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Business Bloggers Creed October 29, 2006

Posted by electrica in blog business tools, blog debate, blogocombat, CEO blogs, deep blogology, ecommerce blogs, Miserably Servile Customer Pampering, Visionary Leadership.
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Here’s my newly polished, never publicly revealed, and rather robust Business Bloggers Creed:

I will never use a blog for anything other than web-based communication and online community formation, for the benefit of the audience and not my company.

I understand that to step into blogging with my old clunky MBA Business As Usual mentality, is to be wearing the wrong pair of ideological shoes. I accept the fact that to blog is to transform my company’s internal culture and external presentation as a whole.

I submit to the truth that a blog cannot be an isolated experiment, it must come from a deep need and necessity to connect candidly with customers, and care for their needs.

I surrender to the judgment of my customers. If they think something sucks, then it sucks. No matter what I’d prefer to think, no matter what management tells me, no matter what my colleagues say. I promise to exalt the user over the muser, the consumer over the marketer, and the customer over the internal culture and structure.

I will help customers gain deep expertise on the products we sell and the environment in which those products are, or can be, used.

I will not attempt to pervert a blog into acting as a Business As Usual advertising, sales, or multi-level marketing machine.

I will talk more about other bloggers and business writers than I do about myself. I will put my mentors and role models in the spotlight, and be very low key and shy about my own expertise, services for sale, and client project work.

I will never display sleazy links or dubious ads, such as online gambling sites, pharmaceuticals, real estate loans, discount software, erectile misogyny dysfunction, or other typical scumbag

I will blog only about what I personally, genuinely care about.

I will never write a post with the ulterior motive of purely seeking to boost traffic, as in opportunistic topic selection, or superficial pretence of relevant substance.

I will never promote a product with paid enthusiasm.

I will never rant about things about which I don’t know shit.

I will never kiss the ass of the MSM or, in a deluded state of grandiose ego, think I need mainstream journalists for any purpose, least of all “media attention”. I don’t need corpses to clap their hands for me.

I will always side with the blogosphere against any MSM or corporate accusations.

I will only attack ideas I see as harmful, counter-productive, misanthropic, or deceptive. I will try not to attack the persons holding and advancing these errors, unless they relentlessly attack me personally. Then, I won’t fight back, I’ll simply and swiftly destroy.

I will never attack a person as a person, but will pit text against text. Even if my favorite mentor and role model says something stupid or destructive, my words will move out and defend the truth, without the slightest care about damaging a friendship.

When it comes to truth, I have no friends. I will speak my mind about anything and anybody at any time, and I can never be persuaded or constrained to do otherwise.

I will bite the hand that feeds me, if it feeds me a line of bullshit.

I will never attack my loyal allies publicly, but only send a discreet email, when I think they’ve done or said something wrong.

I will attack anything or anybody, as I see fit, with no fear and no emotional hysteria or personal animosity.

I will strive for harmony, cooperation, diversity, freedom, and compassion in the beloved blogosphere that gives us all a level playing field in terms of communication and networked interactivity.

I will be constantly strive to improve, enhance, and perfect my blog.

I will share my expertise on blogging, my product field, my personal interests, and my hobbies, with all who seek it.

I will interact with everyone equally, giving no preference to those considered wealthy, successful, or celebrities. I judge “wealth”, “success”, and “celebrity” in far different terms than the world does. I am a blogger of immaterialism and inner riches.

I will not abandon or forsake my blog, unless I have tried everything in my power to avoid quitting, but life pressures force me to do so.

I will not post material to my blog, and ignore the other bloggers out there. I will gladly and abundantly post relevant, substantial, amusing comments at as many other blogs as possible. That way, I am enriching other blogs, while coincidentally possibly attracting others to my own blog, but my primary goal is to help others succeed.

I will seek out new blogs to enjoy, and encourage new bloggers to press on to the promised land.

I will try to always be inspiring, brazen, self-confident in the pursuit of noble ideals.

I will use my blog, not to push my company, not to hype my products, but to help others solve problems, succeed in work, and enjoy a lifestyle.

I will blog because I believe in human equality, freedom, and community.

