Tal Florentin is an award-winning User Experience expert and founder of Summurai, a startup that generates and delivers audio summaries of content. On our weekly podcast he talks about the future of content consumption and reveals his sources of inspiration.
Tal Florentin is an award-winning User Experience specialist who successfully led over 150 of UX projects. Tal is the founder of Summurai, which creates audio summaries of content and ways to deliver them. He is also the CEO of UXVision, a boutique UX agency.
Tal gives lectures on User Experience around the world and is also the author of two books, “The User Experience” and “Design for a perfect screen”. In 2014 he won the People’s Choice Award at the International UX Awards.
The Missing Question
Tal started his professional career in software engineering. Later on, he was a team leader and then a project manager. After around a decade of programming, realizing he’s the creative guy in the room who designs icons for the others and his team, Tal decided to make a career change and became a user experience designer. As he recalls, it was around 12 years ago when nobody knew what or how this should be done, so he had a good place to make mistakes without anybody knowing that these are actual mistakes.
Tal enjoyed building and understanding the world of UX through time and eventually became a service provider, designing more than 150 digital products.
Based on his experience, Tal believes that one of the main problems when designers build landing pages, for example, is that they don’t ask themselves the right questions:
“Everybody talks about user experience, but most of the companies or even SMBs that theoretically do user experience design have a very short time spent with the audience, with people. They think this is the missing element. I think if you look at the industry, and you see, we look for inspiration. We look at what others did. We see something. We say it’s beautiful. Let’s do something like that. Let’s copy a concept from a big company. We basically miss the main questions, which are who is on the other side? Who are the users? What’s their story?
Instead of talking in a general way, we want to create some kind of simple story. Talk about one person. Try to understand how’s their point of view and I think this is where the magic starts to happen. Because then you have the ability to look at the structure or design of a landing page and instead of asking whether you like it or not, ask why would it work for you or for your audience. What elements on the screen are relevant? What you try to achieve? So, I think the missing question that nobody told me about was instead of how the page would be designed nicely or effectively, what behavior do you want to create when people arrive at the page.”
Rules to Make Your Content Work Better
When Tal designs content pages, he usually follows 3 rules, which he’d like to share because I think they would be effective for people who are dealing with content pages:
Use much bigger fonts – Usually, people ask me what is the smallest font that we can use which will still be readable? Then I use to answer by following the accessibility guidelines and they stopped doing that because now my answer is ‘do you want people to read it?’ So, if they say yes, I say, ‘Don’t write in the smallest font that people can read. Make it much larger in order for them to enjoy reading’.”
Create Motivating Titles – I’m always trying to write titles based on what the information is that you’re going to get, and how it’s going to help it and then get the short motivation of reading another paragraph and then we play with it. My paragraphs would be very short. You wouldn’t need to invest too much effort in getting that information.
Add Images – I’m kind of stuck in the early stage where if there’s no image on the page, I don’t want to start. You know that behavior when you were a child, so I’m kind of stuck there. So, I put a lot of images in the content. Again, putting images in content is another story where you don’t just find a stock photo image that relates to the keyword you’re looking for. You’re trying to tell a story with the image in order to create curiosity. To create the question of what’s the relationship between this image and the conduct that I’m reading in order to create motivation to go on and get to the point.
The Future of Content Consumption
At some point, Tal figured that instead of trying to force people to stay on a certain page, he would like to check the ability to actually allow them to leave.
“So, how would their content provider allow them to leave? It goes back to looking at the timeline of users. So, from my point of view, there’s the stage where you identify a content that you want to know what’s written there. Then there’s the decision making where usually you don’t want to read. So, we came out with the idea of let’s take the content and just put on the concept of sending it to my smartphone.
What we have to do in order to send it to your smartphone, is have an audio version of that. And our philosophy is not putting an older version of all of the content, it’s about summaries of the content. So, our structure of content in Summurai is all about what we call micro-podcast. It’s three to four-minute items, which are summary of a source of content. It could be an external content or others and it could be your own. So, one point of it would be to play some kind of a player in your blog and offer the audience to send it to their smartphone. Whenever they bump into content and what happens when they click on it is that I ask to give me your email. And then basically what we have is lead generation, which works with the way people think and not trying to get them before they leave.
So, if you’ll think of all the popups that pop out while I’m moving my mouse towards the X button, they basically say, ‘I see that you’re going to leave. Please don’t.’ And my strategy talks about let’s help you leave. I know that you want to leave. I want to offer you a better way of leaving with knowing the information is going to wait for you on your car or whatever.
Giving you the value that you expect instead of trying to fight against what you’re trying to achieve. The basic concept of Summurai talks about creating audio summaries for only content, so from the other point of view, what we do is offer brands the ability to, instead of creating their content, we offer them the ability to share summaries of other content online. Of course legally, what we do is create the legal summary of the content and we offer the ability to create boards of content, which are summaries of relevant content written by others, by giving them the full credit and so on.
By basically finding the best content online and giving it to our audience instead of trying to create it on our own. Because if you look at content creation in the world, I would say that a big amount of marketing teams don’t really the ability to create good content. They create content for SCO. They create content from bloggers who get keywords right on … Usually, if you’ll give that content to professionals they will say that this content is not very high quality. So, instead of writing content, we offer the ability to create content and then share it with the audience because it’s good.
What we try to do is kind of clean the mess of bad content being created for search engines and give much high rank to good content because we help to share it and give the original writer the credibility of being the author of that.”
Tal's Reading Sources for Design
When asked to recommend specific blogs to get familiar with Design, Tal has a secret he shares with us:
“So, my hack here is the fact that I have been teaching UX for almost a decade and I have hundreds of students who do that for me. They don’t know that they do that for me, but whenever they read something and they find it valuable, they actually share it with the others because this is what we do. So, I basically have this resources working and I think over time you identify easily what’s the sources that you would like to follow.
I think there are a few medium channels that talk about user experience design. Basically publishers around that, which are the ones to follow. I think everybody talks about basic. Some of them get deeper and you know I really like people who are into providing value. I think the difference between the main types of content marketing is when people who try to get leads from it, and people who are more mature and understanding that content marketing works for you when you invest efforts and do it over time and you don’t try to get clicks. You try to create value for your audience.
So, if you look at, for example, the blog of Invision, it’s basically priceless because people are writing there because they understand your world. You understand that the people that write for them are people who are actually in the field from the field. They’re not bloggers from outside that got a few keywords to follow. They are people who have what to say about this field. So, when it comes from within the profession and it’s written by the small amount of people who know what they talk about and have the ability to write, this is what makes you follow.”