BBC’s new homepage

February 29, 2008

The BBC have launched their much blogged about, widget based, drag & drop homepage this week.

I gave it a once over while still in beta and my opinion hasn’t changed. I love it!

It’s a fantastic design job and so easy to use. It’s obviously had a usability agency all over it to ensure it meets the needs of as many users as possible too.

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Oh dear, I keep seeing stories like this warning of the inherent security risks in web 2.0 sites.

Yes, Facebook etc can be used to launch attacks or lure unsuspecting users to pages which contain malicious code but the stories I’m seeing keep talking about companies being put off implementing their own web 2.0 features by this.

Don’t let it put you off; architect it properly, monitor it and input to the conversation so you know whats going on and you should keep abreast of any issues.

If you’re planning another Facebook though then maybe try putting security at the heart of it 😉

Travel 2.0 article

February 19, 2008

Hat tip to Joe Buhler (who’s excellent blog is here) for the heads up about this excellent article on Travel 2.0 from Booz, Allen & Hamilton.

It gets straight to the point of the matter by identifying that travel providers need to adapt to give their users a personalised buying experience that gives all the reassurance of speaking face to face with a travel agent while at the same time securing the best revenues for inventory. The ability to size up a website visitor and instantly offer them a tailored experience which meets their needs and offers them products they will be attracted to is seen as a kind of holy grail in the e-commerce world. Travel could be the industry to get that right as most companies have a wealth of data and understanding of their consumers which can be used to segment and target their offering more effectively. CRM based e-commerce is the way forwards (in my opinion), have a relationship with your visitors and let them know that so they feel special (and more inclined to buy with you).

A tough task, but the article goes on to rightly hint that the technology is now in place to allow this.

Another salient point from the article is that the large players operate pretty much on price alone with very little to differentiate them otherwise. Consumers are getting pickier now and this kind of approach won’t work for much longer unless you have the user experience to match.

In my opinion the only thing holding the industry back from breaking this new customer focused way of selling is a lack of foresight and a nervousness which prevents them going the extra mile to offer the all out personalised, segmented buying experience. It won’t be long though until someone breaks the mould and comes up with something truly engaging which also ticks all the commercial boxes.

Throw in semantic technologies and you will have a ground breaking web experience to offer…

Great article! Go give it a read!

How do you say Web 2.0?

February 4, 2008

Oh, please tell me this isn’t a real blog post from the BBC discussing how you should say Web 2.0…

It is? My, some people have far too much time on their hands… However, if language interests you at all then this may actually be of interest.

Hat tip to Josh at Read Write Web for his write up regarding this link that I’d never come across before. It’s a demo of an analytics tool aimed at web 2.0 and AJAX websites.

With the death of the page view as the all important metric of the analyst there has appeared a need to be able to measure users engagement with a website rather than just how many pages they viewed.

The rise of AJAX has been a major player in this with whole websites sometimes being a single screen which makes many calls to databases and servers in order to refresh itself multiple times in a users visit. Thus devaluing the page view completely.

The demo shows a novel way to gauge a users engagement by measuring in time how long segments of the page stay in the browser viewing pane. This isn’t perfect by a long way but it’s a sign of how analytics tools will have to work in the future as websites get more difficult to measure and marketeers and management get more demanding in their hunt for data to help understand their users.

Also really interesting is the demo of a tool to measure users engagement with a banner advert. I can’t wait till metrics like this exist as they may help marketers see that throwing money into display advertising is not the way forward anymore.

What I’d really like to see is mouse interaction data on pages as well. It surely is possible to collect the data on the X and Y coordinates and it’s a good hint as to what area of the screen a user is actually focused on (users tend to hover the mouse over what interests them). It’s great to know that the item you’re interested in is within view but how do you know that users are actually looking at it? Short of installing eyetracking as defacto in PC’s we may never answer questions like that!

Most interesting as ever as Trendsspotting goes out to ask some of the web’s bloggers, influencers and experts to name their upcoming trends of 2008.

Surprised to see no mention of knowledge exchange, I (personally) think that with the rise of the knowledge worker the next logical step is a rise in services that enable and enhance the share of knowledge and intellectual resources, perhaps the birth of the oft mused about (real) knowledge networks… Also very surprised only one person mentioned semantic web as ‘in’ for 2008…

Great post from Jakob Nielsen on the dangers of going web 2.0 crazy from a usability point of view!

Highly poingant as we’re implementing a lot of AJAX at the moment. Overkill is deadly and could trash your conversion rate. Keep it minimal, useful, effective (AJAX is great for some things, pointless for others), simple, usable and give clear instructions where needed.

I agree with his pitch on user generated content as well. Pointless if your audience/customers aren’t ready for it or if you have nothing interesting for them to talk about (that said, great in an emotive environment such as online travel if used wisely).