Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Kodak Bait & Switch.... Its Scent Stinks!

Black Friday. Living in Spain, I don't get to take advantage of much of the shopping opportunities available the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is a bit better, but usually intl shipping pretty much makes the offer often times not worth it. Perhaps if someone I know is coming to Spain soon, I'll order something to be shipped to them and they'll just do me the favor of bringing it over during the next visit.

There is one category though, that is quite useful and applicable for buying online from Spain - photo gifts for family still in the USA. Over the last few years, my mom has been invaded by so many photo mugs, puzzles, calendars from all of her kids (mostly with pictures of grandkids) that you think it would be time to move on to something else. Well, no... She loves every single one of them!


So today I received a Kodak promotional e-mail about their Black Friday sale. It is up to 65% off! I was excited to see the e-mail and the offer so I clicked to shop. It was so easy too since the whole e-mail was pretty much one giant link.

Whohoo! Promised savings! Great!

The problem I have is that the landing page does not really reflect the value of the promotion.


The savings are inversely related to the volume given in the promo for the sale. The sale promo screams 65% and all they have on sale at that rate is 1 product. Most other things are 25% off or buy 1 get 1 free,etc... To me this landing page stinks because it lacks scent (OK, that is a contradiction I know, but it makes sense if you read Brian Eisenberg's artcle on scent). You would think that they central banner would be clicable since in the e-mail it is the same graphic and it is clicable. Why not take me to another sale page with all of the items on sale? Bad design and on Black Friday they should not be using a Bait and Switch on a previous customer.

They also know from my purchase history that I normally buy photo mugs from them. Why not include a photo mug promo for me?

Oh well, let's see what Snapfish has on sale...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Better Y! Mail Beta - Less ads, More mail (Oct-2010)

Yahoo! just released a new beta of their Mail web application. Overall, it looks a bit more modern and promises much faster performance (I have not seen any improvement yet...in fact sometimes it is slower than before).

However, it needed a bit of spit and polish. I decided to write a user script (works on chrome and firefox with greasemonkey or scriptish) that tightens up the wasted space in the header and removes the main ads that take up space on the mail home page as well as in the inbox.

Available for Firefox* & Google Chrome
Download the user script directly or from the Userscripts.org script page

* Firefox (You need Greasemonkey or Scriptish already installed)
 
Yahoo Mail Beta Oct 2010 Homepage Before:


Yahoo Mail Beta Oct 2010 Homepage After:


Yahoo Mail Beta Oct 2010 Inbox Before:

Yahoo Mail Beta Oct 2010 Homepage After:
More mail for YOU

Available for Firefox* & Google Chrome
Download the user script directly or from the Userscripts.org script page

* Firefox (You need Greasemonkey or Scriptish already installed)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Updated GA Evolution - Now with Weekly Data, Goals, Optional Metrics

Over the last few weeks, I have made some improvements to GA Evolution. The functional changes were pushed last Friday and this morning I added a quick YouTube Video to the login page to better help show users what the app is all about.

Here are the highlights of the changes:
  1. Improved performance and session handling (faster is better with less errors)
  2. I have included Goal Data which can be reported as either Goal Completions or Goal Conversion Rates
  3. The metrics columns are now optional so users can build the report that they really want
  4. Report data can now be broken out by week besides by month
As always, enjoy and please pass along feedback on the app. 

Link to original GA Evolution post

Link to GAEvolution web app 


Monday, September 13, 2010

Google Instant Makes Insights + Suggest Extension even more Valuable

Now that Google has turned on Google Instant (I am not a fan yet, but I could perhaps get used to it), the importance of Google Suggest has increased greatly because now they do not only give you a suggest search, but now give users suggested results.

In making this change, it is even more important that SEOs and other interested users understand and analyze the most popular searches that will be forced on suggested to users of Google Search.

The Google Suggest 4 Google Insights for Search Extension makes it easy to quickly compare and view the popularity (as well as rising/popular related searches, and regional interest) of the searches that Google is most likely to execute in the process of writing a normal query.

See the original post to learn more and download the extension (for Chrome and Firefox)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Goal Funnel Exit Values in Percentages - New Userscript

In the Goal Funnel Visualization report of GA, it paints very nicely all of the users who flow in and out of the typical conversion path. One thing that I thought it was missing, however, was to show the exit numbers in percentage terms.

It has always shown the top 5 locations to where a user "abandons" a certain step of the conversion funnel, but I am someone who really likes looking at data in % values, not only in absolute values.

