Making onboarding easy

Onboarding is a demanding job in which players (users) of a system are brought onboard and made familiar with the system, their options within the system and are encouraged (by design) to try them and are rewarded (by design) for their effortless achievement. Howerver outsidide games, this is one of the most challanging tasks and difficult to a point that more than 80% of the startups in social businesses fail becuase they are aunable to pass beyond this phase. A prominent example where onboarding failed is Google Circles and Google plus where onoboarding has been a huge challage. But those systems are not gamified and people had no incentive to complete their profile or invite their friends to these new platforms. 

LinkedIn is also faceing a smilar and localized challange in which they want to incrase user participation and forum engagement. LinkedIn have professionals who are both capable and interested in the content which other professioanls would be producing. In order to ease the existing members in, they are using "free accomplishment" tactic visible in this graphic. 


This image is shown when my group level contribution is "0" but progress bar indicates 20% score already. Thus it acts on our brain in multiple ways including

  • It gives an impression that I had probebly already started that, even though I didn't
  • It gives me an impression that process is easy to complete and I have 80% more to cover instead  of 100%
  • Its orange color acts as a warning and hints that  this is something which is less than good, but upon hovering, it turns green and progress bar reaches 40 giving a meaning that that 40% would be the right or safe score. 
  • By progressing further, you also get a different accomplishment title. At 20%, it says "Getting Started" and at 40%, it is "Finding an Audience". Thus you given a sense of progression and accomplishment along the way. 

12 Lessons from Steve Jobs told by Guy Kawasaki

  • Experts are clueless; they only know what others are thinking, what is general acceptance in the industry. 
  • Customers do not know what they need; they can only tell you what they need better, what they need cheaper, what they need 10% faster but cannot initiate a revolution in your products.
  • Biggest Challenges beget the best work; if you give your employees big challenges, they will rise up and deliver best work of their carrier. 
  • Design  Matters; People care about design so do not put up crap. Design is what matters, not a great algorithm.
  • Big Graphics - Big fonts; Steve jobs used  to put 60pt font in his presentations and often had a word in this presentations on a slide. 
  • Improve by jumping curves, not better sameness. Don't do 10% better, do 10 times better! People born in a curve, they die staying in the same curve. Only a very very few people were able to jump curves within their lives. 
  • All that really matters  is "what works and what  doesn't work". Apple never stuck with one strategy religiously, they only stuck with what has potential
  • Value is different from Price; There is a class of users that care for value. 
  • A player A players, B players higher C players, C players higher D players. So higher people who are better than what you are. 
  • Real CEOs can demo. They can actually use the products and present that to the audience.
  • Real entrepreneur ship. They jump the curves and produce the products out, which though have elements of crappiness. Guy is not saying that ship crappy products, what he is saying is improve by generation but accept there are going to be lapses and embrace those lapses and release products. S
  • Something need to be believed to be seen.

Content Analysis - sells leather wallets and they have designd a page to help people understand how slim-wallets are better than standad ones. Its a great example of content strategy and in a very engaging manner educates you and convinces you that slim wallets is the way to go. Howerver I have analyzed its content and followings are few areas where it can improve. 

Reference URL 

Content of is great in following aspects;

  • Content is written to a specific audience
  • addresses a specific problem
  • content is simple to look at
  •  quick to absorb
  • establishes credibility of the provider as a subject expert
  • offers free and useful tips
  • content is logical and convincing

But this is where content is lacking.

  • Content doesn't make reader remember the brand
  • content doesn't' make reader act "now"
  • there is a "Content Noise" between call to action button "Become a slim Ninja" and "next logical user need". In the middle, there exists big bold "Our Focus" which is useless in the given context. "Less is more" would've done the job all by its own.
  • the content doesn't convince you that why "these" slim wallet should be bought for $89-$110. As a site visitor, I agree with the philosophy, I appreciate their content and helpfulness but I am not convinced why slim wallets from this site should be my choice. Since I am educated on the subject, I might go and buy any slim wallet from anywhere but why should I choose "these" listed wallets is not clear.

These wallets are expensive than usual ones and this additional price demands there should have been something inspirational and identity driven which is not there. if the content had a component which would convince users that wallets are "Stylishly Smart" then that would have helped. As the strategy for the page is entirely utilitarian, the strategist might have purposefully kept inspirational aspect out. However high price suggests there should have been some talk about inspiration and its absence is being felt. 