I will blog because I want to help, not because I want a narcissistic platform for personal or professional vanity and exhibitionism, or simply because it’s “cool” or “mission critical”.

I will practice and proclaim the blogo-gospel of the 9 Core Values of Blogging, Absolute Switched On User Empowerment, Universal Content Utopic, and Global Democracy Revolution.

business partners, Logitech, writing skills October 29, 2006

Posted by electrica in Uncategorized.
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I feel refreshed and inspired when I stumble upon excellant writing during a Google search. I was searching various keyphrases related to “evaluationg business partnerships”. Too many offers, too difficult to decide which are genuinely worthwhile.

I couldn’t (quickly, as all things done on the internet) find anything relevant and substantial online, dealing with how to examine, select, and partner with other business people. I want to learn what the newest, most effective ways of forming businees partnerships in the high tech realm.

One page that was very relevant, if you look at it correctly, to my interests was a page on the Logitech site: Business Proposal Submissions

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/

partners/select/US/EN,CRID=2094

By coincidence, I happen to be a satisfied customer of Logitech, so I was intriqued. They make good cheap webcams, so I figured maybe they were also smart about business ventures.

What I found was remarkable. I’m not using this post to push or hype Logitech. I’m using this post to praise their web text writer. Here is an example of fine, relaxed, informative corporate web site writing style. They just need to break up a few chunks of text into separate paragraphs, which I’ve done below, (since this is my blog, and I can edit material as I please, but I always tell you what and how I edit it.)

[QUOTE]

What types of products or technologies does Logitech usually pursue?
Logitech researches the potential of developing just about any hardware or software product related to communication between the user and the computer. Realizing the leveraging effect of our current resources, manufacturing capabilities and distribution and sales channels, we then review market trends to determine the potential future success of the proposed product.

We tend to prefer low cost, high volume, broad appeal personal computer peripherals for the consumer market which combine excellent quality and compelling design. If the technology you have developed can substantially enhance the functionality and/or appeal of any of our current products, while still maintaining a reasonable cost, then it is more likely to generate interest within Logitech.

Similarly, if the product that you developed would allow us to bring to market a new product that complements our current product line, it is also more likely to generate interest within Logitech.

What types of products or technologies does Logitech usually not pursue?
Just as it is impossible to state exactly what will interest Logitech, it is also difficult to state what we will not consider. Also, please keep in mind that while we value innovation and creativity, we must be mindful of Logitech’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall company business model.

We must also regard the fact that our development and manufacturing resources are finite. Logitech must carefully choose which products and technology it develops. In other words, while there are many good products and technologies available, not all of them are good for Logitech. There are no hard-and-fast rules for what products or technologies Logitech will or will not want to pursue, however, due to the above mentioned reasons, Logitech does not accept the following:

  • Niche Markets – low volume, higher cost products aimed at a very specific market. While we have occasionally produced, and will continue to produce, niche market products for strategic reasons, they are generally not within the scope of our business. Alternatively, they may be markets in which we have already investigated and sometimes previously produced products. Some examples of these include novelty mouse shapes/designs, devices specifically aimed at the children’s market like our Kidz Mouse, left-handed versions of our right-handed products such as our MouseMan Lefty, and finally products for the therapeutic, medical or handicapped market which we support through other avenues.
  • “Peripheral Peripherals” – products which are marketed stand-alone as an add-on to a current product. These include products such as mouse-pads, mouse “houses”, wrist-rests and speaker stands. While Logitech is unlikely to manufacture such products for you, this does not preclude bundling opportunities if you are already manufacturing the product yourself. However, these type of inquires fall outside of this business evaluation process and would be handled through our Marketing and Sales group.
  • Ergonomic Enhancing Products – Logitech designs its products with an eye towards comfort as well as aesthetics. As stated above, the ergonomic enhancing or therapeutic market is a niche market and most of the devices produced would be considered peripheral peripherals – neither of which are generally within the scope of Logitech’s business model.
  • Industrial Designs – Logitech takes pride in its innovative and unique industrial designs. While Logitech industrial designs have consistently received awards worldwide, we realize there are many other creative industrial designers external to Logitech. However as Logitech continues to evolve our unique industrial designs for future products, we must assure we are not being tainted by potentially similar design efforts. As a result, Logitech’s policy is not to accept any industrial design submissions from individuals or companies unless they were specifically solicited and presently under contract by Logitech.

