August 16, 2007

Internet Explorer Inside Firefox

I know many of you must be aware of this (since the first version was launched in October 2005) but I am writing this for the benefit of all the Linux users and Firefox lovers (like me) who are still not aware of this cool tool.

Though the number of Firefox users is growing but still there are many websites (including popular utility website like IRCTC) that do not fully support Firefox. But now, neither you have to switch to Windows nor you have to open a new browser because “IE Tab” is here to save your day.

With help of this great Firefox Add-on you can easily see how the web page is displayed in IE and then switch back to Firefox. Developed by PCMan this tool enables you to use the embedded IE engine in Mozilla/Firefox environment.

You can just right click and select “view page in IE Tab” option or just click on the small icon to change the environment.

I hope this information was helpful.

Click here to download the IE Tab.

August 14, 2007

The definition of Being Competitive

Though it doesn't fit in the category of World Wild Web but I could not resist putting it here. Picture quality is not very great because I have taken it with my Razr.

Any Comments ??

August 12, 2007

Why Networking?

You must have noticed that Networking has become a new trend in this world wild web (that’s what I call it). It all started in 1995 with and then came Friendster, MySpace, Yahoo! 360° and many more. But the success of Orkut, Linkedin, FaceBook, MySpace etc has shaken the entire internet industry including India. And Bigadda, Connexions, Brijj, Techtribe, is just a beginning.

But have you ever wondered, what is the reason the behind overnight growth of these websites and what is adding fuel to all referral models?

I would say “Reducing Degrees of Separation

Its wasn’t too long ago when we said that if on an average everyone know 42 people around them, then the entire 6 billion population of this world is just 6 degrees away (6th root of 6,000,000,000 = 42.628)

Use this formula:
(average number of friends per person) ^ (degrees of separation) = total population

With faster & cheaper means of communication this number (42) seems to be too small, especially for the online world. Forget about friends and family, even if you look at your phone book, outlook address book, Orkut friends this number will easily reach to 500.

If there are 32 million internet users in India and very pessimistically, even if we know 75 people around us, the maximum degree of separation for internet users will be just 4 for India and 5 for the entire world.

It isn’t too far when you'll see a sign on all the profiles on Linkedin.

August 9, 2007

What is Emotional Ergonomics?

Emotional ergonomics can be perceived in two ways

1) It is commonly thought of as how companies design tasks and work areas to maximize the efficiency and quality of their employees’ work. International Ergonomics Association has divided ergonomics broadly into three domains: Physical ergonomics Cognitive Ergonomics and Organizational Ergonomics.

2) It is also perceived as a field concerned with the emotional aspects of peoples’ interactions with products, services or systems.

Being from a Product Management background, I will try to elaborate more on the Product Design aspect of Emotional Ergonomics.

It is said that we respond to an object according to how we feel, not how we think. Often consumers perceive an object to be emotionally better even if your body or society doesn't. Thus it is recognized as the study of perceived comfort or convince. An example is slouching. This is common in everyone's sitting at some part in the day, we know it’s not good for posture yet it’s emotionally satisfying.

We as human before we think anything, we feel it, even if it is an online shopping site. Thus how a product engages with us emotionally is as important as how well it performs mechanically, otherwise all our choices would be based strictly on price and functional efficiency, rather than emotional resonance and visceral appeal.

Product functionality is crucial for product success, the appearance, use of materials; shape and form provide the most immediate product data for the user. But less tangible issues such as emotional bonding of users with products, cultural perceptions and social value systems, provide valuable insights for the product developer to help expand knowledge and understanding of the users' need beyond the functional requirements. Knowledge of emotional ergonomics is important if you want to build customer loyalty and charge premium prices.

Simple methodologies such as watching people use products, organizing focus group sessions, and focusing on the application rather than the delivery method, would ultimately produce objects more relevant to users’ needs.

August 5, 2007

Is the Alexa Ranking correct?

Alexa's traffic rankings are based on the usage patterns of Alexa Toolbar users over a rolling 3 month period. A site's ranking is based on a combined measure of reach & pageviews. Reach is determined by the number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day. Pageviews are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. The site with the highest combination of users and pageviews is ranked #1.

But is this the correct way to judge or rank a website.

Apart from the biased that it is based on the sample of Alexa tool bar users, it is browser specific and it can be easily manipulated, the formula itself is debatable.

We started off by quoting the number of “Hits” for determining traffic of a website. But eventually, we moved away from the term "hit" because everyone realized it was pretty meaningless. A hit was often counted not just for a page load, but for every element included on the page, as well. So if a site was less graphical and had equal usage would register half the hits.

And then came Reach and Pageviews.

As such, it would not be fair to compare two websites that belong to different categories. But measuring reach (number of unique visitors) is important because mainstream advertisers want to reach a lot of people but not just the same people over and over. It also gives an idea of popularity and growth of a website.

Pageviews became the primary metric not because they were more meaningful but because they helped in closing Ads deals since Ads were sold primarily on a CPM basis and its counts are as susceptible as hit counts to site design decisions that have nothing to do with actual usage.

Someone has brilliantly analyzed that the part of the reason MySpace drives such an amazing number of pageviews is because their site design is so terrible.

As the way we interact with the web is changing, and technology makes it easier for users to have access to multimedia content on a single web page, are page views still relevant? AJAX, RSS, Feeds, Widgets. Streaming etc. are making things worse.

So what's a better way for comparison? Good question.

As I have mentioned earlier also, it is not fair to compare two websites that belong to different categories. The measurement of success also varies from website to website. So it could be registered users, files uploaded/downloaded, posts, hits, searches, revenue, and it may even be pageviews. But internal metrics aren't enough, since we want to compare ourselves to other players in the market. So we also need some apples-to-apples comparison.

If I had to pick one, in addition to unique visitors (reach), I'd say time spent would be much more useful than pageviews.
Time spent interacting with a site is a much better basis on which to compare sites' relative ability to capture attention/value than pageviews is. Especially when it comes to media like audio or video, an increasing percentage of the web consumption, time obviously means a great deal more than a pageview.

However, time is a bit harder to measure.

HTTP doesn't actually have a concept of time spent. So if you read this whole post and then click off to another site, my web server won't know whether you were here for five minutes or five seconds. I don’t even know whether you have been reading this post for last 10 mins or you are having a coffee with this page open in your browser.

Finally, there's a big argument against time as a measure:

People don't spend much time on Google search, because it gives them what they want so fast, and they go away (which is obviously good for them and for users). But the average time spent per visit will be very low.

And just as pageviews can be gamed, you can slow your users down unnecessarily (or accidentally because your servers are too slow) and increase time spent.
In short, there's no easy solution but there's a BIG opportunity (though very tough job) for someone to come up with a meaningful metric that weighs a bunch of factors.

Can you suggest any?