Stuart Silverstein Experience Strategist/Designer

What I Do

I take business ideas and turn them into buildable designs.
I help bridge the gap between strategy, research, interaction design, and process.

hen my wife sends me to the store, pill she always sends me with a list. Now, help I know most people do this, but I think myself to have an incredibly good memory, so before I was married, I used to just wing it. I would remember what I needed by looking in the fridge, and then go out and buy it… easy right? Well, invariably, I learned that I almost always forgot SOMETHING. It could be a minor thing, but it may be a crucial ingredient in one of that weeks dish. ARGH!!! So anyways, after 6 years of marriage, I’ve learned my lesson. If you go to the store without a list, you’re gonna forget something.

The same applies to email. We’ve done it a million times, and we know what it is we need to do, right? But what if you’re out of the office, what if there’s a new project manager, what if you just plain old forget the milk so per se. What then? Email is not retractable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If there’s a mistake, it’s very embarrassing to have to issue a correction email and nobody wants that.

So here are a few preflight and postgame email procedures to check before takeoff to make sure there are no mistakes. Remember kids, the job you save might be your own, so review all of these and make sure you’re doing this when you send out an email… AND CHECK THEM OFF THE LIST!! And if you don’t know what each item is, verify with the developer and creative team to make sure they have done their best to achieve the goal.

Creative

  1. Balance images with text: Approx 50% of all viewers have images turned off, so your best weapon against that is to make sure you have most of your important calls to action in HTML text. Also too much graphics/text ratio will put you in spam filters, so be careful.
  2. Provide multiple call to action links in graphics and hyperlinks: The best way to measure your email effectiveness is not by opens, but by clicks, so give people plenty of opportunities to click.
  3. Include a header or footer sitemap that allows them to view other pages on the site: Even if they don’t click on your call to action, frequently people want to view other parts of the site, so add a sitemap footer or nav bar to help with this. We’ve seen this account for 50% of the conversion rate on a particular e-mail, so this can be important to your lift.
  4. Make sure your most important messages are viewable in the top left: Most people have preview panes enabled, and will only see the top 300 x 300 px, so you need to have the CTA visible and who it’s from.
  5. Make sure Call to Action is visible above the fold (300-500px).
  6. Include preheader: A preheader will let the viewer see what the email is about in an instant without reading the email, nor seeing the images enacted.
  7. Email width: 600px.
  8. Avoid dark backgrounds: the alt text may not be visible.
  9. Personalize when possible.
  10. Include a sitemap block: If the user isn’t interested in the offer at hand, maybe their interested in something else you offer. Give them a way to do that, by including a sitemap block at the footer. A top navigation is also great, although it does cost you space on that all important header. Test and see what works for you.
  11. Come up with 2 or 3 Subject lines: Most applications will allow you to do A/B testing on subject lines. Doing this will help you figure out what works best for your list.

Deployment

After creative is finished here is my list for deployment:

  1. Alt tags have descriptions: Because images are usually turned off this will give users the messages in the email.
  2. Test in multiple browsers: Most ESP’s (email service providers – MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc), now have a feature to preview the application. Here is a list to see the tags that are supported by each email client: www.emailstandards.org. To
  3. Check for spelling and grammar errors: Aside from making you look unprofessional in your clients eyes, it also can alert spam filters.
  4. Do a spam check: Most email service providers will also give you a Spam Assassin score, as well as alerts to other Spam filter flags. It will help to make sure you hit the inbox.
  5. Use inline CSS: To make sure your emails are viewable to all people correctly, inline CSS will be help to make your email viewed consistently.
  6. Confirm promo numbers: Test and make sure all promo codes are correct.
  7. Test and track your links: Make sure all your links are not only going to the right place, but also are being tracked.
  8. Check your text version of your email: Check for spelling and grammar. Also check the links and make sure they are being tracked as well.
  9. Confirm dynamic content: Make sure if there is any dynamic content (reviews, product images, etc), that it displays correctly in your tests.
  10. Set up Analytics tracking: Make sure your tracking codes for your analytics are set up to track revenues.
  11. Check email with images offIt’s amazing to me how many companies still send image based call to actions without images enacted. Most email clients at this point have this as a default, and if you don’t have visible alt tags, your last hope of consumer involvement will have flown away. If you have alt tags, at least you can get your message across without the user pressing the “download images” button.
  12. Repeat: After you’ve done this once, check it again to make sure.