If deemed by Logitech that your submission meets any or all of the above mentioned criteria, it will be rejected without further review.

A final note: By stating that Logitech does not accept products fitting the descriptions in this section, we do not mean to imply that these are bad products or technologies or that there is no market for them. It is simply that we feel that they involve business, development, manufacturing, marketing and/or distribution models which fall outside of our core business areas.

[END QUOTE]

7 challenges of CEO blogging September 17, 2006

Posted by electrica in CEO blogs, Visionary Leadership.
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(1) Conversation:

are you willing and eager to form candid, sincere relationships online with your customers? or would you prefer to NOT have to listen to their complaints, suggestions, questions, or critiques?

(2) Response:

are you willing to reply quickly to comments posted by readers? or do you want to be aloof and just post your thoughts?

(3) Dedication:

(a) are you willing to be a devoted blogger, which means reading other blogs, posting comments on other blogs, and assembling a list of blogs you like for your sidebar? or do you want to just post articles and be done with it?

(b) are you going to demonstrate your visionary zeal and experiment with podcasts, photos, sidebar enhancements, RSS/Atom feed syndication, tags, and videoblogging? or are you going to do the bare minimum, and have only a plain text blog?

(4) Courage:

are you ready to risk looking foolish, awkward, or unprepared? or do you only want to use communication tools with low risk?

(5) Understanding:

do you really grasp what the blogosphere is all about? or do you care nothing about the blog culture?

(6) Passion:

are you really enthusiastic about your industry and how your products benefit customers? or are you just an administrative type who could be heading any company?

(7) Transparency:

are you willing to be upfront about your vision and agenda? or do you have many things to hide from public scrutiny?

How to formulate a Vision for your company September 1, 2006

Posted by electrica in CEO blogs, Miserably Servile Customer Pampering, Visionary Leadership.
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I think the Vision comes from the front-line workers and the customers, which is then absorbed and crystallized by the Leader.

The Leader is not the only Visionary, and if the Vision comes only from the Leader, the Vision will not correspond to the reality of the sales situation and the needs of your customers.

The Leader sets the Example, more than formulating or enforcing the Vision.

The Leader gets in-depth information about customer needs, organizational capabilities, and where the Future will likely be.

A customer-based Vision will always beat an organization-based Delusion. The prime example of this is the automobile industry.

The housing market is providing another lesson. Huge, hard to heat and air condition, stereotypical  $300,000 homes in America have been all the rage.

Until lately. Now the trend seems to be headed to more modest, compact, simple accomodations.

Displaying wealth with items that deplete it is beginning to be seen as a type of consumer insanity.

Anticipation of the future must be derived from a true sense of customer needs evolution, where the trends are headed, not where you think they should be, to favor what you’re already doing or wanting to sell.

We must stoop to conquer.

Stoop, get low, humble, bend down and converse with customers, let them define what we sell, rather than the Old Economy of telling customers what they should desire.

Back to Vision, the Leader should not only get it from the customers, sales staff, and service rep input…he/she should gather, crystallize, and then set the example.

I worked once for a telemarketing firm. One day the CEO came up, with his brother, from Texas. Young guys, late 20s. I had a problem, and I went to their office to seek advice. They were playing cards and pretty much blew me off with, “Hey, it’s a numbers game. Just keep calling.”

No solution to my problem. I quit the next day.

They should have been on the phones, demonstrating how it’s done.

That’s how you motivate your employees: get down there and show them how to do it. Don’t just tell them: “This is the Vision. You will now obey and implement it. I have spoken.”

I’m sure you aren’t like this, but many are. They are trapped in the old, outmoded, discredited Command and Control mentality.

It’s now Converse and Comply.

Converse with customers to know their real needs. Converse with sales staff to know the real benefits of product and demands of consumers. Converse with support staff to know the real logistics of serving the customers and helping sales to function. Converse with service department to know the real weaknesses and defects of products.

Comply with all this data, develop everything based on this rich and relevant input.

That seems to me how Vision is formulated.

Not “where do we want to be in 10 years?” Rather: “where are customer needs today and where are they likely to be in 10 years?”

