A Web Strategy must balance all three spheres
What’s a Web Strategy? It’s the balance between the three spheres for effective long-term planning of a website. This person is a hybrid of a few roles, and may have emerged from any of the following spheres. A Web Strategist is responsible for the long-term planning and decision making of a website, but must balance ALL of the following three spheres:
1) Community (formerly Users)
The Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what users want. This is commonly known as User Experience Research which will create and craft a ‘mental model’. In addition, the strategist will need to be in tune with the community in which their website is part of, this is greater than just users, as it will include competitors, partners, and prospects.
Skills: User experience (UX), usability, information architecture, social media skills, customer support, community marketing, marketing, product marketing, ability to listen and be empathetic.
The business sphere requires a strategist to understand the long term objective of a website and it’s goals. This sphere also requires ability to internally maneuver within an organization and maximize the persistent limitation in resources. A website that is not aligned to business or market objectives is ultimately doomed to fail. The User and Business requirements will often match, but will rarely ever be a perfect fit. The Web Strategist) will need to obtain business requirements from stakeholders, whether that be execs, sponsors, sales, or even shareholders. Understanding the market, competitors (and key milestones) and other external forces are also required –a business requirements model will be formed, these are your objectives.
Skills: Marketing, advertising, media, management, measurement, ability to evangelize internally, process management, resource management, obtain objectives, product development, product management, savvy in political maneuvering
Lastly, a Web Strategist needs to know how each and every tool and technology work, they’ll need to know the strengths, benefits, limitations and costs. This also applies to human capital, and timelines. Often technical limitations will reduce the scope of User and Business needs, so you’ll need to incorporate this going forward.
Skills: Software Development, Web Development, Web Architecture, Industry Trends, experiments with web technology, but understands how to extrapolate and harness a tool.
Can’t master them all? Be able to Learn or Delegate
It’s unlikely he or she is a master at all, but most importantly, has the ability to learn and delegate. In my career, I’ve tried to have a balance in all these spheres (former UI Designer, Marketing Degree, and worked in software engineering group) keeping up with all spheres is nearly impossible. Therefore two skills become very important: 1) The ability to quickly learn, and extract value, 2) Ability to find talent and delegate, no really, I mean really delegate, which requires trust.
If you have other skills to suggest, please leave a comment, and I’ll add.
I originally introduced this concept August 25th 2006, just about one year earlier, and am now making these amendments. This was primarily spurred by Johnathan’s suggestion of looking at the user sphere as greater than just a customer base, thanks Jonathan, you’re an excellent strategist. Also, Robert suggested I try to incorporate more of a visual representation in my concepts, which I think is a great idea.
Did this post interest you? See all posts tagged Web Strategy, or watch the supplemental Web Strategy Video Show.
Delicious is a social bookmarking tool. It empowers anyone the ability to tag, label, and share with others web pages. For the Web Strategist, it’s a great tool to understand how people think (or don’t think) of your brand. Those who tag your website are more engaged than passive readers, and are sharing your content with others, so pay attention.
How to use?
How do you use it? Go to Delicious, in the search bar, type in the name of your brand, website, or name, and review results. You’ll see some pink highlighed words “Saved by X People”, click on that, and it’ll take you to that page where you can see details of comments, a sorted tag listing, and a history.
Here are the top 5 tags on my index page:
76 tagged the site “blog”
74 tagged the site “strategy”
73 tagged the site “web2.0″
58 tagged the site “marketing”
52 tagged the site “web”
Interesting, I don’t consider myself a Marketing blogger, or a Web 2.0 blogger (I don’t even have a keyword category for that term), to me those are just sub-sets of what Web Strategy is about. It’s amazing the the tags that I use for my own posts are slightly different than readers perceived it. I could even get more granular and look at specific posts that were tagged, try sifting on your own pages.
I did a Delicious search on my Facebook Strategy post, and discovered that the post had been tagged 186 times, I could then drill down and find out what they said (such as Peter He), and what else they tagged –that’s intelligence. What’s amazing is there is far more activity in Delicious than in the comments of the same post.
I did the same for Jennifer Jones’s Marketing Voices, Scoble’s blog,
If you want to learn more about how to use Folksonomies to build a better website, I wrote this post a while back. You should be using these keywords to help you uncover what people are classifying your content as, and as a result should factor into your SEO strategy.
There’s more and more content being produced, as every human with internet access and limited know-how can be a media platform. This results in those who want their messages heard to yell louder or intrude farther. Everyone wants to be heard, resulting what appears to be noise, with very little signal.
Steve Rubel suggests that we’ve hit an inflection point, resulting in ‘bankruptcy’
“We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore’s Law.”
It’s arguable that information is now segmenting down the tail of unique and specific interests. No more are the days of ‘mass’ media and majority popularity in content. I embrace the very specific interests and details of small loosely joined individuals making up niche communities. The right content is available for everyone, it segments.
