“Experience” Web Content Through Other’s Eyes

7 January, 2010

Copywriting, google, Internet, web content

In my last post I talked about getting outside yourself for inspiration. I’m still “in” that vein, but urging you to witness the web and its content by observing others. In 2010, you can build your business by being a good spy….

Over the holidays I stayed with friends for a few days, one of them an avid bass fisherman. When he’s not at work his head is buried in his Bass Pro Shop catalogs or he’s surfing the fishing sites online. Now I’ve seen him dig into the paper catalogs (they’re awesome swipe ideas, btw), but this visit was the first time I really saw him dive into the web. And he was a great teacher.- while I sat nursing a horrible cold…

I watched him while he carefully and completely explored the few websites he has come to know inside and out. He seemed to drink in every word, totally consuming each site. Online he’s shopping for gear.  When I asked him what he was really reading most intently and using as key content he responded: “user reviews and ratings.”

This particular niche’s products are driven by users and performance, so user-generated reviews–at least for an expert fisherman,–are most valuable. He gave me a perfect example, too: when it comes to, say, shopping for and buying lures the biggest attraction to buyers is a product that can boast that it’s been used by a notable pro to win a particular competition. Winners sell the gear they’ve used to bag big bass and win competitions, period. Unless I’d actually watched him and asked him a few questions that day I’d possibly still be a little in the dark  about the bass fishing market.

he’s an expert in his niche, has become familiar with a few websites he visits religiously. he consumes them completely, drinking in the user ratings and reviews for help in the buy process.

I have another friend–she’s a completely different web user: younger than my bass fishing friend and uses it to search for all types of info. She consistently clicks on the top one, two or three Google results for any search she executes. I’ve looked over her shoulder a number of times to note instead of looking for the most authoritative site of the crowd, which may not be number one, she instead clicks on a top result (and a few of them have been quite spammy). But she’s a quick study — if she fails to see what she’s looking for within 10 seconds she’s gone, mercilessly.

I can read  eye-tracking  and web usability studies til the cows come home, but it’s most instructive when I lift my eyes from my own small screen to observe how others interact with search and web content.

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One Comment on ““Experience” Web Content Through Other’s Eyes”

  1. ryanMoultrup Says:

    I look over peoples shoulders whenever I can to study how they surf the web. It is a great way to collect information. This should also be done for every website that you build. It does not take much to set up small scale usability testing. Usually I use my friends and neighbors that have never seen the site and watch how they use it.

    Reply

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