Friday, April 29, 2011

Advancing Strategy for Social Marketing

When it comes to digital marketing I believe marketers need to be more strategists & research minded than idea evaluators and implementers."
After discussing social media this year with senior marketers from several large brands, the implementer reference in the above tweet by Shiv Singh really resonates with me.
More brands are taking (social) community management activities back in house while seeking outside expertise to continue guiding decisions around social strategies and applications.
When it comes to the day-to-day of social marketing, corporate competence is rising -- and the "yeah, I get that, but what's next?" mentality is placing a higher demand on strategy with expectations of research (or at least experience) to back it up.
As I've been preparing to speak about Facebook marketing with custom applications at next week's Online Marketing Summit, I've found a common thread in the key takeaways pertains more to strategy than turn-key tactics. The following is a preview of a couple key topics I'll discuss as part of that presentation.
Game Mechanics for Custom Facebook Applications
For those of you sick of hearing about it, I'll start by saying game mechanics are not a magic silver bullet -- and I took great delight in hearing Gowalla CEO Josh Williams proclaim "we don't need no stinkin' badges" at last month's Snowcial.
However, like Williams, those who have an established understanding of game mechanics are better positioned to get ahead. Why? Because it's a matter of better knowing how human behavior works.
If you're aware of certain ingredients that foster a higher propensity for sharing a social experience on Facebook, then you may realize higher fan growth and engagement as a result of implementation.
I touched on the Sanrio/Hello Kitty gifts application as an example of this when discussing social intelligence for Facebook marketing.
Another recent and impressive implementation of game mechanics (and overall digital strategy) is Vail Resort's EpixMix, which is also promoted on the Facebook page.
Although the application doesn't reside on Facebook, the Connect functionality takes full advantage of Facebook sharing via passive, automated check-ins at six separate ski resorts, all enabled by an RFID chip embedded in your ski pass.
"Passive" means you don't need to pull out a mobile device for checking in. Updates to your Facebook feed are automatically posted based on your location with the pass, and one-time Facebook authorization.
A leading game mechanic in play for EpicMix is the use of more than 200 ski pins (digital "stinkin' badges") you can earn based on locations you ski at each resort, total feet of elevation skied and more. Although Vail Resort's CEO, Rob Katz, wasn't specific about adoption rate when asked last month, he was very clear about the fact that users signing on to share in Facebook exceeded expectations.
Game on.
Strategic Modeling for Social Strategies
While game mechanics address specific strategies from a human behavior perspective, the bigger and equally important picture pertains to how all elements of social marketing work together for the good of a business.
A valuable, but often overlooked practice is to adopt a model that facilitates a framework for strategy. There are a range of options with strategic models, but the one I follow is a layered ("Four Cs") approach:
  • Content: This is the foundational element, focusing not only on the type of content (video, infographic, written, etc.) but also how to apply supporting research to guide its development and/or justification.

  • Context: Think of this second layer as platforms enabling the display and distribution of your content. Facebook, for example, would be an element of context in this model.

  • Campaigns: This layer puts the context in action, addressing key variables around planning, implementation, supporting applications, visibility efforts, communication, and measurement.

  • Community: As the top layer, the strategic focus centers on loyalty achieved through specific campaigns, advocacy, or customer experiences. Community should be viewed as long-term, with the expectation of learning that can be applied to future iterations of strategy and research.
Practically speaking, we as marketers should be both implementers and "idea evaluators." But as strategists, we're called to a higher accountability -- one that distinguishes originality from repurposing, and activity from productivity.

