The Complete “Nothing New Under the Sun: Designing for the Small Screen” Arc

Note: this was a two part post and so apropos that we’re reposting now, on the eve of our releasing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation, don’t you think?

Nothing New Under the Sun: Designing for the Small Screen, Part 1

I read an interesting post on Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim blog. The post, by Janet Driscoll Miller, was iPhone May Present New Mobile Design Challenges. It was interesting because it was yet another example of Nothing New Under the Sun.

I commented on the blog, “This reminds me of an early consulting project I was on. We saw from the client’s web data that people were browsing their site using these odd sized, small screens. It was their browsing patterns that explained what was going on. We decided to create an all-text site to accommodate them and business went up. This was years ago, though. Nothing new under the sun, yes?”

Here I’ll share a little more on this. It’s a fond memory and, at the time, it was a nice piece of research.

NextStage’s first client was a B2B specializing in warehousing technologies. They noticed a decrease in online sales even though their web traffic was increasing and asked me to figure it out. Their focus was on bandwidth, page load times, things like that, and were ready to do a major overhaul of their website to make it “friendlier”.

Okay, I thought. But friendlier to whom?

We attached our tracking tools to their website and noticed two fascinating features of the increased traffic; the browser window sizes were small and oddly shaped. That was interesting and the kicker was something (and I’ll admit to some vanity here) that (I think) only NextStage’s Evolution Technology could determine; the patterns in the page navigations.

It was the patterns which revealed the mystery of increased traffic and decreased sales. Visitors would navigate busily then stop for a period, navigate busily then stop for a period, navigate busily then stop for a period. They never closed the browser window. They might keep it open for hours at a time. But during these hour long visits they would navigate busily then stop, navigate busily then stop.

These odd navigation patterns did end up with online orders but only of specific items. Usually items located at the top of the client’s webpages.

Hmm…

Nothing New Under the Sun: Designing for the Small Screen, part 2

This is part 2 in a two-part arc trigged by reading Janet Driscoll Miller‘s interesting post, iPhone May Present New Mobile Design Challenges, on Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim blog.

I commented on the blog, “This reminds me of an early consulting project I was on. We saw from the client’s web data that people were browsing their site using these odd sized, small screens. It was their browsing patterns that explained what was going on. We decided to create an all-text site to accommodate them and business went up. This was years ago, though. Nothing new under the sun, yes?” and am sharing more of this story in this arc. Part 1 described the problem and provided pointers to the solution. Here I share the solution itself.

As I wrote in the previous post, it’s a fond memory and, at the time, it was a nice piece of research.

This was a case of listening to the silences rather than the sounds. The pauses in navigation were extremely regular, too regular and over too long a period of time, to be un-noteworthy. Also, the pauses had different periods depending on the visitor but were consistent time-wise by visitor; a visitor might have consistent pauses of three seconds and another perhaps of five, but the three-second visitor always had three second pauses, the five-second visitor always had pauses of five seconds.

Was there variance? Yes, a little. That was a clue. The variance was organic (by which I mean “biologic”) in nature, not inorganic (by which I mean “machine-based”). More correctly, the variance was biomechanical, not automated.

I thought about biomechanical mechanisms that follow pause-activity, pause-activity natures and realized I was observing cursorial tracking behavior. Humans, like wolves, are cursorial hunters. We use to jog after our prey and follow them. These evolutionary roots remain with us and even manifest themselves in screen navigation patterns.

Here I was witnessing people following prey, stopping to gather their kill, following prey, stopping to gather their kill, … But I also knew nobody was navigating a website while killing that night’s dinner.

What could my client’s clients be doing that mimicked that behavior?

Because I worked in warehouses to support myself in high school and college I quickly came up with the answer; my client’s clients were walking through their warehouse, stopping at each rack and checking inventory. The small and oddly shaped screen sizes were due to the end clients’ realizing they needed to reorder something and coming to my client’s website while the end client was checking inventory, carrying a handheld.

Why were only the top items on a given webpage being ordered? Because navigating a regular webpage much further was too much trouble.

Easy solution; offer a text only page for customers coming in through handhelds.

