Monthly Archives: April 2018

Things that decrease use experience

In this post you’ll find a few things you might be doing that could be decreasing the experience of your visitors or costumers.

The way website visitors and app users interact with the website/app can have a huge impact on the odds that they will come back, and even more important, also in the odds that they will become costumers. On this day and time when pretty much everybody embraces simplicity from the ease of use of an app/machine, to the shortness of videos on YouTube, designing your products in such a way that they are easy to use is not longer a choice, but a must if you plan to compete and win. Just like most things in life, when we’re trying to improve something we look first for the things that are holding us back and fix them.

Things that decrease use experience

You might find that by fixing/eliminating the things that hold you back, that there isn’t as much for strategies to make the website/app/product more appealing to the users. Below are a few things that might be holding your website or app back.

1. Too many adds

Ads have been around for ages now, and today, they are probably more visible and widespread than ever before. Their effectiveness is largely the reason why even with most people complaining about them saying how much they don’t work on them, the large and small business still bother to spend millions of dollars creating and displaying ads. The fact that they might be a good source of income, as well as an opportunity to boost the sales and revenue of your business, shouldn’t be enough to clutter the website/app with ads. If user experience is important to you, finding a balance between too many ads and too little is probably the next thing you might want to do. I’m sure that if you spend a large part of your free time surfing the web, that at some point you found yourself in a hard to browse website because of its elevated number of ads.

Ads might boost revenue, but there is a point in which they hurt user experience, and when user experience is hurt potential for money making is greatly reduced. The users of today appreciate a clean interface, and this is why you should too.

Promoting

Another variant of the “too many ads” problem is over promotion of a product. The income of many websites and YouTube channels comes from the ability to promote products, and getting sales from them. Websites, apps and YouTube channels become popular when they deliver value, and if yours does, you can piggy back on its success to promote products. Just like with adds user experience also decreases when you over do it.

In the end of the day the purpose of any platform which achieved any degree of success and popularity is to deliver value. For the social media for example, the value comes in form of the ability to connect with our loved ones at long distances, and when this value is overcome by an excessive number of ads, or over promotion of products, the experience of the user is hurt.

Something worse than displaying too many ads or over promoting products/services is displaying too many irrelevant ads or promoting too many irrelevant products. The average user today has an aversion to ads and sales already, and this experience turns worse, when the ads and sales are irrelevant to its needs. Now they have to find a way to tune out the things they don’t care about to be able to get to what they do care about. Google is aware of how annoying irrelevant ads can be, so much so that they have algorithms designed to display only the ones that are the most likely to be relevant to their viewers.

2. A cluttered user interface/website

Another thing that can greatly decrease the user experience with your website/app is a cluttered user interface. Having too many functionalities displayed in the same page might give us the impression that the page will be more useful to the user, but the truth is that this is only true for the ones who use all the functionalities of the app or visit all the pages of the website on a regular basis. This is rarely the case, so, instead of trying to maximize the usefulness of a page, the best things one can do to make a specific page more user-friendly is to take advantage of menus. Always try to make the page look as simple as possible.

One reason why you might want to this is due to what goes on our brains when we are faced with complexity of any kind. Our blood glucose reduces. With more complexity we spend more time and energy trying to make sense of what we’re looking at. We are usually averse of the things that make us waste lots of time and energy, and we prefer the things that spend the least possible amount. Think exercising and the mere act of planing our day. The latter might not burning energy through the muscles, but it does so through the brain. Remember, the brain alone consumes about 20% of the energy of the whole body if not more.

Simpler interfaces solve such problems apart from the fact that they just look better, and this is why they are the preference for all of us.

3. Too much complexity or low ease of use

This tip is closely related to the previous one, and the reason why it still deserves its own place is that its still possible to not fall for the first but still do for the later. We are all biased to think that the more complex we make things the more people will appreciate it. Think about the teacher who speaks in fancy language because he thinks that the students understand the material better that way, or the businessman/woman who uses the same fancy language to hide his or hers lack of true knowledge and skill. Making things more complex than they have to be might make us feel like we are smarter than we actually are, but that’s all it does. The best teachers for example, are the ones who are able to break down an idea to its essence with the simplest wording the student can understand.

When it comes to user interface and usability, unnecessary complexity is another thing that can hurt user experience in the same way that unnecessarily complicated wording can hurt the level of understanding of a student. So, #1 keep the simple, and #2 try to make the seemingly complicated as simple as you can, don’t just assume that the user will get it, or know how to do it.

I learned the latter on the first year I learned programming. The teacher emphasized the idea that for example, every action the software performs should display some sort of message, to let the user know what’s going on. The steps the user would have to take to get the application to work as intended should be made so clear that even a child or a person who’s not tech savvy would be able to use the application you just wrote. I Cary those ideas till this day, and you should too whenever you set out to build/design a website/app.

