Hackathon 2019: Building the Next Big Thing

April 10, 2019 marks the first day of the annual Contentsquare Hackathon, an event equally comprised of teamwork and healthy competition, as it aims to fortify our platform and make a dent in the SaaS space at large.

Founded in 2017, this three-day event assembles our employees together from around the world into small, international teams that will work on projects in Paris, London and New York.  

Comprised of developers, programmers, designers, project managers and many others, the Hackathon is our foremost event for innovation. It is overseen by a team of internal and external judges who will supervise 21 teams, 3 of which will be deemed the victors for the first, second and third prizes.

Previous winners have gone on to see their creations come to fruition on our platform, as we’ve further developed them in our lab and integrated them into our software.           

Here are a few notable things about the Hackathon, including this year’s edition.

The Birth of the Hackathon

In June 2017, our Chief Technical Officer Mathias Levêque orchestrated a multi-day event centered on product and R&D teams cooking up new ideas for the software. Although this event was purely focused on developing the product, the collaborative spirit was already brewing, with design and client facing profiles already participating. And so, the hackathon was born and since its first go in 2017, has evolved to include non-product projects, from sales strategies to HR campaigns.

What Past Hackathon Projects Have Contentsquare Incorporated?

The following names but a few winning Hackathon projects that went on to be implemented into the Contentsquaresoftware and are today used by clients:

Employees from around the world in our New York office hard at work (and play) during the first day of the 2019 Hackathon.

Themes of Contentsquare Hackathon 2019

As with previous Hackathons, this year’s edition is company-wide, with employees mingling across seas. This year’s Hackathon was developed with four themes so that the projects have central points of focus, with concrete things to strive for.

These are the 4 themes of Hackathon 2019 and what they mean for us:

  1. Client Retention: To increase clients’ usage of the platform, increase our client base, raise the sense of ROI for clients, better clients’ understanding of the software
  2. Product Vision Acceleration: To create an omnichannel picture, one that captures user interactions on new devices, interfaces and offline and to create new touchpoints and accompanying data.
  3. Empowered Internal Organization: To encourage learning and development within the team, to make relevant, quantified information accessible and to achieve international scalability.
  4. Market Leader Positioning: To establish ourselves as the trustworthy, go-to authority in the UX analytics space, to lead in new regions/industries and to be useful to small and medium businesses.

It’s busy in our Paris office during our annual Hackathon.

 

How the Hackathon is Overseen and the Impetus to Win

The Hackathon may seem like all work and no play, but in fact, there are three slots for prizes to be won. These give employees the incentive to give their all in hatching up something inventive.

As previous Hackathons, this year’s will be overseen by a team of judges, who will ultimately decide who wins each prize. This year, there are 2 selection phases, made up of a semi-final jury and the final jury.

Comprised of Contentsquare employees only, the semi-final jury views the prototypes of each team, speaks with them and decides which ones will move forward to the final round.

The final jury is composed of several Contentsquare employees, along with one of our investors’ representatives and other judges from our client companies who represent some of our top users.

As for the prizes, they have been evolving with each Hackathon. For the 2019 edition, the project that comes in at first place rewards team members with the highest cash award. During the 2018 Hackathon, the gift was the option of a GoPro camera or a portable photo printer. But this year, we decided to show our employees the money. 

Winners of the Hackathon will also have their projects seen to integration with our platform, or, if it’s not directly tied to the software, it will receive more resources for further development.  Long term nonproduct projects will receive a dedicated task force.

The Hackathon to Improve the Contentsquare SaaS

If you couldn’t tell by now, the Hackathon is one of Contentsquare’s chief opportunities to develop quick and innovative projects that will be incorporated into the product roadmap. This event also gives us a chance to mull over and work on long term projects like the chatbot or real life UX.

Additionally, the Hackathon allows us to devote some time to improve our company productivity and organization with the production of internal tools.

Signing off, we offer some wisdom from Julien Diennet, our Lead Business Intelligence in Operations, who explained of his next Hackathon project: “It (developing this project) would take 3 years… or a hackathon.”

Don’t forget to check out our upcoming post, which covers the goings-on of the actual event, including insight from workers and judges.

Big ideas are stirring up in one of the Hackathon’s teams in Paris.

Optimizing Mobile Experiences: Interview With Bobby Chucas of Babylon Health

Summary

With over 2.5 million users, Babylon utilizes 21-century tech and a robust mobile strategy to fulfill their mission: to place an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on the planet. From tackling challenges of form completion to designing a purposeful and compelling mobile platform, Babylon draws on behavioural insights to create a seamless experience. We sat down with Bobby Chucas, Senior Product Manager, to uncover how to optimise for a mobile-first world.

