Designers Often Overestimate Users’ Abilties

Jakob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox post “Bridging the Designer-User Gap” is almost a follow up to the “Myth of the Genius Designer” which I consider one of my favorites from him.

Red emphasis mine.
….There’s a big gap between designers and the majority of users. …. Generally, if you’re a member of a design team, you are not representative of the target audience. I don’t care if you’re the interaction designer, the graphics artist, the information architect, the writer, the programmer, or the marketer. All of these people:

know too much about the product (be it a website, intranet, application, phone, whatever);
are too skilled in using computers and the Web in general; and
care too much about their own baby (so they can’t imaging visitors bouncing after scanning the homepage for 30 seconds — but that’s what outside users do).

– Jakob Nielsen

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Double Dipping – The Case for Two Viral Marketing Strategies

>>Special Thanks to Brennan White for this answer: Brennan is Founder of Pandemic Labs and writes the Pandemic Blog which brings knowledge of social media marketing, experience with social networks and experience with professional media creation together for clients.

Scott Clark asked Me The Following Question:

“Malcolm Gladwell, Elihu Katz, Paul Lazarsfeld, Ed Keller and Jon Berry subscribe to versions of the theory that each marketing message flows through two stages – to influencers first, and then to the masses. Followers in the marketing industry therefore spend lots of money targeting those influencers. Duncan Watts has stimulated a lot of discussion and debate by publishing research[pdf] and arguing (well) that such starts with a random set of people, and then spreads in a more organic way – so we should spread messages to the masses (at least the receptive ones) in order to improve viral penetration. Which theory do you subscribe to? What modes of Internet Marketing (multiple or single) would best fit these theories? Is there a hybrid theory that makes more sense? ”

As is usually the case in my experience, the answer to this question lies somewhere in the middle. That is to say in this instance that both extremes are effective to some degree, but the most effective strategy involves aspects of each theory. In this particular case, the hybrid argument is made stronger by the fact that accomplishing one “extreme” effectively will actually “double dip” and accomplish the other extreme as well thereby erasing the distinction between the extremes almost entirely.
To start, it is inarguably worthwhile to have the attention of traditional influencers. One mention from Oprah can “put you on the map” and change your business. A mention will almost definitely create additional blog discussion and a longer “shelf life” of the buzz surrounding your product. In my experience, these are all good things.
The difference that a lot of “old-school” marketing and PR folks seem to be missing is that Oprah, the Wall Street Journal and your local paper, are no longer the key influencers that everyone needs to target to build effective buzz for their business. A mention of your new technology offering by Engadget can drive as many views as a mention from the traditional media and those views come from micro-targeted individuals. For example, an Engadget mention will drive people interested in technology to your site, rather than people just interested in overall business in general as would a WSJ mention. It is clear that, while the WSJ provides some targeting of buzz, internet sites generally are more specific and more tightly targeted. Additionally, due to prevalence of blogs, wikis and the like, the number of influencers has become more numerous and your job of contacting them has gotten much easier.

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Lessons in Customer Service and Selling Emotion

Lighting Store in the Dark About True Cost of Arcane Policies
I recently went to get my hair cut at one of the most Mayberry-like barber shops you’ve ever seen. It’s the Facebook of the 1950s, stuck in time, the chairs are original. The smiles are authentic. Conversations filled the air. It was a pretty day, and the place was busy.

A person I know well was there with her child, and was talking about how she recently bought a lighting fixture . Once it was up, she didn’t like it. It just didn’t look right when they held it up in it’s proposed location. She it back to the store in original condition. That’s when the trouble started.

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Google Automatic Matching Beta = Pay, Spray and Pray?

They say playing the lottery is a “special tax” for the “math challenged.” I think that’s true. In the search world Google’s new Automatic Matching setup is a special tax on the uninformed advertiser.

What I’m hearing about the new Google Automatic Matching beta is that they will look at unspent funds in your account, and “spend it for you” on terms its algorithms deem appropriate. I blew this off at first thinking it sounded like a rumor, but am now hearing more buzz about it.

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Google, Circa 1925

Offering to answer any reasonable question telephoned to its office, a firm dealing in general information has been set up in New York City.

