Web 2.0 Summit Takeaway – Google Insight

I am due to write up my adventures at the Web 2.0 Summit. That is on the way very soon, as well as a post about StartUp Camp. In the meantime, I wanted to share something you may have seen on the FreshBooks blog:

“One of my favourite takeaways from the Web 2.0 Summit was Marissa’s presentation about something she learned working at Google. She ran a survey and Google users told her they wanted 30 results in the Google search results page. She delivered thirty results in the results pages and then watched as users ran from Google faster than she could say, “What happened?”

At first she did not know why they left. In time she came to realize page load times – an extra half second to download the extra HTML required to display 30 results – was what drove people away. So, in a word, slowness drove them away. Looking at things from the other direction, the results indicated that speed keeps users coming back to Google.

To explain the significance of this, I created some graphics (which are NOT based on data):

How goolge does it

See the difference in approach? Yahoo! tries to get you to stay as long as they can get you to stay on Yahoo! properties. Google wants you to visit and leave their site as quickly as possible, the idea being that the positive experience you have with Google will keep you coming back more frequently (i.e. you do more searches). And guess what? Every time you return Google gets another chance to monetize you…and Google monetizes about 30% of the searches people make. Impressed? I was. Thanks for sharing Marissa.”

Usability Thoughts if you are Interested

I’ve sort of been on fire at the FreshBooks blog today. Here are some posts you might want to have a look at…both usability centic.

Breaking Conventions For Better Usability
“We are doing something slightly different in the new release. We are dropping the text size of the bolded words (they are still useful for contextual reference within the page) and leaving the plain text (i.e. the useful content) larger. It looks like this (see the Green box)…”

“I love my I pod…for the most part I like iTunes software, but why on earth can’t Apple figure out how to do software updates painlessly? They want to make me go to their site, download the update and install the new version. WTF. Can’t they figure out how ask me if I want the upgrade, then do this in the background without bothering me?”

Both posts have photos. Use the links if you want to see them.

Off to Web 2.0 Next Week

Was invited to Web 2.0 in the spring and I decided to attend.  I was just running through the opaquely presented schedule….lots will be happening…so far deciding what workshops to attend has been fairly easy…in any given workshop slot there are about six workshops…four of which are sponsored and smelling incredibly lame. That rules four out and makes my decisions easier.  I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Kedrosky talk about data and what not in Enterprise 2.0…something that is close to home.

If you are going to be there and would like to meet up, drop me a line.

To the Mesh Mobile! Canada's Web Conference Returns

Stuart, Mathew, Rob, Mark and I are delighted to announce that the mesh conference will be returning to Toronto’s MarsDD this May 30/31, 2007.

We had a ball planning last year’s event and we’re just digging into the details for this years. In the meantime we invite one and all to join us on November 15th after 6:00 PM at the Irish Embassy for a mesh pissup (errr) meet up.

Ticket’s for mesh aren’t on sale yet, nor are many of the details available (ie. speakers, content, etc.), but you can expect a steady trickle of news over the next few months. Also, we’ve finally posted the podcasts of last years keynotes. I listened to a few of them recently and they are excellent – enjoy!

Read Mathew’s post. Subscribe to our mesh blog and please come join us in May.

[note: just a reminder … we sold out last year and I expect we’ll sell out again this year, so if you want to come, please do grab the feeds and stay tuned].

May Your Road Be Merry

Big news flash in the Canadian tech scene. Mark Evans – one of Canada’s best read bloggers and one of my mesh conference co-founders – has crossed over from journalism to running a start-up.

Earlier this week b5 Media received $2 Million in venture financing from J.L. Albright and Brightspark. Getting Mark to join the team will only enhance their credibility. Having worked closely with Mark in building mesh, I can tell you that Mark brings some intangibles to the table that would benefit any start-up. He’s energetic, and totally enthusiastic about what he does. He is also forthright and honest – important qualities I’d want in any team I would build. Mark also brings experience to the team as he’s left journalism to run a start-up before.

Good luck Mark – I’ll be rooting for you.

Don't Under Estimate the Significance of This

Yesterday I posted this on the FreshBooks blog:

Applications that use the web as a platform have the potential to begin an era of providing new value for their users…

All the users that profile themselves (e.g. tell us “I am a web designer”) will begin receiving useful comparative business metrics they can use to benchmark their business. For example, a web designer might like to learn:

  • What is the average invoice size for web designers?
  • How long does the average web designer take to get paid?
  • What is the average monthly revenue of other web designers?

We’re going to tell our active users their industry average AND their own average, so they can see how they stack up….Remember when you had to pay Forrester $1200 for a report like this? It’s times like this I catch a glimpse of how our service – and services like ours – will begin to move markets.

At first blush, you might say “big deal”. Mark my words – this is a *big* deal. Computing and knowledge like this is going to disrupt markets (i.e. Forrester). Stowe gets it. Take a second and ponder the implications with other sorts of applications. Let’s say you are a lawyer using Writely, you could get metrics on editing time for various classes of documents like shareholders agreements. Using the metrics gathered you could do a better time of projecting your resource allocation (i.e. time) and you could do a better job forecasting expenses for you clients which they will appreciate…or at least you could say, “well I based my forecast on industry standards…it’s *your* fault we went five times over budget”…you get the idea.

Huge value…mark my words.

Web Application Tracking Surprise

I just posted an interesting discovery on the FreshBooks blog – the post includes a really useful tip for anyone building a web app.

Check out the article, and consider what the reduced conversion rate implies about users and their disdain for marketing offers in their user experience. Paul Kedrosky wrote this on eBay’s decision to offer Goolge Adsense ads on their site:

“any high-traffic application that does not also run ads is passing up material revenues, and its shareholders should take it to task.”

To which I replied:

“I’d like to see more data on this. While you are probably right, when you run ads you give up realestate and make usability trade offs that may have more of a long impact on your numbers than may be apparent at first blush. eBay built eBay didn’t they? Part of the appeal for users has been lack of ads. Isn’t lack of ads a community first approach and therefore a good thing long term? I’d say yes, but again, I’d like to see some real numbers on this…and let’s not forget when google runs ads in their free apps, they have no middle man therefore their margins are not comparable (read HIGHER) than other apps who run Google’s ads….”

How do design distractions affect your bottom line over time…hard to calculate, but worth considering.