Thinking about the user

Why it is important to think about the user experience. Photo Credit: LinkedIn

We live in a world with so many useful products. We have things that we didn’t think we would have 20 years ago that will make our lives much easier. Could you have imagined we would be able to talk to someone across the world face to face on a cell phone 20 years ago? I don’t think so. With all of the products available at our finger tips, it wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t helpful for the users. This is what we call user experience. According to Jesse James Garrett in “The Elements of User Experience” he states that the user experience is the experience the products create for the people who use it in the real world.

Businesses and companies are constantly thinking about how they can make their products useful and friendly for the users. This is not only for products. User experience can be taken into account for websites as well. If your website is not easy to look at or is clustered with a lot of information, nobody is going to stay on your site. You have to think about the users that come to you web site and think about how their experience would be like if you want to build a successful website.

Some ways to improve user experience on a web site. Photo Credit: kleurvision

An easy way to see if your website is doing well in terms of user experience is to look at the conversion rate. For example if your websites ells products and you sold to one customer when there were 20 people visiting your website, your conversion rate would be 5%. If the percentage is higher you can see that your web site is doing well in terms of user experience.

How to get the conversion rate. Photo Credit: Xtreme UX

If you want to build anything successful that offers something to people you have to keep in mind the experience of the user. If you do, there is no doubt that your product (or website) will succeed!

Getting strategic on social media

Nowadays mostly anyone who has access to the internet has some sort of social media account. Especially young people, like me! Whether that is Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, people around the age as me have these accounts. And when we use these accounts we see business’s or brands using these platforms as well to market their products. In the article “The Social Strategy: A Five-Step Process For Social Media Marketing Success”   by Kimberlee Morrison she gives us 5 tips on how to successfully brand ourselves on these social media platforms. So, what kinds of tips are these?

Many of the social media platforms that are used today. Photo Credit: Marketingland

  1. Social Identity: She first states that having the right social identity is “the root from which your social strategy will develop.” You have to know who you are. You have to know the right things to say and what not to say. If you don’t have a legit social identity, nobody will even care to look at your stuff!

    Knowing who you are on social media is important. Photo Credit: 123rf

  2. Community activation: On social media most of the time, people are coming to you! You have to know who your audience is and understand that the content you are producing is matching the audiences expectation.

    Know your audience and who is expecting things from you! Photo Credit: Qwaya Blog

  3. Content Strategy: Content strategy is an important step for building your brand. However in order to create a good content strategy you need to know who YOU are and who your AUDIENCE are. This shows how important steps 1 and 2 are. Morrison states that people tend to build on their social media without really thinking about the first 2 steps which can be problematic.

    Understanding content strategy can help you develop your social media. Photo Credit: Zest Media

  4. Social Campaigns: This is also similar with step 3, if you don’t have the former steps down there is no strong effect on doing any social campaigns in the long run.

    Many brands use social campaigns, but you need to understand how to use it properly. Photo Credit: Marketing Land

  5. Social Intelligence: This simply means being smart in how you use your platforms. She states that it is more tactical than strategic. Know how you can use the platforms to your advantage!

    You have to be intelligent on your social media! Photo Credit: Inc.com

Although all of these steps seem to be common sense for anyone trying to brand themselves on social media, it is important to understand these steps and reassuring yourself that you can successfully use these social media platforms to your advantage!

Student Life, Whats the difference?

When comparing two universities from different countries there are so much we can compare. From the past couple blog posts you can see that I have talked about the differences in campus life and the food. However I believe the most interesting and biggest difference is the student life.

Studying! Which ones harder?

The biggest difference between Japanese universities and American universities is the amount of work and studying they do. In Japan most of the students work very hard during their high school days so they can get into a good university. The entrance exams for Japanese universities is very hard and most of the students study hard before college so they can actually pass this test. After they have passed the test and entered a university, they will most likely not do as much studying as they did in high school. Compared to American universities and the amount of reading and studying they do, Japanese universities is NOTHING! (Depends on some people and schools, of course, but most!) Most Japanese students barely study when they enter university and focus more on having fun and doing what they like!

Students in Japan taking the entrance exam. Photo Credit: Mainichi

Student activity

One reason why Japanese students barely focus on work is because their is a thing called Circles you can join once you enter a University. Circles are much more relaxed than clubs and student organizations and cover a wider variety of subjects. There is almost a circle for anything! If you like playing games their is a game circle, if you like fashion there is a fashion circle, and if you like playing sports there are different sports circles. Through these circles you can meet people with the same interest and you can submerge your whole university life in hanging out with the people of your circle. This is what takes up most Japanese university students time. This is similar to the greek life at Furman. You are able to find friends that you can spend your 4 years with and have a connection like a brotherhood. Since In Japan they do not have sororities or fraternities, the Japanese students make a connection with friends through circles!

Members from a Circle in Waseda University. Photo Credit: Sports.Geocities

In American universities, although student organizations are popular and many students are involved, their main focus is academics. The amount of work students do in universities is incomparable to Japanese students. Especially Furman University. Now I know why it was ranked the 2nd most rigorous school in the United States.

Here is a video of students and teachers from Furman University who have experienced both Japanese and American Universities tell what kind of differences they have encountered and what surprised them! Check it out!

What to eat?

“What do you wanna eat?” Thats a question we college students all ask to our friends on a daily basis. When you are in college you have the freedom to eat whatever you want without your parents telling you anything. You can eat as much junk food as you wish! In an American university most schools have a place like a dining hall where there is a variety of food and you can eat as much as you want, similar to a cafeteria, and also a place where there are some fast food chains on campus. At Furman University, we have a Dining Hall and the PDen, similar to a food court where you can find fast food chains such as Chik-fil-A and Moe’s, and a restaurant called Tupelo Honey, which is also located in downtown Greenville. There are so many options to eat on campus.

This is not the same in Japanese universities. Since we don’t live on campus there aren’t as many places where we can get food on campus. Most Japanese universities have a small cafeteria and a convenience store on campus. However because there aren’t as many options to eat on campus there are more than a lot of options to eat off campus. When you step outside of campus there are cheap restaurants and fast food chains surrounding the campus in a walking distance. Especially outside of Waseda University, you can find any type of food you are looking for for a student friendly price.

You can find convenience stores like this in academic buildings in Japanese Universities. Photo Credit: You can pass

Which ones better?

Which one is better though? From a health perspective eating on campus at the dining hall is much more better than spending money and eating off campus. At Furman University, Bon Appetit Management Company provides us with the delicious food and uses some ingredients from the local Furman Farm.  They try to make all of the foods healthy and nutritious for college students who tend to eat unhealthy.

Locally grown vegetables on the Furman Farm. Photo Credit: Furman University

Eating off campus at Furman is better for you, compared to eating off campus at Waseda as well. Many of the restaurants located around Waseda are cheap quick foods that tend to not be concerned with organic or healthy foods. On the other hand, near Furman University you can find many places that offer healthy nutritious restaurants that also use local foods. Check here for some cool spots to eat! This is probably due to the culture difference where the United States are more sensitive to organic and healthy foods.