Yes, NextStage’s client was thrilled. Their online sales increased dramatically, all the good stuff.

For me, though, it was the detective work, the research, that made it worthwhile.


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Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!


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Back from eMetrics DC’07

[Note: this post is from Oct ’07. We’re backfilling again for Joseph’s references in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation]

Officially home, officially exhausted.

My thanks to everyone who attended my presentation and the folks who attended my workshop. I enjoyed talking with you all, learning from you and sharing with you. Many folks came up to me after my presentation to share how much they enjoyed it. I’m grateful.

My favorite, I’ll admit, is a toss up. Getting a nod from Dell’s Annette Priest during her keynote was nice. I also received something in my emails that gave me a kick…

I can quite truthfully say that your talk was one of the most memorable and useful from the conference. I am sad to say that I chose to do the predictive analytics course over yours; however that choice was made prior to my arriving at the conference and it would be a very tough call if I weren’t already locked in. I will certainly keep you in mind when I am talking to clients and I will certainly follow your work in the future.

I don’t know if you caught the multivariate testing spiel from {a company}, but after seeing your talk I noticed that their use of imagery in the control and winning recipe pages was very interesting.

Their first image showed a couple with one of them looking slightly above the key message and the other slightly below the “call to action” button. The winning formula had an alternative couple image where they were both looking in the direction of the “call to action” button. It makes me think that perhaps a few small rules like that could have resulted in a similar outcome without the need for elaborate, expensive and time consuming multivariate testing. Naturally I would do an A/B test with a control group; however this would be much simpler than the full blown version.

Keep up the great work.


Many thanks. This reader is talking about a part of my presentation that I also used in Putting the user’s eyes to work. NextStage Members can download the full paper as part of their membership.

Enjoy!


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Canoeing with Stephane (Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 2))

The iMedia Brand Summit has kept me a little busy, and I do keep my promises.

One of the folks I asked about Sentiment Analysis prior to writing Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) was Stephane Hamel. I asked Stephane for a site I could analyze without my knowing anything about their strategy, demographics and such. Stephane suggested canoe.ca since it’s a well known Canadian site that receives lots of traffic and has lots of diversified content.

Canoe French homepage

The Canoe.ca site has an English and a French version so we analyzed the homepages of both versions to demonstrate the differences in cultural cuing. This image is the Canoe French homepage. Below is the English homepage. The information I’m sharing comes out of our tools, specifically the one I described in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1).

Canoe English homepage

This image is the Canoe English homepage. I’ll share at this point that the tool I’m using reads whatever digital information you give it exactly like a human of the intended culture would read it, provide it material in French and it thinks in French, provide it material in Gaelic and it thinks in Gaelic (we get a lot of calls for that, you betcha. The first language our technology understood was Gaelic because if you can do Gaelic you can do anything. Now we’re teaching it Etruscan because you never know when you might want to sell sandals to a dead gladiator). What makes the tool different from the standard human is its ability to report on what will or would happen in the reader’s mind at the non-conscious and conscious levels. Most people don’t have that kind of training, our technology (Evolution Technology or “ET”) does.

Age Appeal

Both homepages are designed for (not necessarily intended for. We’re not talking about who the desired audience is, we’re talking about who this material is going to work best with) relatively tight demographics. The French homepage will appeal to about 71% of the 25-34yo native French speakers who see it, the English homepage will appeal to about 60% of the 35-44yo native English speakers who see it.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
When I originally presented this analysis to Stephane for comment I thought that a possible reason for the different age appeal targeting was that the canoe.ca site was a Quebec specific site, hence English might be a second language — meaning learned via education or life experience — for Canoe visitors (ET will interpret higher levels of education and life experience as “more mature” hence add a few years to its age appeal estimates).

Stephane explained that canoe.ca was created in Toronto then moved into Quebec, and that the English site is still done in Toronto and the French site in Quebec.

In any case, what’s most interesting is the relative spikyness of the Appeal charts. This material — regardless of the intended audience or its origins– is designed to best appeal to a limited age demographic.