That’s your Vision.

Maintain Multiple Blogs at Different Hosts August 28, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, emergency communications channel.
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After publishing my latest post at Vaspers the Grate web usability/videocasting blog, I attempted to navigate to it. For the first time in my life, I got a DoND (denial of navigational destination) from Google, who hosts the Blogspot server at which Vaspers resides:

[QUOTE]

Server Error

The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.Please try again in 30 seconds.

[END QUOTE]

This is one of my reasons for maintaining blogs at different hosts. If Blogger goes down, is unaccessible, for scheduled maintainence or unexpected technical problems, I have an alternate location on the web.

I have told my Vaspers the Grate blog readers to come over here if there is any access problem at Blogger. Well, here I am again, using this blog as an emergency communication transmission platform.

Let this post be a lesson for you. Maintain multiple blogs, even if you use one as flagship and primary online community hub. Try to update the other, alternate host blog at least once per week so it doesn’t appear to be abandoned.

Be sure to encourage your flagship blog readers to jot down, make note of your alt blog address. If the flagship blog server goes down, obviously, your readers will not be able to click on the alt blog link in your flagship blog sidebar.

Brand Loyalty Online August 27, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog business tools, blog debate, blogocombat, brand loyalty online, CEO blogs, ecommerce blogs, online marketing.
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Brand loyalty can occur online when your web presence satisfies real user needs and interests. If your brand is represented online by a site that enables customers to interact, to ask questions, voice complaints, and offer suggestions, your customers will experience increased devotion to your brand.

As consumers flock to such web attractions as video sharing at YouTube or the blogging platform of MySpace, Blogger, and WordPress, they expect more functionalities at all sites. Plain text digital journals are giving way to multi hyper media blogs that feature photos, podcasts, RSS syndication, email alert subscriptions, customized search engines, surveys, video player embeds, and video VoIP chat.

To build brand loyalty online, keep providing frequently updated information, relevant news, how-to tips, simple explanations, interesting data, and advanced interactive functionalities.

The sooner you begin experimenting with multi hyper media blogging, the faster you’ll establish a strong position of communication technology leadership in the mind of your customers. Vision, zeal, and expertise are conveyed by harnessing the new tools with great boldness, tenacity, and exploratory passion.

Begin now to harness the power of these new tools. If you do it with relevance, benefit, finesse, and strong entertainment value, you’ll gain substantial competitive advantage by increasing your brand loyalty online.

new marketing practices and attention scarcity August 25, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, Miserably Servile Customer Pampering, online marketing.
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In his Edge Perspectives post “Mastering the New Marketing Practices“, business book author John Hagel III (co-author of Net Gain), says there are 3 major business economic shifts changing the marketing environment.

New marketing practices need to firmly based on the following upheavals:

(1) From scarce shelf space…to scarce consumer attention.

(2) From economies of scale in production…to economies of scope in customer relationships.

(3) From passive indoctrination and compulsive consumption to active participation and informed negotiation.

Consumers are aggressively informing, and defiantly arguing with, each other about products, rather than obediently absorbing ad messages.

Consumers are providing massive input into the production and distribution of goods they used to have no say about. Choices are based on vendor comparisons and user reviews, more than official marketing and sales promotions.

User generated content and consumer-producer-distributor hybrids are ruling the waves of commerce, turning the tide away from mass unilateral marketing to customized need sastisfaction.

Attention is now the commodity that is an endangered species. Web surfers, blog readers, video posters…everybody is busy moving and creating and consuming as fast as they can. We have all engaged in simultaneous online chat, blog commenting, mp3 downloading, and music listening.

Now the challenge is to stand out in the midst of competitive enticements, user-environment distractions, and extreme multi-tasking.

We must meet Scarcity of Attention with Rarity of Relevant Content. Astonish. Over-gratify. Satiate. Shock your market and industry with extreme excellance, unimaginable creativity, and super profound professionalism.