Shel Holtz suggests that there’s NO attention crash,
“If you don’t care about it, it’s crap to you, even though it might be gold to me. The point is this: There really is no such thing as information overload, as long as the information is content that is useful to you. We can’t get enough information about the stuff we care about.”
[Our media interests are starting to fragment and specialize, as a result, content outside our preference area will appear to be useless noise]
I’m going to suggest that Shel has some valid points, there’s always been too much information for all humans, even before the birth of modern media. Humans will continue to prioritize their content sources in order to fill the voids in entertainment, knowledge, or other.
Content is getting smaller/faster humans are getting ready to consume more ‘bits’ of chunky information, hence the coinage of the term MicroMedia. I’ve observed Scoble scanning his feedreader, he ‘imprints’ a post to his mind, much faster than skimming or reading text. Read more, learn from Wikipedia: The Attention Economy
Recommended reading over the last week. (I’m doing this every week for a while)
Analysis on Facebook, Identity and data
First and foremost one of the best analysis points I’ve seen since I wrote a post on Facebook predictions
A standard operating system is coming for cars
Could bring a browser or application that could deliver traffic, location info, and pictures of where you’re headed.
Slapping the A-list bloggers
Not all content is for all people, understanding relevance
Thanks for this, I shared it with the whole tribe.
Stats from ComScore Social Networking takes off across the globe
Want to build a Facebook App? Find out what 10 interns think is cool
100 resources for Bloggers
eCommerce User Experience rankings and research by Keynote
Anti-Corruption video game in China is popular
Variety of Data Visualization Techniques
Ian from Conversation Marketing has a great video and “how to” on understanding what users want on your website.
What could you do with this data? Find out what users content they want, how they phrase their terms, what content is missing. Also analyze from where and when they used the search bar, it could provide some clues on what they’re looking for.
[Analyzing search logs right on one's site is a an easy way to understand what users are looking for]
Yes another way to evaluate the user experience. Louis Rosenfeld has a speech, research, and a book on the same topic.
AOL has announced their new homepage design, it looks strangely familiar to Yahoo’s. Here’s the feature list.
Let’s compare using the same techniques I did for the top ten blogs(well they are more like magazines and top personal tech blogs.
AOL’s new homepage
These look pretty simliar, what do the rest of you think? Have you seen my comparison of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL? Take a look.
I’ve many friends that are in the web analytics space, in fact, I’ve interviewed many of the top names in that industry on my show. Web Analytics has it’s place, it’s important, and it’s only going to increase in value. Web Analytics is great for understanding what’s happened on the server in the past. The rest is inferences and educated guesses.
[Relying on Web Analytics ONLY for web decision making is the same as driving on the freeway, but only looking backwards]
The limits of Web Analytics
Web Analytics can’t tell us, why did someone come to our site, what they want to accomplish, what their emotional experience was like, what their eyes actually looked at, and what they told others later. But we’ve got to stop ourselves and realize that it’s only ONE form of understanding the direction of a website. In addition to using Web Analytics, the serious Web Strategist will be using other methods and processes to understand what users have done, and what they want.
A partial list of understanding users
While Web Analytics is important, there are many other methods that should be done to find out what users want:
-Social Media listening (on other sites)
-And most important: just ask them (interviews)
Many other ways to understand users
This is not a comprehensive list by any means, as there are complete industries devoted to User Experience (UX), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), User Interface Design (UI), and Information Architecture (IA). The newest group to the bunch? Social Media Measurement, which measures what is said or gestured by who, when, and where. It’s assumed that the web user experience has spread off the website, so start planning accordingly. Web Analytics is limited in that it only measures the activity on your corporate site –not other areas where customers may be talking.
The User and Customer Experience has moved off your website
What are some other examples that your website has moved off your domain? There’s a list of third party extranets (yes, this impacts YOUR customer support site) and my theory that Web Marketing is not limited to two domains (your website and google search results).
You must read this first to understand this post: Yesterday, in my previous analysis, I did some homepage breakdowns for the top 10 blogs in Technorati. In the comments, I was asked to make a conclusion or a suggestion to what I found. I looked at the top personal blogs in the 100 rank and found far less advertising.
The following blogs meet these requirements:
Personal Blogs (written by one person)
Focus on Technology (it would be too much work to do all personal blogs)
In the Technorati Top 100
Same as yesterday, I took screenshots and put overlays for five categories: identity, navigation, search, content, and advertising.
[Finding: The Top 10 Blogs in Technorati resemble online eMagazines, and have more homepage advertising than the tech related single authored blogs in the Top 100]
Findings, Conclusions, and Analysis:
Tech related personal blogs in the Technorati 100 have far less advertising than the top 100 blogs by average, compare the “red zones”.
All of the top 10 related blogs are written by groups, some resemble online magazines more than a personal blog.