LinkedIn: 5 Useful Tips to Leverage the Waking Giant

I recently heard a CEO refer to LinkedIn as the sleeping giant of social networks. With last week's announcement of 100 million members, the SEC filing in January (in preparation of going public) and 2010 being LinkedIn's first profitable year since the company's eight-year existence -- I'd say the giant has awakened.
For those of us active on LinkedIn, it's obvious the company is moving aggressively. Even this week, you may have received an email invitation to spend your first $50 worth of advertising free of charge via LinkedIn Ads (formerly called DirectAds).
Still, there's a lot to be discovered about how to best utilize this social network. Would you believe the most popular advice about using LinkedIn begins with making sure your account profile/setup is designated "100 percent complete," including the upload of a real picture of yourself?
Sure, that's valuable advice -- but a bit elementary, don't you think? Hopefully, you'll find some of the tips described herein even more useful.
Tip 1: Sharing is Caring
LinkedIn began releasing tools in early 2010 to enable new ways to share, but the end-of-year launch of the LinkedIn share button was a game changer -- essentially catching LinkedIn up to Facebook in its ease of bringing outside content in.
As marketers we want our content shared on LinkedIn just as we want it shared on Facebook. The newness of LinkedIn Share Buttons means we don't yet have hard usage stats. Regardless, the recommendation is to start implementing them around appropriately shareable (especially blog-related) content.
Tip 2: Do Your Detective Work
If we agree that knowledge is power, this should become a fundamental exercise in preparing for meetings, calls, insights and talking points. As best stated by Lindsey Pollak: "look up everyone." Even having small amounts of information about people can break the ice in conversations, giving you an edge in presentations or sales calls.
As a helpful reminder, I use the Rapportive plugin in my web browser, giving me fast access (via the right column of my Gmail account) to a person's LinkedIn, Facebook, recent Tweets and more.
Tip 3: Leverage Expert Content with Advertising
Last year, Guy Kawasaki not only pointed to the prospect of winning new business via LinkedIn by answering questions associated with your expertise -- but also recommended promoting unique (blog) content using LinkedIn's small text ads. As of late January 2011, these text ads enable targeting by job title, company and groups.
Whether you're part of a small emerging business or a Fortune 500, the value of establishing and maintaining thought leadership is priceless. If you have the right (expert) content, promoting it in conjunction with the new ad targeting features is a winning approach.
Note: LinkedIn states that "good ads" in their network will have a click-through rate (CTR) greater than 0.025 percent. Yes, it's low -- but arguably consistent with what many report on the lower-end CTR performance of their Facebook ad campaigns. LinkedIn offers some insight to best practices for advertising here.
Tip 4: Be Part of the New News
Beyond promoting your content with ads, the simple sharing of it may also extend the reach of your expertise, thanks to the new LinkedIn Today news delivery format.
This new feature aggregates and delivers shared headlines from your network and industry via tweets and LinkedIn sharing. It also enables topic search functions with categorical filtering through industries, companies, etc.
The connection/algorithm between LinkedIn share buttons and what appears in LinkedIn Today content isn't clear -- but given the nature of how content is shared in LinkedIn Groups, it's certainly high time you join and begin contributing to at least one.
Tip 5: Get Radical with Recruiting
It would be remiss to skip mentioning LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. From resume searching to identification of funding sources, finding people to fill your knowledge gaps is critical to business growth.
Although you may not see firsthand use of companies targeting their competitor's employees for hire, Marty Weintraub's step-by-step tutorial demonstrates how the guerilla nature of acquiring talent just got kicked up a notch.
With this "awakening," LinkedIn continues demonstrating it warrants our business attention. If you still find yourself in the process of making friends with this giant, I'd love to hear more about how you are getting along. For quickly ramping up your LinkedIn strategy, also consider tapping into some of the starter resources out there from folks like Lewis Howes.

