Founder and CEO at Blrt, CEO Magazine Startup Executive of the Year 2015
Internet | Sydney, Australia, AU
Anurag is the founder of Blrt and Thinkun. A doyen and disciple of digital technology and marketing, Anu has an innate ability to demystify the online space and create fine digital experiences.
>>> Blrt www.blrt.com
Blrt is an audio-visual communication platform that recreates the way people collaborate in a meeting without the need for an actual meeting that has a time and a place.
Blrt's unique patent pending technology provides a high resolution video-like user experience at a fraction of the bandwidth of video. Participants can talk, point and draw over websites, images and documents and create cross-platform conversations in the cloud.
Instead of having to react on the spot, participants can instead respond in their own time while maintaining meeting continuity and communication clarity by way of capturing hand gestures like pointing, zooming and drawing in sync with their voice.
Blrt is available for iPad, iPod, iPhone and Android devices, with other platforms coming soon.
>>> Thinkun www.thinkun.net
Thinkun is the award winning quick-response digital marketing agency, founded by Anurag Chakradhar in 2003, that provides digital solutions that astutely marry a dynamic digital experience with tangible results. We deliver intelligent, easy to use tools that our clients use to continuously optimise their digital assets.
Anurag’s extensive industry experience working with diverse clients such as MasterCard, ABC, SBS, Mark Webber, GoGet, Red Balloon and L'Oréal amongst many others has given him the ability to create pragmatic digital solutions that deliver quantifiable business results.
As speaker to forums such as Coraggio, iStrategy and ADMA, Anu successfully joins the lateral with the rational to help leaders harness the power of digital technology.
Specialties: digital marketing strategy, web design & development, user experience design, traffic analysis and conversion optimisation, mobile app architecture, design and development, public speaking.
Thinkun recently had the pleasure of designing and developing the website for 5th Element Expeditions, purveyors of expedition travel and high adventure.
Seeing as 5th Element invites adventurers to test and then push their limits through extreme and survival tourism, it’s appropriate that designing their website likewise provided the opportunity for the Thinkun team to push some of our own limits.
Our challenge – to design an interface that would engage clients more at home in the out of doors than sitting in front of their computer – was not so easily overcome. Every aspect of the site required our team to not just think outside of the box, but also to reconceptualise some of the boxes themselves.
Blending the natural and the digital
The primary challenge with the 5th Element site was to create an aesthetic that recreates the natural environment that potential adventurers love to be immersed within. We accomplished this balancing act of natural and digital by seamlessly blending both flat and skeuomorphic design elements.
Skeuomorphic design attempts to mimic objects found in the physical world, such as the rope and board design element that catches the user’s eye and invites them to subscribe to the 5th Element newsletter. These elements evoke the feeling of being in nature and are found rarely in modern web design, which has come to be dominated by flat design concepts.
You’ve likely witnessed this change yourself if you’re an iOS user, as Apple only recently moved away from skeuomorphic design in their icons (remember the ‘Contacts’ icon that actually resembled a leather-bound address book?) toward a flat and more simplistic design (now your ‘Contacts’ are behind a boring grey silhouette of a face).
Responsive design is able to adapt to the many different screen sizes across the hundreds of various mobile devices that your potential clients may be using. The same elements will appear on any version of the site, but the width or height adjusts accordingly across different screen sizes to ensure a smooth user experience.
In the case of the 5th Element design, this presented a unique problem. Skeuomorphic elements are notoriously difficult to incorporate into responsive design. Natural elements – such as the plank of wood behind the ‘Subscribe’ form on the 5th Element website – don’t like to cooperate responsively. Potential 5th Element clients are unlikely to be sitting at a desk and using a desktop or laptop – they are more likely to be on one of the many different mobile devices in use around the world. Responsive design, then, was absolutely critical.
Drawing on our many years of experience with responsive design, we were able to create elements that offer a seamless and natural experience on any device. 5th Element site visitors on desktops or phones or tablets will enjoy the same adventure-inspired design and will thereby be engaged on the same level.
The importance of responsive design
In September 2015, the balance of Australian tablet usage versus computer usage finally tipped in favour of tablet usage. Using phones for internet browsing, of course, had been prominent for longer still. Two out of every three minutes spent online is spent on a mobile device.