In other words, we must work to produce, based on customer needs and opinion input, a product that goes off the scale with style, sensibility, and satisfaction. A valuable and desirable enhancement of the user’s life, safety, productivity, prestige, ease, and pleasure. A must have for the clued in. A mandatory accessory for the enlightened.
[QUOTE]

While there is a broad recognition among marketers that attention scarcity is becoming a big issue, the response has been increasing desperation to get some of that scarce attention. Intrusive ads are appearing in more and more places – projected in lights on the sides of buildings at night, plastered on the sides of farm animals in fields and running on video displays above urinals.

Rather than just focusing on how to get attention, vendors might also want to consider how they can help their customers receive attention that is important to them and not just from the vendor, but from others that matter to the customers.

Vendors also tend to commoditize attention, viewing attention as a fungible good that can be bought and sold.

Successfully attracting attention requires an understanding that attention is highly context sensitive – it is both deeply personal and social at the same time. Attention is deeply embedded in, and shaped by, relationships. These relationships are not static, but increasingly dynamic. The key challenge and opportunity for vendors is how to participate in, and enrich, these relationships in order to construct more value for their customers and to amplify the value of attention.

Vendors also narrow the focus very quickly from attention to intention, asking “how can we more effectively intercept people who have already formed an intent to buy?” The missed opportunity is how to engage the attention of customers at a more fundamental level in ways that create more value for the customers and for the vendor.

Finally, vendors tend to develop a narrow focus on new, network-enabled marketing tools like blogs, wikis, virtual communities and social networks, treating them like a checklist to be deployed like artillery in a military campaign – “yes, we’ve set up some blogs.”

Few of them systematically ask how these tools might be used to increase return on attention for customers. Even fewer ask who else already has deployed these tools and how they might help their customers find and connect to these resources and perhaps where they might participate in existing environments in ways that provide more return on attention.

[END QUOTE]

It takes more than setting up blogs, podcasts, and video to generate attention and build customer loyalty. You need to have an underlying reason for all this new technology. “Because XYZ Company is doing it” is the worst reason on earth. You better be doing it for the benefit of your customers.

Complaints. Suggestions. Advice. Requests. Questions. Insight. Anecdotes.

Your customers can provide all this great input for the advancement of your corporation. But you have to be willing to listen, learn, and implement.

User Observation Testing: Forms and Procedures August 24, 2006

Posted by electrica in blog evaluation, user observation tests, web analysis, web usability.
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User Observation Testing: Forms and Procedures for an Information-Driven Web Sites

by Steven Streight

The W.D. Boyce Council of the Boy Scouts of America was concerned about their staff Web site. Complaints from users indicated that the site might have some usability problems. The W.D. Boyce web development committee decided to revise the design of the site, but wanted to identify usability deficiencies prior to the re-design.

As a new volunteer member of the committee, my responsibility consisted of advising the committee on usability and textual content issues. Here was my opportunity to make a significant contribution of expertise.

I suggested that my usability team observe typical users interacting with the Web site. Watching actual users attempt to accomplish tasks at the Web site would enable us to pinpoint specific usability problems. After I explained how a user observation test could be conducted, and what would be required of test subjects and testing facilities, the committee gave me the go-ahead.

www.wdboyce.org is an information-driven, text-dominant Web site, with relatively complex information architecture. Vital information is often buried in non-obvious locations, requiring users to embark on “linking expeditions” (site navigation-enabled information hunts) that are frustrating and time-consuming. Users are confronted with redundant links (differently labeled links that lead to same content), pseudo-redundant links (similarly labeled links that lead to very different content), and faulty link nomenclature (link labels that are vague or inaccurate).

The organization wants its staff leaders and volunteers to use the site as their primary source of organization news, policy statements, activity updates, and forms to download to reduce paper and postage costs for the organization.

W.D. Boyce web committee members understood how web text must be formatted differently from print media. Readers of books, magazine articles, and personal letters, for example, tend to read in sequential order, from beginning to end. Some passages may be skipped over, but print reading is far more linear (straight line from point A to point B, etc., to point Z) than web viewing. It’s a mistake to think that web users will interact with Web site text the same way they consume print media text.

The sheer abundance of online material, and the free and easy access to it, contributes to users racing through Web sites, even relevant ones, until they spot the exact material they want. Unfortunately, most of the text on the site was in a “print read” format.