So, here is a simple little script that calculates the % value for each of those top 5 exit pages for each step. The % is the number of exits to a specific location divided by the total # of visits to that specific goal funnel step. Enjoy.
I like % values
Instructions for installing the script in Firefox

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Check Page Layout w/ the Horizontally Optimized Layout Tool

I read a very good post on grokdotcom recently that discussed looking out page layout in terms of horizontal optimization. It turns out that users have a "sweet spot" where they tend to fixate their eyes. Using eye tracking software, researchers can follow this eye movement on the page and create a heat map showing where users focus their attention. The post was based on research done by Jakob Nielsen, a recognized usability and UI design expert.

While the post included a link to a graphic overlay (created by Conversion Voodoo) that you can use to place over screenshots on your desktop (using Photoshop or Paint.Net, etc...), it seemed to me that you could pretty easily turn this concept into an online tool to more easily test many sites and pages in a browser.

So, with a modified version of the layout overlay graphic, a little bit of HTML, jQuery, and using Blogger's pages feature, I created an Online Heat Map Test for Horizontal Layout.

Horizontal Online Layout Test - HOLT
Logismarket is looking fairly optimized on the home page. Perhaps it needs a nudge to the right...

It is pretty easy to use & it's free:

  1. Enter the URL of a page that you want to test & click Go (or press enter)
  2. Drag the overlay graphic if you need to align it with your site (depending on screen resolution)
  3. Adjust the Overlay transparency, if needed
  4. Now look at the part of the site in red zone of the overlay. That is where users are naturally going to spend the most time focusing.

There is a link additionally in the sidebar navigation of this blog.

Please let me know what you think about it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Suggest 4 Google Insights - Firefox Script & Chrome Extension

I have written a little greasemonkey script & Google Chrome extension that integrates Google Suggest with Google Insights for Search.

Why do this?
I wanted to speed up some keyword research that I was doing in Google Insights.

There are various research sources I use when doing KW research (such as Google Analytics data, competitor keywords, anchor text keywords, etc...), but sometimes I find that Google itself is a helpful resource for identifying other keyword candidates through its suggest feature. Its suggestions sometimes are terrible but on other occasions it provides insight (no pun intended) into similar phrases that users are using to search Google. After all, suggestions from Google Suggest are based on actual queries from users.












Highlights

  • Suggest results vary by language and country, so I took advantage of the existing country SELECT value from Google Insights to use that as the basis for the country parameter in Google Suggest
  • Since Insights has no language field other than for the whole interface, I decided to add my own SELECT with the available languages (I use the same list as is available for the UI, so it may not be complete for all suggest possibilities)
  • Suggest results are cached for improved performance in the browser
  • Arrow keys on the keyboard work the same as the mouse

Available for Firefox & Google Chrome
Enjoy. As always, please leave feedback in the comments and link to this post instead of directly to the extension and/or userscript. Thanks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Google Analytics Evolution - Time Series GA Data using the API & App Engine

This project started with 3 main ideas:
  • Need to quickly pull visits, bounces, transactions by month for many sites? Check.
  • Want to rapidly chart sites' performance against each other? Check.
  • Need a simple interface to allow for getting data into Excel that any marketing person could use? Check.
I am happy to introduce Google Analytics Evolution. A new app hosted on Google's App Engine (for Java) using the Google Analytics API and Flot., a powerful jQuery plug-in for charting.

GA Evolution in Action
Reason for the app
I often have the task of slicing and dicing data for the many sites I oversee. at logismarket we operate our 16 sites in 15 countries. Using Google Analytics, the process of pulling data for reports across all of these sites, was a time-consuming and tedious task. Custom reports, advanced segments, and the great greasemonkey script, cleanerGAProfileSwitching, made things much easier, but I wanted to be able to work even faster. Additionally, any time that I wanted to see data over a longer period of time, my biggest pet peeve with GA, sampling, would rear its ugly head. Given the size of our sites and depending on the dimension or segment used, we can trigger sampling with only a few months of data. That makes using GA for measuring trends quite unreliable, especially for transactions, since the margin of error is much larger on the transactions than it is for visits (the basis of sampling in GA).

So when my boss asked me for a review of the last 18 months for all of our sites and to further segment the data into 3 different slices, I decided to start coding instead of pulling data right away. A little investment now in coding to get a big payback over time for me and anyone else who has the same kind of needs with GA.

Enjoy.