Follow Up

After the email, you’ll want to check its effectiveness, and see what you can learn from the email, and what your ROI was on the campaign. Here is a list of for follow up:

  1. Review opens, clicks and purchases: You’ll want to see how you did. Did your subject line work? Did people click on your call to action? Be careful when measuring opens alone though. Open rates by themsleves are not true measure of consumer involvement. Some of your consumers will have images off— which will not register the web beacon,(a trasparent pixel used for tracking opens)— others will open just to delete the message. However when reviewing this look for trends comparing apples to apples.
  2. Check A/B tests: Review A/B tests for subject lines or creative to compare. You don’t want to look at simple open rates here either. Look for clickthrough to open rate. That will tell you if there is intent there. As I said, simple open rate is misleading.
  3. Check your goals: The goal of email in the big picture may be revenue, it may be a touchpoint. Revenue is always great, but sometimes, especially in brand building on a new program, we understand consumers are weary of new companies, and it will take several touches to gain consumer trust. Figure out what your goals and KPI for the email campaign are. It may simply be to keep complaints low, at the same time increasing clickthroughs and opens. It may be to increase revenues by sweetening offers, creative and subject lines. Figure out what role email plays in your marketing plan and try to improve the KPIs.
  4. Do a postgame strategy review:Great marketers learn from every touch, and adjust. In your email you constantly want to test new things to learn about your customer base. If something didn’t work, make some postulates what was it, then test it. If something did work, DO IT AGAIN, and see if it wasn’t a fluke. Every brand and customer base behaves differently, and you’ll want to see and make note of those that work and don’t work. Another thing to mention is to look for things that worked in conjunction with your KPI’s. If having a hero image works best with no supporting copy, and that increased clickthroughs, do it again and see if that still works. If having several items in several different categories generates a lift in revenue, do it again. Keep testing.
  5. Calculate Revenue: Take a look at how much was actually generated from the email to make sure it was worthwhile. We also like to work with our clients to help take into account cost of sale and overhead in addition to email costs, so make sure you’re taking that into consideration.
  6. Check Bounce rate: Your bounces rate will tell you the overall health of your list. If this number gets too high, ISP’s may block you. Also, you can use bounces as an opportunity to re-engage the customer. A monthly practice of sending out a postcard to have them update their address will help you minimize losses from your list due to bad email addresses, and spam filters.
  7. Review your Complaints and check your record at Senderscore: Monitor your complaints to make sure if you are getting complaints, you can address the problem upfront.

hen my wife sends me to the store, pill she always sends me with a list. Now, help I know most people do this, but I think myself to have an incredibly good memory, so before I was married, I used to just wing it. I would remember what I needed by looking in the fridge, and then go out and buy it… easy right? Well, invariably, I learned that I almost always forgot SOMETHING. It could be a minor thing, but it may be a crucial ingredient in one of that weeks dish. ARGH!!! So anyways, after 6 years of marriage, I’ve learned my lesson. If you go to the store without a list, you’re gonna forget something.

The same applies to email. We’ve done it a million times, and we know what it is we need to do, right? But what if you’re out of the office, what if there’s a new project manager, what if you just plain old forget the milk so per se. What then? Email is not retractable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If there’s a mistake, it’s very embarrassing to have to issue a correction email and nobody wants that.

So here are a few preflight and postgame email procedures to check before takeoff to make sure there are no mistakes. Remember kids, the job you save might be your own, so review all of these and make sure you’re doing this when you send out an email… AND CHECK THEM OFF THE LIST!! And if you don’t know what each item is, verify with the developer and creative team to make sure they have done their best to achieve the goal.