4. Making it difficult to do simple things

When it comes to user experience simplicity and speed of completion are the two words of the game. I can not emphasize enough how websites/apps that are the simplest are preferred over the ones that are not. So, the same idea applies to the idea that we should also make it easy and simple to do the simple/easy. This means that what everybody makes easy to do on their websites/app you should too. This means doing some competitor research to see what everybody else is doing. The best-seller author Grant Cardone once mentioned the fact that although we say that competition is good for the costumer, the same doesn’t apply for the business itself. Competition for a business is what the wild animals in the judge were to our ancestors: a sign that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and that at any time we could stop existing. In the same way that we feel the pressure to lower our prices if the competition is doing it, we should also feel the same pressure when it comes to the user interface of our apps and websites. One example of a business that embraced this idea of making the simple and easy simple and easy to do is amazon with the order placement functionality. If you’ve use amazon.com at least once, you certainly noticed how easy it was after creating an account to purchase a product the moment you’re sure of it.

5. Popups

Popup messages in websites just like ads instigate different feelings to different people. When it comes to ads for example, some people believe that they shouldn’t be used because most people are aware of their desired outcome and for that reason they don’t work. The idea is that they not only don’t work, but also hurt user experience because people don’t like when they feel like they are being manipulated. The ones on the other side of the table argue that if ads didn’t work, be big businesses of today wouldn’t just spend millions of dollars every year on them. Similar argument is applied to popups for both sides. The ones who vote against it believe that popups do nothing but annoying the user/visitor when he/she enters/exits the website/app. The ones who vote for it also argue that if they didn’t work they wouldn’t be so popular.

Just like most things in life as the investor Tai Lopez said once: “its not black and white”. Meaning that we tend to think of things as binary, in the sense that if its not this, then it must be the opposite. If you chose to use popups do so carefully.

6. Slow websites or apps

We live in a time in which technology is better than ever before. We not only get to benefit from the chance to connect with our loved ones from a long distance, but also to learn pretty much anything for free, and at any time of the day. There is also the fact that we also got used to faster and faster software. Businesses like Google can be so obsessed about this aspect of user experience, that they are willing to make their user interface as simple as possible to accomplish just that. The idea is that in essence, the simpler the web page, the faster it loads in both high speed and slow internet.

The website visitor of today is so impatient of slow loading pages that this alone is enough for him/her to go look for what they are looking for somewhere else, increasing what goes by the name of bounce rate. For the search engines this is a sign that the website is not of quality, and quick loading and content rich websites is what google wants to present to its visitors.

When it comes to apps, speed might not be as detrimental as it is for websites, but even there it can still to its damage. Sometimes a certain functionality might be slow in nature that there is no optimization that would make it any better. For these cases, the next best thing is to show any sign of progress to the user. This means adding loading bars and messages from time to time, so the user doesn’t assume that the app is frozen.

 

Summary

This list is by no means the list of all things that may decrease the quality of the user experience with the app or website. This is however, a good starting place on your user experience improvement efforts. This, just like with the mastery of any skill or subject is a timeless effort. You have to look for better ways to improve your user’s experience every single day, and the more you look, the more you find.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to read and take advatage of body language

In this post you’ll find a few ways you can read and take advantage of body language.

The ability to read people is a very important part of our day to day lives, and even more so on the business world. Failure to understand the hidden motivations of a business or love partner can be neutral at best, and at worst cause you to lose all you’ve got. Its important to become aware of the fact that every single person has its own agenda, even the ones who make part of our teams. In the end of the day, all of us aspire to be the one at the top, receiving all the praises of our peers. So, with this in mind arises the need to gain a better understanding of the people around us, and apart from empathy, and the ability to listen mentioned on the post: How to bond with people, knowing about body language can get you a long way in inferring what goes in the minds of the people you interact with.

How to read and take advantage of body language?

Body language is a very large topic that experts take years to fully master and get a grasp on. Although you don’t need to become the kind of person who knows every single body posture known to men, having a grasp on a few can put you ahead of pretty much the majority of people. Below are few things you should pay attention to.

1. Genuine interest

Knowing how to keep people engaged used to matter only on the social realm of life, but as time went by, and the social found its way into the business world, and knowing how to engage people became a valuable skill in business. One example of this is in the area of sales and costumer service. With the growth and impact of the internet and the social media, the costumer now has a say on whether business remains in business or not. In the past, the amount of money and resources the business had, would allow for its continuous existence on the marketplace. Those two still matter today, but as we see happening more often these days, all it takes for a personality to lose its job, and a business to become unpopular, is to just do or say the wrong thing, and the loss of popularity they get on the web, quickly reflects into the real world. So, in order to make more sales and keep the costumers happy, businesses found that knowing how to engage the costumer became less of a “maybe we should”, but more of a must. And in the ability to engage people lies the ability to create what we call genuine interest.

We are all familiar on the set of things that cause people to feel genuinely interested on what we’re talking about, but how can we be sure that the person on the other side of the table is genuinely interested? In other words: how can we know if what we’re doing works? This is where body language plays an important role. The opposite of genuine interest is boredom, and one way to find out whether something is the case, is by trying to know if the opposite is the case.