People simply aren’t sitting down in front of their computers anymore. Only 11% of adults access internet only via desktop computer, so your website needs to deliver a superior experience on any device the other 89% happen to be using.
Of course, physically active clients are even less likely to be parked at a desk, so the implication is even more unavoidable for those business targeted to this market.
Who can resist pressing a red button?
Beyond reframing traditional design approaches, what makes a project like the 5th Element Expeditions website so fun is incorporating quirky little “easter eggs” like the “press the red button” feature.
Nobody can resist pressing a shiny red button and in this case it engages potential clients through the user currently enjoying the experience on offer.
When a user presses the red button, they are invited to recommend a 5th Element Expedition to a friend. Referral systems aren’t unique in and of themselves, but the approach to this one is powerful for its mission.
Users who press the red button aren’t encouraged to merely “tell a friend” about 5th Element – rather, they’re prompted to consider if somebody they love is in need of the positive psychological reboot that expedition travel has been shown to provide. Pressing the red button allows large-hearted adventurers to express concern to a loved one without putting anybody on the spot.
More than a pretty face
Naturally, the website we built for 5th Element is so much more powerful than just the user experience delivered by the skeuomorphic design and responsive layout. There are numerous devices at work under the hood of this beauty that make sure 5th Element get the most value out of each visitor.
We programmed the 5th Element website with shortcodes that allow the 5th Element team to quickly and easily display products from partner (but external) e-commerce sites.
The 5th Element team often have recommendations about equipment and gear that their clients will need for a given expedition. These shortcodes make it painless for them to display these recommendations in a manner that aligns with the carefully considered design of the site.
The entire site is peppered with data capture forms that allow the 5th Element team to turn visitors into potential clients and those potential clients into expeditions tourists.
The lifetime value of a customer is critical for any experience business and 5th Element is not excepted from this rule. The lead-generation mechanisms installed into their website are the most effective ways for them to tap into this value at the moment when the customer is most engaged.
The data captured from these lead generation mechanisms is connected to marketing automation software Infusionsoft. This immediately activates a process that ensures every single lead is followed up and that all potential clients are signed up to the 5th Element email marketing loop.
In this way there is no stone left unturned and every potential lead (hot or cold) is followed up along with repeat clients to ensure that 5th Element enjoys the lifetime value of that relationship.
Send us a brief message if you need our expertise with a project or would like to know more, and we'll get right back to you.
Engage your active customers
If you are a business that wants to target customers in search of active lifestyles, expedition tourism or high adventure, Thinkun can help you engage potential customers (when they roam back into network range and fire up their devices).
Whether you’re a personal trainer, a bicycle shop operator or an outdoors guide, Thinkun has to power to deliver more than just a website – we can create an interface that is an extension of your very ethos.
Your custom Thinkun website will incorporate the design elements that best convey what you and your company are all about, and install them around a user interface that meets your customers where they live. Your web presence will be responsive and dynamic, engaging potential clients in a manner they won’t forget. Your value proposition isn’t boring – your website shouldn’t be, either.
Blrt was created and developed entirely in house here at Thinkun to help users get everyone on the same page in cloud-based conversation. We’ve also supported our baby with a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that centres around a dynamic website delivering a a smooth user experience.
Learn how we developed an award-winning collaboration platform that enables users to talk, point and draw over documents, images and websites. We also explore the supporting marketing campaign centred around a dynamic website and content marketing strategy.
Blrt helps you get your point across quickly by allowing you to talk, point and draw over images, documents and websites. The resulting video-like recording is called a Blrt.
Your Blrts require much less bandwidth than video and can be shared with anyone on mobile or desktop. This makes Blrt ideal for both collaboration and the creation and sharing of dynamic content, as public Blrts can be embedded into any webpage.
Once recorded, Blrts are stored in the cloud and are exchanged with others in a conversation-like fashion. A record is kept of the exchange, and new parties and media can be added at any time.
Blrt shifts time and place, allowing users in a conversation to participate in their own time. In an era where activity-based working and distributed teams are commonplace, Blrt is revolutionising the way people interact to get things done.
