Made Simpler: The Endless Debate on Return on Investment for Digital

Return on Investment is a topic I often revisit. First of all because I think it is always important to be able to provide insights in the value (Return) of Digital. Second of all since I prefer to find the simplest way for myself to discuss Return on Investment (ROI).

The Basics of ROI are Simple

Just to take you back to what I wrote earlier about ROI and which is still valid. ROI is something simple and exists for a long time. Long before Digital was entering the enterprise, people were calculating ROI for desk phones, office lease or anything else in which they could or had to invest money and wanted to know the return. ROI in itself is just a basic calculation:

ROI = (Gains – Investment) / Investment

Input is everything

Every calculation is as successful as the input that is provided. So leverage the right data and don’t fall into the trap of vanity metrics. For me Vanity Metrics are identifiable by either one of these two characteristics:

  1. You are reporting Aggregated Numbers (example: total number of users since day 1)
  2. Non Actionable Metrics (example: followers on Twitter)

Making ROI simpler to discuss

While ROI is just a calculation, you could avoid the whole debate or have an easier time presenting by making things less abstract. These are three questions you should ask and answer:

1. Does it Make Money?

Simple question, simple answer. If the answer is yes, your next question is: can you make sure it makes enough money so it is worth the investment. Based on my personal experiences: most often you can. As soon as something is making money you can start optimising and tweaking it to grow this stream of revenue. I am fully aware revenue is not profit, however if you do something new (or in a new way) and it is making more money than the old way for a similar investment you basically already did your ROI calculation.

2. Does it Save Costs?

Are the things you are doing more effective or efficient with the use Digital? Are you saving the company money on execution while not jeopardising any revenues and margins? If so, you’ve got a clear winner, since you have just lowered the overall investment while kept the gains at least similar.

3. Does it Make Customers Happy?

Paying customers are the bread and butter for most companies. Therefore if you support your customers by making them happy  via digital you are reducing the risk of them going elsewhere. Retention is a lot cheaper than acquiring new customers. Making your customers happy in order to retain them is a very smart investment with very concrete returns.

The answers on these questions are the answers to the ROI question

Remove the abstraction where possible: ROI is just a number, it is up to you to make it into something tangible. The sweet spot of course is when all three questions are answered with a ‘yes’. With two out of three you are still pretty good and even with one “yes” it still can be a no brainer to move forward. Just remove the abstraction and speak a common language with your stakeholders.


Categorized as Growth

The future of News is not just Messaging it is Conversational AI

Quartz has released it’s first news app for the iPhone. That in itself is not spectaculair, almost everybody creates apps nowadays especially news organisations. However the concept that Quartz uses is unique. Though it is not the current state of the app that gets me excited it is the next state.

Quartz for iPhone has all of that. It’s an ongoing conversation about the news, sort of like texting: We’ll send you messages, photos, GIFs, and links, and you can tap to respond when you’re interested in learning more about a topic. Each session lasts just a few minutes, so it’s perfect for the train, elevator, grocery store line, or wherever you have a spare moment to catch up on the news.

Messaging is not unique

Of course messaging is not unique. There are plenty of apps doing messaging and there are news services leveraging messaging platforms to distribute their news. For me what it makes unique is the interaction with the messages / news events.  With every message a little feedback is collected that gives you either more information on the news event or brings you to the next.

AI is coming to speak with you

Of course you don’t want to answer with standardised messages, nor do you want to have a conversation about topic you are not interested in. You want to have a  conversation  that feels more human than just pushing some buttons.

However to get there, you first have to be comfortable to be in such a situation and that is this stage of the app. It conditions you to interact in a message style with news. It might be the first time that you are doing this, so you better used to it in a comfortable way.

Though I don’t think it will stop with messaging. It might end up to be more conversational and very difficult to distinct from an actual person such as the AI presented in ‘Her’. Though before getting there it will need a lot of information and it gets that information by every response you give to a message.
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Categorized as Opinion

Tesla Summon – Disrupting the Disruptors

Self driving cars are not enough anymore, or at least that might be the line of thinking within Tesla. Why have car drive you, why not just let a car drive from A to B. Of course this might be less disruptive than it sounds. However you could imagine that it takes the burden of a lot of things. Or as Tesla themselves describe it:

Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots.