Starting with clear signs of interest, the most telling one is when the person leans in when you talk. The act of leaning in is clearly and indicative that the person is trying to listen what you talk about the best they can. This is a very powerful indicative of true engagement. This is not always the case however. Sometimes people who are genuinely interested in something don’t show it by leaning in, they could just as likely lean back. Again, one way to find whether something is the case is to look for indicatives of its opposite. For genuine interest, the opposite is boredom, and below are a few indicatives of just that:

– Looking somewhere else or doing something else while you talk

– yawning(classic)

– Not contributing to the conversation

The last one can be used as a strategy to measure engagement. Engaged people feel the urge to participate, just in the same way we do when we watch a very interesting movie, or make part of a great music concert. The emotions they spur are unlike boredom quite energetic to our bodies, making then staying still almost a challenge to our brains.

2. Confidence

Confidence is one of those things that as time went by, became the thing parents were taught to instill in their kids. Just like with other kinds of attitude and emotions, confidence can both shape the way we interact with the world, and be expressed though body language. Look at the filed of dating for example. As time goes by we are becoming more aware that it is not necessarily the most good-looking who get all the mates, but the ones who display some confidence about themselves that do. So, one way to better understand what goes inside someone’s mind is to find out whether the person is confident or not. Confident people have a different attitude towards life, and tend to be more independent people, while the ones who lack confidence might be more open to guidance by someone who has confidence. Confident people tend to display the same body mannerisms regardless of context. A few examples of those are:

– Looking at people in the eyes

– Standing and walking straight

-Not being afraid to occupy space

– They take their time when they speak

True confidence comes from competence. Its true that as scientists found out that changing our body posture/ body language that we can feel and behave with more confidence. The problem is that the kind of confidence we advise people to have is backed up by nothing but body language and attitude. So, apart from looking at someone’s body language to be able to tell whether that person really is confident or not, is by trying to figure out what that confidence is based on. Competence more than simply body language manipulation is probably the best self-confidence pill anyone can take, because its not easily shaken.

3. Admiration

Another emotion or attitude you should keep track of in your relationships whether professional or personal is admiration. We look up to the people we admire, and those are usually the ones we tend to give our loyalty to. One reason why this might be the case is that by hanging out around the people we admire, we get to rub their greatness on us, and we in turn feel a little better than we actually are. We feel this way when we are related to a high figure either as a family member, or even as simple as an acquaintance. If knowing who are our real friends, and who really is loyal to us is a hard problem. One strategy to find out who to trust is by looking for signs of true admiration, or hostility. One powerful sign that a person admires you is far away from their body language and even far away from you. When we admire someone we tend to not only say positive things when they are not around, but we also to do so frequently, to both friends and strangers. It’s as if the person was a product, and we are the sales person. So, try to find out how and what the people around talk about you when neither you nor your friends are around.

4. Reading more

A big part of what goes int body language is the ability to get in touch with the emotional state of the person you’re trying to read. Body language although very valued on this era of the internet where the ability to read others has become more and more important, does not tell the whole story. As you pay more and more attention to the body language of the people around you, you might find that sometimes body postures that usually mean something for most people, for one specific person represents something else. One very common example of this effect is on the field of dating, where women and men when attracted to someone are known to show specific kinds of body language and behavior. Sometimes both men and women find themselves in an uncomfortable situation when they find that the person who looked like she was attracted to them a few minutes ago, really isn’t despite all the “signals” they picked up during the interaction.

Body language is like most things in life embedded in context, and shouldn’t be taken for something written in stone on your “trying to understand the minds of people” efforts.

So, with context, and a general understanding of the person as a human being with its own desires and motivations, you might find that sometimes, you can, as crazy as it might sound, predict a person’s future body language. This requires good understanding of the social dynamics that play on each environment you get into. It also requires an understanding of the preconceived notions and the status quo of what goes around on the environment, and thinking about the individual as a part of a bigger system which influences and is influenced by each individual. For this last point, the famous philosopher Rene Descartes, was known to theorizing that both the mind and the body influence one another. Here the social environment can be seen as the body, and the minds of each individual as the mind. They are two different things but, they work in synchrony.

5. Strategy to master body language quickly

There are many strategies you can implement today to improve your body language reading skills and the one that proves to be effective, and yet “unsexy” is a simple two-step plan. First ready largely about body language, its commonalities, and how it varies with the environment and context. Here like a math student, you fill your mind with the tools you’ll need to solve the problems that come to you. The problem is in identifying something specific about the person you’re trying to understand. The second step is to, well,… observe, and use the tools you got either through books or courses, to make up your own hypothesis of what kind of person the person you’re observing is, what she’s going through, and what kinds of things she might be interested at. For this one, one great inspiration is the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, who is popular for is ability to deductively evaluate any person he comes in contact with, and is able to tell very secretive and hidden details about their personal lives.