<Stephaneism>
Stephane noted:

Another thing… your classifications aren’t equal… why 15-19 (5 years), 35-44 (10 years), 55-59 (5 years)… Does each of the graph age ranges have the same “population size”?
The age groupings are based on neurology more than much else. The five year groups occur when the brain starts to change, the ten year groups are when the brain is relatively stable neurologically.
Usually, I think each segment should be the same range (number of years). If population is different sizes for different ranges it usually mean the number of classes should be reviewed. Am I wrong?

Excellent catch. The age breakdowns are based more on the most recent and most well documented neurology studies than anything else. As such, they can fluctuate from time to time. ET’s basis for understanding and decision making is neuroscientific, not marketing demographics per se. Originally we tailored the age breakdowns to match the US Census bureau’s breakdown and do our best to match those the best we can.

That offered, if you can define the age breakdowns of greatest interest to you (maybe 15-24, 25-39, 40-54, 55-74, … work best for you) we can tell ET and have the results appropriate to your needs.

</Stephaneism>

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Clarity/Understandability

Readers of Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) or Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds will remember that there are three “age” levels designers really need to be concerned with; Appeal, Clarity and Actionability. The brain-mind system doesn’t “think” in terms of a chronologic age, it “thinks” using one subsystem to determine “Is this going to be important?” (that’s Appeal), another subsystem to determine “Do I understand why this is important?” (that’s Clarity, Cognition, Understandability, call it what you will, god knows we have) and yet another subsystem to determine “Shall I do something about this?” (that’s Actionability).

The chart above shows that both English and French homepages will be best understood by a broad demographic, yes (the curve doesn’t spike), as well as a large population (its position on the chart).

<ET Tool Training Alert>
There is a possible problem when the Appeal and Clarity charts are taken together. The ideal is that Clarity peak at an age demographic just shy of the Appeal peak. This is necessary because humans, once you’ve got their attention, want to quickly determine if something is important or not. This desire to quickly understand something’s importance means less neural activity is required and ET reads that as a slight drop in neurologic age requirements.

However, the Clarity here is above the Appeal of both English and French audiences, meaning both audiences will need to work (as in “think about”) what’s on each page in order to understand its importance to them. If these pages truly are designed for the Appeal spikes, then they will not be easily understood by those age groups, hence Actionability (click through, conversion, whatever) will be lower than it could be.

On the other hand, if the target audience is 35-59yo, this Clarity is fine. Now the problem is that the age group will not find the homepages appealing enough to devote time or energy to them (except possibly some percentage of native English speakers), meaning “your conversions/clickthroughs/… would be higher with a judicious redesign”.
</ET Tool Training Alert>

Actionability (conversions, clickthroughs, …)

Both sites are designed to be actionable by 35-44yo. This is great for the French site (and assuming it is correctly designed for its intended audience) and not so good for the English site. Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort and ET reports this as an increase in neurologic activity, hence a shift to a more mature age group.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
The good news for the French site is that the Actionability spike is pretty much as the same height as the Appeal spike and it’s in the correct demographic. This means every native French speaker who comes to the French homepage will act on it.

Unfortunately, the Clarity value is way off from where it should be. Native French speaking visitors may find the site appealing and be able to act upon it but they will not understand what it is they should do, hence numbers could be higher with some redesigns.

The English Actionability is acceptable and is also quite the spike. It almost matches the Appeal spike, but the page also suffers from the Clarity issue.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Gender

Both sites favor a male audience design wise and in roughly equal measure.

Rich Personae, {C,B/e,M} Matrix

Often this is where real cultural design differences make themselves known. The English site is designed for an A9 Rich Persona (I’ve written about Rich Persona on this blog and in iMediaConnection), the French site for a V16 Rich Persona.

The A9 Rich Persona has the following attributes when it encounters web based information:

  • These people focus on the negative, they make decisions based on what might go wrong
  • They are motivated to take action when things are phrased in the negative
  • They often need to confirm their beliefs with visual information
  • They’re motivated by avoiding trouble and are strongly influenced by the possibilities of difficulties down the road

The V16 attributes are:

  • These people need to have information presented to them in pictures, charts or graphs
  • They finalize their decisions by using internal dialog
  • They need information framed in a positive manner before they can accept it
  • They have no sense of time or process

So we immediately see that the French homepage is designed for happier people than the English page.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
The fact that the two sites target completely different personality types can be a plus or a minus based on how much of the Canoe visitor populations match these psychological profiles. What is most important is that what is essentially the same design will target very different psychologies based on the native language of the visitor.

