IKEA, WIFI and In Real Life Personalization

Yesterday I had the opportunity to test the strength of my marriage by visiting Ikea for the 5th time in the last year. In actuality my wife, son and I had a good time and there were no epic debates over couch choices. I did however notice a rather novel decision on behalf of Ikea.

There’s something special about the IKEA Stoughton once you reach the “marketplace” you’re no longer able to communicate with the outside world. That’s right your phone bars drop to “No Service” and you’re stuck in a pit of despair debating which kitchen utensil is the best deal with no connection with the outside world.

ikea-wifi-sign-inIn this instance, yesterday, I decided to hop on the IKEA free WIFI which I have to admit was a nice addition to their luxuries, which includes free coffee, tea, and low cost meatballs. Signing onto the Wifi I was presented a few decisions as you can see in the screenshot to the left.

What stuck out to me was the idea of signing in with an “IKEA Family Card”. This is the “Stop & Shop Card” or rather free savings card Ikea gives out to it’s customers. I’ve noticed in the past that I rarely save on furniture but their already low priced meatballs tend to drop in price when I hand over the card.

The importance of this decision

Why would you want to sign in with your IKEA Family Card? Well it’s probably pretty convenient for you if you already have one.  You type in a few numbers and you’re in.

ikea-wifi-sign-in-approval Actually it’s quite inconvenient if you’re not currently a Family Card member and if you have to dig it out of you’re wife’s purse it’s not all that easy either. That being said I am fascinated to know how IKEA will use this information. This is a unique opportunity for IKEA to tie past purchases with current needs.

I imagine one of the main reasons I want to be on wifi despite being in a No Service pit of despair is that I want to look up some IKEA products and compare what I’ve seen online to what’s in font of me.

No matter the reason IKEA has created an opportunity to not only sell to you in the physical world but to tie it to an beautifully personal experience. If they want to be magicians in this space they can also tie it to which router you’re currently connected to and have a better understanding of where you are in the store.

Imagine the opportunities to increase their reach to you if you are standing in the workspace section looking at chairs for you new desk. You go online to see the chair you were looking at on their website because you can’t quite find what you were looking for. Then in that moment IKEA delivers you an uniquely blended experience of in-real-life tangible items tied to your phone and what you’re looking at in your screen to sell you on the chair you’ve been wanting for your office.

Here’s the thing. I have no idea if IKEA is doing this, or just tracking searches, or just trying to better understand their users. For all I know they thought’d it be easy to have you sign in with your family card and that’s the extent of it.

Just imagine the opportunities. Comment below!

I’m a dumb user, help me be smarter

I don’t mind admitting it, I can be a dumb user sometimes. It’s not shameful, it just means that I don’t understand your interface the way you designed it. Sure I can blame you and say you should have done better, but in the end it’s 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.

Take Fry, for example. He’s new to the 31st century and he’s mistaken this suicide booth for a phone booth. It’s not his fault he’s just a “kid from the stupid ages”.

An interface that provides a service as serious and immutable as suicide should absolutely come with a warning.

While a delete button isn’t nearly as serious it should come with warnings and or a safeguard to keep users like myself from making mistakes that can’t be undone. MailChimp and WordPress both do it right.


MailChimp requires that I type the word DELETE in the form field above. Not only that, but I also have to type it EXACTLY the way you see it there. Delete and delete don’t work. You have to seriously want to delete a campaign or template.


WordPress on the other hand doesn’t utilize a warning system. Instead it’s a 2 step process to delete something. First you delete it from the posts section. This lands your post in the trash, seen below.


From there you have to press the “Empty Trash” button or the “Delete Permanently” button. Either way you know what you’re getting into.

Did you enjoy this post? Keep up with the rest by liking my page:


Whether you have a preemptive alert system like MailChimp or a multi-step process like WordPress it’s important to help users like me prevent catastrophic failure.

“My content is so good I don’t need an unsubscribe button”

Today at Starbucks I had an interesting conversation with a guy who says he “works in marketing”.

Guy: “Hey, you look smart. Do you know anything about MailChimp?”

Me: “Yeah a bit…”

Guy: “Do you know how to remove the unsubscribe button from the bottom of an email?”

Me: “Why would you want to?”

Guy: “Cause I don’t want my subscribers to unsubscribe”

Me: “Ok, but what if they don’t want to read your emails anymore?”

Guy: “Why wouldn’t they want to?”

Me: “I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why someone would change their minds, but if they can’t unsubscribe they’ll get frustrated and mark it as spam”

Guy: “How do I stop them from marking it as spam?”

Me: “Write great content that provides value to your readers AND give them an unsubscribe button”

Guy: “But I don’t want them to unsubscribe”

Me: “Then don’t use MailChimp cause it’s a requirement”

Guy: “My content is so good I don’t need an unsubscribe button, why does MailChimp suck?”

