- A bit of social validation adds 22% to onsite time
- 2010-07-02: We all want to belong, to fit in. It's an unconscious drive in everyone.
- That's why testimonials and onsite reviews work.
- It works even better if there's some immediacy.
- So just above the footer on The Paragon's page, I wrote the code for it to say "There are 3 people viewing this site right now, looking at: prices ~ find-us ~". Now, I know it's a mess and I have to tidy up all that stuff in the footer, too, but it still does the job: 20% more pages viewed, 23% more time on the site. And it took maybe a couple of hours to write.
- Now, social validation works better if you think the other people are more like you.
- So imagine when we work out how to fully integrate Facebook across the web, we'll be able to see what our friends think of sites. There are big movements in this direction, Google is working on it too, so watch this space .. the Internet is set to become much more crowdy.
- The beauty, though, of the Paragon paragraph is that visitors don't have to do anything. Asking people for a review of your site is a non-starter, people aren't in that mode, they want what they want and are adept at clearing away obstacles. But the BBC had a nice idea about how to improve the navigation on their site .. they wanted automatically to watch users' navigation patterns to adapt the site's menus and links so that people 'wear a path' through the site much like the way ancestral forest pathways formed. It's not quite social validation, that, but gets close if people realise that they are using popularity-driven navigation.
- From your point of view today: get a coffee, a biscuit, a pen and some paper, find a quiet corner and take ten minutes to think how you can use social validation on your website. Comments? A forum? Facebook button? Twitter button? Navigation improvements? Word cloud? Forget whatever limitations you think there are on your site, just let your mind wonder how you might harness social validation. If it improves your website by a quarter, it might be worth spending a little on getting it implemented.
By John Allsopp
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