Which personality profile is better? Couldn’t tell you without knowing more about the goals for the site.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

10 Must Messages

10%20must%20messages%200906081039-small.jpg

The basis for communication and relationship are what NextStage calls “The 10 Must Messages”, meaning unless your site is communicating this messages well your site won’t work at all.

<Aside>
Interestingly enough, during the iMedia Brand Summit Master’s Class I taught earlier this week I asked all the attendees what the basic function of a website was. There were lots of answers and none of them were the most important one; to establish a relationship between the visitor and the brand. Regardless of intent, a relationship is being established and the success of that relationship is going to be based on how well the site communicates these messages to the visitors.
</Aside>

What we see here is something I mentioned in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1), that Canadian based companies tend to shout “We’re a Leader”. The fact that the two lines have roughly the same shape is to be expected (my guess is the same design group handled both homepages or a single template was used for both). Again we see some cultural based differences in the strength of the messaging.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
Take each line separately and the values are fair, there’s not a lot of shouting. What is a problem for both sites is the “This Is Important” message’s relative weakness. It is so low compared to most other messages on either site that visitors will feel no sense of urgency, no impulse to act, and in any case nowhere near as strong as it could be. The ideal would be for the “This Is Important” message and the “This Is Important To You” message to be high with the latter just enough higher to have visitors non-consciously recognize the difference.

I tend to liken the difference between these two messages to hearing the newscaster tell you about some news story then call in their talking-head to explain specifically why this news story is important to the viewer. Another way of thinking about their difference is the recognition that something may be important but not relevant to the individual versus important and relevant.

In any case, you can’t convince people that something is both important and relevant unless you first convince them that it’s important, period.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Suggestions

That brings us to the last thing ET will report on, what to do to change the design for the target audience. I don’t know who the target is so any suggestions would be irrelevant, me thinks.

<Stephaneism>
After reading this analysis, Stephane commented:

I think what’s also interesting is ET gives you the data and the charts, but you still have to know that “Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort”. The next stage of ET (no pun intended!) could involve bringing this “higher intelligence” (your intelligence!) to a rule engine that would gradually integrate this additional knowledge.
Let me take an example… web analytics tools today collect, analyze and provide the data, but they don’t provide any insight. Yet, some rules are readily applicable if we see high traffic from a specific campaign but a lower conversion rate than average: incoming traffic is less qualified, the campaign might need to be realigned. This intelligence could be integrated directly into the tool to raise “alarms” when things like this happen. The system would need to be trained and the architecture should allow to include new rules easily.

This is an excellent thought and yes, we’ve got it covered. People who’ve heard or seen my presentations know that one of ET’s differentiators is its ability to make suggestions. The tool that produces these reports — the one that doesn’t need a tag on a client’s site to generate actionable results — provides suggestions that incorporate “my intelligence” and additional knowledge (the system borrows heavily from knowledge management systems I worked on several years back) into its analysis. If I understand the rules system you’re describing, it’s already in there.

Anyway, we’re currently in the process of looking for alpha clients to help us integrate those rule engines into the product that does these analyses. [[(Already done and in NextStage OnSite, NextStage Experience Optimizer, NextStage Immediate Sentiment and NextStage Veritas Gauge)]]

</Stephaneism>

And there you go, Stephane. Hope it’s useful.


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The Complete “Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information” Arc

Note: Another relatively short, three post arc, here in full. You may thank us later. PS) The ET aspect described in this arc is now in NextStage’s Veritas Gauge. PPS) We thought it was short. We didn’t notice all the files at first. This arc is really nine posts long. Typical of J…

Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 1

I mentioned in Stephane Hamel, WASP creator, goes Freelance that I was taking a break from NextStage for a few years to pursue other things.