To convert the print read text to “web scan” text, I proposed using the following techniques:

  • Shorter paragraphs
  • Copy chunking, with intrasite hypertext links
  • Bulleted and numbered lists replacing dense text blocks
  • More descriptive heads and subheads
  • Underlining of hypertext links
  • Selected and non-selected hypertext link color differentiation (blue for unselected, not yet visited links; purple for selected, already visited links)
  • Elimination of unnecessary articles and superfluous words

The committee also agreed that a Site Index and some Multiple User-Segmented Site Maps (suggested paths through the site, based on user type) might be a good addition. It’s suspected that users experience confusion upon arriving at the site. It’s not clear where a specific type of user (leader, volunteer, donor, parent, or sponsor) should go in the site, nor where certain items are found, e.g., application forms for an upcoming event.

However, even with these enhancements, the site was still considered to be in need of a complete overhaul. To get our bearings for the construction of the new site, a User Observation Test was conducted on the current site. What follows are the forms and procedures we used.

Those who are new to web usability analysis, or those who are familiar only with certain aspects, may see something clarified that was previously mysterious.

The first thing we needed to do was recruit volunteers to be test subjects.

Computer Skills Level Telesurvey

We wanted two low level, two intermediate, and two high level computer skills users in the test. Test subjects were phoned and qualified by a Computer Skills Level Telesurvey. There is no strict “If, then” methodology for this. It’s more like “If, probably,” as in: “If [such and such is true], probably [the user is at this skills level].”

The questions we used were:

  • What they generally used a computer for, with ten suggested uses, from email only (LOW) to professional IT occupational work (HIGH).
  • How they found Web sites to visit, from magazines with lists of hot sites (LOW) to multiple specialized search engines (HIGH).
  • How they primarily navigated a Web site, from navbars and main menu link listings (LOW) to site maps and advanced search boxes (HIGH).
  • How much time they spent on the computer, from less than one hour a day (LOW) to more than three hours a day (HIGH).
  • What is their main usage of a computer, from pleasure or entertainment (LOW) to professional online forums and discussion lists (HIGH).
  • What skills level they perceive themselves to be at, from novice to computer expert.
  • What are their favorite Web sites, open ended, with AOL, Yahoo, eBay, amazon.com being ranked LOW to Slashdot, Wired News, and wikipedia being ranked HIGH. (Note: this is no reflection on the quality or professionalism of the Web sites so tagged. Low skills users tend to visit more popular, high traffic sites, while high skills users tend to visit more technical, specialized sites.)

Introductory Remarks to Test Subjects

Test subjects were thanked for coming. They were emphatically reassured that this evaluation was not to determine their intelligence or computer savvy, but to determine the efficiency and usability of the Web site. Gourmet deli cold cut sandwiches were available: easy to feast upon, not messy. Cans of cold soda were also provided.

Subjects were tested one at a time. Although the surveys were intended for post-test purposes, subjects filled out two of them while waiting to be tested, to decrease the amount of time they had to spend in this process. While the System Usability Scale Questionnaire had to be filled out after the usability test, whether the other surveys were filled out before or after the test was not a vital concern.

User Observation Test Procedures

Subjects were asked to sit in front of a computer monitor displaying the Home Page of the Web site being tested.

They were given a list of ten site task assignments. The test administrator read each assignment to the subject, prior to the subject performing the task; to be sure he understood what to do. When the administrator said, “Go,” a stopwatch was activated and the task performance was timed to one hundredth of a second.

Video recording of the testing is recommended, but was not available in this case. The administrator took notes on how the subject attempted to accomplish each task, what links were followed, what navigation tools were utilized, and what comments were made.

When it was apparent that a subject was exasperated and would not be able to complete a task, the administrator said, “Give up? That’s okay. This one’s a tough one. Here’s how you can find this.” Test subjects were shown a site path leading to the information.

The administrator engaged in silent, non-invasive observation. No assistance was given, but, to keep the test from being emotionally cold and inhuman, friendly comments were made, such as: “It probably should have its own link on the Home Page” or “That’s good thinking, but the site regretfully wasn’t designed that way.”

One test subject pulled the monitor closer to him due to his poor vision. Another was a bit awkward with the mouse; he kept clicking the right click mechanism or pushing down on the mouse wheel, thereby activating unexpected functions. In this case, the administrator intervened, informing the subject of his operational errors.

