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web site visitor myths

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  • warren_d_smith31
    Been looking at the access logs and I think a lot of the conventional wisdom we hear web marketing gurus spouting all the time, is baloney. I.e.: 1. visitors
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 1, 2006
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      Been looking at the access logs and I think a lot of
      the conventional wisdom we hear web marketing
      gurus spouting all the time, is baloney.
      I.e.:

      1. visitors have short attention spans and most stay under 5 seconds,
      so you need to attract that kind of person.

      REALITY: Those people reach your web site because of a google search
      for something else. They instantly decide your page is not giving
      them the info they were looking for, and leave. Trying to cater to
      their "short attention spans" is a total crock dreamt up by
      marketing idiots.

      2. so when I made the javascript quote-box gizmo to attract them,
      I probably was not doing anything useful. They couldn't care less.
      And I can see no evidence from the stats that the new page
      works any better than the old one at attracting longer
      visits.

      3. is there actually any evidence whatsoever that pretty-appearing
      web pages attract any more than ugly ones??
      I haven't seen one iota of such evidence, but if any of you
      can find any from the vast annals of marketing wisdom
      (or perhaps a better word is not wisdom, but "idiocy")
      then please let me know. I bet not one marketer has
      ever done any such study or ever even considered doing
      such a study in spite of intoning
      with the utmost confidence, the truth of the aesthetics
      hypothesis for their entire lifetime.

      4. If so, I just wasted a lot of time. I bet what matters is
      not aesthetics, but rather clarity of function.
      Well, if so, I did not totally waste my time...
    • Jan Kok
      ... I agree, the quote box is worthless, or less. The way I interpret the attention span idea is, a visitor is willing to spend a few seconds scanning the page
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 2, 2006
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        On 10/2/06, warren_d_smith31 <wds@...> wrote:
        > Been looking at the access logs and I think a lot of
        > the conventional wisdom we hear web marketing
        > gurus spouting all the time, is baloney.
        > I.e.:
        >
        > 1. visitors have short attention spans and most stay under 5 seconds,
        > so you need to attract that kind of person.
        >
        > REALITY: Those people reach your web site because of a google search
        > for something else. They instantly decide your page is not giving
        > them the info they were looking for, and leave. Trying to cater to
        > their "short attention spans" is a total crock dreamt up by
        > marketing idiots.
        >
        > 2. so when I made the javascript quote-box gizmo to attract them,
        > I probably was not doing anything useful. They couldn't care less.
        > And I can see no evidence from the stats that the new page
        > works any better than the old one at attracting longer
        > visits.

        I agree, the quote box is worthless, or less.

        The way I interpret the attention span idea is, a visitor is willing
        to spend a few seconds scanning the page to find something that
        matches what he came for. If he can't find it quickly, he'll look
        somewhere else.

        So if Joe Activist got a tip to check out RangeVoting.org for an idea
        about how to improve elections, help third parties, or the like, and
        he's greeted with a screenful of "equations masquerading as
        sentences", he'll be gone quickly, if he can't take the math.

        So we need to figure out why people that we might want to work with
        might come to our site, and convince them, as quickly as possible,
        that we have what they want.

        Here's another way to look at it. If you go into a library or a
        bookstore, which books do you pick off the shelf? Probably the ones
        that have titles that resonate with your interest at the moment,
        right?

        And which books do you read for more than a few seconds? The ones that
        grab and hold your interest on the back cover, or the inner sleeve, or
        page 1 or wherever it is that you look first, right? So, we need to
        guess where the visitor will look first (and do our best to direct his
        attention where we want it), and then do our darnedest to convince him
        that it's worth his time to keep reading.

        >
        > 3. is there actually any evidence whatsoever that pretty-appearing
        > web pages attract any more than ugly ones??
        > I haven't seen one iota of such evidence, but if any of you
        > can find any from the vast annals of marketing wisdom
        > (or perhaps a better word is not wisdom, but "idiocy")
        > then please let me know. I bet not one marketer has
        > ever done any such study or ever even considered doing
        > such a study in spite of intoning
        > with the utmost confidence, the truth of the aesthetics
        > hypothesis for their entire lifetime.
        >
        > 4. If so, I just wasted a lot of time. I bet what matters is
        > not aesthetics, but rather clarity of function.
        > Well, if so, I did not totally waste my time...

        I agree, if "clarity of function" means ease of navigation, being able
        to find what you want.

        Colors can be used to indicate function, for example, gray indicates
        menu buttons on the RV home page - good. If the color scheme didn't
        make intuitive sense to the viewer, that would be a bad use of color.

        I think "clarity of function" is correlated with good aesthetics.


        In a previous post, Warren arked about the use of ALL CAPS, presumably
        referring to the "virtues" section of the home page. I don't have a
        strong opinion... I'd have to see it a couple different ways and then
        decide which I liked better. I suspect that bold might be better than
        all caps.

