Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

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Green, green grass.

The truth about gamification – uxpodcast

Episode 5 of UXPodcast has been published. This month, Per Axbom and I talk to Jesper Bylund about gamification.

It was not only good fun to have Per and Jesper round to Beantin HQ to record the podcast, it was also thoroughly educational. Jesper knows his stuff when it comes to game design and gamification.

The peak of inflated expectations

There’s an awful lot of hype about gamification now – as higlighted by Gartner in their 2011 hype cycle. Gamification is right up there in the peak of inflated expectations.

Together with the hype there is a lot of misunderstanding. In the podcast we dig into the misunderstanding and talk about what gamification really is.

Listen to the show

Take the chance to listen to episode 5 – The truth about gamification on uxpodcast.com.


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

The truth about gamification – uxpodcast

Episode 5 of UXPodcast has been published. This month, Per Axbom and I talk to Jesper Bylund about gamification.

It was not only good fun to have Per and Jesper round to Beantin HQ to record the podcast, it was also thoroughly educational. Jesper knows his stuff when it comes to game design and gamification.

The peak of inflated expectations

There’s an awful lot of hype about gamification now – as higlighted by Gartner in their 2011 hype cycle. Gamification is right up there in the peak of inflated expectations.

Together with the hype there is a lot of misunderstanding. In the podcast we dig into the misunderstanding and talk about what gamification really is.

Listen to the show

Take the chance to listen to episode 5 – The truth about gamification on uxpodcast.com.


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

What gets shown in Facebook’s Ticker?

Facebook has rolled out their Ticker to all users as part of their September updates (if you haven’t got it yet, you soon will!).

Combined with other changes to the appearance of the news feed, this has raised a fair few questions from people about their privacy settings and what gets shown where.

I’m going to try to explain it for you.

So how does it work?

The visibility of every update you post to Facebook is controlled by the privacy settings associated to it. Using the inline audience selector you can control the privacy settings at the time you post it, and adjusted them at any point afterwards.

Screenshot from Facebook

The news feed now just shows a selection of updates based on a number of factors (which i’m not going to go into during this post). If you want to see everything that is happening the world of Facebook as defined by your friends (and people subscribed to) then you need to take a look at the ticker in the right hand column.

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The activity firehose

This ticker shows everything people who you’ve subscribed to are doing on Facebook that has a privacy setting that you are included in. You are subscribed to your friends, and all their types of updates by default.

You can unsubscribe from a persons activity, and you can even turn off certain types of activity from a specific person. So if someone listens to far too much music on Spotify that rubs you the wrong way, you can untick Music and Videos.

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By and large though, what this means is that you may see more Facebook activity than you are used to seeing – if you bother to look at the Ticker in the right hand column that is!

Examples

Whenever any of your friends write someone on someone else’s wall, for example, you’ll see that action appear in your ticker.

If any of your friends comment on a person’s update who isn’t your friend, if that update has public or “friends of friends” as it’s privacy settings, then you will see not only your friends’ comment, but also all the other (non-public) comments everyone else has written.

If someone publishes a public update (of whatever kind; a status, a photo, event, action) then any comments and likes made to that public update will also be public. In this case, public means totally public. Not-logged-into-Facebook public.

Keep your eye on the grey icon

So what matters now is that you pay special attention to the little grey icon visible at the bottom of each update. If this has a little globe on it, whatever you say will be public. If it has a couple of silhouettes, then hover over the icon and see what it says. It will explain the reach of the update, and therefore the potential exposure of anything you write.

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Remember though, privacy can be changed afterwards. So something you once said in private may become public (and vice versa). Even if you said it years ago…


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

Google Analytics: what are visits?

It’s all change with Visits and Google Analytics. In August 2011 Google altered when they consider a session to have ended. A small change according to their blog.

Get ready, I’m going to mention some odd sounding cookie names a fair bit!


close up photo of a Google Analytics visitor graph

In the old days

Prior to August 2011, If a user was inactive for 30 minutes or more, any future activity would have been attributed to a new visit. Any users that left your site but returned within 30 minutes were counted as part of the original visit.

Google made use of two cookies in keeping track of a session. One called __utmb and another called __utmc.

__utmc was a pure browser session cookie which expired as soon as the browser was closed. If __utmc didn’t exist, then it was a new visit.

__utmb is a persistent cookie that is set to expire after 30 minutes (by default). This cookie was used to register a new visit if you’ve left the site open in your browser (ie __utmc exists), but you disappeared for more than 30 minutes to do something else – perhaps to eat lunch.

Back to the future

From August 2011, the session cookie __umtc is no longer used to calculating visits and instead Google is using the __utmb cookie in combination with another cookie, __utmz, to determine when a new session begins.

__utmz is the traffic source cookie. I’ve explained the often misunderstood Google Analytics traffic sources in a previous post. This cookie only gets updated when the traffic source for the current visit is different to the traffic source stored in the cookie (excluding direct visits).

What Google Analytics does now is reset the __utmb cookie and increment the session counter in __utma (the 2-year persistent cookie storing your unique ID amongst other things) every time the __utmz cookie is updated – ie, each time the traffic source changes.

It does this whether the __utmc cookie exists or not. So, closing your browser, reopening it and revisiting a site (within 30 minutes of __utmb last being updated) will count as part of the same visit.

So What does this mean?

This means that you can’t compare visit data that crosses the date divide of August 16th 2011. Year-on-year comparisons are out of the window.

You will also see an increase in visits. How much of an increase depends on your traffic patterns – if visitors frequently hopped back and forth to your website from other sites or search engines in a short space of time, you’ll see a much bigger jump than say, a blog with a relatively low publishing frequency.

You will see a slight increase in traffic sources as the splitting of visits up into per-source chunks should reveal sources that were previously buried. Average page views per visit will fall slightly, and bounce rates will rise.

But…

My research has shown that visitors re-entering a site (within 30 minutes) via a referring site (not a search engine, or a visit with campaign tracking) are not causing the __utmz cookie to be updated, and no new visit is recorded. These visits are being considered a continuation of the original visit.

If we ignore the oddity of referring sites not being recorded properly, this change is probably going to make session-based reports easier for the layman to interpret. and a step closer to seeing per-visit traffic sources out of the box.


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

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