Of course, one never wonders far from what one loves, in the heart and mind if not with the feet.

Case in point, we’ve known for a while that NextStage’s Evolution Technology (ET) can determine if visitors to websites are behaving…umm…fairly(??) when they fill out forms, et cetera. We didn’t know how it could do it, only that it was in there somewhere.

Well, never give Joseph some spare time, he’ll find a way to fill it. Back on 18 Sept 07 some fellow KMMers emailed me Social networking sites: Almost two thirds of users enter false information to protect identity. This article starts with “London, UK – 18 September 2007 – Nearly two thirds (62%) of networking sites users say they are worried about the safety of their personal data held on these sites, reveals a survey conducted by email research specialists, emedia, using its RapidResearch service. The concern is so high that almost one third of users (31%) have already entered false information about themselves to protect their identity.”

This isn’t news to me or NextStage. One of the first things we told clients way back when was that — in general!!! — people will fabricate information on the web more often than they won’t because the social and cultural cues prohibiting “lying” aren’t available to them.

This same topic reared its head again during the recent XChange conference when we were discussing people in person versus online giving information necessary to receive information. I suggested that people will be more honest when providing health and investment information than, say, vacation information. There’s a higher psychological price (again, in general) assigned to health and investments than to vacations.

Anyway, I had a few days to spend analyzing the problem and finally figured out the math necessary to map online behaviors to which parts of the brain were active when information was being provided online. The rest of this post covers a seven day cycle, 27 Sept – 4 Oct 07, for several industries that NextStage monitors.

In all these images green indicates the number of visitors who respond truthfully to questionnaires, in chat sessions, etc., yellow indicates people who mix truth with non-truth and red indicates people who just make things up. Even when there’s nothing to fill out or form to fill in, these values indicate which parts of the brain are firing most actively. The question probably then becomes, “If there’s nothing to fill in, how can people be telling the truth or making things up?”

Deceitful behavior is both a boundary and defense mechanism. Think of a cat poofing its tale, a dog bristling it’s back, things like that. These mechanisms engage to make the animal appear larger than it is. It is, in a sense, being deceitful, making itself appear larger than it is, to protect itself or its territory. Thus, when there are no forms to fill out, et cetera, and ET is picking up fabricational behavior it is an indication site visitors are uncomfortable with the website they’re navigating. Similarly, truthful behavior is an indication visitors are comfortable with the website they’re navigating.

Let’s start with B2B sites shown above. Practically 2/3s of the people on all B2B sites NextStage monitors are comfortable enough with the site they’re navigating to fill out forms honestly and accurately. Probably a good thing in they’re making business purchases. It wouldn’t be good to order a skiploader one couldn’t pay for or maintain properly.

Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 2

This is the second installment of Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information. Interestingly enough, some of what this arc touches on was part of a conversation Paul Legutko, Semphonic’s VP Analytics, and Judah Phillips, Reed Business Interactive’s Director of Web Analytics, had last week at Bentley College’s Usability Labs with some graduate researchers. Many thanks to Paul and Judah for taking part in that discussion. I’ll be sharing the outcome of that discussion here once the results and finalized and made available to me.

This arc deals with Evolution Technology‘s (ET) ability to determine if visitors to websites are behaving…umm…fairly(??) when they fill out forms, et cetera. Some readers know I’m taking a sabbatical from NextStage and that means I get a chance to finish some projects that have been hanging over my head for months if not years now. One such project was the mathematics of truthtelling versus fabricating and how those two neural patterns are demonstrated when someone interacts with a website.

The rest of this post covers a seven day cycle, 27 Sept – 4 Oct 07, for several industries that NextStage monitors. The above provided a report for a general B2B sampling of sites NextStage monitors for clients. This post deals with B2C sites.

truth%20B2C%20070927-071004-350.jpg

Compare the above image with its B2B cousin in the previous section and you’ll notice that more consumers tell the truth (green) or recognizable portions of it (yellow) than do businesspeople when navigating websites. I’m a little surprised by this finding and with a little thought it makes sense to me.

