Probably eight out of ten clients start out asking for customization of some kind. Usually, the customization broken into two categories:
Give users a page like My Yahoo! or iGoogle. Let them add portlets or widgets at will and let them customize the portelts themselves like we do with weather or stock
Let users define their interests in their profile page so they can receive targeted content and feeds
Let me tackle the second item first. If you have users you know well enough to let them define things like what products they want to follow, whether they should be notified of new invoices, lab results, etc; then yes you should give users the option to update it. I would make it part of the profile and I wouldn’t push it hard. In other words, make it easy to update but don’t force your users to do it. You can also make it easy to follow a page or topic by letting them click a follow this link, a star , or some indicator on the page in which the content resides. Of course, if you don’t know your users all that well, perhaps you should complete some user studies or hook up some decent web analytics before you dive in. That way you won’t push them away because you completely misunderstand what they want.
What about My Yahoo! or iGoogle like functionality?
OK, this is the fun one. Whenever a client asks for that functionality for their users, I ask the following important question, “How often do your users login to the site?” If they answers with once a month or twice a month then I tell them it’s a waste of time. These are users who login to do some very specific things. They want to see their explanation of benefits or to view and pay their invoice. They don’t care if you allow them to add a portlet that does some whiz bang kind of thing. They want to get in and get out. Don’t get in the way of their transaction or information.
Imagine the worst case scenario if you do customization wrong. You are a utility, you let a customer create a completely customized home page the first time he or she logs in. You may even force them to do that. They really only care about checking their invoice and paying it but in setting up their home page, they leave out the invoice portlet. One month later they login and it’s nowhere to be found. Of course, your customer already forgot they customized the page. They can still customize their page to add the invoice portlet back but they aren’t thinking, “I want to customize my page?” They are thinking, “Where can I find my invoice?” You now have an angry customer who didn’t pay his or her invoice on time and your DSO just went up.
Now take users who live in your portal. It may be employees or it may be your power users who use your service to monitor usage and things like that. These people want more features. To them, your portal is an application. At that point in time, you should be thinking about multiple levels of customization including:
subscribe to content changes
notifications and alerts
customize a home or work page
Customize a results list so they can see the columns that matter
How do I create a personalized experience for infrequent visitors
For that person who only logs in once a month, you can still create value for them while gaining equal or greater value from the customer. You want to take what you know about the user and treat them differently. Here are a couple ideas that use either a personalization engine or a rules engine:
Our local store is having a special and it’s only 5 minutes away from where you live
We see you are having an knee operation. Did you know that if you use this facility, it will cost you $5,000 less
Bad weather has closed the following facilities or this click here to get to the Hurricane Andrew page to hear what’s happening. Target this by location of the user.
I see you use this service of ours and we just introduced a companion service
You might be interested in a new article about the Bahamas or Jamaica because you own a property there.
We just updated a new product and with it comes a whole ream of documentation you will need to service is Mr. Partner
You can use personalization in all kinds of ways for customers, partners, and employees…….but you get the picture
So here’s my shortened version of what I just wrote:
Before allowing customization, understand your user. If they visit your site infrequently, then don’t allow customization.
If you allow users to customize a home page or my work page, don’t take away other paths to get them to key content or functionality
Make it easy to customize. Drag and drop is nice. Textual lists not so much.
You can and should allow users to update their profile with interests.
You can and should let users follow content or make a portlet part of their favorites so they can easily find it later
If you won’t allow customization, you can still use a personalization or rules engine to create more value for the user or to target them with products or information they may find useful.
Perficient Receives Award for Search Deployment Excellence
Tue, Mar 11th 2014 4:13p Beth Martin Last week our Google Search Appliance practice team attended the Google Global Partner Summit in San Francisco, CA with over 600 fellow partners worldwide. In addition, more than 200 Google employees were there to present, facilitate, or answer questions and provide their view on the future of Google Enterprise and the technologies they are creating.
Themes that emerged from the conference:
For the second consecutive year, Perficient was awarded Google Enterprise Search North American Deployme [read] Keywords: community
My 4 days in the Desert with Adobe — Part 2
Fri, Mar 7th 2014 7:12a Eric Herman As I mentioned in my last blog post, the time I spent in the desert with Adobe at the sales conference was incredibly valuable. As the best of breed digital platform, three key themes resonated with me and want to take the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the benefits of the adobe partnership and how it impacts the work we do for clients.
One of the first things I learned is that Adobe has grown tremendously over the past few years and has really cemented its place as the leader in digi [read] Keywords: development
Facebook Introduces New Campaign Structure
Thu, Mar 6th 2014 1:12p Mark Polly Facebook has been hailed and maligned at the same time for its advertisement features. On one hand, Facebook ads promise to reach large, targeted audiences with your message. On the other hand, Facebook ad reach is a black box that only Facebook controls. In a previous post, Why Facebook is Failing Marketers, my colleague Michael Porter wrote about Facebook ads reaching only 16% of a company’s fans.
I don’t know if the New Facebook Campaign Structure that Facebook is rolling [read] Keywords: facebook
My 4 Days in the Desert with Adobe – Part 1
Fri, Feb 28th 2014 12:12p Eric Herman In mid-December, I attended the Adobe Worldwide Sales Conference in Las Vegas. It’s a time when Adobe invites its entire sales organization – along with Adobe’s key partners – to discuss the past year’s performance, celebrate the major sales successes, and layout the company’s sales and product strategies for the next year.
As Forrester & Gartner’s leader in Web Content Management, Adobe certainly has much to discuss and no lack of thought leadership within the Digital Marketin [read] Keywords:
A Primer on CMO, CIO Collaboration
Thu, Feb 27th 2014 8:11a Michael Porter Tom Wentworth at CMSWiRE has a short but very interesting article on collaboration between the Chief Marketing Office and the Chief Information Officer. He engages you at the beginning with the reasons why the two roles are blurring. I personally of one CIO who also wears the CMO hat.
…today’s marketers have a required skillset that often overlaps with that of the CIO, who has traditionally managed and maintained a company’s IT infrastructure. For that reason, CMOs are becoming int [read] Keywords: collaboration
Cool Mobile Infographic
Wed, Feb 26th 2014 5:12a Michael Porter Thanks to the Marketing Tech Blog for a reference to a cool “Future of Mobile” info graphic by Three. It’s UK focused but still a nice summary of mobile. I especially like the internet use via mobile devices now and in 2025. Click to get to the entire info graphic. [read] Keywords: mobile
What’s The Difference Between Beacons and Geofencing
Tue, Feb 25th 2014 5:12a Michael Porter Thanks for John Spyers for pointing this out to me. I’ve heard a lot lately about the “contextual” experience. By that I mean, an up to the minute completely personalized experience based on more than just what a company knows about you. Now you can take into account all of the usual items like how good a customer they are, do they have a shipment on the way, and did they just call customer service. You can add to that things like, where are they and do they have a rese [read] Keywords: mobile
What Does SoftLayer Mean for IBM?
Tue, Feb 25th 2014 5:12a Michael Porter So I’m not the cloud guy within Perficient but let’s face it, everything I see within my portal, web content, social, and marketing automation world has some cloud component. Let me give you some examples:
We see more and more requests to host IBM Portal and IBM WCM on an easy to manage external entity. Perficient uses a partner, Blue Iron because they stand up actual working instances of software and support more than just the base OS.
Sitecore has a Sitecore Azure option which [read] Keywords: ibm