Which is brilliant of course. You could also think of a scheduling option that as soon you reach your destination and you let your Tesla to find a charging station and charge itself. Removing that burden as well. Since of course it is a needless burden to charge an intelligent car and it would make the experience a little bit more magical. If it is about saving time, summon is obvious. You could imagine that the concept of a drive-through restaurant changes in a pick up restaurant where the Tesla drives by to pick up the meal, pays by passing through sensors and gets the meal to you in a timely manner.

Disrupting the disruptors

For me this is just common sense, go from self driving with a human to completely autonomous driving to completing tasks that don’t require human assistance. However the really disruptive part would be if Teslas would become part of a smart swarm, imagine you are a Tesla owner and you have a party with 8 of your friends. Now you most likely would either go for ordering multiple (or a big) Uber of Lyft or a similar service, or go by public transport. Imagine if you could summon a backup Tesla to get you from A to B. So you can not only use your own car, you can use available cars in the group of Teslas around you. Of course there needs to be an attractive business model around this for me as a Tesla owner. However if Tesla ownership means that you can always summon and use your Tesla at the moments you need it and offer it to others when you don’t need it (and get something in return) and for others it means that they can use a Tesla even though they don’t have to own one. It might be the thing that disrupts Uber or if Uber handles smartly the one thing that even strengthens its position.

However if you don’t own a Tesla you cannot drive in it, it will drive you from A to B. The benefit from owning one, is that you can pretend you know how to drive and disregard the intelligent capabilities of your car, having the nostalgic feeling of driving a car, just like in the old days.

Categorized as shorts

The unintended consequences of innovations

In the slums of the future, virtual reality junkies satisfy their violent impulses in online entertainment. An expert player discovers that the line between games and reality is starting to fade away.

When technology is an abstraction or becomes more hidden than there can be unintended consequences. It is too easy to say that things as shown in the video below won’t happen. Though think about this: when you are working on a task on Mechanical Turk are you working to help a student with his thesis or working on a task for an oppressive regime, when entering some words to match a difficult to read text in a Captcha are you just matching something to proof you are not a bot or are you translating a book with dubious content? It is sometimes hard to discover what actually happens with your input.

We should strive to make sure these unintended consequences won’t happen. Of course not every technology will end up the be new Skynet, though as every new technology (and old technology as well) has upsides we need be wary of potential downsides as well. For me understanding the potential challenges that a new technology brings helps me to understand the potential upsides a lot better.

The short film below (Uncanny Valley) shows what could be the dark side of Virtual Reality. If the topic of unintended consequences of technology interests you I would also recommend the British television series Black Mirror which is created by Charlie Brooker.

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Categorized as shorts

Content Blocking is How the Internet is Meant To Be

Content Blocking killed the ad supported business model and even though it gets some companies in trouble. It will spur innovation and business model reinvention for content publishers. If your visitors can block whatever they want (or better phrased: whatever they don’t want), what is the thing you have to offer that is worth their time and money. Hint: it is not just better content.

Content Blocking was released in iOS9 and was presented by Apple as the following:

Use the Content Blocking extension point to give Safari a block list describing the content that you want to block while your users are browsing the web.

Which means that you can install an application on your iOS device which will block certain content in any webpage in Safari. Content only will be blocked in Safari not in other web windows that appear in other apps.

To make things clear before moving ahead:

What Content Blocking is Not

Content blocking is not new. There was a long list of ad blocking extensions available which let you block ads in your browser on your desktop. There are extensions such as Ghostery that allow you to be very specific in what you or what you don’t block. Also you could install a specific profile on your iOS device or setup a specific DNS or VPN connection to filter out content from sources you don’t like. It always has been there, the big change is that it moved out the nerd section (profiles, DNS, VPN, proxies or extensions) and got easy with just installing an app.