Examples of Usage
  • Site comparison: Pull data for the same period for 2 or more sites and click a column header to see the results in the chart
  • Segment comparison: Pull data from the same site (or more) and choose various segments for the same period and click to see the difference in the chart without the distortion caused by being forced to include All Visits (as it does in the GA UI). Also less likely to trigger sampling.
  • Quick data pull for multiple sites: Select all (or most) of your site profiles, get the data, copy and paste to Excel. Only minimal manipulation needed to get the data ready for Pivot Table usage :-D

Check out the free app today

Ideas for Future Expansion
While this app currently meets my needs I have identified some areas that I want to expand and improve the app. I am also open to suggestions. Please add a comment to this post or report an issue on the Google Code project page for GA Evoluation.
  • Add export to CSV feature. I am thinking to do this along similar lines as the charting... where you export the data that is already pulled and you select the tables. That way you know what you are going to get (eg, you can check Confidence Interval to make sure sampling was not triggered).
  • Make the metric selection dynamic with a set of default metrics. You can greatly expand the reporting capabilities, but I need to make sure that the reporting stays correct (keep apples to apples in charting of the data).
  • Add some calculated metrics not in API. Bounce Rate, eCommerce Conversion Rate are not available via the API because that info can be calculated after pulling the data. No need to burn free Google cycles when we can just calculate it ourselves. However, it would be more user friendly to have the option to get the data as we want it, not just as it is given to us by Google.
  • Other enhancements to flot charts. These are not fully defined yet, but I am thinking toward making the charts a bit more dynamic... still need some thought here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let it snow let it snow let it snow



I woke up this morning and this is what I saw.

The access to the freeway was closed off so that meant work from home ;) I realize that in other countries and parts of the states, this would just be any other Monday in Winter, but here... they are not prepared (much like when it rains in LA).

The snow has not stopped all day. Sometimes light. Sometimes heavy, but it has not stopped. Too bad that it is so cold because the sea forecast predicts some big big waves (up to 7 meters), which are not too common for the western med.

Schools here are closed and even the city hall is handing out letters to justify people's absences from work.

Luckily we still have our power, internet connection and especially natural gas to keep the house toasty.

Here are a few more photos and a video of the snow. Tomorrow should be spectacular since the skies are supposed to be clear and hopefully we get a great show of Montserrat.







video

Monday, January 25, 2010

Try Piped TechCrunch Feed: More TC, Less MG

I am a big TechCrunch fan and I read it pretty much every day.  It is one of the best ways to stay in touch with the world of Tech and the Internet.  In general, its posts are well-written, informative and seemingly unbiased.  That is, with the notorious exception of MG Siegler.  His posts, besides being boringly formulaic, give the sense that he majored in Apple Fanboyism at college with a minor in Google studies.

So, I decided to take action and go back to reading TechCrunch as it was before MG came on board.

One of my favorite sites is Yahoo! Pipes. It lets you remix the web in as sense as you want it.  I went there with a simple goal: More TC, less MG.

Thanks to Pipes, I now have made a TechCrunch feed that filters out all posts written by MG Siegler.

Here is the link.
http://pipes.yahoo.com/spanishgringo/techcrunch_no_mg_siegler

Just add it to Google Reader (or your reader of choice) and enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Evernote Widget for S60 Updated

I have updated the Evernote widget for S60v5 that I wrote back in Sept with some minor improvements.
  • Updated jQuery version to 1.4 with jQueryUI 1.8b
  • Cleaned up the code a bit to make it a little faster (not much more improvement will come until Nokia updates the browser engine... (it is so old that webkit-border-radius is not even suported by WRT)
  • The Nokia soft keys only appear at launch and in Portrait mode. This way when viewing a note from Evernote you can use a lot more real estate on the screen.
Enjoy.

Get the code/links from the original post:
Evernote for S60v5

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

5800 FW Available with limited Kinetic Scrolling

Nokia just made a new firmware available for the Nokia 5800 XM.  A lot of the existing users have been waiting for this for a long long time.  Nokia has taken a lot of flack, justified in my opinion, for dragging their feet to fix a lot of the things missing/broken in their first mainstream touch device.  Apple and Android are eating Nokia's lunch in smart phones because they have been more innovative and faster at bringing meaningful updates to market.

I sure hope that Nokia starts changing its ways, although I do have to say that I am overall quite pleased with the phone.

Firmware 40 brings a few things to the phone so far that I have seen:

  1. Kinetic Scrolling (move around the page by flicking your finger) in many of the apps although it is sorely lacking the the normal device menus 
  2. New Home screen similar to the 5530 with a music player widget, 4 shortcuts and a contact carousel
  3. Better input option to allow one preferred method for portrait and other for landscape
  4. Camera seems a bit quicker to me
  5. Hopefully many many bug fixes (alarm bug, downloaded videos from feeds, corrupted podcast database, etc...)
Not included and disappointing:
  1. Updated webkit browser (still stuck at webkit 413 whereas Chrome uses 532.8). This will be needed to greatly improve the somtimes shoddy WRT experience.
  2. True Kinetic Scrolling in the device (eg, menus, better implemented in browser)
  3. More flexible input options for portrait and landscape (why can't  I choose mini querty for portrait and full querty for landscape?)
  4. More shortcuts in Homescreen
  5. Landscape Homescreen