The entire room was spellbound, then laughing uncontrollably at the Q&A responses ("Look Up, Not Down! We Have Patent! Imagine! Join Us!"). Almost never see Jason Calacanis & Michael Arrington speechless, but it happened. Several audience members gave the presenters a standing O.
startups spend a lot of time (or should) trying to figure out how to get users to take the FIRST step along the path to becoming a regular user. HOWEVER, frequently it's a challenge to communicate the basic concepts of the site, and get people to understand what you want them to do (or conversely, it's hard for startups to figure out what users are LIKELY to do, and how that connects with their primary features).
Q: what if you created aPLAY button that automated the action you want the user to take, and just act like the user hit PLAY after 3-5 seconds if they don't do anything?
I'm not sure i have the user experience figured out here just yet... it's sort of halfway between 1) playing a short screencast, and 2) animating the mouse cursor on behalf of the user to just click on something. i'm sure many folks might find this pretty annoying... but on the other hand, if 1/3 - 2/3 of your traffic is "bouncing" when it gets to your site, why not try something outlandish to see if you can engage with them before they leave?
a very simple example of this is when i visit YouTube, and they just start playing the video automatically for me. on the other hand, a NEGATIVE example of this is when i hear background music on a website kick in automatically... occasionally i like it, but most times i hate it and/or it's too loud. then again, maybe that's ok if i'm not target audience. from a purely goal-focused perspective, there's not much harm in asking girls out on a date who were going to shoot you down anyway, right? (ok sorry, that example might not "PLAY" well with some readers, but you get the picture.. ;)
interested to hear people's reactions to this... also what ideas you have for cool PLAY button scenarios.
a few questions:
Q1: is a PLAY button better/worse than having a 30-second screencast about your site? (see Jing + Screencast.com)
Q2: would creating a PLAY button get in the way of learning about how to improve your default CTA? might it even DECREASE user activation in some scenarios?
Q3: aren't there better things for me to be doing at 3:40am, like sleeping?
(note: in any case, re: Q2 above, creating a PLAY button should NOT take the place of testing landing pages / modifying Calls To Action (CTAs) so that you can improve upon current user activation... still i wonder if you might convert an extra 2-10% of audience by taking the next step on their behalf.)
so let's hear it... What Would Your PLAY Button Do?
This past weekend i had the pleasure & privilege of attending O'Reilly Foo Camp (2008), and as usual it was mind-blowing. I'm always amazed at the incredible people you meet at Foo, the wide range of topics discussed, and the general air of insatiable curiosity and intellectual generosity. The event is by invitation only, and ~250 people usually show up. While it's unfortunate not everyone who wants to attend gets invited, at the same time the caliber of people you meet is quite impressive (due to my work on O'Reilly conferences over the years i made the cut, but i'm not sure i really measure up on merit... better keep coming up with events / ideas Tim thinks are interesting ;)
So on Thursday afternoon (after dropping by YouTube Developer day in San Bruno) i picked up Andrew Chen in San Francisco, and we got to chat for a few hours on the drive up to Sebastopol. The conversation with Andrew was a little mini-Foo all by itself, and we talked about all sorts of stuff including social networks, online gaming, advertising & revenue models, the state of venture capital & angel investing, etc.
On Thursday night we joined the rest of the OATV Startup Camp geeks at Stella's for a wonderful dinner, and continue the startup conversations throughout the evening and into the next morning back at O'Reilly. There were several great talks on startups by Tim O'Reilly, Mike Arrington, Mark Fletcher, Marc Hedlund, Ev Williams, Howard Morgan, Esther Dyson, and others.
Foo Camp started late Friday afternoon just as Startup Camp wrapped up, and went thru late Friday night, all day Saturday, and finished up Sunday around noon. A few of the Foo sessions i particularly enjoyed were:
Economics isn't Physics (Bill Janeway)
The Big Search Debate (Tim O'Reilly, Mike Arrington, Danny Sullivan)
There were many other great meetings / hallway discussions, as well as many games of Werewolf, and i also ran another session of Half-Baked Dot Com (winner: MilkMoms Dot Com, an on-demand breast milkdelivery service... don't ask me, ask Thor Muller ).
i'd also bet even money F8 will featured the long-awaited debut of Facebook Payments, whereby Facebook will finally begin addressing the monetization issue that has been dogging them for the past half-year. (btw, interesting listserve here apparently run by Jared Morgenstern... hi Jared ;)
happy 4th of July to everyone, and enjoy the long weekend... second half of 2008 begins Monday. gonna be a very interesting summer, i think.
update #1:Doh! guess Yishan's post is only visible to his facebook friends... okay, so maybe semi-permeable garden, perhaps. for the record, Yishan notes in the comments this is likely a bug, not intentional. might want to fix that.
update #2: so Kottke obviously came across this [now a bit ironic] post, and noted that it's also not viewable. to which, i was going to write a 'yeah, guess it seems a little silly' comment... except that Kottke's blog doesn't appear to accept comments (or am i missing something?) except on this property where nobody ever comments. tho his TOU seems to suggest he did previously, and earlier posts do have comments... if i'm clueless, maybe someone who knows the story there can fill me in. still, i wonder if people who live in semi-permeable blogs should throw stones at invisible smackdowns.
update #2b: thanks to Jon Bell who informed me that occasionally Kottke's posts are comment-enabled... but not that one.
update #3: no question, mr. kottke has a pretty damn huge audience. getting one of my larger traffic days ever from his off-day link to my piddly-ass little piece of shit i call a blog. holy crap.