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  • Written by Renae Smith


Many digital agencies get carried away with their industry jargon. It can often sound like they’re speaking to you in a different language. This may not have mattered ten years ago, but in today’s tech-savvy world organisations, corporations, CEOs and entrepreneurs, to name a few, will likely find themselves needing to work closely with a digital agency at some point. 

We sat down with Brad Amos and Justin McGregor from Helium, a digital agency committed to using plain English in all aspects of their business, to help demystify some of the most commonly used terms and phrases in the digital world.

Brad, what the hell are ‘UI’ and ‘UX’ and why do people keep saying it to me?

BA: ‘UI’ stands for User Interface. These are the actual things the user sees and interacts with when they view your site, use your app or visit your physical location, such as icons and animation. ‘UX’ stands for User Experience. This refers to the user’s whole experience when using a business’ product, service, website or application. For example, was the site easy to use and interact with, was the information readily available, did the customer feel satisfied that they were able to accomplish their goal by going to your site? Basically, how was the experience for the user?

UI and UX are different things but they are both crucial and work closely together to create a great experience for the user.

Retargeting… of course this has nothing to do with target practice, right?

BA: Retargeting is actually a great feature for customer reach. When someone on the internet views a website, banner ad or email and then interacts with that piece of advertising by clicking on it or sharing it with their friends, the retargeting feature ‘records’ this interaction and then ‘follows’ them around the internet, showing them future ads based on this past interaction.

For example, let’s say you clicked on an ad you saw for a house in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, had a look and then closed down your computer for the day. If that ad was enabled for ‘retargeting’, the next time you’re on a website with ads, you’re likely to be shown ones that relate to properties from the Eastern Suburbs.

In effect, retargeting is doing just what its name implies – it’s targeting a consumer again and again with advertising relevant to them based off information they’ve already engaged with.

 Multivariate testing… that sounds like something a doctor would be doing. What is it?

JM: ‘Multivariate’ refers to the process of testing different combinations of things. Websites and applications are made of changeable elements. Things such as pictures, headlines and banners can all be changed to form different combinations. And of course, in the same way I like chocolate and peanut butter and Brad likes chocolate and mint, different people will like different combinations.

Multivariate testing in digital marketing is just a way for clever marketers to test which of these combinations appeals to you when you visit their website or application. It allows them to learn what drives the highest engagement levels with their clients’ target audience and adapts their ads for higher conversion rates because it gives people more of what works specifically for them on a personal level. 

Front end, back end and middleware… now, it’s not a car, so what is it?

JM: It’s actually quite helpful to think of software applications like icebergs. Icebergs are extremely dangerous because only 10% of their massive bulk floats above the surface of the water. The other 90% is hidden beneath. 

Applying this to websites and applications, front end is all the stuff you see, tap, touch or interact with and the stuff that most people care about the most (like icons or emojis). It’s the experience… the fun bits! And it’s the 10% you can see.

Back end is all the stuff that happens in the background to make a website or application work (things like how to get that little button you’ve just pushed grab up the exact information that you want). This is the 90% that is hidden underneath all the cool things you can see. There’s a lot more of it, but as a user you’ll never really need to know it’s there.

The middleware is just the bits of code that allow the 10% and the 90% to talk to each other. This is the most ‘technical’ of all of the parts. It needs to work in sync with everything else, but it’s a lot more detailed!

Any suggestions for a regular old Joe trying to navigate the digital world?

BA: If you are working with a digital agency and they’re using tech-centric jargon, definitely interrupt and ask them to explain. No one outside of the tech world understands most of these words! A good agency will be able to explain it in a way that everyone understands.

About Helium: Helium is a Sydney based digital solutions team with a creative, intelligent and innovative approach to their clients’ online marketing. They are a boutique agency with a big agency pedigree on a mission to ensure the best possible results for their clients, while still speaking plain English.

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