Why do developers and product managers skimp on profile management?

6 Jul

Now that OtherInBox is pissing off its users for the second time in three years, I’m going through the less-than-fun exercise of switching a couple hundred logins and subscriptions to new email addresses.

This has not been fun, not least because of the rote and manual nature of the updates. But it’s been made considerably worse by the half-assed approach many of these sites and subscription management platforms take to the basic task of updating user/profile/account data.

Here are a couple examples; neither site has a front-end interface to update the email address on file for either login purposes or notifications:

Site one

I’ve looked all over the site and left two chat thing on the Olark widget but no one’s responded to my question: how do I change the email address on file/login from [email] to [new email]?

we have to change it from our end is because if you’re currently logged into the site, then it causes a system crash if you change your login while you’re logged in!

Site two

Thanks for your email.

If you would like to change your email address you need to do the following:
1. Open a new account with the email address you want to use
2. Send us an email with both email addresses stating clearly which one you want to keep

Once we have the information, we will merge your accounts so that all the information is saved and the email address is changed.

Then there are the sites – more than two dozen, at last count – that decouple their obligatory marketing lists from their platforms. Meaning that an update or unsubscribe action entered on your profile isn’t synced with their email marketing platform of choice.

A word to all of you using “SafeUnsubscribe” from Constant Contact – stop. This is weaksauce:

Screenshot 2014-07-06 18.37.13

And Mailchimp folks, you might want to hide those segments/groups you’re using:

Screenshot 2014-07-06 18.44.46

 

The specialest of shouts to the many, many sites and lists that have neither a user-accessible way to either unsubscribe or update profile emails or any way of getting in touch with a human. That’s a “report for spam”, with extreme prejudice, for you.

[I’m Reading] ‘the view from nowhere…isn’t the natural tone and register of people on the internet’

24 Feb

This, from a piece that’s mostly about Ampp3d’s approach to data journalism, jumped out at me (emphasis mine):

We all understand what data journalism from a broadsheet looks like, and it is very good. We’re trying to find out what data journalism from a tabloid looks like. I want Ampp3d to be fast and funny and popular as well as being factual and accurate.

I don’t think it should have “the view from nowhere”. That’s great for where it is appropriate, but it isn’t the natural tone and register of people on the internet. And it isn’t what makes stories resonate with people, or makes them compelling to share.

5 good reads: on meetings

16 Feb

‘Well, it’s journalism. we’re trying to make it easy for you, but you do need to read the words.’

13 Feb

[I’m Reading] The Community Manager’s Checklist for a Smooth Product Launch

11 Feb

This list of community manager responsibilities for a product launch overlaps considerably with what a strong product marketing manager would do in tandem with support from comms, customer relations, and analytics – which reflects that it was written by someone working at a startup in a resource-constrained environment.

None of which detracts from the utility of the list itself, summarized below:

  • Update your art and messaging on all social media platforms
  • Publish a comprehensive blog post with all the information that your users, journalists and
  • other interested parties need
  • Respond to any and all Tweets, comments or emails in *real time*
  • Embed yourself in all areas of your company so you are functionally able to answer any and all questions
    Report back to your team

[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

4 Feb

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

4 Feb

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

[I’m Reading] ‘Online, each story is at best its own magazine, sent out to find its own temporary audience’

27 Jan

Excellent piece written by Ben Smith and published on Medium:

Online, each story is at best its own magazine, sent out to find its own temporary audience. One article may absorb people who subscribe, or would once have subscribed, to Foreign Affairs; another might absorb devotees of Wired or Men’s Health or Glamour. The author and the story choose their audience, and the editor’s role is to begin the conversation over who will read and share the piece — not to rework it for the group of people who happen to subscribe to your magazine.

And:

Bennet and others have celebrated technical aspects of digital journalism — images and gifs and audio — as a reason to be excited about the web. These tools are can be beautiful and useful, though they can also sometimes evoke worst of Flash-dominated, distracting early ’00s web design. (Rolling Stone recently published an article on animal rights that actually moos.) We are careful to get out of the stories’ way: Images and gifs and videos must look great on the iPhone screen, which may already be the most common way readers experience long narratives.

And:

The scroll is a wonderful way to read that forces writers and editors alike to make more purposeful choices. The editor loses the excuse of a word limit or the geometry of columns to make choices easier: He or she must instead be able to convincingly explain what belongs in the story and what doesn’t. Writers lose the same crutch. The story should be as long as it should be.

[I’m Reading] Asking people to share articles…leads to more shares

9 Jan

As much as I wince when I see “Please RT”, clear calls to action do work on social media.
Here’s a deep-dive from Facebook’s data scientists, who went full-wonk in this post on memes (emphasis mine):

In fact, there are certain phrases that give a variant of the meme an advantage or boost, e.g. clear replication instructions such as “please post this”, or “copy and paste” give a variant a 2x advantage. Other favorable phrasings include encouragement and allusions to competition (“see how many people”), persistence cues (“status for at least”), or conditions that are easy to match or identify with (“if you love your”, “if you know someone”, “paste if you agree”, “proud to be a”). A specific pattern, “of you won’t”, occurred in prompts such as ‘95% of you won’t copy this, but the 5% who [have a positive attribute] will’. 144 memes contained at least one variant matching “won’t […] will”. These variants had significantly higher likelihood of being copied, 10.98 copies on average, relative to an average of 7.05 overall.

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But wait, there’s more. In a perceptive piece over at Buzzfeed, John Herman notes that Facebook knows when you’re being manipulative, and will punish you for it:

From the researchers’ outwardly content-neutral perspective, these are a list of phrases that help your posts get shared. From a Facebook user’s perspective, they read more like a list of irritating things that you can’t seem to get out of your News Feed. The study’s release coincides with a push within Facebook to demote what it calls “low quality” posts and memes. The company has been reluctant to define “low quality” with any specificity, and has suggested that much of this judgement will fall to its algorithms (how many people are hiding a post, for example). But it has become clear that Facebook will be making some kind of editorial judgement.

[SQAS] Mobile + email = are we really ready for this?

8 Jan

Posts labelled [SQAS] (as in Stats, Quotes, Anecdotes, Snippets) will feature nuggets of information and insight. These are the kinds of things I save in Evernote because I’m a digital hoarder because they make for great bullet points in presentations and quality soundbites.

The numbers are in, and they are clear: a majority of emails are being opened on mobile devices vs desktop. Here’s the latest snapshot from ReturnPath on email traffic over the December holiday season, based on an analysis of more than 1bn emails:
email_open_share___december_2013_w640