Pay attention to your own

Reading and interpreting body language is not only about understand what goes on in the mind of a stranger, but also about what goes on in your own. The mind is a mystery, and its not far from common for us to find it difficult to understand why we do the things we do. Even the most brilliant of the psychologists find this a difficult problem, and although this is the case, we’re still lucky to have tools we can use to increase our understanding of what goes on inside the skulls of humans, and your body language is one of them.

Another reason why you should pay attention to your body language is that it can help you improve the impression people have of you. Sometimes we might be pretty confident people with the least amount of insecurities a person can have, but our body languages show something different. Remember that body language is not really a manual of to the human mind, and for this reason its prone to mistakes. So, taking a better and more confident pose can help you get that promotion or deal you have been chasing for months.

Summary

As you probably noticed body language is less of a “cure all pill” but more of a tool to be used with other tools to serve the purpose of better interacting in society with other people. Learn as much as you can about it from books and courses, but don’t forget to base your assumptions and conclusions in context. When it comes to human behavior and human interaction, the #1 thing is context.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to bond with people

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can implement today to make it easier to bond with people in business, and in life in general.

The ability to bond with people is one of the most valuable things today on the business world and in life in general. We tend to think that this is either born with us or not, and the ones who possess this gift are the ones who are labeled as charismatic.

We are all born with to some degree the ability to connect with other people, and when this is not the case, we see a person struggling through life, and more likely to fall into depression. We all need people to move up in business, and in life in general, and knowing how to create that connection with strangers is a very valuable tool to have on your tool belt.

How to bond with people

Knowing how to bond with people can be viewed as both innate or as a skill. The truth as that as far as skill is concerned, the ability to bond with people can be said to be a skill that not only can be learned, can also be mastered. Below are a few things you can do today, to do just that.

1. Listen

I know, I know,…, we’ve all heard that listening to people is important if we want to create a connection with them, and just like most important things in life which are repeated over and over again, listening is to some extent important to increase your chances of bonding with the person next to you. We are all prone to attempt to make others listen to what we have to say, and the reason why this happens is in part due to the fact that there is nothing more interesting in life to us, than our own lives. This is even true when we admit that someone has a more interesting life than ours, and for these cases, the way our life is boring/uninteresting is more interesting to us, than the way someone else’s life is interesting. The problem is that most humans apart from their differences are quite alike. We are all self-interested beings, and this can quickly become an issue, when we unconsciously try to force others into listening to what we have to say, while they are trying to do the same. The solution for this problem is quite simple: listen more than you talk.

When we find ourselves caught up in listening someone else’s life story for an hour, we feel uncomfortable, and we are more likely to try to void that person in the future. However, something different happens when we find our life stories to be the focus of someone else’s interest. We hate to be forced to be interested in other people’s lives, but we love, when someone is positively interested in ours. When this happens we are more likely to want that person around for longer and more often, and before we notice, the secrets we once promised not to tell nobody, find their way of slipping out from our lips without any effort being made from the part of the other person. So, if there was only one thing we could do to make it easier to bond with other people, that thing would be listening attentively when someone talks about herself, and repress the urge to either tell a better story, or talk about ourselves. In a world in which pretty much everybody is self involved, listening to what they have to say is probably the best strategy to win over their hearts.

2. Add into their lives

In business the one thing that makes a costumer become a fan is the fact that the business, in whatever shape of form it presents, adds some value to the life of the costumer. Scams might work in the short term, but are definitely not a long term strategy if you want to be successful in the long run. By adding into the lives of others, whether they are your business partners, costumers or potential friends, you make others dependent on you, which is in part what the book 48 laws of power by Robert Greene teaches us. This dependency will not be of physical or resources kind, but more of the emotional one. For a person to want you in their lives they need to be aware of the fact that their lives would at the very least be less enjoyable without you on it. Examples of this are everywhere, and the one that mimics this point the best is the one in which lovers who wouldn’t think of each other as such, when set apart from each other for whatever reason, notice that their overall level of happiness is greatly diminished. In other words, people need to able to miss you to some degree if they are to like you, and they can only miss you if you add value to their lives.

3. Cultivate empathy

Empathy has been a subject of talk in many circles in the last few years, and just like most things which are widely talked about, there is some level of importance into it. Empathy, for the ones who don’t know if nothing more than the ability to feel what others are feeling, and scientists believe that this is what might be lacking on psychopaths. Feeling what others feel means simulating what others might be going through in our heads and bodies, and this is a very important tool for our ability to judge how we should behave, and how people might be thinking about us. It also helps us adjust our behavior towards the people around us, and to fit in on the social norms defined way before we were born, so we can function in society.

Empathetic people are the ones who also tend to have the most nourishing relationships, since on the moments in which your partner or friend is going through a rough period you feel for them, and they know you feel for them. For a moment you both share an emotion and a mental state, creating as a result a form of what hypnotists call Rapport.

