January 31, 2008
January 30, 2008
I few random things to ponder:
- Who has 40,000 songs?
January 29, 2008
We should have plenty of leisure time, right? After all we have instant coffee, microwave cooking, drive through restaurants. We have Wikipedia instead of a trip to the library. We have online shopping instead of a trip to the mall. Speed dating, cell phones and Tivo. We have all of these time-saving devices and yet our lives seem busier than ever with no time to get everything done.
In this era of 8-Minute Abs and online banking, how can this be?
I point you to two good reads on the topic. Vince Poscente's book The Age of Speed. And yesterday USA Today had this article on our speeded up lives.
I would read them but I'm just too busy.
January 25, 2008
Friday Fun: eCommerce, Meet Rube Goldberg
January 23, 2008
Privacy, Civility, and the Long Arm of the Web
January 22, 2008
Technology Time Warp: The Blog of Anne Frank
Maybe my inspiration for this was Time magazine's brilliant "God's In-box". But I started to picture the incredible modern technology available to us today in famous historical situations. Here are a few ideas of what could have been.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debate
John D. Rockefeller
The Constitutional Powerpoint
January 15, 2008
Shopping cart before the horse?
January 14, 2008
Best. Question. Ever.
It's an old article but I think it's still very relevant. I found this article from Money Magazine and immediately thought of the loyalty work of Fred Reicheld.
Would you recommend us to a friend? - It's the most important question to ask about your website or your product. If your users are willing to personally endorse your product by recommending it to others, then you're doing something right.
January 11, 2008
Friday fun: Lolcats
What's a lolcat you ask? A lolcat is a compound, made-up word, combining the acronym "lol" for "laughing out loud" and cat. Lolcats are images created as a humor device for photo sharing sites and other internet forums. These images usually consist of a photo of a cat with a large caption. The caption generally acts as a speech balloon encompassing a comment from the cat, or as a description of the depicted scene. Often the words are misspelled or juxtaposed on purpose.
To get a feel for this sub-culture you probably didn't know existed, you can visit lolcat.com or lolcat.net.
January 10, 2008
Nietzsche on curiosity
January 7, 2008
Accidents will happen
Actor 1: "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter."
Actor 2: "You got your peanut butter in my chocolate."
So went the TV ads years ago for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The idea was an accidental discovery of two great things that are made even better together.
I didn't know until I read this that both Blogger and Twitter were similar accidental discoveries. Viagra and the X-ray were stumbled upon too. Wired magazine put together this list of the top ten accidental discoveries.
The best ideas happen when your mind is open to look at things in creative ways and consider the possibilities.
January 4, 2008
Segmentation: Lessons from the magazine stand
Most websites serve more than one audience. Your visitors may differ in age, interest, location, current customer vs. new, domestic vs. international, etc. Many websites try some form of audience segmentation in order to better meet the needs of their diverse audiences. The goal is to divide the audience into distinct subsets (segments) that behave in the same way or have similar needs.
Banking websites often employ a segmentation strategy. They have different products for different audiences so their homepages often present those options immediately, basically asking the visitor to identify themselves as a member of a segment. See Vanguard.com for an example.
Next time you're at the magazine stand, notice how the magazines are arranged. It's usually not done alphabetically. Nor by price or publisher. Usually the magazines are arranged by topic or interest. Cosmo is near Elle and Vogue in the fashion section. Business Week is near Inc. and The Economist.
But often it doesn't don't stop there. The fashion magazines are grouped with decorating, cooking, celebrity gossip and other "women's interests." Sports, business, outdoors, and technology magazines are in a "men's interests" section. Puzzles, coloring, games and cartoons are in a "kids" section.
The photo to the right shows an example of this. The upper rows are more "men's interests" with women's interests and "kids" magazines on the lower levels. This is audience segmentation based on assumed interest. The shelves in this example would also correspond to being at the average height of the intended audience. (Men are on average taller than women who are taller than most children.)
So the segmentation is serving to present items that may be of interest to a particular audience and make it easy for that audience to find things. Importantly, this type of segmentation doesn't prohibit users from crossing the shelf lines and buying a magazine from a different section. A man may want a puzzle book from the bottom shelf and a woman may want a business mag from the top.
In my experience with segmentation on websites, where it doesn't work is when users think they are missing out on choices by identifying themselves. Imagine how you would feel if a bookstore tried to get you to self-identify as a man, woman or child and then only showed you magazines it deemed relevant for you.
Ultimately audience segmentation is something that many sites need to do well. But you should employ a segmentation strategy, not merely to market more targeted messages, but to improve your customers' user experience and serve them better. If your customers understand why they are being segmented and see value in being served differently, your strategy will be a success.
January 2, 2008
Google Image Labeler
Google has an ingenious little game on their site now called the Google Image Labeler. Here's how it works:
You are paired up with another site visitor who is also willing to play. You are then each shown the same image and asked to come up with keywords that describe the contents of the image. Woman, brunette, sunset, beach, etc. The idea is to come up with matches - words that both you and your partner thought of.
Google is using this game as a way to tag images and use those tags to improve image search results. Because the more often an image receives the same descriptive keyword, the more likely that word is a good description of the image. It's a brilliant way to harness the power of the masses and make the mundane and immense task of image tagging fun.