These charts determine truth v fabrication by determining how much territoriality and defense mechanisms become active in a visitor’s neural landscape when they navigate a website. Consumers — at least the vast majority of them in today’s eWorld — no longer fear that websites will steal their soul, hence the defense mechanisms and territoriality that are indications of truth v fabrication don’t become active. This ties well into something I mention in Reading Virtual Minds, that people are becoming more and more comfortable identifying with a projected online persona (doesn’t matter if that persona shows up in Second Life or in a “junk” email address). This ability to be comfortable with a projected persona won’t show up as a fabrication because the individual navigating a site or filling in information won’t differentiate between their real versus cyber self.

Blog Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 3

This section deals with blogs.

how truthful are people when they're reading and commenting on blogs?

The majority of blogs NextStage is monitoring are social in nature, not business or informational and Wow. Who knew the majority of people involved in social blogging were…umm…so good at…uhh…had such strong imaginations? Compare this image with its B2B and B2C cousins above and you’ll notice that consumers — both business and general — tell the truth (green) or recognizable portions of it (yellow) than do bloggers. This finding doesn’t surprise me at all in light of what I wrote in the first section of this post and the findings in Social networking sites: Almost two thirds of users enter false information to protect identity. I guess that shows up on social blogs as well.

General Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 4

How many visitors are being honest on sites in general?Better than half the visitors to sites (in general) are providing honest and truthful information online and feel comfortable interacting with the site their navigating. This is shown by the large green chunk of the pie chart on the above.

It’s always interesting to me to see how truth and honesty demonstrate themselves across a variety of verticals and industries. We learned that B2B visitors are more honest online (in general) than B2C visitors. Social Bloggers, we learned, tend to be less honest and truthful when adding comments.

Online Insurance Vendors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 5

truth%20Insurance%20070927-071004-350.jpg

Just over two-thirds of the visitors to online insurance providers are providing honest and truthful information online and feel comfortable interacting with the site they’re navigating. This is shown by the large green chunk of the pie chart above.

Online Medical and Pharma, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 6

truth%20medical%20research%20070927-071004-350.jpg

This chart shows that an equal number of people are either telling the truth and fabricating OR an equal number of people are comfortable and uncomfortable when navigating online medical and pharma sites.

It’s in situations such as this that a little postulating can be useful. What follows is an opinion.

I find it doubtful that people navigating a site that may help them cure a disease or understand what’s happening to either themselves or a loved one would fabricate information. Doing so only means they won’t get useful information and if getting information is what they came for, the more useful the information they receive the better they off they are, therefore fabricating and getting less useful information defeats the purpose of coming to the site.

Therefore (and without looking at other NextStage reports that would help make this determination with more precision) I’m going to assume (ASSUME) that visitors navigating these sites are uncomfortable, either physically or psychologically. Physically because and unfortunately they may be dealing with an illness. Psychologically because dealing with their own or a loved one’s illness takes a toll psychologically.

Online Vacation Sites, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 7

This section deals with visitor interaction with vacation sites. The vacation sites in our system tend to be high end type vacations (luxury hotels offering safari style expeditions in Kenya, for example) and that’s going to play into my end analysis of what we learned with this tool.

People tend to exagerate when planning for vacations

One of the first things I noticed about these results is that there kind of a polarity mirror of what we saw in Online Medical and Pharma, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 6. Basically more people are exaggerating or outright falsifying information on these sites.

It’s worth noting at this point that these charts and the equations behind them aren’t simply “Truth v Fiction” because the parts of the brain-mind system that register truth and fiction are also the parts that determine if we feel comfortable or uncomfortable in a given situation. I went with a “comfortable v uncomfortable” analysis of online medical and pharma sites because that interpretation made more sense in conjunction with other data we had gathered on those sites. Here, in high-end vacation sites, a “truth v fabrication” analysis makes more sense.

What we told the clients (the numbers varied across the sites so I’m being general here) is that lots of visitors might not be able to take part in their vacations and probably know this viewing the sites. However, these sites, their intense graphics, fluid narratives, videos of people taking part in arctic expeditions, hiking over glaciers, trekking in the Andes, whitewatering in who knows where, allow many visitors to dream and while I won’t debate whether or not dreams are truth or fiction, I will offer that dreams are wonderful ways to escape and seeing yourself in a given situation is necessary when deciding if an extreme vacation is for you.

