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about online marketing

Archive for July 2011

The User is Always Right

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When you are designing a website it’s easy to fall into the trap of designing it to yourself. But you need to remember, you’ve got an audience that might not be the same as you. You need to consider your target audience and what are their interests and behavior. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Even if you’ve got a very specific audience, you still have different people! You need to consider those differences in order to try and please everyone.

Steve Mulder, in his book ‘The User is Always Right’, writes about how to understand the users goals, what are their expectations and needs. There are different techniques that can be used to find those answers, but Steve specifically talks about the use of personas in order to accomplish those things.

User-driven Experience

First, you need to focus in a user-driven experience. This means you need to design features that are going to be useful to your users, they cannot be just cool features that are sitting in your website to make it look cool. To understand what is useful you need, as said before, understand your target audience. From there, you can start creating your personas. Each persona, which can be fictional or not, consists of pictures, names and a background. In order to get those, you need a good qualitative and/or quantitative research.

Qualitative VS Quantitative

Quantitative is based on surveys and usage data. Qualitative is based on interviews and observation. Qualitative usually takes more time and it’s more expensive, but it can be worth it. You just need to know exactly what you need to make the right decision. The best way to do it is to use qualitative to get insights and quantitative to validate those insights.

Building a Persona

Usually in order to create the right personas you will first interview real people. You can start with people you know, who you have easy access. But in case you have a nice budget you can interview people on the streets in exchange for an incentive, money usually works. From those interviews you will then focus in one or more situations you need more research on. As an example, let’s say you are developing an online grocery store. From the interviews you found that a group of people like to stay healthy, therefore nutricional and ingredient information is essencial while buying. You should create personas that are motivated by that, so you make sure those people are pleased with the information and features displayed in the website.

Let’s meet Frank…

Frank, 66 from Sun City, California
Single with two adult children and three grandchildren between ages 2 and 8. Retired financial planner

Primary Goals: Find a well stocked and reliable health food website that notifies you if something is out of stock and gives you potential substitutes that you can choose if necessary.  He is involved in the organic food movement.

Motivations:  Stay fit and healthy so he can play with his grandchildren.  Wants to attract women.

Hobbies: Likes to play golf, shuffleboard, cook for his family and visitors.

Behaviors: He likes to do his big food shopping online and then buys smaller, specialty items locally.  Since he is very involved in his grandchildren’s lives, he does not always have time to get to the local stores before they close.

You need to know what is right for you

There are thons of different templates to display personas. You need to know the information you need in order to build them in a way you will have everything you need. Building personas can be fun! But you can’t forget you’re building them in order to achieve a goal, give your website a user-driven experience.

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Written by Cristina Dresch

July 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Ratings and Reviews – The Social Validation in Websites

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It’s funny how we as human beings always have the desire to fit in, to be like the crowd. Interestingly, there are studies that prove that in a social situation we will look to others to see how we should behave. It’s not considered a conscious process, since we don’t really know we are doing it. Susan M. Weinschenk, author of Neuro Web Design, calls this behavior social validation.

How to use social validation in websites

  • Tell a story – It’s easier for people to associate with others they believe they can somehow relate. Whenever you are adding rating and review, you should add a mini persona or scenario, which will help to add a narrative element to the story.
  • What do they think? What did they do? Online ratings and reviews is a feature that is becoming more and more popular, especially in ecommerce websites. Weinschenk says it affects us “most powerfully at a non-conscious level.” For this reason, ratings and reviews should always be very visible for users, whenever they are browsing the website. Another effective way to do the same is by showing what other users have bought before. If we go back to the theory of wanting to fit in the crowd, this makes a lot of sense.  But it’s always good to keep in mind that ratings and reviews can sometimes get suspicious, so make sure you use story telling also as a way of making sure the user understands that’s real.
  • Be logical – Ratings and reviews help us in a non-conscious level, but it’s also part of a rational decision. So it’s always important to include data, charts, graphs, and statistics to present the ratings in a more logical and visual way.
  • Right reviewers – It’s not only about telling a story. If you don’t have the right characters, this won’t solve any issues (it might even create bigger ones). So make sure you understand your audience and add reviewers according to that. Reviewers who can somehow connect to your potential customers.
  • Experience – You need to remember that not everyone is a contributor (remember the social technographics ladder?), so make sure to count every interaction. As an example, on Youtube, you can see the ratings but also you can see the views in each video. This will influence us to watch it, contributing to our behavior. So it’s not everything about products, it’s also about experience. Showing what other actions were performed by different users in a website can be very persuasive.

Written by Cristina Dresch

July 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM

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