Second of all content blocking is not stealing. It is not taking money away from people whose content you read. It is deciding not to download certain elements on pages of publishers on your device. Office proxy servers often block already such elements (ads, tracking or platforms as a whole such as Facebook). The publisher is free to force you to have everything downloaded before reading, though you are free to not do so (and also to not consume the content).

Why this is what the Internet needed

Content blocking is what the Internet needed first of all since page size is increasing each year in almost exponential fashion. At the same time traffic is moving more and more to mobile and even though our bandwidth in general increases, it doesn’t always catch up and therefore load times increase.  Big pages consume more battery on your mobile device, big pages cannot be loaded in some cases and if you are on a bandwidth limited mobile plan you burn through your data quickly.


A content blocker makes sure that the page is being downloaded significantly faster on your mobile device. which is the key feature for me. It is not about blocking content per se, it is about speeding up the loading times and making sure content gets there faster. In this lengthy review of Ben Brooks you can see that pages are being loaded up to almost 62% faster. In this review about Crystal (one of the content blockers for iOS) on betanews it shows that bandwidth savings can be over 50% depending on the websites you are visiting. Also some of the blockers just keep you sane and block everything about the Kardashians.

Publishers should leverage Content Blockers

These numbers are not just in the interest of the user. It should be in the interest of the publisher as well. Page abandonment increase linearily in the first 4 seconds of a page visit. Which means that the longer somebody has to wait the more likely he or she drops of. After 4 seconds of waiting 25% of the people left. When shopping 40% of the people leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Why as a publisher wouldn’t you be supporting content blockers at all since it could increase your direct conversion.

Source: Kissmetrics
Source: Kissmetrics

If people prefer to use a content blocker to speed things up or to block ads you could say they are wrong. However if many people are telling you they have a problem that your platform is to slow and solved the poor experience by content blocking and you decide to ignore this, you are either stubborn or visionary. I would say most likely the first though the long term will learn me if it is the second.

Your issue is distribution, not destination

During one of the many meetings with smart people I had last year one of them drafted the issue most organisations have to be one of distribution not destination around content. Content Blocking provides a solution for distribution (getting things faster on your own terms). There are several ways to tackle this issue, especially going outside the bounds of your original destination. For example companies such as the Washington Post are using Facebook Instant articles and Wired chooses to have some exclusivity with Apple News. The companies are publishing on a platform they don’t own, but deliver maximal distribution and a very smooth and integrated content delivery integrated in the platforms.

If in the end it is wise to publish on platforms you don’t own is a whole other question. Though mixing the content across platform could be a very effective way of getting your content in front of the right audiences without having to worry about Content Blockers.  Since those won’t work in Facebook’s native application or in the Apple News app. However which content is served (such as ads or trackers) next to the content of the article is not the ultimate decision of the publisher, it is done by the platform owner.

Solve distribution, don’t block the blockers

Content blocking is something that is still relatively small now, though it is a clear signal from users that there is a demand. If users have an easy way to turn of ads and trackers and speed up the page they will do it and in some cases they are even willing to pay for an app that help them to do so. Even if they don’t pay, they are willing to go to the process of downloading an additional app to improve their overall experience. For publishers this is an important lesson to learn: it is not just about creating high quality content that people are willing to consume and / or pay for. It is about the whole experience around the content as well. If users are now optimising their own experience, it means that as a publisher you are not trying hard enough for your users.

On the long run, good content won’t be enough. A seamless, fast and non intrusive content experience will become the norm either facilitated by third party solution such as content blockers, third party platforms such as Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News or by publishers themselves after they have cleaned up their platforms and make things less bloated and privacy invasive. The content experience will improve nevertheless since the bar has been raised and content blockers have shown how great the experience can be, it is up to the publishers to accept this new reality and either be actively part of it to make the change happen or to see how they are being changed from the outside (or bypassed…).