In other words, people fabricating, imagining, dreaming, is probably a good thing on these kinds of sites. Fortunately and as mentioned before, it’s possible (with other NextStage tools) to zero-in a bit more and know if visitors are purely fabricating or merely allowing their imaginations to run wild.

Wiki Contributors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 8

This section deals with contributors to wikis. The wikis monitored in our system are mostly internal and corporate, in many cases the companies asking NextStage to monitor their inhouse wikis are exploring the use of wikis along with other new media methods of B2E interactions.

Do wiki contributors really know what they're writing about

I think an appropriate subtitle — at least something businesses wanted to know — is whether or not wiki contributors really knew what they were writing about when entering information into a corporate wiki.

I need to clarify at this point that NextStage’s tools don’t know if someone is telling objective truth or not. Our tools can only identify if the person entering the information believes the information is true or not. This is subjective truth. In other words, this tool can determine is someone is intentionally fabricating information. This is a similar problem that criminal investigators and forensics experts deal with routinely; the witness believes what they’re redacting is accurate even if there’s massive contrary information available.

Subjective truth is a valuable tool in a lot of instances. For example, one of the greatest problems facing lots of industries today has to do with whether or not their knowledge-base will be maintained as workers retire, move on, etc. This concern is one reason many corporations are studying wikis as tools for collecting, categorizing and distributing knowledge before it walks out the door and is lost forever.

This NextStage tool allows wiki monitors to note that a given individual strongly believes the information they’re providing is accurate and actionable (a good combination in most instances).

All that offered, this chart indicates that across all wiki sites NextStage is monitoring contributors believe they are either telling the complete truth with their entries or are unsure. Nobody is fabricating information (also a very good thing to know when dealing with a corporate knowledge-base).

Truth, False Information and Personal Information Finale

I thought it might be useful to close out this arc with a review of NextStage’s findings across several verticals. Let’s start back with visitors to B2B sites. Across all general B2B sites in the NextStage system visitors are more truthful when entering information into the site and comfortable navigating the site than not.

Next up is visitors to B2C sites. As above, across all general B2C sites in the NextStage system visitors are not only more truthful than their B2B cousins, visitors are convinced they’re not fabricating information and are largely comfortable with the sites they’re navigating.

People seem to be either uncomfortable when commenting on blogs or fabricating information outright. I’m shocked, aren’t you?

We also considered a “glom”, meaning it covers all sites in our system. We analyze information from several sectors, verticals and markets, some with only one client and others with several, therefore this glom truly is a glom, an amalgam, of visitors. Think of a delicious stew that has great subtlety and is wonderfully filling and you have the idea.

Visitors to online insurers are incredibly truthful in filling out forms and navigating insurance sites. Good job and nicely done, online insurers (at least those in our system), you’ve managed to build rapport and create relationships with your online visitors that insures comfort and honest dealings. Hooray for you!

Online medical and pharma sites is where we recognize that these reports show more than just visitor truth and fabrication, they also display comfort and discomfort with the information presented on a site. Here we learn that many visitors to these sites are telling the truth when filling out forms and also uncomfortable, perhaps in a state of physical or emotional distress, with their need to be on such sites.

High-end vacation sites demonstrate one of my more fun findings to share with NextStage clients; those who offer high-end vacations. Why is this fun? Because while it might look as if most visitors to these sites are either uncomfortable or making something up, it’s more likely the case that they are imagining themselves taking part is some stimulating adventure scenario (I know I could use one right about now…) and that active imagination would be registered as fabricated information.

Our last chart dealt with people entering information into corporate wikis. The large majority of people entering data into corporate wikis believe they’re offering accurate information. More importantly, nobody entering information into the corporate wikis NextStage is monitoring believes they’re making up information.

This report is offered as NextStage Veritas Gauge. Hate to think I spent a month calibrating and verifying data from various sources, perfecting the math, so on and so forth, for nothing.


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