Fifteen user experience agencies reign supreme, at least according to research from Washington, DC-based Clutch.

By charting each firm's focus on user experience design against its ability to deliver “world-class results” for clients, Clutch identified the leaders as Slide UX, Brave UX, Every Interaction, QubStudio, Experience Dynamics, UX Design Agency, Five, Savvy Apps, SFCD, Macoscope, Momentum, Eight Bit Studios, Macadamian, altr and MSTQ.

Clutch assessed a variety of qualitative and quantitative criteria including market presence, company experience, industry recognition and positive client reviews.

"User experience design has become an essential investment for any company with a digital presence," Alexa Rosenstein, analyst at Clutch, said in a statement. "A compelling and thoughtful user experience has an immense impact on customer retention and overall loyalty. The agencies featured in this report have crafted beautiful, intuitive experiences for their clients."

In other technology software news ...

Decline of the PC

The International Data Corporation (IDC) reported worldwide PC shipments will decline by 7.3 percent year-over-year in 2016. PC sales will decline in 2017 again but will be stable in 2018, IDC officials predicted.

IDC officials attributed the decline to weak currencies, depressed commodity prices, political uncertainty and delayed projects.

Data Analytics Firm 'Puts Marketers In the Drivers' Seat'

Return Path, a New York City-based analytics company focused on email data, this week introduced the next generation of its Email Optimization Platform. It is designed to give marketers insight to manage their deliverability and improve email campaign performance. 

With a new dashboard, marketers get insights on how their campaigns are performing and a new “deliverability wizard” pinpoints deliverability problems, the company said.

“Recognizing a deliverability issue is important, but solving the issue is critical — and it’s not always obvious where to start,” Miranda Reeves, Return Path’s vice president of solutions management, said in a statement. He added that the Deliverability Wizard "puts marketers in the drivers' seat" and provides customized advice to improve deliverability.

Understanding the Mobile Journey

Segment, a San Francisco customer data platform, released a new feature that it claims offers an easier way to capture mobile customer data and understand the mobile customer journey. The Native Mobile Spec automatically collects key user interactions, so developers save time, product managers can improve the user experience, and marketers can finally measure the how well their campaigns are working, the company noted in a statement.

SMBs Are Quick and Nimble

Small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) are nimble and quick to respond in today’s competitive retail environment, according to research from Indianapolis-based B2C cloud marketing software company Emarsys. Based on a survey of 254 retail professionals published in partnership with WBR Digital:

  • 81 percent of SMBs still rely on email as a driver for customer acquisition, and 80 percent for customer retention
  • 73 percent of retailers rank email as a top budget item, with one in five ranking it as a priority
  • 70 percent of SMBs begin holiday planning no later than July
  • 54 percent of SMBs identified cart abandonment emails as the most successful marketing tactic and site-based recommendations came in second at 47 percent

SDL Names Two New Execs

Global translations and content provider SDL appointed Azad Ootam chief transformation officer and Thomas Labarthe senior vice president of business development.

Ootam will be responsible for developing SDL’s language-centric strategy. Labarthe will create and execute a strategy to accelerate business growth, identifying opportunities to further leverage and extend the existing product portfolio while researching and outlining new growth potential for SDL.

“Having now spent time with all SDL’s business lines and all the regions where we operate, I am starting to see there are a number of common themes and opportunities that we can leverage for growth," Adolfo Hernandez, CEO of SDL, said in a statement. The latest appointments underscore the company's "determination to find the right, high quality people, with the right skills to drive change, accelerate our language-centric strategy and drive growth. We are thrilled to welcome them to our team," he said.

VC Funding Round-Up

SundaySky Raises $30M

SundaySky, a New York City-based video platform provider, raised $30 million in Series D funding led by Viola Private Equity. Existing investors Carmel Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners, Comcast Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners also participated in the round, which boosts the company's total investment to $67 million.

SundaySky aims to help marketers manage personalized video engagements and produce real-time videos for tasks like billing or setting up new accounts. 

Ayal Shiran, general partner of Viola Private Equity, said in a statement that SundaySky' is poised for growth based on its technology, executive team and customer list.

Cloudability Raises $24M

Portland, Ore.-based Cloudability, a cost management provider, closed a $24 million Series B round. The new funding, led by the Foundry Group Select Fund, brings Cloudability's total funding to date to more than $40 million.

"As enterprise companies move more of their IT spending to public clouds they need new tools to manage and optimize their spending and to make sense of the mountain of billing and usage data that big clouds generate every day," Mat Ellis, CEO of Cloudability, said in a statement. 

Helpshift Raises $23M

San Francisco-based Helpshift, a mobile customer support platform, raised $23 million in Series B funding, bringing total investment to $36.2 million. Microsoft Ventures and Salesforce Ventures joined returning investors Nexus Venture Partners, Intel Capital, True Ventures and Visionnaire Ventures.

Amplitude Raises $15M

San Francisco-based Amplitude, an analytics company, raised $15 million in Series B funding, bringing total investment to $26 million. Battery Ventures and Benchmark Capital led the round, which the company plans to use for hiring, growing its sales and marketing and product development of its analytics platform.

Year-over-year, Amplitude reports revenue growth of 300 percent and customer growth of 100 percent. 

CMSWire staff writer Antoinette Siu also contributed to this article. Title image "Testing web layouts on different devices" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Luiza Libardi