Categorized as The Web

Always focus on behaviour instead of events when setting goals

Getting people to embrace digital, whether these are your customers or your employees is a very difficult thing to do. At least when you focus on continuous movements. It is easy to get someone to move once, just nudge them. However do you want to nudge people over and over again to ensure they don’t stop moving? I guess not, that is a lot of work and won’t scale, plus getting nudged over and over again is something that will annoy people over time.Doing things that don’t scale

Doing things that don’t scale

Of course it is important to do things that don’t scale to test your hypothesis. Therefore it is good to test if a nudge will move people and what else you could do to get people moving. This is very event driven, how to get people to do X. However at a moment in time you need to think on how to move beyond this non scalable approach and scale up rapidly. Non scalable efforts often cannot be sustained on the long term.

Remove heavy lifting from the equation

Non scalable activities are heavy lifting, or can be heavy lifting when there are a lot of these activities. The challenge is how to have the same or better results without that heavy lifting. One thing I do is by switching the goal focus. Non scalable activities are often very event driven, do X to achieve Y, where X and Y have a one on one match, or a two on one match (twice the X to achieve one Y). However what you would like to achieve is to minimise you interactions to still achieve the same outcome. To do so often you have to focus on a behavioural goal and less on a event driven goal.

Since if you can start changing behaviour from people to do Y, it will require less activities from your end to make them do Y over time. Which means that the heavy lifting will disappear for a certain group of people and the attention can be on a smaller group of people who have a harder time to make this change.

A practical example

Imagine you want your employees to create content whether these are tweets, LinkedIn updates or blog posts doesn’t really matter. If your goal is to make sure every employee creates X amount of messages in Y period of time, you are very event focused. Which means you will work to achieve X in period Y. If you want to repeat this a second time, you still have to invest the same amount of time to get your employees moving the needle in the same direction. Basically you are just hopping from time period to time period and probably have a feeling it is a Groundhog Day.

But if you change your goal to enable your employees to create X amount of messages every week, you are very behaviour focused. There is no end to this period and you want your employees to make the number of messages they produce into a habit. Something they do over and again. So instead of pushing for a number in a limited period, you are approaching this as a longer term project to change the behaviour. Which most likely implies that you have to invest more time upfront (since you have to learn people how to do X time and time again) while you will have to invest less over time since the employees will be available to repeat their learned behaviour time over time without your involvement.

How the practical example will look in theory

To illustrate the practical example a little bit more abstract, you could think of these three lines:

  1. Units of Y (messages, blog posts, bright ideas, shares, cookies) produced by a person
  2. Total investment of your time (and / or money) to make people to do Y
  3. Average investment per person to help them to do Y

If you would focus on event driven goals, than the graph would look like this:

Event driven goals

Clearly average time spend per item / action stays the same over time. Which means if you want to get twice the results, you have to invest twice the time.

If you would focus on behaviour driven goals, than the graph would look like this:

Behaviour driven goals
The average time you have to spend per item will decline over time. Since people change their behaviour you don’t have to invest the same amount of time over and over again, which means a more scalable solution.

Focus on event driven goals if you want to be busy

The graphs show that if you want to be busy: just focus on event driven goals. You have to invest the same amount of time over and over again to get people moving. So if your goal is to build up head count or to create the perception you are indispensable for doing this, just focus on events. You will get the results you want, and you still have to do the heavy lifting, it is like being a worker at the conveyor belt, doing the same trick every few minutes. Until of course a robot arrives taking your job….

Focus on behaviour driven goals if you want to get things done

If you want to move forward you cannot expect yourself to do the same thing over and over again and have to hire more people if you want to do more. You want to get things moving without your direct involvement, you want things to scale and preferably only focus on the more difficult situations in which you can really add value by getting people moving. Of course it might be clear that there is moment that everybody (or enough people) is moving, which means that you can move on to the next challenge to solve.

Thanks to Rena Patel for proof reading this piece first :).

Categorized as Growth

Four Types of Conversion to Focus on

Focusing on conversions is always easier said than done. There are so many to focus on, so how do you pick the ones that are really important for you. One approach I use is to bucket conversion in four types (and of course as the good consultant I am, I made a quadrant for you to show how). One is not better than the other, you need them all four in the end. Though at least this gives me an indication on what is working and where gaps might be.