Link Strategy Survey

This questionnaire was designed to take the place of “card sorting,” in which the user arranges cards with link labels or page section titles printed on them, to convey the desired information architecture for a Web site.

Labels of top navbars, left column main menu links, and bottom of page text links are presented. Users are told, for example, “A top navbar is a horizontal navigation tool that runs across an upper region of the Home Page. Here are the links in that navbar. What information would you expect to be provided by these links?” Space is provided for them to describe what they think should be in those links.

We also listed links we are considering adding to the left column main menu. Test subjects were asked to check mark those they agreed should be included. They were also asked if they paid much attention to bottom of page text links. We asked them if they thought they’d use a “Search This Site” search engine text entry box. Finally, we asked them, “For what purpose do you primarily use this Web site?”

Site Satisfaction Survey

This questionnaire, which determines if the Web site is meeting the organization’s goals, was prefaced with, “Tell us what you really think, not what you assume we may be hoping to hear.” Test subjects were asked:

  • Do you consider this Web site to be your #1 source of organization news, information, and forms?
  • Would you prefer another source for these things, and what would that be? (Email was mentioned by a test subject.)
  • Do you consider quick and easy access to organization news and information to be important?
  • Do you use your computer much, or visit other Web sites? Multiple choices ranging from “No…or I rarely visit _______ sites” to “Yes, online shopping” and “Yes, at my job I do computer work or visit Web sites.”
  • Average time you spend on the computer: ______ hours per day.
  • What does this Web site do best? Not do a very good job at?
  • What could be done to improve this Web site?
  • Was anything missing from this Web site? Please specify.
  • Any comments you’d care to make about this Web site testing program?

System Usability Scale Questionnaire

The final form we asked test subjects to fill out is our modified version of the Digital Equipment Company Ltd. System Usability Scale (SUS) Scale, which is in the public domain. We modified this scale to accommodate Web sites. In its original version, it’s designed for assessing any software or hardware system. It can be seen at www.usabilitynet.org under Home > Tools & Methods (bottom text link) > Established Questionnaires > SUS.

Our modified version of this questionnaire, which is strongly recommended for usability tests of Web sites, is available via email to anyone who contacts me to request it.

Conclusion

Now the hard part begins: compiling the results into a concise report for the organization. Provide the organization with a brief explanation of test methodology, a summary of the test results, and a prioritized list of recommended actions to take, based on the test results.

Let the organization know that no Web site is perfect. New web norms are being established at high-popularity sites. Current users are improving their skills and expecting advanced functionalities. New web users are continually logging onto the net landscape.

All these facts point to the reality that both the World Wide Web and the collective pool of users are constantly changing. Thus, usability evaluation should be a periodic, ongoing process, not a one time event.

How To Compose Hypertext Links August 23, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, hypertext, link strategy, web usability.
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Hypertext links!

They take you to further elaborations and substantiating sources. They transport you to new, connected ideas. They fling you into strange, hopefully beneficial, environments.

And all you have to do is click on (select) them.

Click.

Bang!

You’re gone.

Hello!

You’re somewhere else.

To return to where you were before, usually all you have to do is click on the Back button of your browser.

Hypertext: text that lifts you off one spot, and carries you to another.

The new internet location is called the link destination. Links are subject to change and cannot be considered permanent, even though permalink is the term used to refer to the URL (web address) of a specific blog post or article.
Link rot is a term that refers to broken links, links that no longer lead to the same destination, due to a page or file being moved or deleted.

Linking strategies are based on how the mind operates by associating one thing with another. Actually, any thought could theoretically be linked to any other thought.

Good linking means connecting ideas in a way that’s beneficial for users and relevant to the topic of discussion.

So, how do you compose them?

What text should be “linked verbiage”?

How do you decide what words and phrases should be make “clickable”?

(Actually the better term is “selectable,” since some users don’t use a mouse, but enter keyboard commands, voice activation, etc., to select an item.)

Guidelines for Composing Hypertext Links:

1. Write your regular text. DO NOT add keywords just to boost search engine rankings. Forget about SEO as you create your post.