pubished by seogenie

50+ Tools to Automate Your Link Building

Are you a human link builder? If so, ask yourself this: "if a robot link builder existed, what would I still be able to do that it could not?"
Analyze a complex backlink profile and distinguish quality links from spammy ones? Check. Write a funny personal email that gets someone's attention in the right way? Check. Decide when a phone call might be the best outreach method? Check.
And what could the robot do faster and better than you?
Find every link to a site? Check. Automatically search through SERPs and connect each result to external data? Check. Automatically search for contact information on three different pages and score how closely it matched a person's name? Check. Automatically pre-populate data fields in a CRM? Check.
If you've ever heard the phrase "build on your strengths," the lesson for link building is this: that we need to automate as much of the routine, "robot work" as possible, and spend more time doing what we're best at: being sentient human link builders.
In this post, we'll look at tools that can help link builders shift their workload to computers as much as humanly possible.
Backlink Data
Let's start with the most basic automation. You need tools to research sites' backlink profiles. These tools crawl the web and build a database of raw data about backlinks.
Each tool provides, at minimum, the ability to lookup a list of all the pages linking to a URL or domain, and some include detailed information about each link's anchor text, type (text or image), follow status, authority for the linking page, and in some cases the ability to group, sort, search, and filter the results.
  • Majestic SEO: A well-regarded index of link data with information about anchor text, authority, Class C IPs, and relevance, not to mention good sorting and filtering. My only complaint is that their pricing and user-interface is a bit confusing.

  • Open Site Explorer: A very user-friendly tool with anchor text data, follow status, and authority. The only downside is the index may miss some links in the "deep web."

  • Yahoo Site Explorer: Known for being relative fast to find new links (other indexes are updated monthly), but very limited because it can only return 1,000 links per page or domain and offers no "extra" data such as follow status or filtering capabilities. But it's free! Yahoo also offers an API (Yahoo BOSS), which according to many, is more current than the Site Explorer website.

  • Google: Yes, their "link:" operator leaves much to be desired, but just because it's incomplete doesn't mean it's useless.

  • Blekko: This new search engine offers tons of free backlink data available from a very deep index.
Site-Level Backlink Analysis
Many tools offer backlink reports at the site or URL level, but are limited to only the data points they have available. So then what do you do if you want to filter a site's backlinks down to only followed inbound links, with toolbar PageRank of at least 5, and no more than 50 outbound links?
Enter site-level backlink analysis tools. These tools gather traditional backlink data with a traditional set of backlink data, often pulled from one or multiple backlink data providers.
  • Link Diagnosis: Powered by Yahoo BOSS, Link Diagnosis uses a Firefox extension to pull up to 1,000 links per page and lookup metrics such as the toolbar PageRank of each URL, whether the link actually was found on the page, follow status, anchor text of each link, and aggregate level reporting.

  • BacklinkWatch!: Also powered by Yahoo, BacklinkWatch! pulls the first 1,000 links for a page (the most Yahoo will give up), and appends the number of outbound links on the source page along with any flags they find (nofollow, image links, etc.).

  • AnalyzeBacklinks: Simple and free tool that analyzes backlinks to a page and appends anchor text, total number of links, outbound links, title of the linking page. One feature I like is that ability to flag links that mention a keyword you've selected.

  • SEOBook Link Harvester: Shows backlinks grouped by linking domain, groups them by top level domain (TLD), and provides summary metrics about the number of incoming links and percentage of deep links to the page.

  • SEOBook Back Link Analyzer: A free downloadable tool that pulls backlink data from Google, MSN, and Yahoo, crawls the linking pages, and builds a table of information about each link including follow status, number of outbound links, page title, and more.

  • SearchStatus Plugin for Firefox: A free Firefox extension from iAcquire that pulls the backlinks from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

  • SEOLink Analysis: Supplements lists of links produced by Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer with information about each link's PageRank, anchor text, and follow status.

  • WhoLinksToMe: Produces various detailed backlink reports with views by link, anchor text, country, IP, and more. Many charts and graphs to aid in the analysis. Freemium.