About the Webby Awards
Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile Sites & Apps and Social. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received nearly 13,000 entries from all 50 states and over 70 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
IADAS, which nominates and selects The Webby Award Winners, is comprised of Web industry experts, including Tumblr founder, David Karp; Executive Creative Director at Refinery29, Piera Gelardi; Musicians Questlove & Grimes; Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram, Eva Chen; Twitter Co-Founder, Biz Stone; Jimmy Kimmel; and creator of the .gif file format, Steve Wilhite.
Thinkun’s new website for GoGet CarShare has been awarded the Best Mobile Site in NSW award by the Australian Web Awards. We’re proud of what we have achieved in building this site and its fantastic user experience on all screen sizes. This wasn’t just any responsive site build, so we’d like to share our process with you in this three part series. In Part 1, we’ll discuss the crucial stages of planning, architecture & design.
Why a new site was needed
GoGet Website 2003-2012
GoGet’s old site was a static HTML dinosaur built almost a decade ago back when GoGet was a young startup. They’ve grown quite a bit since then – GoGet is now the leading carsharing service in Australia with over 1,100 cars and 38,000 members – and they wanted to give their new and existing customers a far better online experience. So GoGet approached Thinkun with the following brief:
New web presence to reflect the dynamic, fresh and user-centric nature of the business
Completely new site architecture to funnel new visitors to conversion
Provide a much better experience for mobile users
Integrate with GoGet’s proprietary booking and fleet management system for live data (minimal changes to their system allowed)
All within a modest budget
Personas and user journey workshops
Two aspects of the brief stuck out to us – increasing conversion rates, and improving the user experience for all users (mobiles, tablets and desktops). A fact that’s now well known among digital agencies, and one that’s been solidified by our own experience, is that site usability is a critical factor in conversion. So we decided from the earliest stage of the project to fortify every aspect of the site, from layout & design to content, with best in class user experience for all users.
A user-centric approach to design has to start with understanding your users, so we researched a range of personas to define types of users that could possibly interact with the website. Everyone has different life experiences, aspirations, and thought processes that can influence the way they interact with a website in vastly different ways. It’s important to cater to as many of them as possible so no one gets left behind. A couple of examples from GoGet could be socially-conscious professionals, or parents who sometimes need a second car.
One of many persona broadsheets from our co-design workshops with the client
We spent quality time workshopping user journeys and the site architecture with the client, as no one understands their target market and customers better than they do.
Analysing previous site data to inform new architecture
Fortunately, GoGet had been collecting data on their old site through Google Analytics for some time, so we had a wealth of information to help us identify drop out points in the site architecture. The Visitors Flow report in Google Analytics was particularly useful as it allowed us to visualise exactly the path users took through the site, and in particular where they were exiting the site without converting. This played a large role in constructing user journeys to inform the final site architecture.
Google Analytics Visitors Flow report
Finally, after a few iterations, we landed on a site functionality sitemap both us and the client were happy with. It was informed by our personas and user journeys, co-design workshops with the client, and previous site analysis in concert to work towards a site hierarchy that was as simple and logical as possible for all user types.
Wireframes and design
With a functionality sitemap scoped out we were ready to get wireframing. Creating interactive wireframes allowed us to rigorously test the site’s user experience on various pages before beginning design. It allowed both us and the client to see how a user would interact with the functionality on the site, and make informed decisions about what should be kept (and what should be discarded) before spending valuable time on the actual design. Interactive wireframes are especially handy when you arrive at the development stage, where it is made abundantly clear to the developers how a certain element should function, and where it should scoot when you hit a responsive breaking point.
Design began after a few iterations of wireframes, and went through a similar process of feedback, testing, and making sure it fulfilled all site requirements. Initial development of the site’s WordPress framework was already underway during this process, but after a lot of refinement we were ready to call the designs finalised.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we’ll talk about the development process, challenges, and the unique functionality we built for GoGet.
Our clients TDM Asset Management are a private investment firm with a highly focused approach to investing and offices in Sydney and New York. They came to Thinkun to help bring their online presence in line with the quality and standard that defines their professional abilities as an investment firm.
TDMAM screen their investments through in-person business networking, and online functionality beyond a simple digital representation of their brand and capabilities was not needed. We know how important first impressions are, so our approach was to create a good-looking, professional, responsive single-page website that TDMAM would be proud to show off.
The site was designed to be fully responsive, meaning it looks great on any device, from huge retina desktop screens, all the way down to various sized tablets and smartphones. Go ahead and check it out – open the site on a desktop, resize your browser window, and watch it magically adapt to any size you set it to.
