Multivariate testing

Posted in Audience Development, Business, content, Data, Online, SEO by solle on 31/03/2009

Time to revisit econsultancy’s list of multivariate testing tools written by Ashley Friedlein in 2007.

Checking over Ashley’s list to see who’s still in business with a relevant offering (and who’s been snapped up by a competitor):

Specific multivariate / multivariable / split testing tools and services:

Adlucent – a variety of testing tools including landing page optimisation

Google Website Optimizer – Google has kindly released a 26 page Techie Guide to Google Website Optimizer which everyone has no excuse not to take a look at to get you started

Memetrics – is now part of Accenture’s Digital Optimization Marketing Sciences

Offermatica – is now Omniture’s Test & Target

Optimost – is now Interwoven Optimost offering a wide range of testing services

SiteSpect – a variety of testing tools

SplitAnalyzer – $129, online demo available, immediate download

TaguchiNow – free webinar available

Vertster – free demo available

Site conversion optimisation solutions (typically continuous learning approach):

[x+1] – with its Predictive Optimization Engine

Kefta – recently purchased by Acxiom

Maxymiser – selection of products

Touch Clarity (Omniture)

ATG Campaign Optimizer

Wunderloop – international offering

And from the article’s comments:

Amadesa – range of tools including form and cart optimisation

Clickdensity – more of a usability toolkit including heatmaps (see my data visualisation round up)

Sokel Choicepoints (site itself looks like it needs ‘optimising’)

Mixpanel – a range of tools

Plenty there to choose from. Obviously anyone new to this who wants to get their hands dirty should start off with Google’s Optimiser tool.


naming and shaming

Posted in Business, content, Data, forms, Online by solle on 16/03/2009

here begins the naming and shaming of organisations that after you enter extensive personal details etc on their website they immediately email back to you the password you have just entered (and confirmed) unencrypted for anyone to see.


Passwords look pretty damn scary in plain text.

First up (and many more to follow):

1. StepStone Solutions with responsibility for Channel 4’s recruitment are the first guilty party (appalling, they even sent a reminder with the naked password repeated a week later)

2. Lastminute

3. Be

4. EventBrite

5. Live Nation

6. Grazr

7. Sky News

8. AddThis

9. The Daily Express

10. Harringey Library (in regard to wi-fi)

11. British Library (in regard to wi-fi)

12. Daily Star

13. Serph

14. Newscred

15. Days Out Guide

16. Fused Network

17. Wired.com

Audience Development

Posted in Business, content, links, Online, Twitter by solle on 10/03/2009

Notes from a recent presentation (the link to the presentation is at the foot of the post):

Audience development – pivotal to success

Audience Development is split between retaining satisfied customers and growing the customer base.

customer acquisition


manage SEO of all pages taking into consideration current best practice

by order of importance

on page:

  • <title> tag
  • Keyword frequency and density
  • Keyword in headings
  • Keyword in document name
  • Meta name description
  • Meta name keywords

off page:

  • Link anchor text contains keyword
  • More backlinks (higher PageRank)
  • Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
  • Page assessed as a hub
  • Page assessed as an authority
  • Link velocity (rate at which changes)

and remember

  • Balance paid & organic listings
  • Blended/universal results
  • Search term research & targeting
  • Ensure site design is search friendly
  • Avoid duplicate content & multiple site issues
  • Get authoritative mentions online by going beyond Linkbait

(thanks Dave Chaffey)

and then work on the 77 tips found here


network with SEO and audience development professionals to keep abreast of current best practice and innovations within the sector

make sure you are on Linkedin and join the

audience development group
Digital Publishing Network
LinkedSEO Group

make sure you are on

Twitter and follow the right people


run inhouse guerilla SEO best practice workshops in collaboration with marketing departments for content teams and front-end development

for content teams look no further than presenting the
BASIC principles of online journalism

for development teams look no further than running through point one


develop content sharing partnerships with third parties

research your sector and communicate with competitors direct and indirect and any other sites with similar content

start non-commercial content sharing by linking to each other’s content

remember – the link is king



ensure that you link from your content

remember – it’s a conversation

the web conversation should have no walls

build up links

tools and people that can help

Yahoo Buzz

and Twitter Tools


manage Social Media reputation:

embrace trends such as microblogging tool Twitter as access to new audiences and method of communicating with existing audience