  • Many enterprise SEO packages also offer data-rich site level backlink analysis, including BrightEdge, SecondStep, RankAbove's Drive, seoClarity, SEO Diver, SISTRIX Toolbox, and gShift Labs, and link building specific tools such as Advanced Link Manager, Linkdex and Cemper's LinkResearchTools offer powerful backlink analysis features.
SERP-Level Backlink Analysis
It seems like every link builder has a preferred set of data when it comes to competitive analysis. So don't expect any single tool to pull every conceivable piece of data and put them all into same columns you've always used.
You still may find yourself exporting data to Excel and merging with other data sources. But any time saved from manually copying and pasting data into spreadsheets (or hiring and managing people to do so) can be spent on more human, value-added activities.
Anyone without research tools for SERP analysis is at a competitive disadvantage.
Link Prospecting Tools
There are many ways to find link opportunities, and the tools listed below can only really scratch the surface when it comes to the universe of link opportunities that some creativity and insight can find.
  • Query generators are the original link automation tools. These tools take a keyword and automatically create dozens or hundreds of canned searches to find common link opportunity types (e.g. resource pages, guest posts, and directories). Here are a few of the most popular: SoloSEO, Ontolo's Link Query Generator, SEOBook's Link Suggest, BuzzStream's Link Building Query Generator (disclaimer: I co-founded BuzzStream), and Webconf's Backlink Builder. I would strongly caution anyone using a list of other people's queries to weed out queries that don't make sense for them -- don't just head down a link building path because a tool suggested you seek a link on every "inurl:links.html" page in your industry.

  • Link prospecting tools build upon the query generator idea, but automate the task of visiting each page in and compiling addition metrics (and in some cases, contact info). This can save link builders time by enabling them to prioritize prospects with the highest value. But you can't just take everything the tools give you. Plan to review each prospect to assess its appropriateness to your link building campaign. Here are a few of the most popular: Ontolo, Adgooroo's Link Insight, and Advanced Link Manager.

  • Cocitation or "hub finder" tools help you find sites that link to multiple competitors. Some look across all links to your competitors, and some analyze the top ranking sites for a given keyword. The best known offerings in this area are SEOBook's Hub Finder, Adgooroo's Link Insight, Raven's SiteFinder, LinkResearchTools, Linkdex, WordTracker Link Builder, SEODiver, and Shoemoney Tools.

  • Proprietary technique research tools use a combination of their own search queries and analysis rules to generate a list of screened, quality link prospect opportunities. Link Insight is known for integrating many of Eric Ward's (a.k.a., "Link Moses") research methods, though I wouldn't call it an Eric-SaaS just yet. Ontolo offers a number of proprietary searches, but also leaves a fair bit of detail and control in users' hands.

  • Checklist-driven link building tools give users bite-sized link building tasks, such as "Today you should request a link on DMOZ!" (except their suggestions tend to be more clever than that): LotusJump, Hubspot, DIYSEO, and SEOScheduler.
Next time, I'll cover tools that address contact research, link management (CRM), link outreach management, and link monitoring.
A note about some tools I won't cover: tools that scrape SERPs for sites and automatically extract email addresses and send blast mass emails, tools that automate directory submission, "article marketing," and blog commenting, services that automate blindly placing link-laden content on an unknown network of sites, or tools to automate reciprocal link exchanges. These tools exist and some people use them, but I have yet to find them to be beneficial.
The best strategy for using link building automation tools is to first develop a good process for tracking your link prospecting data and managing your outreach via a structured workflow. Once you have data and process in place, you can start automating some of your routine tasks.
The point of using great tools, whether it's an array of three 24" monitors on your desk, an Aeron chair, or fancy link building tools, is to eliminate energy wasted on low value activities, work in new ways, and free you up to focus on what you, the human link builder, is uniquely suited to do.

Social Design Strategy Working from the Outside In

A few weeks ago at the Facebook Developer Garage in Paris, design strategist Eric Fisher defined social design in the context of the three core components: identity, conversation, and community.
While most discussions on social design encompass the practice of creating optimized user experiences within applications and websites, Fisher's presentation (and ultimate strategic suggestion to marketers) centered upon the most foundational elements to Facebook's success.
As many of us desire to stay sharp on social media strategy, I'm hopeful the interpretive summary of his presentation that follows will provide a helpful reference (if not, reminder) of what we as marketers should keep top of mind when helping businesses meaningfully engage with their customers.