        I _do_ strongly feel that that "virtues" section should not be on the
        home page. Have I mentioned that before? :-)

        Cheers,
        - Jan
      • Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
        ... Depends on the purpose. Within the body of text, yes. However, all caps is superior *when it is no more than one line*; i.e., it is *very* easily readable.
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 2, 2006
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          At 08:55 AM 10/2/2006, Jan Kok wrote:
          >In a previous post, Warren arked about the use of ALL CAPS, presumably
          >referring to the "virtues" section of the home page. I don't have a
          >strong opinion... I'd have to see it a couple different ways and then
          >decide which I liked better. I suspect that bold might be better than
          >all caps.

          Depends on the purpose. Within the body of text, yes. However, all
          caps is superior *when it is no more than one line*; i.e., it is
          *very* easily readable. All caps makes for good section heads, for
          example. And for headlines. Take a look at any newspaper!

          (more than one line is used sometimes *if* the type is very, very
          large and there is only one or very few words on each line.)
        • warren_d_smith31
          ... --not buying it. I can tell from the logs the vast majority of ultra-short-time visitors got there from a google search. E.g. they want to know Lincoln s
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 2, 2006
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            > So if Joe Activist got a tip to check out RangeVoting.org for an idea
            > about how to improve elections, help third parties, or the like, and
            > he's greeted with a screenful of "equations masquerading as
            > sentences", he'll be gone quickly, if he can't take the math.

            --not buying it.
            I can tell from the logs the vast majority of ultra-short-time
            visitors got there from a google search. E.g. they want to know
            Lincoln's birthday. They land on a CRV page mentioning Lincoln.
            Nothing about birthday, goodbye.

            I think anybody going to CRV because they got a tip, is going to look at it for
            more than a few seconds if he is bothering to come at all.

            How do they then find what they want?
            Well I think the wrong approach is: feed them with 3rd party propaganda.
            If they wanted that - good, but most didn't want that.
            The right approach is, give them menus and links and search
            boxes & stuff that enable them to quickly find what they want (their choice what)
            and also we have to enable to them to see that it is likely to be there and
            that our site is about expertise and info. (The latter is the more difficult part.)
            If you blow off the top-ten virtues, and replace it with dumbness, then that
            is lost.

            I think a lot of JK's ideas (not quoted here) about extra content he wants
            in CR, are good. Some of it already is there, but JK could make it
            more accessible and/or write the missing content.

            (Please?)
          • Jan Kok
            ... Well, no... In my proposal for a new public-friendly home page, there is still a search box, the left-hand menu, and a new right-hand list of links which
            Message 5 of 8 , Oct 3, 2006
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              On 10/2/06, warren_d_smith31 <wds@...> wrote:
              > > So if Joe Activist got a tip to check out RangeVoting.org for an idea
              > > about how to improve elections, help third parties, or the like, and
              > > he's greeted with a screenful of "equations masquerading as
              > > sentences", he'll be gone quickly, if he can't take the math.
              >
              > --not buying it.
              > I can tell from the logs the vast majority of ultra-short-time
              > visitors got there from a google search. E.g. they want to know
              > Lincoln's birthday. They land on a CRV page mentioning Lincoln.
              > Nothing about birthday, goodbye.
              >
              > I think anybody going to CRV because they got a tip, is going to look at it for
              > more than a few seconds if he is bothering to come at all.
              >
              > How do they then find what they want?
              > Well I think the wrong approach is: feed them with 3rd party propaganda.
              > If they wanted that - good, but most didn't want that.
              > The right approach is, give them menus and links and search
              > boxes & stuff that enable them to quickly find what they want (their choice what)
              > and also we have to enable to them to see that it is likely to be there and
              > that our site is about expertise and info. (The latter is the more difficult part.)
              > If you blow off the top-ten virtues, and replace it with dumbness, then that
              > is lost.

              Well, no... In my proposal for a new public-friendly home page, there
              is still a search box, the left-hand menu, and a new right-hand list
              of links which is supposed to be a short newcomer's FAQ. For example,
              what is RV, what's wrong with plurality, etc. One of those links would
              be to a "Technical Summary" (or you can give it some other name) which
              would point to a page with your concise mathematical description of
              RV, and the 11 virtues.

              > I think a lot of JK's ideas (not quoted here) about extra content he wants
              > in CR, are good. Some of it already is there, but JK could make it
              > more accessible and/or write the missing content.
              >
              > (Please?)

              The problem is, JK is a very slow writer, and knows squat about web
              site programming. That other guy, Clay, would be able to get it done
              10x faster, if he has the interest.

              At this point, we're still in the preliminary design stage. We haven't
              agreed on what the home page should look like, or what the sales
              message should be.

              Cheers,
              - Jan
            • brokenladdercalendar
              ... Anyone involved in typesetting, linguitics, etc. will tell you this is a patent falsity. All caps are harder to read. But because they are larger, they
              Message 6 of 8 , Oct 5, 2006
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                --- In RangeVoting@yahoogroups.com, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd@...>
                > Depends on the purpose. Within the body of text, yes. However, all
                > caps is superior *when it is no more than one line*; i.e., it is
                > *very* easily readable. All caps makes for good section heads, for
                > example. And for headlines. Take a look at any newspaper!