Quadrant for conversion

Long term gains and personal connections

For me conversions on digital channels are about two things:
1. Create the start of a long-term personal connection that can lead to a business benefit
2. Or create the start of a (mutual) long-term gain that on itself can also lead to a business benefit

In the end it is always about business benefits to ensure the purpose for which the organisation was created is being served and business benefits are required both on short-term and long-term.

The four types of conversions

For me there are four buckets in which a conversion fits. Each of these buckets accomplish one or more steps leading to a business benefit. You don’t have to do them all to get to your goals, though you most likely want to use a mix to get there.


Exchanging is a really basic conversion. It is for example somebody leaving his information in a form on your website. Often this is very short-term gain (as in: a quick return) that could start leading to longer term gains. Also this aspect is not personal at all, it is somebody just handing over his data, no real connection is being created with your organisation yet.

This is the conversion you read most about it. However since it is a very short-term gain, it means that you have to repeat it over and over again to make it on the long-term and the returns are modest. So in the end you want to either move up or right in the quadrant which can lead to bigger gains.


Consuming is a nearly day-to-day behaviour, however this conversion is beyond just reading or watching content. It is about putting something on your device for consumption purposes. This can be downloading a PDF or installing an app. It is consumption in the here and now, but it especially about consumption that continues after the user has left the touch point and decides to revisit the content on his device.

This is a conversion that helps you staying top of mind of the user for a longer period than just the user’s session on your touchpoint. Being top of mind could ensure a longer term gain, since if a new issue arises at the user and you are top of mind for this issue the user might reach out to you.


Sharing is what happens on social media and of course content from your touchpoints could also be shared by your users. Leveraging other people’s audience is something that is relatively personal (the individual shares it on his social media accounts) and could provides some short-term gains such as exposure to your content or touch point to a new audience that they carry with them via their social media accounts.

This conversion creates a personal connection, even though it is initiated from the user and not necessarily answered by the organisation. The good thing is that this conversion can help you in growing your audience which in itself could help you in getting more conversions in all four buckets.


Connecting is the most personal of the four types of conversions. It is when there is a real connection between the visitor and you (or somebody else of the company). It opens the door for more than just a transaction, it opens the door for a longer term relationship.

It would be unfair to say this is the mother of all conversions. Since it isn’t. Too many people have a lot of good conversations with other people without actual business outcomes. A connection doesn’t mean a relationship and even a relationship doesn’t mean the creation of a business benefit. Though having a real connection with your stakeholders, even though it is just a digital one, could be a very valuable longtime gain. Since it would you enable to have somebody who you could share ideas and experiences with and who could do the same with you.

How you could leverage this quadrant

I would suggest to use this quadrant to map your existing conversions on these quadrants to see what works for you now. Also this mapping can help you to identify any gaps you might have in your conversions. Maybe your focus is only long-term, which means you want to add more short-term conversion or vice versa.  It could be an easy way or you to get additional insights on your performance.

Categorized as Growth

Responsive Design: There is More in Life than just Screen Size to Respond to

What we learn often with Responsive Web Design that it is all about the view port. However that is just one of the many contexts to respond to. Of course we need to make sure that content is fitting the window you use to view. Though there is more in life than the piece of glass you are looking through to view the web, the app or any other media you are viewing. For the sake of simplicity let’s focus on the Web in general for the rest of this article and let me provide with an overview of contexts you could be taking into account when building your solution.

Know the screen

responsive-design-heroYou should make sure your website is viewable in a proper way on devices. So don’t make people zoom in and zoom out, set appropriate break points and scale content to the appropriate site and reorder the elements on the page where necessary. Furthermore there is more than page size to worry about. With the rise of retina screens you should take into account the pixel ratio as well. Since if you don’t you might end up with graphics that give an unintended 8-bit experience.

Know the source

It is delusion to think that everybody goes to your website directly as it is their only goal. Most likely people will go elsewhere first and then find a way to your website. However “elsewhere” is an important guidance on what people want to do. If people come to your website via a career focused website most likely they are looking for a job, why not personalise you site on the fly to showcase career focused elements instead of your latest and greatest white paper.