4. Get better at giving advice

Another way to make it easier to connect with people that arises from tip #2 and can work well with tip # 3 is the ability to give good advice to people. Whenever we feel even the smallest bit comfortable with someone, we become more prone to tell them about our problems, and this is an amazing opportunity to make others close to us. If you think about it, more often than not, if not always, is the case that the people who are known for giving good advice and having life experience are the ones who tend to have a large following of people, who would love to have them around at all times. Better than a friend, you’re looked at as a leader to be followed. This doesn’t mean that you should at all costs give advice you’re not entitled to give. The reason for this is that giving advice to a person can be a double edged sword. On one end, if it works and it does make their lives better, you’re looked up to and respected to higher degree. If it doesn’t work however, depending on the person, the results could range from the mere distrust we get from a person who told us to do the wrong thing, to the hate that comes when someone hurts us deeply.

So, to harness the power of the advice, the best and pretty much obvious strategy is to become more knowledgeable. For this, books, courses, and mentors are things you should be in contact with, if you are to increase the number of subjects you know about.Notice that Knowing more is not only good to be able to give good advice to others, but also to improve our own lives. “The more you learn, the more you earn” said Warren Buffet, and he is one of the wealthiest persons on the planned arguably because of this kind of mentality.

Sometimes even when you know what you’re talking about your advice doesn’t work, and to prevent the problems that could arise from this, another strategy is to give the advice as something you learned from someone else, if you learned it from someone else. We can argue that for every advice anyone gives, no matter how experienced, more than 80% of it is not original, they learned it from someone else. Even Issac Newton, the brilliant mathematician and physicist admitted once not knowing everything when he said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” By pointing who you learned it from, you reduce the respect/admiration/appreciation you get if the advice does work, but also reduce the possible hate that could arise if it doesn’t. One thing you could to is to also cultivate the desire to simply help people for no ulterior motive, and this can take you a long way into creating better professional and personal relationships.

5. Get Better at reading people

One very important aspect of human interaction is the array of emotions and unspoken reactions to each others behavior that goes on when two or more people interact.

I’m sure we all are aware of a person or two who is completely clueless about what the people around them are thinking of them or the environment in general. Because of that they are also more likely to behave inappropriately, or say the wrong thing, and are usually the ones accused of what we call “going too far “. Maybe you’re that person, and if this is the case, paying more attention to not only what people say but also how they might actually be feeling or meaning is a must. As the “The God Father” book character Vito Corleone once said: “Its not just what is said that matters, you also need to know what is meant”.

Emotions and body language are two powerful aspects of human behavior which unlike our inner thoughts can’t be faked or lied about. When we feel anger or love, as much as we would like to hide them, this effort is almost in vain, since more often than not people around us are able to tell what we feel. The ones who historically have an easy time on hiding their emotions are psychopaths, since they are the ones who are said to have no emotions in the first place.

Just like most points above, this one can also be learned and perfected. We tend to think that the ability to read people is either born with us or not. There might be some truth to this, but if you think about it, the ability to read and tell what others are feeling is more a matter of observation that it is of intuition. One reason why we fail to read other peoples emotions and intentions is that we are more often than not so much into our own heads. We are worried about our own thoughts, feelings and dreams, that we forget to pay attention to the people around us. It’s no wonder that people who have passion towards people in general, are the ones who are able to better read their peers emotions and better connect with them.

By mastering the art of reading other people we gain the power to tailor speech and behavior to their needs and desires, as well as the ability to know whether what we said, or plan to say will be the wrong thing, or was the wrong thing to say or do. The beauty of this, and pretty much any other social matter is that there is a wealth of room to practice. People are literally everywhere, and for this, specially if you’re shy, there is no need to interact with anyone. You just have to observe.

Summary

Just like most things in life, connecting with people is a skill you can master. It’s true that some of us get it easier, maybe for their smaller degree of anxiety around people, but the idea that this is more of a God given gift that only a few of us are born with is far from the truth. Mastering the art of conquering peoples hearts will not only improve your life as a person, but also as a businessman/woman, by making it easy for you to get new partnerships, and getting your wills to become reality, and not just dreams.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Ways To Better Engage Your Visitors

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can employ today to better engage your visitors.

Visitor engagement, just like content is among the set of things that can make any content marketing strategy more or less successful. Something similar happens in business, where the quality of the product and the way the costumer interacts with the business can greatly influence de degree with which the user is more or less likely to stay with the business. Meaning become a recurrent buyer, or go out on the look for a better product/service from potential competitors.

After you spend enough time creating quality content, the next step is to find a way to engage the visitor/user, while they are in the website if your a blogger, on the channel if you have a YouTube channel or on in the app if you’re an app developer.

 

Ways to better engage your visitors

Just like on the subject of content creation, there are many strategies you can implement to better engage the user/visitor in your platform. There really is no best strategy ever to do this, since what works for one person, might be a complete failure or completely useless to another. So, from every thing you learn here, the best thing you can do is to test it for yourself. As the motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: “don’t be a follower, be a student”. Meaning that for everything we learn, we should hold back the tendency to quickly become followers of the ones who present us a view of life. We should instead learn from them, and with our own judgment, come up with our own conclusions. Below are a few things you can think of.

