Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Starting Point to My Thinking

Here is my basic premise about the World Wide Web.

1 - It is a fundamental change in the abilities of people to communicate and interact.

2 - It reduces or completely eliminates the financial barriers that have previously existed for publishing and distribution of anything which can be made digital.

3 - It removes time and distance as factors in what is possible.

Under this group of three, here is my early sub group of effects that flow from these changes.

1 - It destroys many existing business and professional models.

2 - It creates models that have never existed before.

What does this mean to you and how you may choose to go about the normal everyday activities of your life?

Let me say right now that I hope I put these restraints on myself…

1 - I will not ever say the web is the solution to any and all problems.

2 - I will not say the web will lead us to a utopia.

3 - I will never suggest the web is a get rich quick scheme. If I do, please someone, give me a gun and I will shot myself.

Here Comes Everybody

I have been reading Clay Shirkey's book Here Comes Everybody. I am going to be writing several entries about topics he discusses in his book.

I hope this will not simply be redundant for those of you who have read the book. I highly recommend this book and Sarah Lacy's book Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good.

These are the best two books I have read this year related to defining the current state of the Web.

In fact, at the moment, these are the two books that have had the strongest influence on my understanding the Web since I read Tim Berners-Lee's book Defining the Web. As the creator of the world wide web, Berners-Lee has a unique position and his book is well written in describing his concept and intent.

More later today.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not More Traffic, Better Pages

A lot of folks spend most of their time trying to get more and more traffic to their web site. At some point this becomes a proposition with very diminishing returns.

With the idea in mind of making your site about your visitor, you need to spend at least as much, and maybe even more, time on making the pages as usable and effective as possible.

From a crass perspective it is better to provide a page where twice as many of the visitors you have take the actions they came to take - and the actions you want them to take – than a page that gets twice the traffic.

Remember, visitors come to your page for a reason of their own. They want that reason satisfied when they arrive. Twice the traffic at the same conversion rate is twice as many dissatisfied visitors.

Spend your time increasing the percentage of page visitors who are satisfied. This will give you more happy users, more positive word of mouth. Better results.

Here are a few good ideas for improving results on your pages.

1 - Consider removing the normal navigation and other distracting elements of your page. Studies consistently show that the headline and then the content in the top left corner of each page are the most viewed – visible – parts of a web page. Use these two spaces to make clear the purpose of each page.

2 - Add “trust indicators. Things like “Hackersafe” logo. Also testimonials. Make your visitor feel safe and comfortable.

3 - Make any forms that are completed on your site as simple as possible. The page of least resistance is a normal human choice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Twitter and Business

I found this link through Wayne Sutton

Any of you that use Twitter at all can probably come up with many more ideas.

Personally, I think the basic technology of Twitter, enhanced with more privacy features, is the much better business plan. Interestingly, while the data center is significant, the basic software is not cutting edge.

Just goes to show it is the imagination, execution and persistence that make a great application. And the folks at Twitter have all that and then  some.

What about you?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Some Great Videos Explaining The Web

This is from about a year ago. It is a truly fine explaination of the interactive web - or Web 2.0. This will give you great ideas about how you might use the web to interact with customers.

Professor Michael Wesch from Kansas State University. It is 4 minutes and 32 seconds.

From the same Professor Wesch, this one explains YouTube. It is 55 minutes but worth every minute.

Finally, this one I just found very interesting. The secret history of the Silicon Valley. also about 55 minutes.

This one is not Professor Wesch.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why Do People Come to Your Office?

I was teaching a class on interacting with your customers online in Atlanta this past week. A basic question occurred to me in a different way.

I asked folks why people came by their office. 

Everyone agreed that not a single customer came to their office to be told how many years experience the combined staff had. Or how they provided great service. Or even how many years they had been in business.

So I asked folks how many of their web sites spent much of their time telling visitors this stuff. Turns out most all of the web sites spent most of their pages on this.

Make your web site just like your office for your customers. Whatever the reasons are that folks come to your office, or store, let them get that same need met on your web site.

Now you need to make a list of the reasons people come to your physical location. Then make a list of how you would satisfy these needs through your web site. Then you will have the finest online business going for the products or services you provide.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Security at the Olympics

I just read there are 100,000 security personnel at the Olympics. I don't really find this all that newsworthy.