Mobile Websites vs Native Apps

Two different products and available to meet two different needs.

Mobile Apps are great if you want to serve frequent customers. Native mobile apps are fast and handy for customers who know what you do and what they want from you. Examples include bank making apps to facilitate their account holders. 

Landing Page optimization

What is a landing page

A landing page is the page within a website which is meant to receive your visitor directly and entices him to do something further. Thus it acts like a door which receives a visitor, informs, attracts and persuades him to perform an the activity and at the same time helps the business achieve its goal(s).

Landing page has several definitions depending upon objective they meet. For example, hubspot defines landing pages as “ these pages have forms on them and are designed purely to capture a visitor's information”.

Wikipedia describes landing page as: A single web page that appears in response to clicking on a link lying outside our website, a search result or an online advertisement. The landing page usually continues the sales message that was advertised and which had captured the user’s interest.

And there are more variations of this definition but generally speaking, it is a page which is meant to take a lead in propagating the message once a visitor arrives to it. It is usually the second “node” in the “objective life cycle” where first node is either another website, a search-engine result or an advertisement which has grabbed the attention of a random visitor and has brought him to our website on the landing page. Since first node is mostly outside our controllable website, the most emphasis of optimization resides on this “second node” or the “landing page”.

How to optimize a landing page?

Factors which contribute to the landing pages

Before we may think about optimizing, there are few pre-requisites which must be in place before “optimizing process” begins.

A page which we want to optimize must have

  • SMART objectives
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-specific
  • Evaluate
  • Re-evaluate
  • well understood user needs
  • persuasive architecture
  • our ability to analyze and evaluate conversion rate of the page.

What do we call conversion?

Conversion means accomplishment of a predefined visitor specific business goal. In simplest form, we will consider that conversion has happened if a visitor has landed on a page, learned about a product and ended up making a purchase. Thus a visit has been converted into business.

However conversion doesn’t always mean a purchase and is considered to happen when a visitor successfully achieves smaller and sometimes non-economic goals; like visitor subscribing to a newsletter, or liking or sharing a link over social media, downloading a document or even more subtle business goals like spending x minutes on the site, browsing y number of pages or returning to website within specified time duration.

Forms of Conversions

  • Macro Conversions
  • Micro Conversions

Percentage of visitors who landed and accomplished desired objectives. Conversion is measured by conversion / number of unique visitors.

Conversion rate also varies from industry to industry and business to business within the same industry. Also various segments of the visitors produce various conversion rates. visitors who are looking for some specific information may only visit to get their required bit of info without converting straight-away but a returning visitor will have cleared perspective about website’s product/services than the first time visitor and hence returning segment of visitors will produce better conversion rate than that of first time visitors.

How Conversion Happens

Conversion in most cases is a multi-stage process and each step has its own dynamics. Generally speaking, a conversion has following three stages.

- Acquisition

Collecting visitors from social media, search-gines and other websites.

- Conversion

Bringing visitors to the landing pages and educating, guiding and leading them to achieve expected goal

- Retention

Keeping the visitors as customers and from customers to long term clients. This is done using keeping a “contact loop” alive by using emails, newsletters, special offers, discount vouchers etc.

Multivariate (A/B) Testing

Multivariate testing is the form of AB testing specifically employed in ecommerce industry. Using Multivarient Testing, we can determine effect of two variations on conversion or similar business goals.

Have a look at Wiki Reference

3rd Party Solution:

Optimizely is a great tool and lets you compare two variations within your website without producing two variations separately. It inserts a single snippet of javascript into the website and depending upon our required changes, it pushes different variations of the page to different users and keeps tracking outcome of those variations in real time. Thumbsup I must say.

Google Analytics:

In Google Analytics, multivariate testing is called Split Testing or Content Experiments.

Multivarient Testing explained on

Is Content Strategy a misnomer?

To me, term "Content Strategy" is a misnomer and should have been called “Content Management” or “Content Management Strategy” if you must. Consider this definition of Content Strategy by Kristina Halverson, 

“Content Strategy is creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content”. 
This is very much about management of content and the way you make it useful and usable within the organization. Shouldn't we call this aspect of data management as “Content Management”? 