“Dell believe $1m worth of business from Twitter”

Twitter Tools

PleaseRT.me and Retweetist – retweeting tools
Filttr – filtering Twitter
beamagpie – advertising
Twist – trends
twilert – email alerts
Pingvine and Twitterfeed– RSS aggregator


For content/news sites: every morning email a list of keywords to be used in titles and intros for the day’s content Google Trends and Google Keyword Search

customer retention


strengthen culture where customer retention is as important and vital to the business as customer acquisition

customer feedback should be viewed as some of the most important data available

involve all employees in positive and negative feedback

from it all employees will learn

what is important
what is relevant
what can be done to make positive change


customer retention is an ongoing conversation and that conversation requires managing and developing day to day

get to know your customers

beta groups
customer feedback roundtables
user testing
outbound calling

involve all departments including marketing, product and contact centre to develop a better understanding of customer’s needs and requirements


action customer feedback and develop further customer loyalty


feedback to customer the positive changes you have made


increase online dialogue with customers with a willingness and courage to publish and share concerns, questions, grievances


continually test important areas of the site using no/low-cost tools and action feedback into site enhancements/tweaks/BAU improvements

Website Grader
Web accessibility tools
Userfly and Feedbackarmy – User testing
Yahoo Site Explorer
Silverback – Guerilla user testing
Chalkmark, Treejack, OptimalSort at Optimal Workshop


create ‘User Experience team’ with existing members of staff to place the user voice into decisions

even if the team is only of ‘one’ a lot can be done


Leah Buley’s How to be a UX Team of One


reputation management: monitor the web for discussion (positive/negative) and proactively re-act

set yourself up with the monitoring tools for Twitter


Google Alerts
Trackur (+ free guide)

(Audience Development presentation on Slideshare)

or download a PDF of it

Online Form Innovation Awards

Posted in Business, content, Data, ideas, information architecture, Online by solle on 23/01/2009

Last year I was moved to create the Online Form Innovation Awards after the experience of too many bad experiences and grave disappointments with online forms (the tip over the edge was an appallingly laid out Microsoft Word document masquerading as a form for another online innovation awards).

The fact is that this isn’t a rare occurrence – we come up against bad online (and offline) forms pretty much every day – a day doesn’t seem to go by without me noticing someone in my network Twittering a moan/frustration about a form. It’s shocking that so many of them are quite as bad as they are (irrespective of the efforts of form gurus like Luke Wroblewski and Caroline Jarrett).

Most websites, whether they be transactional, service or community contain some type of form that requires filling in either to receive a service, join up to the site or buy something. And time and time again users are confronted with difficult and complex forms that often give them no idea about their progress, feedback if something has gone wrong or even a little ‘form furniture’ to offer helpful links. These forms test resolve, infuriate and often have a significant and long-lasting detrimental effect on the associated brand or website.

So. Rather than be negative and create some celebration of the bad I thought it would be much better to invite a list of respected practitioners to judge and celebrate the best examples of the online form with the intention of creating a valuable resource centre for the many aspects, requirements, examples, best practices, and professional guidance for the online form.

The Online Form Innovation Awards have two purposes:

A to yearly hold an ‘Online Form Innovation Awards’ to highlight current innovation, style, usability, accessibility and strong conversion in online forms such as signup, application, or purchase.

B to build a reference library and forum of best practice for anyone online looking to understand, learn, discover, and share knowledge regarding the many variations of the online form.

The idea is to invite anyone to put forward or nominate any online form on their or any other website that they think deserves reference (ie signup, application, purchase) before a selection of judges with the intention of highlighting present innovation, style, usability, accessibility and strong conversion.

The judges in 2009 are a varied selection of web professionals, media consultants, online entrepreneurs and writers working in design, technology, theory, interaction, usability and accessibility:

Nico Macdonald writer, researcher and consultant working in media, technology and society. Spy

Lisa Halabi head of usability at Webcredible, one of the leading usability and accessibility consultancies in London. She’s a founding member of the UK Usability Professionals Association and an advocate for all things user-centered. She’s appeared on BBC Radio and ZD Net and contributes regularly to magazines like Marketing Week, Internet World, Computer Weekly, NMA and Travolution.

