Sitegeist Blog - Beiträge vom February, 2010

Game changers: links and economics

Friday, 26. February 2010 8:08

In the space of a decade, the thinking around how to attain (and measure) success online has changed.

We used to count ‘hits’. But a hit was defined as a file download – a file request on you server (not a visit) – and so image-heavy web pages – containing 10 or 20 or more image files – racked up the stats. The measure was meaningless.

It’s all about unique visitors now.

We used to talk about time on site. It’s still an interesting measure, but not always in the way we might imagine. Time on some pages is good. Time on other pages might be bad.

If your page is the ‘verify your purchase’ page within your shopping cart, a user glancing over everything and moving on is ideal. 5 seconds. Maybe 10. If that page is taking up 30 seconds or 1 minute of your customers’ time, it might be an alarm bell masquerading as a compelling page.

But here’s proof positive that the game has really changed. I recently stumbled across an article called The Economics of Surfing (PDF 45kb), written by Adar and Huberman in 2000 for (I love this journal title) the Quarterly Journal of Electronic Commerce (Vol 1, No 3).

The basic argument in the article is that if your site has multiple pathways to the same end point (which it should), then users are putting different values on getting to that point. If I click once, that’s ok. But if I click 3 times, I’ve paid a higher price (where cost=time) for the information or content or sale or whatever.

So the thing the user wants varies in value, and actually becomes more valuable (to the user) the longer the user traverses your site to reach it.

Check this:

“One can construct a web site that changes its link structure to lengthen the path traversed by a given user, thereby making him visit many more pages. For example, if there is a short route (in the number of clicks) to a given page, one may wish to turn that off if the user is likely to visit more pages in between.”

The Economics of Surfing, p 5

Make a user visit ‘many more pages’ and they’ll value your site more highly. Ha!

At the heart of web use is the demand for speed. Don’t waste our time is the online mantra (unless I want my time wasted, of course…).

I recently posted about possible moves by Google to change their algorithm to reward faster web pages. People want stuff…fast! And while a web page’s load time is not the same as a site-wide search for information, Adar and Huberman’s thesis remains astonishing for its lack of insight into what web users demand: Speed and precision.

Or am I being too harsh. Is this criticism just 20-20 hindsight? Were we different? Did we want to click and surf and play and browse more in 2000 than we do now, a decade later? If so, why?

Has the game really changed, or is it us?

Thema: Being bad, Trends, User focus | Kommentare (29) | Author:

Apple iPad and the future of the book

Friday, 12. February 2010 8:34

With the announcement a week or two back of the iPad (great name, guys), thoughts again turn to the e-reader.

The Kindle, launched in 2007, was the first big-name foray into the e-book reader space, and – if electronic book readers finally really take off on the back on the iPad – it’s set to be a revolution in both publishing and reading as shattering as the invention of the printing press around 1440.

Hyperbole? Yeah, maybe.

Although if Apple’s track record with established production and distribution methods (think iTunes and the music industry) and with owning a nascent market (‘iPod’ now equals ‘mp3 player’ in the same way that Walkman, Rollerblade, Hoover, Xerox and Kleenex all once became synonymous with their product class), is anything to go by, the iPad will at once popularise e-book readers and redefine the e-book marketplace.

If I ran a newspaper, and I wasn’t already terrified about the future, I would be now.

So what about actual books? I’m not talking about literary forms, such as the novel or poetry. I mean the actual physical paper-based artefact?

Well, who knows? I bought a brand new vinyl LP last year, so old formats can still survive technological revolutions. [Having said that, I quickly digitised the record and now listen to it almost exclusively as mp3 files…]

As for the book, some folks out there obviously think there’s a mid-point between old-skool print and the ephemeral digital age.

And if this concept video from Japanese mobile phone innovation crowd Mobile Art Lab is anything to go by, I say, bring on the hybrid!

Thema: Being good, Trends | Comments Off | Author: