Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No one makes a list of web sites to visit before they die

Remember that it's so important to focus on the value that end users will receive, whatever your product - even if it's "only" a web site.

A contemporary example of getting things the wrong way round is QR Codes: they are useful in tracking items through a supply chain, especially in situations where RFID tags are not appropriate, and the barrier to entry is really low: you can get started with a black and white printer and a free or cheap smartphone app.

But when they're offered to end users as part of a brand's marketing campaign, they're solving a problem for the marketer, not the end user.

Do we really expect a user to download an app; start it; scan a code; then wait for some random content to be pushed to them? If the code links only to a regular website then it's not likely to be a great browsing experience on the smartphone; and if they've scanned the code from an ad on the subway or London Tube then they won't have Internet access to reach the content anyway. When they do get the content, will they be glad they did? If it's just another ad then probably not.

There are just so many more intuitive and easy ways for users to get the content that they want. Meanwhile, the QR Code in this scenario is really only benefiting the campaign manager who wants to track real time viewing statistics; and users are tired of giving up measurement info for such small reward.

So, focus on what users want, and will benefit from. They're not sitting around compiling a list of websites they want to visit and ads they want to 'experience' before they die. Build and deliver something that helps your users to live better instead.
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