Now look on the other side of Content Marketing 

“Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” 

This definition is all about strategic usage of content and how to convey message to well define and well known audience. This is where strategy is in action. Shouldn't Content Marketing be rather called Content Strategy? When you write to an audience to fulfil an objective, it doesn't matter what “type” of objective it is and writing to make an audience “know and learn” is not much different from “know and purchase”. Content Marketing is actually Content Strategy and what we currently call Content Strategy is Content Management. 

Content Strategy VS Content Managemenet

 Kristina Halvorson has grouped Content Management Strategy with Content Strategy. Many aspects of data including  governance, storage, retrieval and meta-data etc has more to do with Management than Strategy. As per our mentor John Levine, strategy is how to communicated content is seen 1) credible, 2) authentic and 3) transparent. Now this definition tells you what PROPERTIES content MUST have so it could be acceptable by the audience and this definition doesn't hint about the managerial aspects which endorses my understanding. 

Now here is my definition of content Strategy which focusses entirely on strategic thinking.
"Content Strategy is the art and science of using human emotions to spread the message across." 

To me tools of content strategy are human emotions and not spell-checkers, spread-sheets and gap-analysis tables. Later are all examples of Management. Data management in itself needs a strategy when you have to deal with large volumes but then we call it Content Management Strategy but not Content Strategy.

Browse through the forum and find some examples which people are giving. You will find every example is about communication of message. For example "Dumb Ways to Die" and "Drag him away" campaigns. No one has shared any example of managerial aspects as yet. 

Regarding your diagram, you are indicating problems found in large organizations and the problem is lack of homogenization which eventually leads to several other problems including redundancy, inconsistency and conflicting content. To solve this problem, you would need to create data rules and standardize how each department uses and stores data. This effort will fall under Content Manager's role. We don't have this designation but if we do, the role of Content Strategist will become distinct and identifiable as it should. 

Relative Color Preception

Our preceptions of colors is more relative than we have been taking. By now we understand that background has impact on a small piece of object placed in it, like red dot on black, gray and white seems to have different color intensity and saturation. But this relevent impact on the preception is not visible in the foreground colors only and can be seen in the large, dominent and apparently color-less tints like white and dark gray. Have a look at two examples given below.

Image on the top-left seems to have a light tint of brownish green in the background because of tiny tints in the foreground. The image on the right is the same image and has exactly the same background but in the presence of gray text, background appears to be color-less and neutrally gray. Same impact can be felt in the bottom-left image which seems to have a pink-tint in the background even though it is exactly the same and doesn't have any value of hue (#333).




Example of a Persuasive Email to Landing Page Campaign

I have came across this well thought and persuasively designed email and then the landing page and found they are very good examples to follow. 


The Email:

  • Starts with "One Luckey Nerd takes home all this. BE THAT NERD" creating mutilple preceptions including "chance to win", "being lucky" and finally.. a commanding instruction in Capitals "BE THAT NERD", creationg a balanced mix of Attraction, Inspiring and Commanding what to do.
  • Selection and display of 4 welll thought images starting from Large Screen, Macbook, an ergonomic and relaxing chair and finally Red Headset with visible brand. All mentioned items are preceived high value among the audience this email is meant for. 
  • There is a blurred office image which has enough noise and softness to be used for subliminal messaging. I am not able to spot any obvious subliminals in it but if they are subliminal, I shouldn't be spoting them. Howerver liklihood of having a subconcious message is there. 
  • First line after the graphic reads "We've extended the deadline! You now have until October 6th at Midnight PST". This part is doing two tricks together. 
    • Creating a sense of extended opportunity
    • Second line "You now have until october", the line is using assertive narrative telling you about leverage of time, yet making you think that it is a do-able or an obligation. A sentence like "now you can" would have created sense of "choice" which is not given. 
    • "To enter to win, simply deploy the New Relic agent by the deadline! Who doesn't want all that great stuff." It is again assertion to previous annotation of "comply, obey and follow" and ending the line with a negative psychological statement, "Who doesn't want all thsi great stuff". 
  • In the headings part, there are three simple but purposeful headings creating a reverse pyramid of reward, putting highest with most charm first, then second grade winner (no one wants to be second and thus no one values second prize; yet there is something if you loose first) and finally telling that everybody is a winner. 
  • Finally, a big red button which is visible and contains a verb "Deploy Now" as final instruction leading to specifically designed landing page. The area around the "call to action button" is empty and doesn't contain anything which may deserve a look. 