Me: performs epic face palm

Star ratings are a recipe for deception

There is a fundamental problem with star ratings. I have no idea how long these reviews have been coming in, and I can’t see any trends.

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Take a look at the Troy-Bilt Weed Wacker above. 765 reviews means it’s been on Lowes.com for quite some time.

With exactly 227 – 5 star reviews, and 227 – 1 star reviews it sounds like a solid 3 star product, but that’s actually really deceiving. It doesn’t mean I’m likely to get an average product that works but could be better. What it actually means is that I have a 50/50 chance of getting a working one.

How can we improve ratings?

Let’s trend those ratings so we can see what’s happening over the lifetime of the product. The data is obviously there on lowes.com so why not use it. If you told me when that 70% of those 1 star reviews were from 3 years ago, then I’d know that Troy-Bilt has obviously fixed a major flaw in the product.  If however most of those 1 star reviews came in, in the last 6 months that would mean something completely different.

article-2284725-184F692E000005DC-449_634x396Geographic locations may make a big difference too. If I’m looking for a snowblower and most of the 5 star reviews come from areas with very little snowfall that data isn’t really helpful for me. I’m more interested in what this person thinks.

Star ratings have been pulling a veil over our eyes for a long time, especially considering how much spam there is. In the end a great return policy makes it easier to just throw out ratings and just try it for yourself. I would prefer that over imaginary reassurance that I’m going to like the product.

Emails are dying, if you’re sending them you should take care to do it right

For me personally, marketing emails have to be super relevant or I’m off to click the sacred “unsubscribe” button. Movie Tickets (a service I rarely use) sent me an email today and the data they are sending me is really bizarre.

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To be honest the layout of the email was intriguing and I was interested to learn a bit about my movie habits. However, after 1 look I was immediately discouraged.

“Days since your first purchase” is wordy and frankly a bit strange. I’d rather be congratulated for being a long time customer. Also 3,338 days is kinda like a mom saying “little Johnny is 47 months old”. No, he’s not, he’s turning 4 next month.

Also I’ve clearly been around for a really long time, but rarely use your service. 10 tickets in over 9 years isn’t exactly impressive, maybe something to entice me to come back would be more appropriate.

The major takeaway here is that I didn’t even know that I was subscribed to MovieTickets.com updates before I received this email. I haven’t heard from them before so this was their 1 shot and now I’m off to unsubscribe:

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Where you arrive after clicking “update email preferences” there is no “unsubscribe” button.

Oh wait, I can’t unsubscribe because you didn’t provide an easy way to do that. I now have to login to an account I haven’t used in years to get off your list. Really? At this point the spam button is looking so good right now.

Do you care about your privacy?

We’re proud to be recognized by the EFF for our work in this year’s Who Has Your Back report and are continually working to improve our practices to best serve the millions of websites owners who put their trust in us.

WordPress.com received a perfect EFF score and that’s a big deal. Not only can you build a blog and quickly start sharing your ideas and beliefs, but you can also do it with confidence that you’re anonymity and privacy will be protected because WordPress.com has your back.

Read more here: https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/a-perfect-eff-score-were-proud-to-have-your-back/

Don’t be creepy when asking for info on users

I was signing up for a rewards card today and a required question was gender. I’m not sure why a local fastish food restaurant needs to know my gender to grant me a loyalty card, it’s borderline creepy.

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I figured there must be an option to “opt out” but there wasn’t.

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So I might have hacked it in the inspector and given them an answer they might know what to do with.

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Extra points if you know why I chose earthworm.

Confusion doesn’t lead to conversion

In the scenario below Genmega isn’t worried about conversion, they already have my fees. But they should be worried about my security. Your interface should always have clear understandable calls-to-action.


Is the lack of a dismiss button a determination of importance?

Today I logged into my Google Voice account and saw this banner at the top.

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It was really in the way of the UI even though the colors were muted and the message was subtle. Of course my first action is to simply dismiss the notice but in this case it was impossible.

I clicked through to the survey and based on the questions I got the immediate feeling that its purpose was to collect information to help in a decision on the future of Google Voice. Questions about how much I use GV, when I signed up, and what features I find valuable, lead me to believe Google is at a fork in the road and needs some insight.

Obviously that would mean the results of this survey would be really important, and possibly the reason I couldn’t dismiss the survey.

Distraction free writing

Nope, I’m not talking about distraction free writing in WordPress. I’m talking about on my laptop with limited internet access and free from all distractions. Truly focused writing is achievable with a few simple steps.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 9.19.59 AMStep 1. Create a new profile on your mac and don’t setup any extra software. Slack is a great example of amazing software that I absolutely don’t need distracting me while I’m writing.

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Step 2. Love your writing tool. Ulysses is great distraction free writing software that I’ve been using for about a month now.

Step 3. Listen to great music! Here’s a list of some of my favorite music to listen to while writing.