Thinkun coded in a bunch of smarts to adjust the layout at the various responsive breaking points to create the best user experience on any device. For example, see how the logo moves in to the top menu and changes colour when the mobile breaking point is reached:
The top menu also collapses to be small and unobtrusive when the user scrolls down the site, but always remains accessible.
Static HTML sites (ones that don’t have frequently updated content such as a blog) carry the risk of looking boring or stale due to a lack of dynamic content, which was a failing of TDMAM’s previous site we wanted to avoid. So we implemented parallax scrolling on our one page website, which gives the large background images some life without compromising on the professional, corporate feel. At narrower resolutions, such as on mobiles, the parallax scroll is disabled. Its hard to convey the parallax scroll through screenshots, so open up the site at desktop size and watch the background images as you scroll. It’s a subtle effect, and a recent web trend we love!
Here at Thinkun we are super excited about the upcoming release of our very own iPhone and iPad apps. Interact with us anywhere, any time! You’ll be able to see our content from the blog, our work, our thoughts on web design, as well as our suggestions for cool places to visit around Newtown – our home in Sydney’s inner-west. Prepare your eyes because we’ve made sure the app looks great on any iOS device including retina displays. All the hard work has been done and we’re now giving our little app all the polish, love and attention it deserves. Stay tuned!
Craig Alexander ranks among triathlon’s greatest champions.
Racing his first triathlon at the age of 22, he has since achieved excellence in every aspect of the triathlon way of life, winning an impressive number of championships along the way. His record breaking feats include being the first man to win both the Half Ironman and Ironman World Championships in the same year.
Thinkun were asked to work with the team behind Craig Alexander to help create a moving brand experience for Craig’s supporters, triathlon fans and sport lovers.
The desired outcomes was to create a sustainable brand and website that would grow with Craig as he approaches 40 and looks to retiring from the sport and focusing on other endeavours in the coming years.
Our challenge included creating a strong online brand presence for Craig that would capitalize on his current greatness while also providing a means for keeping his legacy going once he stops competing, with the additional benefit of generating revenue possibilities for him in years to come.
By providing a platform for connecting with arguably the fittest man on the planet, the site would be a resource for people aspiring to better health and fitness, incorporating eCommerce, product affiliate and advertising capabilities.
The brand objectives were to extend awareness of Craig beyond the current Ironman/Triathlete audience by capturing the qualities that make Craig such an outstanding athlete, one who helps others in achieving better health, fitness and lifestyle choices.
Creating a visual identity
Working with Craig and his team, we were able to define the central theme of Craig’s brand as one of perseverance and strength.
We created a visual identity that symbolised the values central to Craig’s success as an elite athlete. The CA infinity curve captures both the triathlon course and Craig’s capacity for endurance even in the most gruelling of races.
Craig is often known by his moniker ‘Crowie’, which we felt was a fitting name for the brand given Craig’s humility, even in the face of great successes.
Creating the online platform
This brand identity was then further developed into an online platform designed to allow fans to connect with Craig and contribute to the wider discussion of not just triathlon but heath, nutrition and fitness. We introduced a vibrant colour palette and interactive features that reflected Craig’s brand. The visual and tonal feel of the website was designed to convey the sense of dynamism that Craig brings to his life and the sport he loves.
His personal ethos of staying fit is captured in an interactive grid of stories collected under “Crowie’s Fit Zone”. This is a comprehensive section chronicling Craig’s Ironman training, healthy living tips, upcoming news and events and his Top 10 personal recommendations for products and services.
The responsive web design allows the tiles of the pages to configure automatically for different monitor screen sizes. Content is organised into categories and tags which enables filtering by topic as well as allowing users to discover content by introducing related content within each story item. This visual nature of content delivery ensures increased engagement and results in more time spent on the site. User contributed stories of their own fitness, health and charity endeavours have a corresponding section entitled “Your Zone”, the name tie in with “Crowie’s Fit Zone” further makes the connection between Craig and his audience.
Positioning Craig Alexander as a professional, hard-working, elite athlete helped us orient the brand, which is rooted in purpose driven health, fitness and lifestyle choices.