 

1. Answer to comments and emails

Comments and emails from your visitors are probably the most important thing to pay attention to when it comes to visitor/user engagement. One example of a businessman who can arguably be said to have become wildly successful because of that is Jeff Bezos with Amazon. On the book The everything store by Brad Stone, the author talks about the acute interest of the CEO of Amazon for costumer complaints, such so that he made it one of the priorities of the business. In a world in which we are used to being ignored by the businesses we interact with when we have a complaint, anyone that shows how much they care is likely to get from us the rosiest of the recommendations, even if they did a poor job.

So, by answering comments and emails you get to learn from your visitors/users, the kinds of things you’re doing wrong. The user/costumer/visitor is the one who can better tell you whether their needs were met, and what you can do to improve their experience with your business.

Another benefit of answering to comments and emails you get is that you also get to add more content in the comments in the form of answers. They are another opportunity to add more value.

Google and the search engines in general are another reason why you might want to answer to your comments. The reason for this is that user engagement is another parameter they use to tell whether the content you create really is of value to the visitors or not. By answering to comments you motivate the visitors to make even more comments, and this comment back and forth tells the search engines that there might be some inherent value on the piece of content you published.

2. Give them what they ask for

Another way to improve the level of user engagement is to give to the visitor/user at least what they expect to get. The violation of the user’s expectations is often enough to make sure that what goes by the name of bounce rate not only is high, but also that the users/visitors who bet on you to give them the answers/solution they were looking for never come back.

I’m sure that we’ve all been victims of websites/YouTube pages or even apps which promised to do or teach us something, but turned out to violate their promises, by either not doing what they were supposed to do, and/or showing ads instead. Having a following of users/visitors who are fans of your content is more important than displaying ads once, and the reason for this is that this not only increases the odds that they will eventually convert into costumers, but also that they could even become recurring costumers. Meaning that if you’re selling a product that can be purchased over and over again, chances are, that due to the trust and the relationship you built with them, that they will buy your product over and over again.

The reason why giving what you promise to give and nothing less is important, as you’re probably aware by this point, is that it builds trust.

We live in a time in which most of us if not all expect businesses to be trying to take advantage of us, and as protective measure, we become more defensive and skeptic in our interactions with the businesses of today. We require trust first, before even considering any monetary transaction with any business. We look for reviews, both positive and negative, since, with the growth of the internet and the social media, businesses that scam people are more often than not exposed. Today, the way the visitor perceives your brand and the kinds of things they hear from others and tell about it is probably the most important thing of all.

We see celebrities, business people and politicians easily losing their careers when they say the wrong thing, and this is only possible because now, unlike in the past, the costumer/user/visitor, has a platform in which to display their pains and complaints to the entire planet, only with a click of a mouse. So, make sure you keep your promises.

3. Invest on user interface friendliness

The way the visitor/user interacts with your platform is another way to improve the level of engagement with your business. Today, people tend to be less and less patient towards any level of unnecessary complication/difficulties in using technology. Chances are that your competitors are investing on making their websites/apps easy to use and you should too. As people become more and more accustomed to dealing with simple and easy to use interfaces, the pressure to make our apps and websites simple and easy to use grows.

One way to accomplish this task is by avoiding the urge to add extra features. One would think that by adding extra functionality to an app or website apart from what can be considered to be its core tasks, would make the user/visitor like it more, and this is true but only to a certain extent. I’m sure we can all recall one or more instances in which the core tasks of a device where difficult to execute, and what really didn’t matter was easy to find and implement. There is a specific kind of users who enjoy finding and taking advantage of extra features in a device, but most people in general just don’t care. Think about a computer for example. They tend to have lots of commands that if you knew would make your life easier, but most of us are not aware of even one. Some people on the other hand, are familiar with those commands, and they enjoy how easy they make their lives. The basics are easy to use/implement and available to us, and the extras, such as special commands although still there, are only available for the ones who care enough to look for and learn them. So, the big take away from this point is not to avoid adding extras to your apps or websites, but to instead make at least the core actions/features easy to use and implement. If you have any extra cool features, those should certainly be added, but should by no means compete with the core ones in terms of ease of use and accessibility.

4. Eliminate bottlenecks

This is to some degree an extension to the previous point. Waiting is just like difficult interfaces is one of those things people are less and less tolerant of as time goes by. And we can’t blame them. If there is enough technology to eliminate any unnecessary waits, why should anybody waste their precious time doing that instead of doing the things they really want to do? So, just like improving the ease with which the costumer/visitor/user interacts with your platform/app/website/device, you should also strive to eliminate/reducing any kind of wait. Another reason why this is important is that while the costumer/prospect is waiting, the chances increase that a competitor will get them to switch. The competition is just like you also looking for ways to increase their market share, and another way to do just that apart from making themselves the first choice of prospects with no choice yet, is to take their competitor’s costumers. So, if the costumer itself isn’t the one going to look for a better service, chances are that your competitors will be the ones trying to lure your costumers into switching.