                Anyone involved in typesetting, linguitics, etc. will tell you this is
                a patent falsity. All caps are harder to read. But because they are
                larger, they do command more attention, which is why they are used for
                headlines. A splotch of extra-large lowercase letters in a page of
                all caps text would be noticable too.

                And I say this as someone who hates mixed case so much that I made my
                own web site and myspace pages completely all caps.

                http://brokenladder.com
                http://myspace.com/brokenladder
              • Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
                ... Ahem. I was a typesetter and editor.... I think that what I wrote was misinterpreted. All caps is never more readable than lower case. However, if it is
                Message 7 of 8 , Oct 7, 2006
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                  At 12:12 AM 10/6/2006, brokenladdercalendar wrote:
                  >--- In RangeVoting@yahoogroups.com, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd@...>
                  > > Depends on the purpose. Within the body of text, yes. However, all
                  > > caps is superior *when it is no more than one line*; i.e., it is
                  > > *very* easily readable. All caps makes for good section heads, for
                  > > example. And for headlines. Take a look at any newspaper!
                  >
                  >Anyone involved in typesetting, linguitics, etc. will tell you this is
                  >a patent falsity. All caps are harder to read. But because they are
                  >larger, they do command more attention, which is why they are used for
                  >headlines. A splotch of extra-large lowercase letters in a page of
                  >all caps text would be noticable too.

                  Ahem. I was a typesetter and editor....

                  I think that what I wrote was misinterpreted. All caps is never more
                  readable than lower case. However, if it is only one line (or maybe a
                  few very short lines), all caps can be *as* readable, maybe.

                  Yes, extra-large lower case letters will be quite noticeable.
                  However, you don't see this usage (lower case headlines with all caps
                  text) because all caps text is hard to read.

                  Caps also are more space-efficient (which is why "they are larger.)"
                  I.e., for a given size type, the caps take up the full vertical
                  space. But this very efficiency is part of why they are harder to read.

                  (And what is "linguitics"? Most people involved in linguistics
                  wouldn't have spent much attention on this kind of thing....)

                  >And I say this as someone who hates mixed case so much that I made my
                  >own web site and myspace pages completely all caps.

                  All lower case would be much kinder to your readers. Unless you only
                  have a few captions.

                  Indeed, I used to avoid upper case entirely in my own writing.
                • brokenladdercalendar
                  ... Certainly. I was just making a point that it s the *distinctness* that draws attention, not the caps-ness . It seems you re exceedingly aware of this.
                  Message 8 of 8 , Oct 8, 2006
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                    --- In RangeVoting@yahoogroups.com, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd@...> wrote:
                    > Yes, extra-large lower case letters will be quite noticeable.
                    > However, you don't see this usage (lower case headlines with all caps
                    > text) because all caps text is hard to read.

                    Certainly. I was just making a point that it's the *distinctness*
                    that draws attention, not the "caps-ness". It seems you're
                    exceedingly aware of this.

                    > Caps also are more space-efficient (which is why "they are larger.)"

                    I don't know how you could make this kind of claim. Are you saying
                    that if you shrink a capital "A" and a lowercase "a" down to the
                    smallest size at which they are both legible, the capital "A" will
                    take up less space? That's an odd claim, that I have no idea how you
                    might have come upon.

                    > I.e., for a given size type, the caps take up the full vertical
                    > space. But this very efficiency is part of why they are harder to read.

                    Oh. Now I think I know what you're saying. This doesn't mean that
                    caps are inherently more "space-efficient", but that within the
                    context of typographic systems, like computer GUI's and typewriters,
                    caps just use more of the available room, according to the constraints
                    of the system. I could make the same claim about all-lowercase
                    sentences, in which the first letter of each word was twice as tall.
                    I could say "word-beginning letters are more space efficient, as they
                    use the full height of the line". Arbitrary.

                    > (And what is "linguitics"? Most people involved in linguistics
                    > wouldn't have spent much attention on this kind of thing....)

                    How brilliant of you to leverage a typo against me like this. But I
                    believe that the study of *language* would have something to do with
                    the use and efficiency of characters. In fact, a linguist might be
                    aware that mixed case was at one time not the norm, and that even
                    lowercase letters were preceeded by all caps. Well, so says
                    Wikipedia. Stephen Colbert puts a lot of nonsense on there, so I
                    don't know whether to ever trust it anyway.

                    > >And I say this as someone who hates mixed case so much that I made my
                    > >own web site and myspace pages completely all caps.
                    >
                    > All lower case would be much kinder to your readers. Unless you only
                    > have a few captions.

                    But I think lowercase letters are superfluous and ugly. I think if
                    people got used to reading all caps, just like in the good old days
                    when lowercase letters hadn't been invented, we'd be a lot better off.
                    Having two versions of the same letters is a nightmare.
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