m not particularly big on either. That said, I certainly get very patriotic for that brief period every World Cup before England inevitably suffer a resounding defeat.

Mustard or Ketchup

Mustard, if I had to pick. But the only condiments that matter in my book contain eye watering amounts of chilli.

James Bourne or James Bond?

Confession time: I’ve never watched the Bourne films (or read the books). I don’t know the first thing about them. Bond wins by default I suppose?

Tea or Coffee?

Tea. Coffee only comes into consideration if I don’t plan to sleep for the next week.

The Perfect Cup of Tea Is…

English Breakfast for sure, beyond that I’m not too picky. As long as it’s hot I’ll be content.

Want to get to know the rest of the team a little better? Read all about Alasdair’s snowboarding antics and Lawrence’s penchant for political philosophy

Remember, the team are online via live chat or you can get them via phone or email too. Drop us a line, we’d love to hear how we can help with any and all of your video projects :)

Categories vzaar updates
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As the year draws to a close we thought we’d get a bit reflective, here’s a selection of team vzaar’s 2014 highlights:

What Has Been The Highlight Of Your Year?

jim
Jim, Sales

The entire year, to be honest. The people of vzaar really came together to make this an extra special year. We’ve had fantastic numbers, fantastic development of the product and it’s just been a great team effort.

hayley1
Hayley, Marketing

I really like when we hear client success stories. This year, two have really stuck out for me: Dr Najeeb Lectures hitting 11 million views, and Moneyweek using video SEO to grow their traffic 136%. It’s nice to hear when our product really makes a difference to peoples’ businesses.

alan
Alan, Development

The upgrade to Rails 4. It was a lot of work so it feels really good to have that go live.

vir2
Virginia, Design

The home page redesign. We wanted to make it our use cases clearer, and convey more of our personality. As of last month the new design is live! It took a lot of work and the whole team got involved to help.

ali
Alasdair, Support

Visiting the London office of course! Aside from that, though it’s been a really good experience working with some of our larger clients and making sure they’re able to do what they want to do with video.

jon2
Jon, Player Development

We released the new version of our html5 player, which I have been working on for a large chunk of this year. It’s more customizable, supports video advertising and has better mobile support.

terry2
Terry, Video Making Machine

Making more and more awesome videos. We’ve really tried to step it up this year, and (hopefully!) our efforts are paying off and we’re putting out much more interesting content.

I think it’s fair to say we’ve all really enjoyed our year here at vzaar. And we’re looking forward to making 2015 an even better one. If we can help with your 2015 video plans in anyway drop us a line.

Happy holidays everyone!

Music: Xmas Rock by Projectv11.

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The Changing Face Of vzaar

Hayley
article by:

Have you heard the news? We’ve had a bit of a facelift. Last week we launched our new homepage. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so here.

We thought it would be a nice time to look back on the different looks we’ve had over the years. From our salad days back in 2007, right through to the new style. So here it is, a brief history of the vzaar home page…

vzaar home page history

You can find out more about the process behind our new design, the reasons we made the changes we did and all the prep work that went into the finished product in the blog post here.

In a nutshell, we tried to put user experience first. Our aim with the new design was to show our personality, communicate our features & benefits more clearly and simplify the navigation for a better user experience. We hope you like it – let us know what you think!

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After months of hard work we’re very pleased to announce (drum roll please…) our brand new home page!

We wanted to make it much clearer how vzaar helps businesses make the most of their video content. Redesigning a home page is no easy task, so I thought I’d tell you a little about our approach to taking it on.

What was the process behind the new homepage?

Three words: User Centered Design (UCD).

This process puts user experience at the heart of the design. And it has 4 main stages: define the problem, ideate a solution, prototype and test the designs. We had a LOT of work ahead before we could even think about opening Photoshop or writing one line of code.

User Centred Design Process

1. Defining the Problem

Before we could even begin to develop any ideas we needed to be clear about what we were trying to achieve. We asked ourselves lots of questions:

  • What are our objectives?
  • What information needs to be on the page to support our objectives?
  • What information doesn’t need to be on the page?
  • What’s the hierarchy of information?
  • What metrics need to be benchmarked for us measure success?
  • What are our customers looking for?
  • What makes vzaar different?