Intro

At the heart of every great mobile experience is a team that understands its users’ needs. Since 2013, Babylon has worked with partners like the English National Health Service, Samsung, and Tencent to revolutionize the GP experience. Named one of Europe’s hottest startups by Wired in 2016 and the Mobile App of the Year at the UK IT Industry Awards 2015, Babylon takes the mobile approach to democratizing healthcare.

A pioneer in health informatics, Babylon uses artificial intelligence to place accessible healthcare in the palm of your hand. However, it’s Babylon’s robust mobile strategy that places the user at the center of attention. From tackling challenges of form completion to designing a purposeful and compelling mobile platform, Babylon draws behavioural insights from its 2.5 million user base to create a seamless experience.

We sat down with Bobby Chucas, Senior Product Manager, to uncover how to optimise for a mobile-first world.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to optimising your mobile experience?

You’d think mobile experience would be an easy thing to get right, given how much less space you’ve got to work with! However, mobile’s more complicated than being just about screen size, and is as much about understanding your users’ context and intent – given that mobile users could be literally anywhere when interacting with you – when they’re interacting with your product as it is about design. The biggest challenge we have is that what we’re offering requires focus and time: my product is a free, quick health assessment available through an app that gives you a detailed view of your risks of high profile diseases. This assessment is up to 15 minutes long, and many of the questions are quite specific, ranging from family history of certain diseases through to questions around sexual health and drug taking. We’d obviously love our users to get as much value out of the product as possible, so one of our biggest challenges is ensuring that users understand that the assessment takes time and focus, but that the payoff in terms of the insight you receive from the product is well worth the effort.

What can mobile commerce sites learn from Babylon, and vice versa?

Babylon isn’t really presented as a commerce app – while there are services users can pay for to get tests, insights, appointments etc., that’s not the focus, and that’s not what we’re trying to prioritise. Often our users come to us when they’re experiencing symptoms that they’re worried about, and of course our priority is to provide a seamless experience that gets them the information and support they need. By focusing on the needs of the user, we hope to build trust and reassure the user that Babylon is a service they can rely on. It’s difficult to translate this across to pure commerce, but focusing on the user’s immediate needs and priorities is hugely important for us.

That said, many commerce sites have very well structured conversion funnels, and I’m sure there are many insights we can take from those kinds of experiences to better convey what kind of offerings we provide to our users of our private service.

What’s the most surprising behaviour you’ve seen from mobile app visitors?

The most surprising behaviour we’ve seen is that we’re getting around 75% of our users to complete the assessment. Most equivalent assessments see conversion rates in the low single figures, so the fact we’re getting that rate is really valuable. We tested out a number of different ways of framing the assessment, in terms of conveying the value of the insights to users before they started, and we also experimented with the format – we provide a conversational chatbot experience rather than a standard form to fill in, which helps to engage users. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as we increase the range of diseases we provide, as they will be accompanied with more questions, and so we’ll need to decide whether users are still happy to take the assessment all in one go, or whether breaking it out more clearly would make sense.

What are the most important factors in an optimal mobile experience?

In general, people hate it when their screen gets too busy. The experience when you tap on a link to a site, which then fills the screen with multiple prompts for GDPR, cookie consent etc., is frankly awful. Whilst some of that is of course required by regulation, some sites can be tempted to grab the user’s attention by fitting as much information above the fold as possible, in the hope that one of the many items catches their eye. While in some situations this may work, most research shows that the far more compelling experience is a more sleek, refined, experience based around a single intent or purpose. Not only does that provide a clear purpose to the content you’re presenting, it also provides you with a clear metric of success that you can use to research and test how to add incremental value to your product.

What are the common mistakes most brands make when it comes to mobile strategy?

Criticising businesses for not being “mobile-first” has become a bit of a trope over the past few years, but it’s certainly true that it’s very difficult to get right. Often teams can evangelise enthusiastically about mobile, but when it comes to their development process they still build their desktop screens first, then essentially condense them for mobile. It’s not as simple as tweaking the design, and is much more dependent on research into understanding why the user’s interacting with you, and what they’re trying to do. By understanding that and ensuring that you’re expediting that as much as possible, you’ll keep their attention and stop them getting frustrated and resorting to searching elsewhere.

We’re potentially seeing a similar type of trend now with voice interaction – as smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home become more commonplace, more products will become available through the voice medium, and I’d happily bet that many of them will take the same approach and try to shoehorn their existing offering into a voice experience, rather than reconsider it from the bottom up. The first few products to get that experience right will create an incredible opportunity and reach for themselves.

