“Now which way do we go..”

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.

Fortunately, there was only one real option in the Land of Oz. Of course, turning  back was also an option…

Unfortunately, most web experiences are not that simple. And today Facebook integrated more options, more nomenclature into its offering.

Facebook introduced Community pages today which will smell and look like its regular pages except with one major difference. If a Page gets more than a few thousand fans, it will automatically become a Community page.

But wait, whats even the difference between that and a “Discussion” or that and “Wall.” While it might be obvious to the more experienced users, they all feel similar and sound the same. It feels as if Facebook is just introducing any new functionality it can develop.

Sure, they have been successful, but one has to wonder if they are testing any of these features or even names of the features with their users.

Feels as if they are just throwing a lot of stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.

Many books have been written about the power of simplicity and ‘paradox of choice.’

Who knows? Maybe I have it all wrong and most people think my attempt to design a simple looking blog was a failure.

But at the end of the day, I still support the KISS approach.

Keep – It – Simple and Simple.

So here are some guidelines:

  • When launching a new site, blog, community or Fan Page, start simple and offer only a few features at first.
  • Slowly introduce new features (and feature names) to the site
  • Track user behavior and compare it to what users say they are doing (ah, the old ‘Say-Do’ ratio — sometimes what we say and do are very different)
  • Track what you expected the user to do vs. what they actually did – a good example is when a user searches on word, did they then click on one of the top results (expected result) or exit the side (unexpected site) or type in another word (expected cause they are refining their search or unexpected because you were sure they would find what they were looking for the first time)
  • Compare the navigational words on the page and throughout the site – and ask users if they make sense or if they seem too similar (groups vs. community vs. discussions)
  • Conduct focus groups or talk to different types of users — the novice, the experienced user,  etc.

Final note:

Lots of research has been done about when there exists a fork in the road (or for that matter many different options, users freeze and don’t make a decision. In fact, they ususally just end ujp leaving the site. I would like to know from Facebook (and maybe you know the answer this) how active ‘fans’ are after their first time engaging on Fan Page or in a Group. Or how many users click on both a Wall and a Discussion page on one Fan Page.

(This has given me an idea for my next blog topic: Why isn’t anyone tracking recentcy and frequency for users on one Fan Page or Group…)

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