It’s being debated in my comments if having advertising reduced the credibility of a blog
17) Guy Kawasaki
How to Change the World Entrepreneurship, marketing, venture capital, & evangelism
33) Robert Scoble
54) Jason Kottke
kottke.org : home of fine hypertext products
65) Joel Spolsky
Joel on Software
73) Steve Rubel
Steve explores how technology is transforming marketing, media and public relations.
95) Hugh MacLeod
gapingvoid: “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”
Please view Part 1: Top 10 blogs for comparison. Let me know what you think. It made techmeme.
Share with others: Jim Turner submitted this to Digg
Please read part 2: A break down the top personal tech blogs, notice the difference in advertising use.
To analyze the homepage web strategies of the top blogs in the world
We’re all fascinated and drawn to some of the world’s top blogs, according to incoming links, Technorati has listed the top 10 blogs. (Although that’s not the best way to determine authority) How do blogs get links to them? They do one of two things 1) Be interesting 2) Add Value. As they achieve stardom, the momentum of the brand continues it forward, and the traffic they drive to others increases it further.
Are top blogs afflicted with excess advertising?
As blogs reach nuclear status, it’s interesting to see how they start to monetize from ads, focus less on navigating away from the sites, and how much content they continue to share. At what point does the user experience suffer from excess of advertisements?
I took screen captures at 1400 X 1050, a rather large size. I only took the top page view, so it showed what’s above the fold. I then segmented the content types into five major color keys: Identity (as in self-brand), Navigation, Content, Search, and Advertising. This method is modeled after Jakob Nielsen’s homepage usability book.
Per Surface area on homepage above fold:
Most use of Identity: TMZ
Most use of Navigation: Ars Technica
Most use of Content: Huffington Post, Ars Technica
Most use of Advertisements: Boing Boing, Techcrunch (3 major areas above the fold)
Least amountof Advertisements: Post Secret (none), and my blog
Most use of Search: TMZ (two for some reason)
No use of Search: Techcrunch, Daily Kos (well at least, not above the fold)
Most use of White Space: Post Secret
2) Boing Boing
Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things
Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide
5) Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done
7) Ars Technica
Ars Technica: the Art of Technology. News, analysis, and in depth coverage of technology.
8 ) Daily Kos
Daily Kos: State of the Nation
9) Post Secret
PostSecret: ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
1309) Web Strategy By Jeremiah
Web Strategy by Jeremiah: Jeremiah discusses how companies use the web to connect with customers. While not a top 10 blog, it’s my blog, and therefore I can analyze it. I don’t have ads on for a few reasons: 1) I don’t have significant enough traffic to sustain more than beer money. 2) I’d rather gain trust from my audience bringing good content than worrying that I may reduce credibility by putting ads on the site.
Submit your own homepage analysis, take a screenshot, go into photoshop and do the overlay. Use the colors I set in the color key and set opacity to around 60%. Leave a comment to your screenshot
To many marketeers and advertisers, nothing matters more than click stream data. While this has recently fallen under attack (as user engagement can be measured in ways that have nothing to do with clicks) there’s still a need to observe the holistic experience by using a wide variety of tools.
Crazy Egg is one of those tools for your chest to use in your ways of finding out what users are doing, and guess what? There’s a free limited version that can get you started on your homepage. Crazy Egg is a heat map tracker, which means it will help to tell you the story of WHERE your users clicked on your site and WHEN. This is yet another tool in the web measurement toolset.
“Crazy Egg makes it easy to: Test different versions of a page to see which works better, Discover which ad placement gives the best results, Find out which design encourages visitors to click deeper, Learn which content leads to improved sales”
Useful features: The overlay helps you to find out what was clicked and when did it happen? (after how long) The confetti tool was interesting, as you can clearly see exactly where users clicked on your site.
What did I learn?
I knew that my index page was used frequently on my blog (google analytics tells me this) and now I can confirm that they click on the upper left area of my banner.
I also learned that users click on the ‘more comments’ section on my post, rather than clicking on the title text, maybe I should bring more attention to that to make it easier to find.
People want to know who I am and often click on my profile link, but not my ‘face’ which goes to the same page, interesting.
Users also went to previous pages (down at the bottom of my blog), maybe I should display more posts per view.
It appears that users were clicking on the Guy Kawasaki ustream player
Please remember that this is just one tool of many that you should be using to gauge your website, don’t forget, the most important one is to just ask your users what they think.
I recommend you try this free tool for your blog, your company homepage, or consider expanding and purchasing it for major landing pages, another great free tool that should be in your arsenal of Web Analytics, Feed tracking, Google Alerts, and Technorati.
Handbook: Observing the User Experience (I’ve used this book quite a lot when I was a web manager)
All posts tagged User Experience
All posts tagged Web Analytics
Crazy Egg Dashboard
Overlay screen: After installing a script, CrazyEgg will track your site, and let you see a realistic overlay
Overlay screen with exploded flyouts that provide additional info
Heatmap shows high area of clicks on your site
This “Confetti” feature shows with pinpoint accuracy where users clicked.