And much, much more.

We spent hours (and hours and hours…) looking through our data trying to identify our customers needs and what problems we needed to solve. To do this we used five different techniques:

Customer Feedback

We collated all of our customer feedback – surveys, case study questions, support tickets – to try and identify common themes: what do our customers like about us? What don’t they like? And what do they tend to be confused about?

Interviews

Sales and support are at the very front lines of our business. They work with customers every day, listen to their feedback and find solutions for them. They are an absolutely invaluable source of data so we carried out interviews with the team.

Team Questionnaire

We then put together a questionnaire to send to the rest of the team. The aim was to identify our strengths, our weaknesses and also get a sense of the personality we wanted to communicate.

Google Analytics

We used in page analytics to find out where visitors click once they hit our home page. We wanted to discover the important areas we should emphasize. And we actually found something really quite interesting. The vast majority of visitors went to the pricing and features sections. In fact, less than 10% of our visitors were clicking on the other sections in our main navigation.

In Page Analytics

Card Sorting

“Home page redesign” is perhaps a reductive title. The home page doesn’t operate in isolation. All of the choices we make here have a huge impact on the rest of the site. For example, from our in page analytics we found that a lot of traffic went through to our features pages. This is a hugely important section of the site for us, so we decided to carry out some user experience testing.

cardsorting-web

One of the simplest – yet most effective – user experience techniques is Card Sorting. We wrote all of our features on cards and asked users to sort them into logical groups. Here, we were aiming to identify the best way to organise all of our different features, what to call each group, and which aspects were confusing – or even irrelevant.

Tips:

  • Identify your goals
  • Be open minded. Just observe and engage users. Your assumptions may be misconceptions and stereotypes. A lot of the most valuable data we got was qualitative: from the discussions and questions that came up during the task.
  • Implicate the team in the design from the beginning. Everybody has an interesting point of view and should be part of the process for getting the best results.
  • Look for patterns and ideas that emerge across interactions with users.

So what did all this tell us?

When we analysed our customer and team feedback it quickly became clear that our existing home page (and surrounding pages) didn’t communicate our most valuable features, values and character clearly enough.

We also needed to reorganise our navigation. The analytics data very much confirmed the idea that “less is more”, so one of our main goals was to clean up and improve the hierarchy of the content, workflow and structure.

Phew! Now, could I open up Photoshop?

Not quite…

Ideating Solutions

Now it was time to transform all of our discoveries into meaningful insights that we would then use as a structure for brainstorming and generating new ideas. We wanted to tell a story to describe who we are, what we do, and why we are a great service.

sketching design ideas

This stage was very fun and enlightening. It allowed us to highlight the concepts that we couldn’t miss, and identify additional pages that needed to sit behind the home page in order for us meet our objectives.

Tips:

  • Keep it visual. Capture the ideas in a board. Sketching ideas….
  • Go for quantity. At this stage we wanted to find as many ideas as possible. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find “the one” straight off. Sketch out any and all ideas that come to you – there’s nothing more intimidating than a blank white space.
  • Discuss and encourage wild ideas. Even if you think an idea is silly, there could be a spark of genius in there waiting to be teased out.

Prototyping and Testing

Now we needed to create something tangible. For me, it always helps to first sketch some ideas on paper. I find it’s a quick way to test out lots of ideas.

After many (many!) drafts we were close to our final version. We built a high quality prototype to share, test and discuss with the team.

Prototyping our design

Tips:

  • Manage your ego: as a designer it can sometimes be difficult to accept criticism. But keep in mind that it’s constructive. Everyone in the team wants the best outcome.
  • Don’t forget the context of the business: we all have budgets and time constraints to handle. Don’t forget your resources while you’re in pursuit of perfection.
  • Be passionate: there’s a reason you’ve made the design decisions that you have. Pay attention to the little details and be prepared to give reasons for your choices. The beauty of this approach is that it gives you plenty of data to justify your designs.

Next Steps…

Our website is constantly developing, there’s always things to test and fine tune. And fine tune we will.

We hope you like what you see! Please do leave feedback in the comments below :)

Categories vzaar updates, Wider World
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