I started this blog with a not-too-much serious post about the importance of user engagement in social media. A part of the “heroin” statement still matters.
Many web developers care very much for quantitative results of their work. To a certain extent I can agree. For example, I like colorful and wise presentations from Dave McClure who, among others, teaches at Stanford how to build successful Facebook applications. He encourages developers to measure the following:
- Acquisition – users come to site from various channels
- Activation – users enjoy the first visit
- Retention – users come back
- Referral – users like the product enough to refer others
- Revenue – users conduct some monetization behavior
As I said, I agree with these AARRR metrics in part. What I miss in these five points is a wide and solid foundation that goes a way beyond the virtual world. I believe we should not restrict our thinking to the “Internet user” but should rather take a “user” in general into account.
Let’s say we still do the restriction. We omit the offline needs of our users. What happens? It looks like we treat them as virtual beings capable of clicking the mouse button and typing on keyboard. Is this a healthy attitude? Not for me. By chasing the above mentioned AARRR metrics we would get tons of users for sure. I am just afraid that those users will be more likely addicts, not happy and well-balanced individuals.
Facebook addicts can be almost certain that with a new IM feature on the way and membership rising by the millions, this may very well be the end of productive time on the computer as we know it.
My suggestion is: make users happy no matter if it is online or offline. How to achieve that? One of my tips is to design the web application as a mirror of the real world. Do not make up any virtual friendships and highly artificial online communities. Just think of people in your neighborhood and about their needs and desires. This is the only way of creating really valuable communities.
Furthermore do not force people to stay on your site all day long. Do not exhaust users like Facebook, Twitter or FriendFeed do. This rule seems to be a parallel to Jakob’s Law. Dion Hinchcliffe gives the description of the law in his tale about Web 2.0:
Online products and services are best designed when they take advantage of the fact the users spend most of their time on sites other than yours.
I will share some other tips in my next posts. Do you have also any? And more important, do you consider the web as a separate world? Or do you take both the web and offline world as a whole?