Facebook's Social Design Components Defined
First, we acknowledge that relationships and trust are foundational to any social network. The level of trust depends on the types of relationships we have, which can be categorized on the spectrum between strong ties (family and close friends) and weak ties (short-lived/formal relationships).
In this context, we can consider the following three components, beginning with the inner circle in the diagram below:
  • Identity: Facebook started by enabling us to define our identities within their network. Inherently, our identities are reinforced through strong ties, or relationships with those we most closely trust who are also in the network.

  • Conversation: We insert our identity into the community through conversation. By listening and responding (sharing), we personally benefit from self-expression -- yet also benefit others who learn or are inspired from our contribution to the conversation. Conversation is what Fisher refers to as "the glue between identity and community."

  • Community: As conversation continues, community is developed around various common values and participating identities. The strength of community grows from weak ties that give back via the conversation. The community response may reinforce or even influence our identity. And as the community influences us, even to the extent of our mere participation in the conversation, so may we influence our strong ties.
Fisher's Key Insight
While Facebook has been about growing community from the inside out (starting with identity) -- we as marketers realize our greatest opportunities by approaching it from the outside in, starting with community.
The widespread adoption of Facebook translates to an enormous volume of communities already established -- and fortunately, we have visibility into any number of them. Practically speaking, the exercise from here becomes one of social business intelligence, learning what we can about existing conversations and communities so we can properly define a conversation and add to the identities participating in them.
At a more granular level, we can get into the kind of strategic modeling that specifically addresses the content, context, and campaigns which inspire people to act and share.
Additional Notes on Social Design
As implied at the start, this post could be considered a very different angle on social design. Although the importance of "traditional" social design merits a separate post, the following are some quick insights and references I hope you will also find useful.
First, if we had to boil down the common goal of social design, it would be to maximize the accessibility, ease and usefulness of social interactions between people and content. Since most agree that social media is about conversations, it's easy to recognize there is great value to designing interfaces that best enable them.
Fortunately, we don't need to become user experience (UX) design experts to take advantage of what's been learned. The following are a few great references, many of which provide highly practical examples and tips:

Five months ago I wrote a post titled, "So you wanna be a user experience designer," in which I gathered all of the resources in my UX arsenal: publications and blogs, books, local events, organizations, mailing lists, webinars, workshops, conferences, and schooling. My intent was to give aspiring user experience designers, or even those on the hunt for additional inspiration, a launching pad for getting started.
The response has been pretty remarkable—the link continues to be sent around the Twitterverse and referenced in the blogosphere. I'm really pleased that so many people have found it to be a useful aid in their exploration of User Experience.
In the post I promised that it would be the beginning of a series, and I'm happy to report that Step 2 is finally here: Guiding Principles.
"Guiding principles" are the broad philosophy or fundamental beliefs that steer an organization, team or individual's decision making, irrespective of the project goals, constraints, or resources.
I have collected a set of guiding principles for user experience designers, to encourage behaviors that I believe are necessary to being a successful practitioner, as well as a set of guiding principles for experience design—which I think anyone who touches a product used by humans should strive to follow.
DISCLAIMER: These lists are meant to be both cogent and concise. While there are certainly other universal truths that I may not have noted, the principles below are the ones I consider to be most critical to designing user experiences and are often the most neglected.
I would love to hear your additions and edits in the comments.