AI Alerts: Contentsquare’s UX Anomaly Detection Extraordinaire

It may seem like a rhetorical question to ask, but have you ever wanted to be notified about the irregularities of your website? Whether it’s with your business metrics or user behaviors, things are bound to go amiss every now and then, and there ought to be more efficient ways to detect these setbacks.

Combing through a robust analytics report once a week is simply too wasteful of time and productivity to rectify issues as they arise. That’s where our AI Alerts function comes in. As its name suggests, AI Alerts is an AI technology powered by machine learning to deliver timely website anomaly notifications for your team.

So what exactly is AI technology? In the age of omni-digitalization, AI technology has come a long way since its formative era. It now encompasses machine learning, its progressive offshoot technology, comprised of computer systems that allow machines to automate their own improvements.

Thus, “machine learning,” in layman’s terms is the functionality of learning new things, which the machine in question can then absorb to alter its programming. The changes the machine makes with machine learning allows it to remediate its own mistakes, enhancing its overall performance.

Machine learning can be dutifully applied to software programs and enhance their adeptness. Together, AI and its more advanced subsidiary, machine learning, are a force to be reckoned with — and Contentsquare has taken notice.

What Is the AI Alerts Function and What Does It Do?

AI Alerts is a UX-savvy feature in the Contentsquare suite, built to understand how a website ticks. It familiarizes itself with how a site’s pages, zone behaviors and business metrics perform in a normal state, and thus how site users normally interact with them.

Injected into our UX analytics software, the AI Alerts function fortifies the entire system, notifying a business of any behavioral anomalies, but without the spammy, recurring messaging.

That’s because AI Alerts does not simply learn from the inner workings of its proprietary software. Instead, it was built to be in sync with any website that implements the UX software.

This machine learning feature also detects users’ deviations on engagement, as well as their struggles/frustrations. It’s able to differentiate how these metrics trend and fluctuate normally and when they are out of order.

In essence, the function detects user anomalies and any divergence from the norm. Based off of these inconsistencies, it sends out notifications in a timely manner to alert you. However, unlike other AI-based alerts, these will NOT bombard you with messages. Instead, the system is able to discern the appropriate instances for sending out the notifications.

Hypothetically speaking, say you are checking your weekly email campaigns; your conversion rates are bound to fluctuate dramatically. While regular alerts would likely fire a false alarm, AI Alerts can differentiate whether the fluctuation on that particular day is normal or straying from the norm.

Or, let’s say the elements of a particular page with usually high engagements have strikingly low ones. AI Alerts will inform you in a timely manner, as it is set to send alerts every 24 hours.

Additionally, if an occurrence on the Internet causes a spike in demand for a certain product or page, AI Alerts will send out a heads up. For example, if a major social influencer has linked to one of your products, leading to a sudden onslaught of shoppers checking it out, AI Alerts allows you to react to it. This can be done perhaps by creating a promo, or even simply by keeping an eye on the inventory.

How Do AI Alerts Know When To Notify You?

AI Alerts is not composed of a manual alerting system, yet it knows when to notify you. It is able to do this because, contrary to such a system,  it puts a machine learning model into practice. Machine learning, as aforesaid, carries a wealth of ingenuity that learns and improves automatically.

This machine learning capability enables the alerts to distinguish between the severity of the anomalies. Thus, AI Alerts is only set off when a website’s UX and business KPIs demand urgent attention. These allow for a quicker awareness and thus, speedier reactions on a number of critical issues that detract from conversions.

For example, AI Alerts identifies technical and usability anomalies, such as an unusually high visitor frustration on a page. This is vital for any marketing, analytics or e-commerce team to be made aware of, as this frustration often stops customers from making a transaction.

It works on both critical pages that deliver a substantial portion of overall conversions and revenue, and pages that are less trafficked day-to-day, but can be important when specific events occur.

How Does the AI Alerts Function Stand Apart From Other Similar AI?

What Else Can Your Team Do with AI Alerts?

AI Alerts empowers both your team and your UX objectives beyond just showing you website engagement, technical and other types of anomalies. Firstly, its ease of use allows all your team members to leverage the AI to monitor what goes on in your website. Secondly, this AI-based system of notifications allows you to speed up reactivity, freeing up more of your time to focus on other crucial aspects of your content or business.

Additionally, AI Alerts does all the heavy lifting for you. This removes the burden of having to check reports and parse through a cluster of data. Instead, you have a machine curtailing the need to manually inspect the problems on your website.