 

5. Always give your best

This one I learned from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn, and his advice goes on the lines of “always do more than you’re paid for”. We are used to the idea of giving in proportion to what we get, but the problem with this kind of mentality is that the people on the other side of the table are also thinking in the same way. As time goes by, instead of an increased level of value on the system, we get nothing but sameness. Another variant of the same kind of advice he often says on his tapes is: “you get more than you have, because you can become more than you are:. Changing it a little, we can also say that you can get more than you have because you can offer more value than you offer now.

Something special happens when someone offers their best to us: we feel the urge to do the same to them. This is the essence of what goes by the name of reciprocity bias. For the ones who don’t know, the reciprocity bias is nothing more than the tendency we humans have to feel the need to pay back any kinds of favor done to them, no matter how small. The crazy thing about it is that sometimes, we return a favor by making a bigger favor. By always trying to give your best, and keep offering value to both your partners, and costumers, you get to benefit from their bias towards reciprocity, plus the kind of increased affection we can’t help but to develop towards the ones who make our lives better.

6. Spend some time researching ways to make things better

This one comes straight from the founder of one of the biggest retail stores in the planet: Sam Walton. Sam Walton is known for his incessant curiosity towards improvement. He Spent some of his time checking out what the competitors were doing well on their stores so he could also implement on his. Another very successful businessman followed the same ideal, and as of today is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. That person is Jeff Bezos with Amazon.com.

By constantly looking for ways you can deliver more value you eventually get to deliver more value, since as the old saying goes: “you get what you look for”.

Summary

In the end of the day, user/visitors engagement just like most things in life is more of a skill to be learned and mastered. The current thinking of most of us is that the ability to engage people is one of those things you’re either born with or not. The truth is that just like the ability to speak publicly, there are some people who are somehow natural at it, but for most of us who are not, practice, can get us just where we need to get, and just like in our personal relationships, being able to engage your visitors requires from you some research on the user and his/hers taste.

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Ways to improve an idea

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can implement today to improve an idea.

Ideas, either in their normal form, or in the form of a product or service, just like all of us can be improved. Doing so can have massive benefits, where if your goal is to convince as many people as possible of its truth/value, the improvement can be beneficial by bringing to your circle of beliefs more people, who were once non-believers. If its a product or service, the improvement has the power to not only increase market share and interest for the product on the part of the current costumers, but also make of costumers, the kinds of people who once were not.

In the end of the day, any improvement, no matter how small is usually a good thing. The ones who are able to make something that works today better, are the ones who possess, what goes by the name of a growth mindset.

So, before anything, the most important thing you can do in order to be able to come up with a continuous flow of improvements on your ideas/product/service, is to pay attention to the kinds of thoughts that go through your mind when you’re distracted. In short a person with a growth mindset believes that life and everything around it is more like an unfinished piece of art, in which the artist can only hope to make the work a little better, as opposed to assume that after the first design, whatever results from it is all it can be. The people on the other side of the table are labeled by scientists as people with a fixed mindset. Here the person is more prone/likely to buy into any idea of “God given gifts”, and that all that matters for the success of a person is either the gifts the person was born with, or any genetic luck, where there were born with genes that give them the ability to be intelligent. Fixed mindset people are less likely to believe on the idea that hard work can shape your life, no matter how unlucky you were born.

Like most things in life, there are two sides to this problem, and none, can completely invalidate the other. Some people believe that the luck you’re born with is what shapes your life, and that the ones who become successful are the ones who where lucky to be born with luck of some kind. Others believe that we all have full control of our lives, and that we can do/get anything we want as long as we have the will for it. Any of them could be true, but when it comes to self-improvement, and the improvement of pretty much anything, one has to first believe that he/she can, with effort make something that used to be average, become something extraordinary, even if that thing is themselves.

Ways to improve an idea

Just like most things in life, there are many ways to improve an idea. Something similar happens in the area of computing programming, where more than one algorithm can lead us to the right solution. What makes this example relevant is that more than just thinking about a solution for a problem, and quickly implementing it, its more important to think about not only the problems, but also about the solutions you come up with to solve the problems you have to solve. Below are a few strategies you can implement to improve your ideas, and more important than the strategies themselves, is to take some time to test each for yourself to see how it works for you. Sometimes the most used, and often claimed to be the most effective solutions have their own way of not working for us.

1. Find out the value of the idea

One way to improve on an idea is by starting with the value it delivers in the first place. If in the end of the day you find out that the product/service you have in mind delivers no value to the target costumer, chances are that its not a good idea to go ahead and implement it. Value is value, and when something is of value, costumers eventually find their way into the product, even if such is not heavily advertised like the giants of the time. If there is value in your product or service, the next step is pretty intuitive and even bordering on the obvious. The next step is to,…, well, find a way to increase the value you deliver.