5 Guiding Principles for Experience Designers

  1. Understand the underlying problem before attempting to solve it
  2. Your work should have purpose—addressing actual, urgent problems that people are facing. Make sure that you can clearly articulate the core of the issue before spending an ounce of time on developing the design. The true mark of an effective designer is the ability to answer "why?". Don't waste your time solving the wrong problems.
  3. Don't hurt anyone
  4. It is your job to protect people and create positive experiences. At the very minimum you must ensure that you do not cause any pain. The world is filled with plenty of anguish—make your life goal not to add to it.
  5. Make things simple and intuitive
  6. Leave complexity to family dynamics, relationships, and puzzles. The things you create should be easy to use, easy to learn, easy to find, and easy to adapt. Intuition happens outside of conscious reasoning, so by utilizing it you are actually reducing the tax on people's minds. That will make them feel lighter and likely a lot happier.
  7. Acknowledge that the user is not like you
  8. What's obvious to you isn't necessarily obvious to someone else. Our thought processes and understanding of the world around us are deeply affected by our genetics, upbringing, religious and geographical culture, and past experiences. There is a very small likelihood that the people you are designing for have all the distinctive qualities that make you you. Don't assume you innately understand the needs of your customers. How many people do you think truly understand what it feels like to be you?
  9. Have empathy
  10. Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person's perspective and feelings. Step outside your box and try really hard to understand the world from another person's point of view. Go out of your way to identify with their needs. If certain things just don't make sense to you, ask more questions. Ask as many questions as you need to until you finally understand. When you really get what makes people tick and why they do what they do, you'll have a much easier time going to bat to make their lives better. If you aren't trying to make people's lives better, what are you even doing here?

