James Royal-Lawson


20 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 3-5, 2011)

This edition’s collection of links includes posts related to: Eye tracking and user testing, Intranets, UX, usability and web strategy, SEO, and web development.

User experience, usability & web strategy

Good usability makes a website

This one quote from the article pretty much says enough: “Usability testing is no longer a nice to have but essential to the success of any website.” – if anything, design is the “nice to have” if you are forced to choose.

Should web writers and UX designers use “click here”?

From a usability perspective, we’ve been trying to get web editors to avoid “read more” and “click here” for years. But, for sales links (rather than “resource links”) you get more clicks – which means potentially more conversions.

If you were going to design Flattr’s sign-up process, is this how you’d do it?

Via his blog post and the comments Harry Brignull has, in effect, crowd-sourced the improvement of not only Flattr’s website (their tactics), but also the entire way they are going about building their business (their strategy). This blog post could be the point where Flattr’s tide turned….

A Dead-Simple Change That Increased Our Conversion Rate by Over 250%

Forget your big-bang entire-site redesigns. Let’s tinker more. Small changes can make massive differences; with often very little cost or negative impact on other aspects of your site. In this example, just the wording on a button was changed.

The Right Way to Introduce a New Feature

There are some really bad examples of how to highlight a new feature, but this example from LinkedIn is one of the good one; as Erin explains in blog post.

FAQs as “Lucky Bags”… how not to improve the marketing power of your website

If a question is frequently asked, then obviously it’s important to your users and deserves more loving care than to be consigned to the depths of a FAQ dumped in a lonely corner of your site.

Social media

Guide to Twitter

This blog post in Swedish by Helen Alfvegren is an excellent and exhaustive guide to Twitter. If you are Swedish and thinking of diving in (as a company or an individual), or if you have dabbled but not really got into it – then take a look at this guide.

The Pros and Cons of Merging Your Facebook Page and Place

Some pros and cons with merging a Facebook Place with a Facebook Page. Note that we’re talking about merging here, not associating. You should associate all of your places with your business – but not necessarily merge them.

Search engine optimisation

Findability, SEO, And The Searcher Experience

Although lots of SEO is aimed at optimising for machines, you’ve got to remember the human side too – the search experience.

7 ways to make SMO work in the post-Google age

Ok, I know the writer is just trying to practice what he’s preaching, but “post-Google age” and “SEO is fading away”. Oh please. If you ignore silliness, this article is a good read. SEO isn’t going away, neither is Google any time soon – and SMO (Social media optimisation) and SEO are partners, not enemies.

BBC to cut online budget by 25%

A 25% cut is never fun, lots of things will have to disappear… But let’s focus on the positives. Buried away at the bottom of this article is the gem: “The corporation also said it wanted to double the number of referrals to external websites to 22 million each month by 2013/14.” The more link-love available from the BBC the better for the rest of us I say!


What would you want from an introduction to Intranets book?

Kristian has kicked-off a collaborative project to write a book that gives you an introduction to intranets. The list of topics suggested would take the book well beyond an introduction, but refined and produced in multiple languages it could be a really good resource. Plenty of internationally respected names within the world of Intranets have commented on the post. The introduction to intranets site officially launches tomorrow.

What is a social intranet or an intranet 2.0 ?

Some common sense thrown onto the social intranet hype. Quote: “Forget the word social intranet or intranet 2.0. It’s an intranet. Period. The place where the whole organization can meet, exchange, work.”

How NOT to use Yammer: Ragan offers prime example

An amusing insight into Ragan’s first day of using Yammer. I don’t agree with all of the “tips”. What you see here is a reflection of their company culture; not Yammer/whatever social collaboration platform you fancy. Too many rules will kill it off. It’s a cultural change; manage that change – don’t write a rule book.

Survey of 10,000 Yammer Users Reveals Benefits of Enterprise Social Networking

Yes it’s a Yammer survey of Yammer users – but if you can just replace “Yammer” with “Social collaboration” and the figures will still ring true. Yammer is just an example of how such collaborative tools and features as part of a company’s intranet can change behaviour and, ultimately, how effective an organisation is.