Overall, a very good and well thought strategy to engage user, persuade him and lead him to perform desired action.


It is followed by an equally welld designed landing page and I will try to decipher its content later in detail but for your eyes, here it goes.



Bleeding Hotspots

Hotspots are areas around a hyperlink where hyperlnik starts responding to mouse movement.

They are specially usedful when hyperlink is image based or applied over a css block. We can use hotspots as hyperlinks, anchor-names and even to trigger javascript function. Howerver while using them, we must make sure

Google's new UI - Review

Google’s interface has gone under a revamp recently and came out with something which is taken positive and negative at the same time. It is different, less obtrusive, less visible. The new color-scheme is a shift from overly white to mild gray, less bright and more focused on objective.

Graphican Test - Isolate fake from the real

This is exciting.. I have just discovered a way to identify if any given image is fake or real. Idea is to find credible procedure which can Identify fake/composited images (no matter how well-done) from real ones. It is still a trial-and-error learning for me but I would like to keep you guys involved and see if this is really something trustworthy.

Heuristic Analysis - Password Reset Page

Heuristic Analysis is the evaluation of user interface design in order to find out common usability issues and is a quickest ways of finding out usability problems and fixing them. Any skilled UI/UX Designer can help you perform Heuristic Analysis and eliminate useability issues before. Heuristic Analysis can be performed at any stage but it would be most beneficial if you perform this analysis on your existing designs before subjecting them touseability testing. Doing so will help you find deeper useability issues instead of rediscovering what is already known.

Following is an example taken from a popular recruitment site. In order to save the site from any criticism, I have blurred their identity and some of the email IDs listed on the page.

UX is Process, not Person

User Design Experience is name of a Process. A set of procedures which involves undestanding your grounds, undestanding objectives, following a defined and well structured research methodology, structured design, developement and problem solving and finally, testing and evaluating how close you got to your objectives and how real those objectives were to the intent. 

I intend to write a complete article on the subject, as the time allows. 


---- In Progress ----

Build upon the best

Nothing is original. From straw to the tallest buildings, from underwater vehicles to space-ships, everything is built upon an idea, a form, an entity which had existed before. In better words it is called "Taking Inspiration" but it is not any less harsh than "stealing" someone's work. Ripping of some-one's work who in reality had rippied some-one else's. It started with the first human being and it will continue to the last.

Economics of Attention

One day while travelling by train, a thought came to my mind that trains have stopped announcing arrival of train stations. It wasn’t result of an observation but rather a realization that had not heard that pre-recorded female voice making announcements since long and at the same time, started thinking what may have made them stop that helpful announcement.

Within a few minutes as train approached the next station, I was amazed to listen to the same train announce in equally loud and clear voice and upon listening that,

Information Design

By definition: “Information design is the skill and practice of preparing information so people can use it with efficiency and effectiveness.” To put simply, information design is a solution to a problem, built using text, images, video, graphs and other available data – that’s it.

Time Controlled Progressive Enhancement

Webpages are two dimensional space where all the content must be added or arranged in no more than two dimensions. Even an illusion of 3rd dimension is inevitably entrapped in x and y coordinates. Although impression of layers overlapping each other tend to give us impression of things being behind the others but that is the most we can achieve within this given space. However we can add a real and new dimension to this x,y canvas making it 3 dimensional space; the dimension of time.

Role of Branding in WWW

Internet business is tricky, not because it involves ever growing technology, but because of fierce competition and challenge of sustaining customers over a prolonged period of time. Considering marketing of a web-business, success doesn’t mean to achieve top 10 ranking in Google and receiving 10,000 visitors a day, but real challenge is to retain customers and visitors at times when Search Engines changes their ranking policies and your site drops from first page to 7th or 17th page overnight.

Time Management Solutions

In the recent article by Scotty Belsky, he has suggested to use Margins between various time-slots throughout the day to handle miscalculations and unexpected. While this approach of leaving 1-2 hours margin everyday during the working hours would make you feel safe, this approach itself is expensive in effective that it is based on our judgment again.

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