What do Web Users Want?

OK, first, a shameless plug: I’d like to give a presentation at South by Southwest on the topic of getting inside web users’ heads.  You can help make that happen by going to the SXSW “panel picker” and voting for my presentation.  Go to: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11545.  Thanks!

And speaking of what web users want, that seems to be a moving target.  My current theory is that they want us to just read their minds!  Of course, the next best thing is to conduct research with them.  How else can a site figure out the optimal balance between simplicity and added features, just to give one example.

And then there are the questions of social interaction vs. privacy.  When users go to a site and see their Facebook profile picture and a message to “tell your friends,” some consider that to be a great benefit, while others call it “creepy.”  For example, Ticketmaster has just introduced seat maps for venues indicating where a customer’s Facebook friends are sitting. The idea is that people would want to know which of their friends are attending, and try to get seats near them.  Sharing your seat tag generates a “Check out my seats” post on your Facebook wall. Along with the “like” and “comment” buttons is “buy tickets” – clearly, a potential money-maker for Ticketmaster.

A quick look at the comments to a Fast Company article about the new feature show that some like the idea, while others worry about personal security.  The devil may be in the details.  Once you connect to Facebook from Ticketmaster’s site, the default setting is to share your seat with everyone, not just your friends.  Based on our conversations with web users, we think they may prefer a less public default option.

To learn your site users’ preferences, talk to them!  Give us a call at (818) 752-7210.

Sources: “Ticketmaster Teams With Facebook So You Can Sit Next To Your Friends,” Fast Company, August 23, 2011; Bureau West research