Take away:

  • Be aware where in the process your customers are.
  • Sexy doesn’t always mean more money. Track large changes and see the real impact.

Read the full thing at: Be careful what you ask for. How 2 words dropped CTR 36%!.

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Not all of these patterns are necessarily web-specific, but these are a great set of questions to ask yourself for your next (or current) website project: Download the cards – Design with Intent Toolkit.

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Another great post by Brian Cray. His latest iteration of analysis/design for his blog has resulted in the removal of sidebar navigation:

As you can see, supplemental navigation—including related posts, historical post navigation, popular posts, most commented posts, sidebars, etc—has accounted for about only 10% of the navigation on my site during several design variations. Of that 10%, historical navigation and related posts alone accounted for about 99%. The rest? Fluff. Garbage.

Note that you shouldn’t just go ahead and remove your sidebars though; the links in these areas are often great for the flow of internal SEO pagerank juice. Brian has managed to keep this by moving the ‘important’ links from the sidebar to the top and bottom of the main content, and he also practices excellent in-content linking to his other pages.

Read the full thing at: The more I know, the less I need: Thoughts on web design.

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Dave Winer suggests a different approach to blog comments, treating them as a ‘publication’ rather than a ‘conversation’:

[…] this has led me to an idea that comments could work quite a bit differently and remove the incentives to replay old arguments, and keep the comments focused on the ideas being responded to.

1. A fixed commenting period for each post of 24 hours.

2. Until the period expires, none of the comments would be visible to other commenters.

Read the full suggestion at Scripting News: Proposal: A new kind of blog comment system.

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Although there’s not much new here, it’s good to see this kind of list backed-up with multiple research sources. And who would have thought that Stanford have a “Web Credibility Research Site“, by the “Persuasive Tech Lab“? Neat.

…show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

Read the full 10-point list at: The Web Credibility Project: Guidelines – Stanford University.

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Jakob Nielsen’s latest usability study finds that summaries are usually better than full-articles on corporate blog home pages, though this may flip if your user base has a large percentage of regular visitors (though wouldn’t they just subscribe to the RSS, if technically proficient?).

On corporate blogs, summaries are usually superior to full articles because they let you expose users to a broad selection of topics. Offering more topics increases the likelihood that users will find something that really interests them and thus will click through to read more. (As opposed to leaving.)

Read the full study at: Corporate Blogs: Front Page Structure (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox).

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Contentini have posted the results of a content strategist day-rate survey:

Across all experience and $USD day rates, the mean average is $939, the mode average is $1,000 and the median average is $640. When grouping by experience, those with under 5 years command a mean/median rate of $518/$490, and those with 10+ years command a mean/median rate of $1330/$800.

via How Much Does a Content Strategist Cost?.

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Make sure you read the comments too, which provide some valuable feedback on potential flaws with the study, but it’s interesting nonetheless:

The final option — pay what you wish, with half the purchase price going to charity — generated big results: purchase rates of 4.49% and an average purchase price of $5.33, resulting in significant profits for the theme park. “When the charity factor is introduced, these casual freeloaders balk at the idea of paying nothing, because it’s more likely to reflect badly on them,”

via How to Maximize Pay-What-You-Wish Pricing – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com.

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On editors and “shipping”:

People often think that editors are there to read things and tell people “no.” Saying “no” is a tiny part of the job. Editors are first and foremost there to ship the product without getting sued. They order the raw materials—words, sounds, images—mill them to approved tolerances, and ship. No one wrote a book called Editors: Get Real and Ship or suggested that publishers use agile; they dont live in a “culture” of shipping, any more than we live in a culture of breathing. Its just that not shipping would kill the organism.

via Real Editors Ship Ftrain.com.

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A newspaper website has decided to charge a one-off fee of 99c before you can leave a comment, to improve the level of discourse. I remember reading Seth Godin (I think) on the big difference between 0c and 1c (i.e. as soon as a financial transaction comes into it, it’s a whole new game). I actually like the experiment, and it will be interesting to see the short and long term results. What I don’t like so much is the idea of giving over credit card details for something so trivial; hopefully they accept PayPal too.

Anxious to lift an outright ban on comments, The Attleboro (Mass.) Sun-Chronicle has begun requiring two things of online readers who want to leave their thoughts on stories: 99 cents and their real names.

Reasonable people may disagree with publisher D’Arconte on whether this step is necessary.  The benefits of allowing anonymous comments are well known and vigorously defended. But what’s interesting is that this newspaper has weighed the pros and cons of anonymity and decided that the costs outweigh the benefits.

via Paper to readers: Comments now cost 99 cents and your name | NetworkWorld.com Community.

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