Mobile devices are personal devices (and what this means for enterprise apps)

James points out that mobile devices are personal devices – in the context of intranets this not only gives us a whole load of exciting (and useful) opportunities, but also a few challenges – the way we deal with content and services internally needs to change (you even could say “grow up”) in order to make the most of what mobile intranets can offer.

How to Make Paper Communication Productive With QR Codes

Printing in the work-place isn’t going to vanish any time soon – QR Codes though could really help link the paper world with the digital work. There’s lots of potential uses in a working environment, many of them outlines in this post.

Web dev

Google APIs & Developer Products periodic table

Geek-heaven. A periodic table of Google API and developer products. You could lose yourself in this for years. Even non-geeks can do nothing to help be impressed by the sheer range and quantity of what Google offers.

Eye tracking & user testing

User testing: How to recruit the right participants, as it won’t happen by chance!

Recruiting people to take part in testing is an art-form. One of my least favourite tasks. Here’s some tips from James Breeze and the objective Digital crew down under.

AGENCY GUIDE: How to Implement Eye Tracking & Usability

A partcularly useful post this one – some tips from Simple Usability on how to go about including usability testing (and Eye tracking in particular) in your projects – and some tips on how to sell it in to clients.

Facebook Places: how to set who can see you

Facebook Places is continuing to roll-out across the world. Today it was launched in the nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. To help you maintain a bit of control over your information and who gets to see where you’ve checked into I’ve created this guide.

Control your visibility

Not everyone wants the entire world to see where they are. You might not even want all of your “friends” to see. Perhaps you don’t want your parents to know which bar you’ve checked into – perhaps you don’t want your work colleagues to know where you frequent outside of work – or the opposite, you don’t want to bore friends with work-related check-ins.

Here’s a guide of what to do:

1. Edit your friends

First of all we need to visit the edit friends page.

2. Create a list

On the edit friends page you need to click on the + Create a list button. This will bring up a box where you can enter a name for your list (I’ve used “You can see me” – but feel free to choose your own!) and then select the friends you want to add to your new list.

Select all of the friends who you want to be able to see when you check-in with Facebook Places. Obviously, make sure anyone you don’t want to see your location isn’t selected.

3. Privacy settings

Now we need to navigate our way to the Privacy settings page. On that page find and click on the link that says Customise settings. We’re going to alter a couple of things here, but whilst you’re here I’d recommend you give all of your sharing settings a check and make sure you’re not sharing more than you want to.

4. Turn off “People here now”

Amongst the things I share collection of settings you’ll find one called Include me in ‘People here now’ after I check in. Uncheck this box.

Leaving this box ticked means that anyone who happens to be checked in at the same location as you will be able to see that you are there – even if they aren’t friends with you and irrespective of any other privacy settings.

5. Custom settings for Places I check in to

Click on the little drop down to the right of Places I check in to. In the drop down list find and click on Custom. This will open a Custom privacy settings box.

In the drop down to the right of These people select Specific people. In the box that has appeared directly below, type the name of the list you create earlier. In my case that’s You can see me. Then Save setting.

Job done!

Now the only people who can see where you have checked in to are the people on your “You can see me” list.

No matter what your reasons are, by following the method above and controlling privacy settings using lists, you can easily and simply manage who sees your Facebook location based activities via the Edit friends page.

Adding new friends

Remember when you get a new friend on Facebook that you need to add them to the You can see me list if you want them to see your check-ins. This is easily done at the time you add someone, but can also be done from the edit friends page.

The future

Hopefully at some point Facebook will add the ability to customise the privacy setting on the fly – like they do with status updates via the web site. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high.

Update: 20110831

Did you hold your breath? Facebook have update their permissions handling again. As part of those changes they’ve altered how you check-in to places. You can now select a location for each update – pretty much what I described in the future paragraph above.

It’s still a good idea to have a “you can see me” group as I’ve described above, but rather than give that group specific permissions you would now choose that group directly from the status update box before you post.

11 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 50-52, 2010)

Generations 2010: What different generations do online

Useful chart from Pew Internet showing how the spread of Internet activities varies across six different generations. One thing I find particularly interesting (mainly as I wrote about this in my december newsletter) is how virtual worlds are the least common activity across all ages. Equally as interesting is that email and search are the top activities across the entire age span. Isn’t email supposed to be dying?

College Students on the Web

Yet another excellent Alertbox study. Myth busting or opinion confirming – for me it’s mainly confirms what I’ve seen and already believed. One of the critical things here is that this behaviour is almost certainly going to follow with them into their working lives.

Your Website Only Needs One Social Share Button

As usual, it depends on your audience. A lot of sites would benefit from having a share button for one service (eg Facebook or Twitter) rather than several. One of the more interesting points raised here is one of: above the fold or below the fold. Placing the button above the fold is an advert, placing it below the fold is a call-to-share. Having both, for one service, would a good balance.

User Expectations with Mobile Apps – Catching up with EffectiveUI

What have we let happen as an industry when 73% of mobile app users say they expect a company’s mobile app to be easier to use than its website? We’ve created a world with complicated, cluttered, unusable, inaccessable, desktop web sites. All hail the mobile web if it continues to turn that oil-tanker around.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page

Despite it’s lack of references and supporting research, this is a good guide and reminder of how you should build landing pages – dare to be focused!

Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping

I’ve never been a big fan of detailed wireframes – this article gives some of the reasons – I do though like sketching (often using “wireframes”) and then prototyping (and prototyping can take a number of different forms) with functional (and design) requirements/prerequisites naturally part of that early process. One size doesn’t fit all though…

7 YouTube Marketing Facts you Need to Understand

Another great guide from Jesper – and i’m not saying that just because of number 7 on his list! This guide isn’t limited to marketing facts, it’s really an A-Z guide taking you from the initial strategy decision through to page management.

The State of the Blogosphere 2010

Brian Solis gives this year’s round up of the state of the blogosphere. Creation in the form of blogging lives on, but curation is playing an increasingly important role and expect more services catering for curators to pop up during 2011.

Industry Voices make 2011 predictions

Some content management industry expert predictions for 2011. They are spot on with most of the trends, but i’ll reserve judgement on how much those trends develop during 2011. Some of them I really do hope take off…

5 tips for a great intranet strategy

You could snobbily say that Mark is stating the obvious regarding intranet strategy – but despite many of us knowing that this is what you should be doing, it still doesn’t get done. 5 tips filled with wisdom from British Telecom’s intranet manager Mark Morrell.

Planning for Collaboration in a Growing Business

If you plan to grow, then make sure you plan for collaboration early. This is the same advice for many of the (digital) aspects of a small business. It doesn’t take much extra effort to plan things early on so that they will scale much easier if (and when) you grow.

5 Valuable takes from Airlines use of Facebook – the “snow fog story”

Second featured article from Jesper this week, who is supposed to be on his way to Texas for a Christmas break. He was mixed up in the whole pre-Christmas transport weather thing – it has though given him a great opportunity to gather some Facebook insights regarding customer service in crisis situations based on personal experience.

Are Facebook pages half as effective as before?

Here in Sweden, we’re getting close to semlor season again, so I made my first post of the new season to my Facebook semlor page. This page is not just an outlet for my love of these tasty seasonal Swedish delights, but also my test-bed for Facebook.

Huge fall in impressions

Towards the end of last season each status update I made was receiving around about 60,000 impressions (the page had about 12,000 fans at the time).

Screenshot from Facebook showing the number of impressions for each update

The first post of this season earlier this week received just 23,000 impressions and the page had 13,000 fans. What’s happened? Did everyone suddenly stop using Facebook at some point during the summer?

Well, perhaps. Around a third of semlor fans though are active on Facebook at the moment, but looking at the old Facebook Page insights I can see that page views almost halved after august the 25th. This is when Facebook (apparently) made a change to their algorithm that calculates what appears in people’s news stream. Apparently, Facebook Pages were knocked down a notch, and it appears to be true.

Admittedly, the number of impressions could be affected by the page being “dormant” for half a year (the “off season”), but nothing I’ve read indicates that the frequency of status updates are part of Facebook’s ranking algorithm.

Graph taken from Facebook insights showing a noticeable drop after August 25th 2010

Less than half as effective?

So basically, what we can say is that Facebook pages seem to be about a third as effective as they were pre-august 2010, half at best. If you have maintained the same level of page activity this means that, in monetary terms, Facebook as a marketing channel has become three times more expensive per customer reached.

What to do?

EdgeRank is the name of Facebook’s ranking algorithm. It’s based on the affinity between you and the content creator (interactions over time), weight (the total number of likes and comments for the update, likes and comments by your friends will push this higher), and recency (the time elapsed since the update was posted).

The best thing to do in order to maximise the chances of your page’s update making it into people’s news feeds (top news) is to publish updates that actively encourage interaction. The more fans that like or comment on your update, the more chance that your next update will be shown amongst their top news items.

No interaction; no visibility.

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 42-43, 2010)

Information Architecture 101: Techniques and Best Practices

A great “briefing paper” from Six Revisions, intending to raise awareness of the discipline with designers.

Mental Models

The latest Alertbox post covers what users think they know and how that affects their behaviour. Users, designers and developers all have differing mental models. You need to work with conformity not against it, and gently adjust the mental models of your visitors and users.

10 essential usability guidelines for websites

If every website followed the ten points in this list, i’d suddenly have hardly anything to complain about any more. Well, perhaps not *hardly* anything – more like “less”.

How Yammer Won Over 80% of the Fortune 500

Yammer boasts that 80% of the Fortune 500 use Yammer. I wonder how many of those 400 companies have adopted Yammer as their official, or main, collaboration platform?

How I learnt to stop worrying and love enterprise microblogging

Nice case describing how Yammer took flight at AXA Australia in just the few months since August.

Information flow part 3: Why persistent links are important

I’m really enjoying Kristian’s series of posts about aspects of his work over the last couple with the intranet at Region Västra Götland. This particular post goes into the details of how they’ve tried to deal with managing URLs and links across multiple systems.

How we improved our intranet search experience

Luke describes how they implemented and tweaked their Intranet search (using a Google Search Appliance). Some good lessons-learned and insights that anyone dealing with intranet search can make use of.

Report: iPad Is an Enterprise IT Triple-Threat

The headline talks about iPad (and thereby iSO) but the report concludes that Android and HTML5 should also be prioritised. I’m going one step further than Forrester and saying prioritise HTML5 and Android. Plan for mobile/wireless working and plan soon.

How Google tested Google Instant

An insight into how Google tests it’s products (before launch in this case). What I find interesting is that normally Google uses eye tracking whilst testing. It gives them real data to work with. In this case, Google Instant, they chose not to. Why? I suspect they did try, but realised that far too many people were spending too much time looking down at the keyboard whilst typing – and not looking at their instantly-changing search results.

How Facebook Decides What To Put In Your News Feed – These 10 Secrets Reveal All

Some useful testing into how Facebook decides what to display into your news feed. Would be interested though to know their source for saying “Top News is how a vast majority of Facebook users get their information”

20 Real Tips for Hiring a Social Media Consultant

A good list to help you separate the wheat from the chaff in the world of social media consulting. You don’t need to hold yourself religiously to all 20 points, but there is some really good, honest, to-the-point advice in Pam Moore’s post.

How Google dominates the Web

If you had any doubts about just how dominant Google are in our World of Web Stuff, then this Royal Pingdom posts shows you the stats in easy to consume pie-charts.

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