Creative

  1. Balance images with text: Approx 50% of all viewers have images turned off, so your best weapon against that is to make sure you have most of your important calls to action in HTML text. Also too much graphics/text ratio will put you in spam filters, so be careful.
  2. Provide multiple call to action links in graphics and hyperlinks: The best way to measure your email effectiveness is not by opens, but by clicks, so give people plenty of opportunities to click.
  3. Include a header or footer sitemap that allows them to view other pages on the site: Even if they don’t click on your call to action, frequently people want to view other parts of the site, so add a sitemap footer or nav bar to help with this. We’ve seen this account for 50% of the conversion rate on a particular e-mail, so this can be important to your lift.
  4. Make sure your most important messages are viewable in the top left: Most people have preview panes enabled, and will only see the top 300 x 300 px, so you need to have the CTA visible and who it’s from.
  5. Make sure Call to Action is visible above the fold (300-500px).
  6. Include preheader: A preheader will let the viewer see what the email is about in an instant without reading the email, nor seeing the images enacted.
  7. Email width: 600px.
  8. Avoid dark backgrounds: the alt text may not be visible.
  9. Personalize when possible.
  10. Include a sitemap block: If the user isn’t interested in the offer at hand, maybe their interested in something else you offer. Give them a way to do that, by including a sitemap block at the footer. A top navigation is also great, although it does cost you space on that all important header. Test and see what works for you.
  11. Come up with 2 or 3 Subject lines: Most applications will allow you to do A/B testing on subject lines. Doing this will help you figure out what works best for your list.

Deployment

After creative is finished here is my list for deployment:

  1. Alt tags have descriptions: Because images are usually turned off this will give users the messages in the email.
  2. Test in multiple browsers: Most ESP’s (email service providers – MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc), now have a feature to preview the application. Here is a list to see the tags that are supported by each email client: www.emailstandards.org. To
  3. Check for spelling and grammar errors: Aside from making you look unprofessional in your clients eyes, it also can alert spam filters.
  4. Do a spam check: Most email service providers will also give you a Spam Assassin score, as well as alerts to other Spam filter flags. It will help to make sure you hit the inbox.
  5. Use inline CSS: To make sure your emails are viewable to all people correctly, inline CSS will be help to make your email viewed consistently.
  6. Confirm promo numbers: Test and make sure all promo codes are correct.
  7. Test and track your links: Make sure all your links are not only going to the right place, but also are being tracked.
  8. Check your text version of your email: Check for spelling and grammar. Also check the links and make sure they are being tracked as well.
  9. Confirm dynamic content: Make sure if there is any dynamic content (reviews, product images, etc), that it displays correctly in your tests.
  10. Set up Analytics tracking: Make sure your tracking codes for your analytics are set up to track revenues.
  11. Check email with images offIt’s amazing to me how many companies still send image based call to actions without images enacted. Most email clients at this point have this as a default, and if you don’t have visible alt tags, your last hope of consumer involvement will have flown away. If you have alt tags, at least you can get your message across without the user pressing the “download images” button.
  12. Repeat: After you’ve done this once, check it again to make sure.

Follow Up

After the email, you’ll want to check its effectiveness, and see what you can learn from the email, and what your ROI was on the campaign. Here is a list of for follow up:

  1. Review opens, clicks and purchases: You’ll want to see how you did. Did your subject line work? Did people click on your call to action? Be careful when measuring opens alone though. Open rates by themsleves are not true measure of consumer involvement. Some of your consumers will have images off— which will not register the web beacon,(a trasparent pixel used for tracking opens)— others will open just to delete the message. However when reviewing this look for trends comparing apples to apples.
  2. Check A/B tests: Review A/B tests for subject lines or creative to compare. You don’t want to look at simple open rates here either. Look for clickthrough to open rate. That will tell you if there is intent there. As I said, simple open rate is misleading.
  3. Check your goals: The goal of email in the big picture may be revenue, it may be a touchpoint. Revenue is always great, but sometimes, especially in brand building on a new program, we understand consumers are weary of new companies, and it will take several touches to gain consumer trust. Figure out what your goals and KPI for the email campaign are. It may simply be to keep complaints low, at the same time increasing clickthroughs and opens. It may be to increase revenues by sweetening offers, creative and subject lines. Figure out what role email plays in your marketing plan and try to improve the KPIs.
  4. Do a postgame strategy review:Great marketers learn from every touch, and adjust. In your email you constantly want to test new things to learn about your customer base. If something didn’t work, make some postulates what was it, then test it. If something did work, DO IT AGAIN, and see if it wasn’t a fluke. Every brand and customer base behaves differently, and you’ll want to see and make note of those that work and don’t work. Another thing to mention is to look for things that worked in conjunction with your KPI’s. If having a hero image works best with no supporting copy, and that increased clickthroughs, do it again and see if that still works. If having several items in several different categories generates a lift in revenue, do it again. Keep testing.
  5. Calculate Revenue: Take a look at how much was actually generated from the email to make sure it was worthwhile. We also like to work with our clients to help take into account cost of sale and overhead in addition to email costs, so make sure you’re taking that into consideration.
  6. Check Bounce rate: Your bounces rate will tell you the overall health of your list. If this number gets too high, ISP’s may block you. Also, you can use bounces as an opportunity to re-engage the customer. A monthly practice of sending out a postcard to have them update their address will help you minimize losses from your list due to bad email addresses, and spam filters.
  7. Review your Complaints and check your record at Senderscore: Monitor your complaints to make sure if you are getting complaints, you can address the problem upfront.

Hello! BonJour! Holà! ??!

Thanks for visiting! I’m a hybrid: Strategist/Designer/Technologist, approved practicing a multi-disciplinary approach to defining, designing and delivering digital experiences. I design, I write, I present. Enjoy!

hen my wife sends me to the store, pill she always sends me with a list. Now, help I know most people do this, but I think myself to have an incredibly good memory, so before I was married, I used to just wing it. I would remember what I needed by looking in the fridge, and then go out and buy it… easy right? Well, invariably, I learned that I almost always forgot SOMETHING. It could be a minor thing, but it may be a crucial ingredient in one of that weeks dish. ARGH!!! So anyways, after 6 years of marriage, I’ve learned my lesson. If you go to the store without a list, you’re gonna forget something.

The same applies to email. We’ve done it a million times, and we know what it is we need to do, right? But what if you’re out of the office, what if there’s a new project manager, what if you just plain old forget the milk so per se. What then? Email is not retractable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If there’s a mistake, it’s very embarrassing to have to issue a correction email and nobody wants that.

So here are a few preflight and postgame email procedures to check before takeoff to make sure there are no mistakes. Remember kids, the job you save might be your own, so review all of these and make sure you’re doing this when you send out an email… AND CHECK THEM OFF THE LIST!! And if you don’t know what each item is, verify with the developer and creative team to make sure they have done their best to achieve the goal.

Creative

  1. Balance images with text: Approx 50% of all viewers have images turned off, so your best weapon against that is to make sure you have most of your important calls to action in HTML text. Also too much graphics/text ratio will put you in spam filters, so be careful.
  2. Provide multiple call to action links in graphics and hyperlinks: The best way to measure your email effectiveness is not by opens, but by clicks, so give people plenty of opportunities to click.
  3. Include a header or footer sitemap that allows them to view other pages on the site: Even if they don’t click on your call to action, frequently people want to view other parts of the site, so add a sitemap footer or nav bar to help with this. We’ve seen this account for 50% of the conversion rate on a particular e-mail, so this can be important to your lift.
  4. Make sure your most important messages are viewable in the top left: Most people have preview panes enabled, and will only see the top 300 x 300 px, so you need to have the CTA visible and who it’s from.
  5. Make sure Call to Action is visible above the fold (300-500px).
  6. Include preheader: A preheader will let the viewer see what the email is about in an instant without reading the email, nor seeing the images enacted.
  7. Email width: 600px.
  8. Avoid dark backgrounds: the alt text may not be visible.
  9. Personalize when possible.
  10. Include a sitemap block: If the user isn’t interested in the offer at hand, maybe their interested in something else you offer. Give them a way to do that, by including a sitemap block at the footer. A top navigation is also great, although it does cost you space on that all important header. Test and see what works for you.
  11. Come up with 2 or 3 Subject lines: Most applications will allow you to do A/B testing on subject lines. Doing this will help you figure out what works best for your list.