Richard Sedley Director of the cScape Customer Engagement Unit (CEU), a collective of online specialists drawn from multiple companies and offering clients a single source for the best in online marketing. Richard is also a columnist for Customer Magazine and Course Director in Social Media for the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In February 2008 he co-authored the book Winners and Losers in a Troubled Economy which looks at how companies can engage customers online to gain competitive advantage during a recession.

Luke Wroblewski Principal/Founder, LukeW Ideation & Design

Sid Yadav is a web entrepreneur based out of Queenstown, New Zealand. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Nincha, a stealth startup, and creator of Memiary, an easy-to-use online pocket diary. Previously, Sid founded and edited Rev2.org, a blog covering web apps and services.

Oliver Reichenstein is a Swiss interaction designer living in Tokyo. iA

Caroline Jarratt is a usability consultant who specialises in forms, surveys, and tuning content of government and non-profit web sites. She is co-author of Forms that work: designing web forms for usability (foreword by Steve Krug). Effortmark

Joshua Kaufman is an interaction designer and user experience consultant living in San Francisco. He can be found at unraveled.

The first awards are open for entry now and will close on the 31 March 2009. The winners will be selected and notified on 24 April 2009. Rosenfeld Media have kindly supplied three copies of Luke Wroblewski’s book Filling in the Blanks to be given to three selected winners.

Please visit the site and make a suggestion. Feel free to make suggestions of further resources, links and relevant websites. If you would like to write something or offer up any research paper it would be gratefully received.

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In defense of the Financial Services Authority

Posted in Business by solle on 20/12/2008

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) continues to receive a lot of criticism ranging from being ineffectual in its remit, incompetent in charge of great responsibility, being knee deep in middle managers and having preposterously lengthy guidelines and manuals – and the condemnation has been especially vocal during these trying and difficult ‘credit crunch’ times.

Now some of this opprobrium might be correct but I believe things would be a darn sight worse without them. I mean what a job to attempt to keep some of the most wealthy and powerful people and companies in line.

It’s almost the impossible job.

Everyone is going to hate you, moan about you, criticise you, and generally bemoan your very existence. And then when you do act and serve up some unpleasant regulation and investigation medicine everyone is going to accuse you of being one step from the Third Reich.

It’s a battleground out there.

It seems that many people in the City hark back, with almost tearful sentimentality, to the regulation bodies before the advent of the FSA when guidelines were squeezed into slim ‘brochureware-style’ publications advocating that everyone “act responsibly” and encouraging self-monitoring.

Now that’s fine and dandy for the handful of responsible and honourable operators in the City and beyond but really it doesn’t do for the majority. How does self-regulation protect Mr Smith et al?

It doesn’t and never has and never will.

At least the FSA is trying to protect Mr Smith et al. For this they should always be supported. They also protect firms that fall under its regulation (obviously the ones that play by the rules – and the rules really aren’t that problematic for honest firms just a little buried in reams and reams of paperwork).

In a world of Bernard Madoff, Lehman Brothers, Matthew Devlin (seems like there’s a new one everyday) and the subprime mortgage crisis who really believes anything but the strictest regulation will do.

I really believe it has come to pass. There is no other choice and you really cannot have one rule for some and other rules for others.

It may seem like a dissident voice (and I’m neither a compliance professional nor a financial services professional) but I offer my support to the Financial Services Authority.

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Jason Fried gets real

Posted in Business, Leadership by solle on 24/11/2008

Everyone – I mean everyone – who is working in any way on anything related to online from the new start to the oldest hand should listen to Jason Fried’s (37signals) presentation at the recent IDEA 2008 conference  – the recording of which can be found a third or so of the way down this Boxes and Arrows page.

Most folk who have come across Jason know how good he is but even though I am aware of 37signals and I use its products, until I listened to his spot at above and played it to a few of my colleagues I wasn’t aware of how he could become a real force in doing business in a new way.

Meetings: 1 person having an hour long meeting is an hour of productivity wasted, 2 people having an hour meeting is 2 hours lost, 3 people &etc

Offices: Majority of productive work done early in the morning, at night and over the weekend. no one is productive in an office environment

Remote working: To be a success no need to be in the same office, in fact far preferable to not be in same space

Trust/Respect: If you trust your employees then they will respect you. obviously but rarely practiced.

You can also watch a bunch of his appearances on Google Video

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