Also do you know if the visitors is coming via one of your others channels to your website? If so, why even think to reset the user journey, continue the user journey from your other channel. Your user is not thinking about you as a collection of channels, he is seeing one logo and expects one experience.

Is this the first time your visitor is coming to you, or the second, third or twentieth time? Use this data to modify your site to your visitors needs. A good example is this plugin available for WordPress.

Know the connection

Serving retina images on a GPRS connection might not be the best use of time and bandwidth. Though your retina screen is great, if you don’t have the bandwidth to feed it, why even bother trying. First and foremost it is about serving the content request in a minimal acceptable way. Anticipate the bandwidth of the receiver is a good way to make sure people will really visit your webpage and don’t drop off after a few seconds.

8636543831_e54b299c0a_oThe special case is of course the case of no connection (it is rare though it happens still), can you give people an offline reading experience after they visited your website for the first time? Your offline experience should be better than the standard no connection available message of the browser. Please keep in mind that if your site cannot be reached, people will blame it on you, since the rest of the items on their device is still working.

Know the activity

A simple way to validate what people are doing at the moment is to check where they are coming from. Not only a geographic basis, but also on a hostname and network basis. This information will often disclose if they are at an office, a public space, at home or anywhere else. Based on this context you can give them an appropriate call to action or present content in a different way. For example somebody who is from the competition and he is visiting your careers section during work hours on its company network could be offered with a less aggressive page so he can still browse around and apply while his colleagues might be thinking he is doing competitive research.

Combining this data with time of day you should be able to determine if a prospect is doing research from his desk during work hours, or still late at night at home. The latter could give you the impression that urgency is high and therefore a conversion is more likely than normal.


We even didn’t not touch on the topic of sensors, since it now easier than ever to ask somebody’s location and customise the display based on this information. And if you know somebody’s location you can also determine if somebody is moving or not, on what speed somebody he is moving and also have a best guess on what mode of transport he is using during his move from A to B. This is something you can use to customise the experience since if you have the best guess that somebody is on a train (based on high-speed and the current location) you might want to consider giving him a lower bandwidth version of your website to make sure it still loads, since reception and wi-fi are often pretty poor in trains.

Know your visitor

All the previous items were really passive data collection from a user perspective. The user didn’t had to take any action to get a more responsive web experience. However why remain passive. You could ask a user to login to personalise a website. Why couldn’t you be using this authorisation to go further than just the interests of a user. Imagine you could integrate with somebody’s calendar and adjust the content based on the calendar of your user. If you notice he has a steering committee the next morning on topic X and the individual is doing research on your website, why not offer him topic X prominently. Use the data that the user is willing to provide you to create a better context and respond better to his needs.

Know the device

IMG_0723If most visitors are using an iPhone to visit your website, why not give them a more native look and feel. They are used to do it in apps, so why not extend it to your website. Also validate how they are accessing your website, are they using Safari directly or are they using an in-app version of Safari? For example if you discover that your users are using the in app Safari version of the LinkedIn App, why not remove your sharing buttons on your website. The LinkedIn in app Safari browser offers sharing buttons already and having people to click on a sharing button would most likely break their flow / user journey and take them outside the eco system they would like to be part of.

Know when you can do better

There is no such thing as “the best” channel. There is the best way to do things for somebody at a certain time in a certain context. So why not offer people a better experience when you can and when you know it will be ten times better. The challenge is on how to make this channel switch a part of the user journey without breaking it and making people leave.

If you know your check out experience is better in your app than on your mobile website. Direct people to the app, explain them they can keep a credit card on file in the app and maybe lure them there with a small discount. Especially when you know that people having the app installed will buy more frequently than people using the mobile site. It is always worth paying the acquisition fee on a short notice to benefit on the long run.

You know

All the topics I touched upon in the above article are not new and not even close to rocket science. You could be starting to do this right now. All the data is available publicly for each of the topics I have listed examples. So why only respond on screen-size, respond on context, make things personal, not just from a content angle though for a complete experience point of view.

