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Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

Conversion Optimization: User Interface Basics

CoTweet’s Creative Director and co-Founder, Kyle Sollenberger, has rounded up ten design fundamentals on User Interface Design over on Think Vitamin. Below you’ll find a small subtract of some of the key takeaways to keep in mind with UIX:

Know your users’ goals
“Obsess over customers: when given the choice between obsessing over competitors or customers, always obsess over customers. Start with customers and work backward.”Jeff Bezos, CEO amazon.com

Your users’ goals are yours, so learn them… …Find out what interfaces they like and sit down and watch how they use them…

Stick to web-wide Interface Design conventions
Users spend the majority of their time on interfaces other than your own (Facebook, MySpace, news  sites, etc.): There is no need to reinvent the wheel…

Consistency
“The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it.”Jakob Nielson

Your users need consistency. They need to know that once they learn to do something, they will be able to do it again… …A consistent interface… …increases their efficiency.

Provide feedback
Always inform your users of actions, changes in state and errors, or exceptions that occur. Visual cues or simple messaging can show the user whether his or her actions have led to the expected result.

Don’t EVER punish your users
No matter how clear your design is, people will make mistakes… …Design ways for users to undo actions, and be forgiving with varied inputs; no one likes to start over because he/she put in the wrong birth date format…

Iterate, iterate, iterate
…It is often said when developing interfaces that you need to fail fast, and iterate often…

As Creative Director of CoTweet Kyle -“@iamkyle”- Sollenberger oversees all design activities—from the layout, appearance and usability of products to the representation of corporate identity. Be sure to check out Kyle’s full post and more examples on Carsonified’s Blog.





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Your Online Identity Hosted In The Browser?

Weave Identity is a very interesting component from Mozilla Labs (of Firefox fame) and a possible disrupting one for the Facebook Connect’s, OpenID’s and OAuth’s of this world:

“Offering a single sign-in solution for the web is currently a hot topic. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace and countless other sites are all offering to host your identity for you. Many of these key players on the social web are also offering tools to allow third-party sites to let you log in using the identity you have hosted with whoever your provider is – Google through FriendConnect, Facebook through Facebook Connect and Twitter through its recently debuted OAuth-based system. But in the end, who knows how long any of those sites will last? It seems to make more sense to hand these duties off to something more permanent than the hot site of the moment.

That’s where Mozilla’s latest implementation of Weave starts to make sense. You can store your credentials anywhere, including on Mozilla’s servers or your own web server.”

Source: WIRED’s Webmonkey

If the Weave add-on is implemented as a standard feature in the next version of the 2nd largest browser in the world, it stands a reasonable chance of becoming THE default Online Identity Manager/Social Media Passport; allowing you to safely and seamlessly log in to your favourite Social Networks, blogs and communities, across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac OS) and various devices (think Mobile, Netbooks, Thin Clients).

All the while giving you complete and FULL control over your online identity (you can even store your Weave login credentials on your own server!), which positions it directly opposite of the Walled Garden approach that Facebook is fast becoming notorious for.

The ease of use, combined with the fact that your average internet user hasn’t even heard of Google-, Facebook- and Twitter’s Online Identity Management solutions make Firefox Weave a serious threat to the aforementioned parties. After all: Wouldn’t it seem more logical and feel safer for her to let the browser take care of her online identity?

“Something that often goes unsaid in the discussion about online identity is that while most websites right now require usernames and passwords, many people actually use the password manager feature in the browser-effectively turning their browser into a limited identity manager.”

Source: Mozilla Labs

MozillaWeaveWillSolveThisProblem
By offering this One-Log-In-To-Rule-Them-AllTM feature as a standard option in the browser, much like Yahoo’s- or Google’s toolbar, a lot of the hassle and security issues associated with web based ID alternatives are removed from the user’s table:

“User experience in general suffers as protocols for federation (e.g. OpenID) involve complex redirects which jump the user from page to page and leave them open to phishing attacks…”

Source: Mozilla Labs

And there’s another major USP that promises a bright future for the Weave project: Firefox is an Open Source initiative, and even though OpenSocial, OpenID & OAuth are Open Source projects as well, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google and Microsoft are commercial parties with a deep interest into becoming your single sign-in partner, so they can monitor the sites you visit and the time frame in which you did: pure data mining for marketing purposes. In a time where privacy issues are within everyone’s crosshairs, this could become Mozilla’s trump card in the battle for your Online Identity.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping Google (note that they have 300 Million accounts!) from implementing such a feature in Chrome -it’s very own browser- using Friend Connect, or Microsoft from doing the same with their Live toolbar/Live Passport and Internet Explorer. The point is that the former hasn’t yet managed to get any serious foot in the browser market. And though the latter is the current incumbent in browser market share (for now), it has failed for almost 10 years to make it’s .NET Passport/Live ID efforts a true cross-web success, even as younger initiatives from the likes of Facebook and twitter have taken off in the past year or so.