Your horrible website might not be all that bad

wpid-screenshot_2015-06-09-11-35-40.jpgThere’s something about restaurant websites that get under my skin. It’s mostly because there are so many mediocre tools out there that help restaurant owners bloat their websites and make them terrible to use.

wpid-screenshot_2015-06-09-11-36-02.jpgThis is the website for Han Palace, a Chinese restaurant down the street from me. You might be tempted to make fun of the solid image homepage and the widespread use of <tr>’s. But before you do all that take a second and think about the experience you might have with this website.

Most people who arrive here are looking for the phone number, hours and possibly a menu. This isn’t a 5 star restaurant in a casino on the Las Vegas strip, their website doesn’t have to be try and represent it that way either. Sure it won’t win any awards, but customers get what they want when they need it. It’s not responsive either, but the mobile experience was just fine.

Secure Your WordPress Website

You can not afford to have your site hacked, infultrated or taken down Buy Now

The point I’m making is that all too often people try to build websites the way “they’re supposed to built” but don’t even get close. In that time they put so much icing on a terrible tasting cake all we get is a bad taste in our mouths. Instead just make an old fashion cookie with no frills or special add-ons and you’ll make your customers happy.

An unexpectedly effective intro

Usually emails like this never grab my attention. This one did.

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The lack of marketing collateral, imagery, and unnecessary graphics made this letter look sincere rather than canned. That being said I still didn’t take the survey because they lost me with the “less than 30 seconds” bit and I generally don’t take surveys unless I have my experience deemed it necessary.

I’ve sent out my fair share of survey’s but if every experience ended with a survey we’d never have time to do anything else but take them. Survey’s should be reserved for a higher purpose and not simply to give your readers another reason to unsubscribe.

Here’s an example of a Just In Time survey that was super quick and very easy for me to take.

Every page is a homepage

This post is a prologue to a bigger article but I wanted it make a quick point and hopefully get some feedback.

Your homepage is everywhere and it is nowhere

If visitors never see your homepage does it exist? Let’s put the phylosophical questions aside for a moment and ask a more practical one. If Google, social sharing, digital word-of-mouth does the work of directing visitors to your internal pages so effectively how likely is it they will ever see your homepage?

If the answer is unlikely, then are you doing a good enough job giving visitors a next step? Where do they go next? How is engagement?


I currently use tweet embeds and Jetpack related posts to help keep the conversation going either on or off my site, but it’s not enough.

Here’s where I need your help

I’m proposing two things I’d like to do with my site. The first is to fully eliminate the existence of the single post or page. I’ll do this by turning every post into an archive page similar to my homepage with infinite scrolling of posts below the current post you’re viewing.

The second to-do item is to implement a plugin I’m working on to help visitors track read and unread articles. Eventually the articles that show below the one you landed on should be displayed based on an algorithm that shows related and unread articles.

In a scenario where those two adjustments have been made to my site, are comments necessary, wise and or practical? How do you feel about comments?

I haven’t seen a ton of value in comments lately and I’m wondering what you think?

When Google takes your visitors

I hope at this point it’s abundantly clear Google doesn’t care about increasing your site traffic. They care about answering a query, and doing it as accurately and as fast as possible.

I remember back when Google started indexing interior pages, and users began experiencing your site without ever seeing your homepage. Then indexed pages started showing up in the SERP:


I bet you remember the first time Google answered a question for you in the SERP and you never even had to click a link. Searchers get the answers they want even faster than before, and in cases like currency conversion or the price of gold, quick answers in the SERP make a lot of sense.


price of gold


The data presented above are facts, and related to specific statistical analysis of the market. In most cases you’re looking for a quick answer so avoiding a click through gets you a quick answer. What about the sites that provide this information? They need your traffic, and specifically your eyes on their site to survive.

So what do you do when you’re providing content for Google to essentially scrape to provide a better experience to searchers, and you get nothing out of it? At this point the better your content is written, the clearer the answer, the faster your site loads, the more likely Google is to take it for themselves.


I don’t otherwise read MTV blogs or content. This was MTV’s chance to provide me with an experience to turn me into a loyal reader. Google essentially stole that from MTV because I have the exact answer I was looking for and I never need to leave the comfort of a Google SERP.

In my talk Getting them from A to B I deliver practical and specific advice on how you can improve your site and your visitors experience to help overcome these problems. Google will always provide visitors with the fastest means of getting to your content. Personalization is key for Google and for your site.

Your content is never going to be your content when it’s on the web. It’s hilarious when website administrators try to prevent content from being copied, downloaded or otherwise shared. If you want to be apart of the Internet you’re going to have to realize that you’re not in control. Users dictate how they want their content, and that includes the “when” and more recently the “where”.

My advice on the this matter hasn’t changed since 1999 when I started building websites. Focus all of your efforts on creating genuine, creative, and powerful content. Sure some of it my be used without awarding you the credit you deserve. Just remember, the only thing the Internet rewards time and time again is authentic content written with the goal of helping users. Gimmicks, click bait, ad copy, SEO’d content, are all just fads with short term gains.