2. Look at key words and phrases in your text.

3. Determine which key words and phrases should be clarified for your readers. Or what ideas your readers might want to pursue further.

Or which words and phrases carry vital information that users can skim and understand in a hurry.

4. Turn those key words and phrases, or those ideas, into hypertext links.

5. Try to keep phrases short, two or three words, if possible.

6. If you want people to find your blog or web site by typing key words and phrases into a search engine, your hypertext links must be made according to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles.

SEO can help your site appear at the top of the heap of search engine results when users seek web sites in your field of endeavor.

7. Search Engine spiders hunger for fresh, dense, relevant content, with quality inbound and outbound links.

Make sure the wording contained in the links is relevant to the content of your site, and the language and interests of users.

Don’t overdo it, because the Search Engine spiders don’t like fraudulent attempts to trick them. If fact, they are repulsed by “keyword spamming,”  or “spamdexing”: using a word or phrase repeatedly in a ridiculous, too frequent manner, on a web page.

In this site, I could turn words like “usability,” “hypertext,” “blogs,” and other industry terms, into hypertext links.

8. NEVER use “click here” as a link. These words contain no relevant content for users or SEO spiders. Your links must be scannable, so people in a hurry can glance at your text and surmise what it’s about.

“Click Here” contains no information about what the link is or where it goes.

Instead of “click here”, ask yourself: “click here for what?” The “what” is the link text. If the “for what” is, for example, comparisons of web cams under $300.00, what I put in bold is the link text.

Check out the chart of comparisons of web cams under $300.00.

Learn how to improve web text scannability.

There are many more examples of linked verbiage that can guide your content writing.

CEO can create personalized contact with customers via video blogging, or vlogging.We must learn to prevent comment spam.

A related story on business podcasting success is at Podomatic blog.
Check Usability of Your Hypertext Links

Once you’ve converted key words and phrases of regular text into hypertext links, click on (select) each one of them, to make sure they work.

Never assume you typed in the URLs correctly.

Never assume the URLs will never be altered (by webmasters changing the archiving system, for example, though URLs as a rule should never be changed for any reason). Click on those links and see if they take you to the desired destination.

CEOs and blogocombat: an introduction August 8, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, blog debate, blogocombat, CEO blogs, CEO Videos, deep blogology, Video Blogging.
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As a hardcore blogger and web consultant, I have to engage in a variety of online debate. I call it “blogocombat”, even when I enter discussions in phone conversations or email. This contending for a point of view or set of facts is mandatory behavior. You cannot forge into the future with a paranoid or passive attitude. You must be aggressive.

But how aggressive? In what styles?

A CEO cannot do his or her company any favor by appearing to be a wimp, chump, or weakling online. The opposite extreme would be a bellicose bully, an arrogant jerk who pummels anyone who comes close.

The best, and perhaps only, way to master diplomatic but strong online debate is to spend some time observing the seasoned pros who already have the battle scars and missing limbs to prove they are veterans of the digital realm wars.

There are controversies galore in the blogosphere and vlogosphere. Google a few search terms like Net Neutrality, Comment Moderation, Fictional Character Blogs, or any aspect of blogging you are interested in right now. See what kinds of argumentation are going on, for you will surely see web pages with confrontational titles.

Watch how Mark Cuban, Seth Godin, Richard Edelman, Shel Israel, Tom Peters, or Robert Scoble respond to harsh critique, unfair assumption, and wild accusation. Study their tone and word choice. Watch how often they jump into heated discussions within their blogs or at the blogs of others.

Some say a blog is a party that anyone can join and do whatever they want. Others caution us that a blog is a livingroom of a home, and you better be polite, civil, and calm. I think CEO blogs must be prepared for intelligent, sophisticated criticism as well as more emotional, less dignified attack.

Don’t shy away from the blogosphere, due to fear of flamers.

Show courage and visionary leadership, a credibility based on brave experimentation, by juming into the blogosphere, come what may. The simple act of just starting a blog will be seen by many in your industry as being forward thinking and technologically savvy.

Better yet, start a vlog or video blog.

I’ll try posting a couple of my better videos here, as an example. Most of my video experiments are failures, but I have a fine comedy video and a neat professional instruction film on CEO video blogging.

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