All in all, it’ll be very interesting to see how the developments around Identity Hosting continue to evolve…

[Update: Netlog now accepts Google FriendConnect, more on TechCrunch.]





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Why the Click Is the Right Metric for Online Ads (On Adding Value and Thinking Beyond the Display Advertising Business Model)

“…many advertisers in the past gave most of the credit for a sale or conversion — which in the web world could include anything from visiting a website to printing an online coupon — to the last ad clicked on or seen by a consumer. But that means brand-focused sites such as NYTimes.com and MarthaStewart.com and even social-media sites such as Facebook and MySpace lose credit because they are often not where a consumer will see that last ad. And when they lose credit, they lose advertisers, and when they lose ad revenue, well, you’ve read that story.

“Publishers have a lot to gain,” said Steve Kerho, VP-analytics, media and marketing optimization at Organic. Mr. Kerho has been doing lots of analysis on how online-display ads affect search and conversions and found that in some cases, a display ad can increase a search ad’s click-through rate 25% to 30%. If he had simply measured the clicks from search, he would have missed the display ads’ influence.”

Source: Adage

So… If we’d translate the above model to, say, a real world situation; that’d mean that the sales guy in the local electronics store should get a piece of the provision pie, and maybe you’re neighbourhood whiz kid should be offered a small fee too, since they were the ones that influenced you before you decided to shell out on a new bleeding-edge desktop and order it directly by mail-order, no?

Of course, the conclusion presented above is preposterous to say the least. Not giving full credit to the last click shows a lack of common sense and of everyday reality:

If we’d were to apply this model to the offline advertising industry we’d might as well start charging less for TV ads during the Super Bowl or advertisements in general, since it has never been empirically proven that said ads actually sell significantly more cars, to name but an example.

(Actually I hereby challenge thee naysayers to tell me why the fledgling automotive industry in the US can’t be saved by throwing more money against Interruption Campaigns now that the going is though… Odds are it’s because it just doesn’t work that way nowadays…)

Publishers would of course love to use such a model, since suddenly those abysmally low Click Through Rates on social networks ´d become a license to print money, yet that’s not where the problem lies: it’s about engaging with the visitors of the Facebook’s of this world if and when they feel like it, adding value to the community, giving them something to talk about or a good reason to get rid of their friends. The engagement model is a far more viable one since it makes it very clear for all stakeholders what the true value of those brand interactions are for everyone.

Conjuring op schemes to charge more for a product -display banner- that, on it’s own, has failed to truly deliver on its promise up until this very moment, is not the way forward out of this recession. The research budget would be well better spent on innovation, adding value to the visitors, strategic alliances -you name it, just do not waste it on taking undercover pot-shots at “Go -Emperor CPC- Gle” et all.

There is one thing that does ring true about the statement that a conversion shouldn’t be attributed to just the Last Click alone; and that’s the reoccurring coincidence that carefully crafted, creative Crossmedia campaigns drive word-of-mouth & website traffic, allowing for a tighter control on conversion, ánd they also have the uncanny ability to tip the Attitude scale in your Brands’ favour. A little…

It’s common sense and it’s what marketing should be all about: influencing as many factors as you can to get the prospect to turn into a consumer, making her loyal, spurring her on to buy more and in the end becoming a brand-ambassador.

The communication mix as well as the quality of your product combined with the customer centricity level of your organization all contribute to that end.

As well as a million other tiny factors (does the sun shine, did THAT girl on the train give you a smile, do you have enough money to spare, etc., etc..)

Yet, if we’d follow the philosophy of Mr. Kerho to it’s conclusion, it’d mean we’d have to split the Cost-per-Click revenue and spread the wealth over all communication channels and creatives -and not just the display banner- in order to get a somewhat “fairer” representation of value/conversion for money.

[The Adage article starts with this quote: “The great paradox of the web is that it’s an interactive medium and everything can be measured. And that’s wonderful — unless you’re measuring the wrong thing.”

I’d think what they should be stating is: The single greatest asset of the web is that it’s an interactive medium, perpetuously capable of reinventing itself. And that’s wonderful — Unless you don’t keep your feet firmly on the ground and try to look at opportunities with a positive mindset!]





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