Totally by chance I have known at least one athlete at every Summer Olympics since 1972. So I have had the great joy of hearing these folks tell me about their personal experiences.

A friend who competed in the Sydney Games told me she was met by a personal security person as soon as she got off the plane. There was always one security person with her 24 hours a day for the entire Olympics.

That is more interesting to me than a number. Maybe they are doing the same in China. I'd like to know. I guess I'll ask.

The story makes it personal. The number doesn't. I always like the story better. But, with that said, I generally hate the "up close and personal" type of story. I guess it is a hard line to call.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Be the Best of Something

Driving over the New River bridge on US highway 19 in West Virginia you can't help but notice the sign on both sides telling you this bridge is the "longest arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere".

I really like the last touch. I would have been satisfied just saying America - meaning of course the US. These guys took it to a whole other level by saying for an entire hemisphere.

The most important thing of course is they found something the were the #1 at and let everybody know.

In business, we should all do the same. 

Find that thing that makes you special. It may be equivalent of being the longest arch bridge in Durham County, North Carolina. It really doesn't matter so much what it is. It just has to be honest and true.

Folks like to work with the best of something. It is your job to be sure you tell them what that "best" is when they work with you.

Monday, August 4, 2008

When LBJ Came to My Home Town

I grew up in a middle of nowhere town. But that little town had a few heavy hitters in the world of politics. As result one day then Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson came to my hometown.

It was a grand small town event. It shows a type of mastery which I guess still exists, and if so then some other kids are going to be blessed with memories like this.

LBJ gave a brief pump up the crowd speech at the baseball field of the local high school. They took out a fence section in center field. After the crowd had filled the seats, LBJ appeared through that fence section riding a white horse. (How many current political leaders can ride a horse?)

LBJ was of course wearing a giant white cowboy hat. He and the horse circled the bases. He dismounted onto a podium that had been placed atop home plate.

I have no idea what he said, but when he finished they brought the horse to the podium, LBJ swung up onto his steed, waved his cowboy hat and galloped off through center field.

Now that was one hell of an image. How could you not vote for him after that?

But it got even better.

That evening he attended a dinner and dance at the local country. The club was famous for its parquet dance floor.

After the dancing had begun, someone brought in a donkey. (The symbol of the Democratic party) LBJ danced with the donkey on the parquet dance floor.

Later the floor had to be repaired in some places. I assume the donkey was not an experienced dancer.

Once again, the imagery of that day has remained strong with me all my life. Regardless of the Vietnam War and the riots and all the other things that many people remember when they think of LBJ, the riding in on a white horse and dancing with a donkey will always be the primary things I think about when I think about LBJ.

What power is held in images? The power to overcome rational facts and thinking for certain.

Do you think you leave such powerful images? Could you? Would you?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Long Tail or Local Community Building

Earlier this week I went to the launch party for . I now feel so dot commy. I have been to a real launch party. is as sight that aggregates local blogs for the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Most people see the RTP as meaning Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. As a nod to the spirit of 30threads I will suggest maybe it is also Hillsborough, Morrisville and Lizard Lick.

At any rate, the premise behind 30threads fits with some reading I had been doing over at Kevin Kelly's Technium site. His post on Wagging the Long Tail says that there is no money to be made in the end of the Long Tail by the creators of the content. He suggests that the only money to be made is by aggregators of Long Tail content.

I think you would have to count 30threads as a Long Tail member of the Long Tail aggregators. With such a narrow focus - local content - I really don't see them as a money maker. But they do appear to be a good attempt at a community builder. And I think they do add value and exposure to the blogs they cover. They will probably help these blogs be found by more people.

Would your community benefit from this type of community building? Who would do it? This one is more or less done with the backing of a local television station. I think the tie in is good. I also think not pushing the tie in creates more credibility.

I think every community would benefit from a similar local content aggregation. And, if I were a local business I would definitely start a blog to be part of this type of aggregation.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Something I Was Shown on Twitter

Here is a post worth sharing. One of the folks I follow on Twitter mentioned this.

It is a post by the woman who ran discussing the experience of that business and the effect it had on her personally. Finally it discusses how to see yourself as more than how others see you.