20 Guiding Principles for Experience Design

  1. Stay out of people's way
  2. When someone is trying to get something done, they're on a mission. Don't interrupt them unnecessarily, don't set up obstacles for them to overcome, just pave the road for an easy ride. Your designs should have intentional and obvious paths, and should allow people to complete tasks quickly and freely.
  3. Present few choices
  4. The more choices a person is presented with, the harder it is for them to choose. This is what Barry Schwartz calls The Paradox of Choice. Remove the "nice to haves" and focus instead of the necessary alternatives a person needs to make in order to greatly impact the outcome.
  5. Limit distractions
  6. It's a myth that people can multitask. Short of chewing gum while walking, people can't actually do two things simultaneously; they end up giving less attention to both tasks and the quality of the interaction suffers. An effective design allows people to focus on the task at hand without having their attention diverted to less critical tasks. Design for tasks to be carried out consecutively instead of concurrently in order to keep people in the moment.
  7. Group related objects near each other
  8. Layout is a key ingredient to creating meaningful and useful experiences. As a person scans a page for information, they form an understanding about what you can do for them and what they can do for themselves using your services. To aid in that learning process, and to motivate interaction, don't force people to jump back and forth around disparate areas in order to carry out a single task. The design should be thoughtfully organized with related features and content areas appropriately chunked, and…
  9. Create a visual hierarchy that matches the user's needs
  10. …by giving the most crucial elements the greatest prominence. "Visual hierarchy" is a combination of several dimensions to aid in the processing of information, such as color, size, position, contrast, shape, proximity to like items, etc. Not only must a page be well organized so that it's easy to scan, but the prioritization of information and functionality ought to mimic real world usage scenarios. Don't make the most commonly used items the furthest out of reach.
  11. Provide strong information scent
  12. People don't like to guess. When they click around your site or product, they aren't doing so haphazardly; they're trying to follow their nose. If what they find when they get there isn't close to what they predicted, chances are they're going to give up and go elsewhere. Make sure that you use clear language and properly set expectations so that you don't lead people down the wrong path.
  13. Provide signposts and cues
  14. Never let people get lost. Signposts are one of the most important elements of any experience, especially one on the web where there are an infinite number of paths leading in all directions. The design should keep people aware of where they are within the overall experience at all times in a consistent and clear fashion. If you show them where they came from and where they're going, they'll have the confidence to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.
  15. Provide context
  16. Context sets the stage for a successful delivery. By communicating how everything interrelates, people are much more likely to understand the importance of what they're looking at. Ensure that the design is self-contained and doesn't break people out of the experience except for when it's entirely necessary to communicate purpose.
  17. Avoid jargon
  18. Remember that the experience is about them (the customer), not you (the business). Like going to a foreign country and expecting the lady behind the counter to understand English, it's just as rude to talk to your visitors using lingo that's internal to your company or worse, expressions you made up to seem witty. Be clear, kind and use widely understood terminology.
  19. Make things efficient
  20. A primary goal of experience design is to make things efficient for the human before making things efficient for the computer. Efficiency allows for productivity and reduced effort, and a streamlined design allows more to get done in the same amount of time. Creating efficiency demonstrates a great deal of respect for your customers, and they'll be sure to notice.
  21. Use appropriate defaults
  22. Providing preselected or predetermined options is one of the ways to minimize decisions and increase efficiency. But choose wisely: if you assign the defaults to the wrong options (meaning that the majority of people are forced to change the selection), you'll end up creating more stress and processing time.
  23. Use constraints appropriately
  24. Preventing error is a lot better than just recovering from it. If you know ahead of time that there are certain restrictions on data inputs or potential dead ends, stop people from going down the wrong road. By proactively indicating what is not possible, you help to establish what is possible, and guide people to successful interactions. But make sure the constraints are worthwhile—don't be overly cautious or limiting when it's just to make things easier for the machine.
  25. Make actions reversible
  26. There is no such thing as a perfect design. No one and nothing can prevent all errors, so you're going to need a contingency plan. Ensure that if people make mistakes (either because they misunderstood the directions or mistyped or were misled by you), they are able to easily fix them. Undo is probably the most powerful control you can give a person—if only we had an undo button in life.
  27. Reduce latency
  28. No one likes to wait. Lines suck. So do delays in an interface. Do whatever you can to respond to people's requests quickly or else they'll feel like you aren't really listening. And if they really have to wait…
  29. Provide feedback
  30. …tell them why they're waiting. Tell them that you're working. Tell them you heard them and offer the next step along their path. Design is not a monologue, it's a conversation.
  31. Use emotion
  32. Ease of use isn't the only measure of a positive user experience; pleasurably is just as important. Something can be dead simple, but if it's outrageously boring or cold it can feel harder to get through. Designs should have flourishes of warmth, kindness, whimsy, richness, seduction, wit—anything that incites passion and makes the person feel engaged and energized.
  33. Less is more
  34. This isn't necessarily about minimalism, but it is important to make sure that everything in the design has a purpose. Some things are purely functional; other things are purely aesthetic. But if they aren't adding to the overall positivity of the experience, then take it out. Reduce the design to the necessary fundamentals and people will find it much easier to draw themselves in the white space.
  35. Be consistent
  36. Navigational mechanisms, organizational structure and metaphors used throughout the design must be predictable and reliable. When things don't match up between multiple areas, the experience can feel disjointed, confusing and uncomfortable. People will start to question whether they're misunderstanding the intended meaning or if they missed a key cue. Consistency implies stability, and people always want to feel like they're in good hands.
  37. Make a good first impression
  38. You don't get a second chance! Designing a digital experience is really no different than establishing a set of rules for how to conduct yourself in a relationship. You want to make people feel comfortable when you first meet them, you want to set clear expectations about what you can and can't offer, you want to ease them into the process, you want to be attractive and appealing and strong and sensible. Ultimately you want to ensure that they can see themselves with you for a long time.
  39. Be credible and trustworthy
  40. It's hard to tell who you can trust these days, so the only way to gain the confidence of your customers is to earn it—do what you say you're going to do, don't over promise and under deliver, don't sell someone out to fulfill a business objective. If you set people's expectations appropriately and follow through in a timely matter, people will give you considerably more leeway than if they're just waiting for you to screw them over.
The above principles are general and can be applied across many types of experiences. However some products require a more focused set of directives due to their specific audiences or brand goals. Below are examples of Guiding Principles that have been made public by some of the best known organizations. Use these as inspiration, but don't think that just following the same instructions will yield the same results.