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Stop Waiting for SEO Heroes and Make Great Stuff

I have six professional heroes presently – and I don’t mind sharing. In random order, they are:

Seth Godin – For telling me to quit dead ends and focus on being the best.
Edward Tufte – Guided me into information design, recognizing and avoiding chartjunk, and telling stories visually.
Jakob Nielson – For telling it like it is even when it’s totally unpopular.
Richard Florida – For drawing attention to what drives creative people.
Steve Wozniak – For his approachable demeanor as well as the desire to spread knowledge.
Steve Jobs – For his relentless passion to innovate.

I’ve met Florida, Tufte, Jobs and Wozniak. If only for a moment (they wouldn’t remember me.) I had no trouble making the list above. It came to me in 3 minutes. Each have contributed through a career of hard work with a real passion to improve things.

Have any heroes emerged in the SEO world? Should we expect it? As I sat in a meeting recently all eyes were on me to save the business. My answers about content creation, social media, and slow, steady growth were not superhero answers. Some are looking for the cape crusader to save old-school companies with new marketing feats of awe. People start looking for a mild-mannered SEO to burst from the phone booth and fix the problem. I don’t know why.

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“SEO Building Permits” – An SEO’s Presence Throughout A Design Project can Prevent Expensive Tear-Outs

We can draw a parallel between SEO advice and building permitting. Pressures placed on any web development project can cause marketing goals to be conveniently ignored, just like marketing goals, building codes and standards. Paid search ends up the beneficiary when an “un-optimizable” site results.

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Voters Seek Neutral Ground for Learning about Candidates – Skip Candidate Websites

With increased Internet use and widespread broadband connectivity, the shift from old to new media is influencing the way people participate in elections, according to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Not since John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated in front of 70 million new television watchers in 1960 have we seen such a change in political media. A wave of changes brought on by Web sites, blogs and social media is being led by the 18- to 30-year-old demographic and is spreading to reach Americans of all ages and backgrounds.

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Why Punish Customers for Finding Bugs?

Omnistar Tell-a-Friend’s hosted services have page not found problems. No problem. When I point it out through their support system, they send me to fill out forms. Reminds me of lost luggage booths at airports. “Our system is broken, but you still have to pay the price.”

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Pride in Your Work

When you take pride in your work, it shows. Sometimes, it’s downright artistic. These guys take pride in the work. What’s more, almost nobody will ever see it. This is behind the scenes cabling that makes things like this website work. Anyone can pull wire, but only certain people can make it look like a masterpiece.

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another two photos after the break

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Startup CEOs, or Those Considering It: Do not miss this.

Rand Fishkin of SEOMOZ gives a well-articulated list of advice for start-up CEOs. I think it applies to all types of CEOs, team leaders, and in some cases consultants. Go read the list…. which includes: You need: A Voracious Appetite for Knowledge Seeing the Good in Everyone Caring About More than Money And some specific…

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RSS, Meet Television

With the release of Samsung’s RSS-enabled televisions at CES, new thoughts emerge about how the RSS standard, overlayed on the HDTV space could change the way we watch TV and surf the web. Could this mechanism be the saving grace for advertisers wanting to reach the dwindling audience with relevant, custom-tuned screen overlays that learn as you use them?

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Kentucky Brain Drain Not Solvable With Old-School Ideas

Today the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce released the “New Agenda” list today: “100 of the most compelling suggestions to share with the state and its elected leaders. The selections were made based on viability, financial feasibility, the time needed to implement, innovation and vision, and impact.” I’m wondering where the Creative Class fits into it all, and if anyone has thought about how important that is.

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Domain Name Kiting Victimizes Businesses

There’s a buzz today about domain name kiting (tasting) – the practice of snagging names (for whatever reason) but putting them “back” before you have to pay for them. It’s not new, but to my blog readers it might be. Domain Names are serious business. And where there’s serious money, there are some shady operations.

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Who’s Your Site For, Anyway?

Bill Dotson called out a great article about professional service firms. It’s spot on about how such firms approach their website. They want the partners in the firm to like it – after all, partners agree on the marketing budget, so why not get them involved in the design? Surely someone who works day-in and…

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Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

MSNBC/BusinessWeek recently published Gene Marks’ Tech ‘Solutions’ Your Small Biz Can’t Use where he seems to dismiss “all things internet” and debunks “highfalutin software and gadgets aim to help you run your company.” The comments shred the article, and are very interesting to read.

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