Categorized as The Web

Your Users Hate Your Navigation

Navigation is a skill that involves the determination of position and direction. However as easy the navigation in your car might be to determine your position and your direction, as difficult is the navigation on most websites.

Those navigations are just space wasters on websites, they don’t have a real function, or better phrased: they have a function, but they are simply ignored by its users. That is of course not a mistake of the user, they have just found a better way to navigate your site than clicking through endless drop down menus, navigating mega menus or filling out forms to get somewhere they don’t know if they want to be there.

You could even consider that having the need for a navigation on your site shows something is already broken and the navigation is just trying to fix it.

Will it be good?

That question is exactly the issue that many navigations do not answer. The navigation could bring people from a point A (where they are) to an uncertain point B (something that could be their destination). As long as point B is an uncertain destination for your visitors, they will try to find a different route that gives them a higher level of certainty. There is nothing worst than getting lost or ending up somewhere you don’t want to be.

It is not about getting somewhere, it never was

Don’t think that the main purpose of your visitor to navigate as many pages as they can on your website. Do not think it is about visiting as little pages as possible. It is not about navigating at all. It is about task completion: to let people do something they want to do. It is about removing the uncertainty whether or not they can get to their task completion as quickly as possible. Not by showing a vague direction, but by showing the clear path to their goal.

Here comes the user journey

What is the purpose of your navigation? It is not about getting people from A to B, it is about helping the visitor to complete his journey. The visitor has a certain goal (“I would like to know more about X”). He has a starting point of his journey (let’s assume you are so well-known that he directly goes to your homepage, which is unlikely for most brands though) and you have a certain goal as well (“I want to have the contact details of this individual to make a sale in the end”). These three items combined form a very simplified user journey.

If you start thinking in a different way about your website and focus more on user journeys. You’ll notice that there is not a single entrance point (again: your analytics would have told you so already), which means that having a single one-size-fits-all navigation might fail you instantly. Since if the journey starts on the homepage you might need a different navigation than when the journey starts directly at the relevant page (since the user got there through Google). On the latter your might even want to consider to not display any navigation to prevent any distraction for the user.

So kill your navigation now

Seriously, don’t start killing your navigation right now. Start analysing the impact of your navigation right now. Then you will know if you have to ditch your current navigation on your website. Learn from the data what the existing user journeys look like and how you can modify your navigation, or even your website as a whole, to create a better experience throughout the user journey.

The navigation is just something that you might need to provide to help in  determination of position and direction during the user journey. It is not a mandatory item for your website all the time, since a user has not  a burning desire to be navigating all the time. Most often he just want to have task-completion.

Categorized as The Web

How much privacy are consumers willing to give up? More than you think

Why are customers reluctant to complete long forms with their details despite offering them discounts, but don’t blink an eye about sharing their whole life on Facebook? What advantage does Facebook have over your company?

The answer is fairly simple: Facebook doesn’t ask for much. It never does. It does, however, ask little questions often. Small micro tasks: update your school, where do you live, when did you met so-and-so etc. Consumers don’t even think twice about whether they should give up this information or not. They just do, because the question is asked in context and is easy to answer. And sometimes even fun when it brings up some nostalgic feeling.

Even when Facebook is not asking explicitly, consumers continue to feed the Facebook beast with data by liking content on the web or logging into applications using Facebook connect.

Here’s what you can learn from Facebook on getting customer permission to share their data freely.

  • Firstly, ask questions appropriately in a timely manner and in good context.
  • Secondly, collect data over time since life doesn’t happen all once and your customer is more than just the single transaction.
  • Thirdly, make your customers be willing to share their data. What can you do to tease out that nostalgic or happy feeling?

Finally, and most importantly, don’t freak people out by predicting their behaviour too accurately. Humans like to think they are original with free will; even if research has shown most of us are immensely predictable. Facebook can predict cheating and suicide upfront, though never warns the individuals or its loved ones about it. It even detects it before the subject knows it. But they won’t tell you about it.

Collect and predict but don’t cross the creepy line.

This article originally appeared on Beyond the Buzz : the only place you need to stay connected with to prepare for tomorrow’s next innovation.