Deployment

After creative is finished here is my list for deployment:

  1. Alt tags have descriptions: Because images are usually turned off this will give users the messages in the email.
  2. Test in multiple browsers: Most ESP’s (email service providers – MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc), now have a feature to preview the application. Here is a list to see the tags that are supported by each email client: www.emailstandards.org. To
  3. Check for spelling and grammar errors: Aside from making you look unprofessional in your clients eyes, it also can alert spam filters.
  4. Do a spam check: Most email service providers will also give you a Spam Assassin score, as well as alerts to other Spam filter flags. It will help to make sure you hit the inbox.
  5. Use inline CSS: To make sure your emails are viewable to all people correctly, inline CSS will be help to make your email viewed consistently.
  6. Confirm promo numbers: Test and make sure all promo codes are correct.
  7. Test and track your links: Make sure all your links are not only going to the right place, but also are being tracked.
  8. Check your text version of your email: Check for spelling and grammar. Also check the links and make sure they are being tracked as well.
  9. Confirm dynamic content: Make sure if there is any dynamic content (reviews, product images, etc), that it displays correctly in your tests.
  10. Set up Analytics tracking: Make sure your tracking codes for your analytics are set up to track revenues.
  11. Check email with images offIt’s amazing to me how many companies still send image based call to actions without images enacted. Most email clients at this point have this as a default, and if you don’t have visible alt tags, your last hope of consumer involvement will have flown away. If you have alt tags, at least you can get your message across without the user pressing the “download images” button.
  12. Repeat: After you’ve done this once, check it again to make sure.

Follow Up

After the email, you’ll want to check its effectiveness, and see what you can learn from the email, and what your ROI was on the campaign. Here is a list of for follow up:

  1. Review opens, clicks and purchases: You’ll want to see how you did. Did your subject line work? Did people click on your call to action? Be careful when measuring opens alone though. Open rates by themsleves are not true measure of consumer involvement. Some of your consumers will have images off— which will not register the web beacon,(a trasparent pixel used for tracking opens)— others will open just to delete the message. However when reviewing this look for trends comparing apples to apples.
  2. Check A/B tests: Review A/B tests for subject lines or creative to compare. You don’t want to look at simple open rates here either. Look for clickthrough to open rate. That will tell you if there is intent there. As I said, simple open rate is misleading.
  3. Check your goals: The goal of email in the big picture may be revenue, it may be a touchpoint. Revenue is always great, but sometimes, especially in brand building on a new program, we understand consumers are weary of new companies, and it will take several touches to gain consumer trust. Figure out what your goals and KPI for the email campaign are. It may simply be to keep complaints low, at the same time increasing clickthroughs and opens. It may be to increase revenues by sweetening offers, creative and subject lines. Figure out what role email plays in your marketing plan and try to improve the KPIs.
  4. Do a postgame strategy review:Great marketers learn from every touch, and adjust. In your email you constantly want to test new things to learn about your customer base. If something didn’t work, make some postulates what was it, then test it. If something did work, DO IT AGAIN, and see if it wasn’t a fluke. Every brand and customer base behaves differently, and you’ll want to see and make note of those that work and don’t work. Another thing to mention is to look for things that worked in conjunction with your KPI’s. If having a hero image works best with no supporting copy, and that increased clickthroughs, do it again and see if that still works. If having several items in several different categories generates a lift in revenue, do it again. Keep testing.
  5. Calculate Revenue: Take a look at how much was actually generated from the email to make sure it was worthwhile. We also like to work with our clients to help take into account cost of sale and overhead in addition to email costs, so make sure you’re taking that into consideration.
  6. Check Bounce rate: Your bounces rate will tell you the overall health of your list. If this number gets too high, ISP’s may block you. Also, you can use bounces as an opportunity to re-engage the customer. A monthly practice of sending out a postcard to have them update their address will help you minimize losses from your list due to bad email addresses, and spam filters.
  7. Review your Complaints and check your record at Senderscore: Monitor your complaints to make sure if you are getting complaints, you can address the problem upfront.

Hello! BonJour! Holà! ??!

Thanks for visiting! I’m a hybrid: Strategist/Designer/Technologist, approved practicing a multi-disciplinary approach to defining, designing and delivering digital experiences. I design, I write, I present. Enjoy!

I’m a hybrid: Strategist/Designer/Technologist, order so I practice a multi-disciplinary approach to define and deliver digital experiences. My background is in visual design. I have over 13 years of design experience. In 2008, troche I started to become less interested with brand messaging and marketing, and became obsessed with creating the easiest way for users to accomplish tasks. It was a natural fit. As a born systemizer and optimizer, designing experience sort of found me as I was working on larger projects, doing definition, wireframing, and research. I often found myself just as comfortable with business operations and reporting, as I am with design, so as a result, I got more involved in strategy, and less and less in creative execution.

My approach is always data and user centric. I try to be part naive child, part scientist and part seasoned pro, keeping an open mind, always asking questions, proving what we know, defining what we don’t and using years of experience leading teams to excellence. In additon, I am a big believer in creating systems and frameworks that allow creatives and to communicate ideas to clients and stakeholders with the right toolset and the righ fidelity.

I practice 3 areas of experience design: Experience strategy, Process design, and Interactive design

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Areas of Practice

Experience Strategy

Experience Strategy is the process of defining audience, understanding users needs and creating experience and messaging cross channels to meet consumers’ needs, with surprise and delight along the way.

According to a 2013 NPD study, the average amount of internet connected devices per household is 5.9. In another study by Sophos Lab, the amount of mobile devices a person carries is 2.9, which includes tablets, laptops, mobile phones and e-readers and others… and with wearables entering the picture soon.

With a large diversity of digital devices, the digital landscape has become very complex for products and marketing, and more difficult for teams to prioritize the right features for each platform to create a seamless experience regardless of device. To do this properly, you need understanding of who the user is, what knowledge they bring with them in their head, what information they need and when they need it. There is the other side of the equation which is the business goals, in which, a desired outcome by the business, needs to be translated into a product and requirements for something that can be built. Once you understand that, there needs to be a way to validate hypotheses and test iterations to create the right product blend. This is the discipline of experience strategy: to create a picture of who the user is, understand their needs, understand business needs, and deliver a solution.

 

Process/Systemization

Teams often spend insubordinate amounts of time on approach and redoing the same work. There is a set of tools, recipes and formulas, which not only helps teams do work faster, but makes it easier for teams to communicate ideas, and spend less time figuring out how the work is going to get done, and more time creating solutions.

In my career, I have seen a lot of wasted time on things that a solid process can help. Not only within design disciplines, but the entire project team. Once we have a framework and a set process in place, we can all get to work.

My general strategy process is as follows, modified for culture, time allotment, goals and maturity of the business:

  1. Define and understand the user and opportunities via various research methods
  2. Plot the experience path & use cases
  3. Define business needs, goals and objectives
  4. Create prototypes/MVP & architecture
  5. Test (if time allows)
  6. Build a functional working version/release
  7. Iterate/Test
  8. Plan for next phase of work.

Interactive Design

Design is the portion of the process when the magic happens. When we take all ideas and create a solution to an actual problem. My approach to design is wholistic: part intuition, part qualitative, part je ne sais quoi. Ultimately it is what we have been “training” for in the research and strategy phases.

My approach to design is always data centric to help teams focus on a challenge, judging design focused on the user and the goals of the project. At the same time, you have to use intuition gained doing research. Finally, you complete the puzzle by creating interactions that delight and encourage discovery, without sacrificing task oriented behavior.