One way to do so, which is often used among the big companies of today is to decrease the price. If we perceive value as a function of the price you pay for the product/service, and what you get from it, it follows that when you decrease the price and keep the value, that being quality, or speed, etc, the costumer gets more per dollar spent. So, if you have value, and are looking for a quick way to increase the value of it, is to try to offer it for cheaper. The problem with this kind of strategy is that just like you, your competitors are always on the look for what their competitors might be doing to increase their share of the market. So, its not surprising that when one player reduces its prices, the tendency of the competition is to also lower their prices in order to match the new low. So, with this strategy also comes the need to make sure that you are the only one to whom the new low price is profitable.

Another way to increase the value the idea in the eyes of the costumer is through the good old research and development activities. I’m sure we all hear the sentence ” we get what we look for”, which is more often than not used in a negative connotation. When we hear that sentence the advice that follows comes with the goal of making us less greedy, or more conservative in some sense. Just like most things there is also another side to this coin. The other side is that when it comes to looking for improvements in pretty much any area of life, being that on our minds (knowledge), bodies, etc, the only way we can improve is by looking for ways to improve. This means not being content with the current state of affairs, and always searching for the new ways in which the idea you have can be improved.

 

2. Feedback

Feedback is by far one of the most important things we can look for if we are to spur any kind of improvement. Either that improvement is on the personal side of our lives(self-improvement), or on the broader and still important professional side of our lives. If you have a product, and you’d like to know the set of things you could to make it better, the first thing you can do is to ask the costumer. If you don’t have any costumers yet, this can still be done by making your product/service subject to tests by the kinds of people who go by the name of early adopters.

In short those people are the ones who enjoy, and often look for the chance to be the first testing/buying a certain kind of product. For them, according to the book Growth hacker by Ryan Holiday, there is no need to make the product perfect. For them, the most important thing is more what the product/service does, as opposed to the extras we all see in pretty much all already accepted products.

So, look for feedback from the costumer, and he/she will not only point the things that are not good, but also shed some light on the ideas that you didn’t think of in the first place. They are the ones who can better tell you what they need.

3. Look for other areas where you can implement it

In science, its pretty common for after a discovery of a fundamental law, for that law to be used in the unlocking of other truths that were once, just like the recently solved problem, or recently answered question, perceived as unsolvable problems or unanswered questions. Something similar happens with innovation in general. We are used to the idea that innovation is about the creation of something new out of nothing. The truth is that this is not always the case. Sometimes what the label as “innovative” is nothing more that the implementation of an idea of one field or area, to a totally new field or area. A very popular product grows in popularity, and in market reach not because of greater spending on marketing and advertising, but because the creators, or the competitors found out that with little to no tweaks, the same product or services wold be of value for another set of costumers. Computers on their early infancy were developed for war purposes, and in fact one of them ENIAC(Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), was used on world war 2. From there they were found to be useful in the corporate world, and years later, with diminished size, and a more accessible price, also useful for house owners, and then for their kids, and grand kids.

Today, computers are everywhere, and people from the different kinds, and social status use one. Either that computer is in the traditional form(keyboard, mouse, etc), or in the far more popular or diminished form of a mobile phone.

If you have an idea, either in the form of a product/service, and you’d like to know how to improve in order to attract more costumers, try to think of what kinds of people would it be useful to, and what kinds of tweaks you’d have to make to personalize the product or service to fit the needs of newly discovered costumer.

4.Cultivate a large breath of knowledge

Sometimes what makes people of insight come up with new and often overseen insights about the fabric of the universe is that they are able to look at things from a different set of lenses. Those “lenses” are the views and assumptions you make of the world around you. The problem is that more often than not those assumptions are, as scientists say: Grounded. When we say something is grounded to a field it means in simple terms that it is build/developed around a specific field. Think of physics for example. The sets of symbols we can observe on the formulas can be said to be grounded in physics. Sometimes we can see similar symbols being used in different areas of science, but taking different meanings. We can only can think of a specific symbol in different ways if we see it taking different meanings in different situations. As the old saying goes: “for a man with a hammer all problems look like nails”.

Here is where cultivating a larger breath of knowledge can help you not only improve on your old ideas, but also come up with new ones. When you know about more than one field, you not only know more, but also consciously or unconsciously inherit the views, and ways of thinking of the field. When we come up with an idea to solve a problem, we do so through a specific way of thinking. Those are what the ingredients such as salt, onions and garlic are to the cook. The more strategies and methods of thinking you have on your tool belt the better you are to come up with better solutions.

The chemist thinks about the world in terms of atoms and chemical reactions, while the computer scientist can think of the same world in terms of routines that have the power to solve specific problems. Each view can help you solve a specific set of problems, and combined, you can expand the volume of problems you can solve. You see how important this is the moment you think of improving an idea, in whatever form it might present itself as a problem to be solved.

Summary

Improvement of any kind is mostly in the mind. If you believe something can be improved the mind will present you with potential improvements. The opposite mindset on the other hand, will be at best limiting to your ability to improve the world around you, since the initial assumption is that there is nothing to improve.

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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