Bringing Crowie’s brand to life also meant positioning him as a sports/health for life advocate, and not just a resource for competing in triathlons. The Crowie’s Fit Zone was created to be a space where Craig’s could share personal insights, endeavours and expertise. Additionally the Your Zone space was created to allow a community of contributors to share their stories of self improvement and athletic achievements.
The interactive tiles allows users to filter by topics, bring their particular interests to the forefront. These separate yet related stories bring together Craig’s driving passions of health, nutrition and fitness, while making it easier to communicate to audiences of all kinds.
By creating a flexible yet strong brand, we helped Craig branch out into new online territory while strengthening his core values. In doing so, it also ensured that the brand would have the longevity to carry Craig’s legacy in years to come.
The good news: Since the beginning of the year, we’ve become progressively busier.
The even better news: We need to add two web design interns to our team.
Could this be you, or do you know someone who fits the bill? If so, email through a brief cover letter accompanied by your resume and some examples of your recent design projects to firstname.lastname@example.org
Job: Web design intern Job level: Junior Salary: Unpaid + the occasional Black Star Pastry cake and Courtie lunch Expertise: Graphic design Software: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
What we can offer you:
An exciting work culture in the heart of Newtown
An experienced mentor to guide you
Great potential for learning and growth
Learn from, exchange ideas and build relationships with others in the industry
The chance to beef up your portfolio with some cutting edge projects
Flexible hours to suit your schedule
Exposure to many aspects of online marketing campaigns, not just design
Work with Thinkun’s wide range of clients such as GoGet, Mark Webber, Red Balloon, University of Sydney, L’Oreal, and many more
Our internship program included lunchtime lectures, regular feedback and reviews.
A brief description of who we’re looking for: As Thinkun’s Web Design intern, you will use your knowledge of design software including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign amongst others, to apply your design skills to the development of websites, Facebook applications, mobile apps and other digital communication (as well as the odd bit of print media when required).
Not only will you create visually pleasing communication, you will also need to ensure that the sites and software you’re designing meet best practice standards for the web.
You will think about, create, design and implement solutions as part of a team, while remaining self directed and retaining an individual approach to work goals.
We require an energetic candidate with great work ethic, creative skills, good communication and organisational skills.
You will learn to handle multiple projects and tasks, which vary in scope and size. In addition to your design projects, you will also be required to complete some administrative tasks related to the smooth running of the Thinkun studio.
The position will be based in our office in the Flourmill Studios, a heritage conversion of an old flourmill in groovy Newtown. The Flourmill is home to a broad range of creative businesses and is close to Newtown station, as well as being cycle to work and dog friendly.
You’ll work on web and mobile projects across most of our clients, which come from diverse industries including sports, education, finance, publishing, consumer electronics, childcare and more.
We value learning. You will gain skills by being regularly challenged by new tasks that you may not have experience of, but will be expected to research about and add to both your knowledge and the company’s collective knowledge.
Our office is in the Flourmill Studios, a heritage conversion of an old flour mill in groovy Newtown. The Flourmill is home to a broad range of creative businesses and is close to Newtown station, as well as being cycle to work friendly. To apply, please fill out the form below.
To promote their latest business mobile devices E6 and E7, Nokia have created an online book featuring the stories of seven Australian Entrepreneurs. We attended the launch of the online book yesterday at ‘Simmer on the bay‘ in Sydney and captured some good bits of the question-answer session (shaky iPhone video alert!).
Five of the seven entrepreneurs featured in the book were present and were interviewed at the launch, including (from the left, after interviewer):
Are you at home with all sorts of data handling? Have you used PHPmyAdmin extensively? Do you write SQL statements in your sleep? Are you available immediately to work at our Newtown offices either part time or full time for 2 weeks? If so, please apply here or use the form below.
A brief description of the requirements:
You will primarily work on a project requiring a large amount of data manipulation and reporting. You will be required to import, clean, sort, filter and combine data based on rules that will be provided to you. For each request given to you, you will write the SQL statements needed and save the output as a dataset.
You must also be fairly proficient with Microsoft Excel. PHP programming skills are complementary but not essential.
Our office is in the Flourmill Studios, a heritage conversion of an old flour mill in groovy Newtown. The Flourmill is home to a broad range of creative businesses and is close to Newtown station, as well as being cycle to work friendly. To apply, please fill out the form below.