Web Strategy Case Studies


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This slide examines success and failure in Web strategy at Amazon.com and RealNetworks.

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Web Strategy Case Studies

  1. 1. Web Strategy Case Studies: Amazon.com & RealNetworks
  2. 2. Preparing Content for the Web <ul><li>There are consumption pattern differences among readers of print and Web media </li></ul><ul><li>Print readers tend to read in a linear fashion </li></ul><ul><li>Web surfers may interact with an article and read elements out of order </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-linear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Branching” </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Design Issues <ul><li>Some content specialists argue that vital information should remain “above the scroll” on all pages </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, some suggest that you write in “chunks” delivered one page at a time </li></ul>
  4. 4. “Chunks” Strategy <ul><li>Repurpose print materials into “chunks” that each have a unique page </li></ul><ul><li>Add graphics and interactivity </li></ul><ul><li>Each “chunk” is usually fewer than 150 words </li></ul><ul><li>Text can be viewed on the screen without having to scroll </li></ul><ul><li>This is only one strategy – many sites do not use it! </li></ul>
  5. 5. Examples of “Chunk” Style <ul><li>McDonalds </li></ul><ul><li>Nike </li></ul><ul><li>Keebler </li></ul>
  6. 6. Web Writing Tips <ul><li>More casual than print </li></ul><ul><li>Use bullet-point lists </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize use of hypertext links </li></ul><ul><li>All links should be relevant </li></ul><ul><li>Provide feedback option for readers </li></ul>
  7. 7. Building the Site <ul><li>Ideally, the Web site team consists of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Copywriter/editor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphic artist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web programmer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A public relations professional who can do all three increases their odds of getting hired </li></ul>
  8. 8. Usability Tests <ul><li>Before publicly launching your site, it is not uncommon to conduct “usability tests” with a test audience to determine if the site is easy to navigate </li></ul>
  9. 9. Overview of Web Strategies <ul><li>Success Story at Amazon.com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evolution of a Design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalization and Automation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failure at RealNetworks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication is Content Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rolling Stone Radio project </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Success Story <ul><li>Amazon.com is the world’s largest e-commerce site </li></ul><ul><li>During the dot-com “boom,” they hired aggressively as investor cash came in </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bloated” and inefficient site infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>The site needed to streamline its content development strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This included a shift from an editor-created to a user-generated content model </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Has over 35 e-commerce main product categories and hundreds of sub-categories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each category has at least one full-time editor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some have several editors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each editor is responsible for maintaining front page of each “store” and sub-pages, including product detail pages </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Amazon.com Content Management <ul><li>With millions of products, Amazon.com needs help from the public to keep the pages up-to-date and filled with useful information </li></ul><ul><li>“ User-generated Content” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Amazon.com Content Features <ul><li>Reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Listmania </li></ul><ul><li>“ How-to” and Buying Guides </li></ul><ul><li>Product manuals </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Images </li></ul><ul><li>Ref-tags </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion Forums </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul>
  14. 14. Listmania! Examples <ul><li>Customers create their own lists to share with others </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each item in the list is linkable to a product </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top 15 Movies of 2005 by fattyjoe37 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Best Albums of 2006 by volantsolo </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Awesome Books” by fantasyrules </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Guide Examples <ul><li>Customers create their own guides to share their expertise with others </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How to set up a wireless home network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Taking a better picture with your digital camera </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Visitor Experience <ul><li>Customers indicate that they enjoy the “community” aspect of shopping </li></ul><ul><li>They trust the collective opinions of other shoppers more than the manufacturers </li></ul><ul><li>The “Amazon Review” has become a very powerful force in the industry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Buying decisions are made for purchases both off- and on-line </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Customer Reviews <ul><li>Amazon.com has thousands of unpaid writers voluntarily submit their reviews </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top reviewer Harriet Klausner has written over 12,000 reviews without pay for the site </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Personalization at Amazon.com <ul><li>Amazon.com developed an infrastructure where each visitor page is personalized </li></ul><ul><li>The homepage displays items that Amazon.com thinks you are likely to buy </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors indicate that they like the personalization </li></ul>
  19. 19. Amazon.com Personalization <ul><li>Personalization technologies are also easy to manage and popular with visitors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Previous purchase data collected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-referenced with other sales data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A “personalized” store homepage suggests products based on like-minded customers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Includes “recommendations” embedded into page </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Automation at Amazon.com <ul><li>Data is king at Amazon </li></ul><ul><li>Many examples of data driven automation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Channel management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Web site real estate management system </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Automated e-mail measurement and optimization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Merchandising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Customers who bought X also bought… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New releases, top sellers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Purchase Circles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Automatic ad generation and bidding </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Example: The Amazon.com Homepage <ul><li>Amazon’s home page is prime real-estate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The past: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Every category VP wanted top-center </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Friday meetings about placements for next week were getting too long, too loud, and lacked performance data </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Today: automation replaces intuitions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Home page is made up of slots </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone can submit content for a slot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content is chosen based on real-time experimentation </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. E-Commerce Staff Structure <ul><li>Organized for execution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How it used to be </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This works rather better </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small, cross-functional teams </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Able to execute end-to-end </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Self directed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Established group goals and measure progress </li></ul></ul></ul>Technology People Business People “Dumb idea!” “Do this!”
  23. 23. Electronic Media and E-Commerce <ul><li>What makes the site attractive to consumers? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong reputation for good customer service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secure from “hackers” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large selection of products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy navigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clean Web design that maximizes click-throughs and/or sales </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Amazon.com Design Evolution <ul><li>Started with a few “tabs” representing each store </li></ul><ul><li>But Amazon.com was expanding… </li></ul><ul><li>More products = More “tabs” </li></ul><ul><li>Should the “tabs” go? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Amazon.com Design Evolution <ul><li>A new design was needed </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of action could mean a mountain of “tabs” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NOT A GOOD </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DESIGN </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Design Evolution <ul><li>Initial redesigns focused on an index directory in the style of Yahoo! </li></ul><ul><li>This resulted in reduced sales </li></ul>
  27. 27. Design Evolution <ul><li>More redesigns in the index style </li></ul><ul><li>Sales still declined </li></ul><ul><li>Customers wanted the “tabs” back </li></ul>
  28. 28. Return of the “Tabs” <ul><li>Now only three tabs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ See all 35 Product Categories” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Roll-over with mouse brings up the index of all stores </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Your Store” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personalized store with recommendations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logo tab </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Default to front page </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Use focus groups and user surveys to test out a design before it launches widely </li></ul><ul><li>Design can play a key role in how a site is perceived by its public </li></ul><ul><li>“Above the scroll” real estate is valuable so don’t waste it! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A user should be able to navigate successfully through the site without having the scroll the screen </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Be aware of the bandwidth of your average user </li></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. has shifted from a dial-up to broadband environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia-intensive designs and sites are only now gaining traction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your design strategy will depend on who your typical visitor is </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider how minimal Google.com is </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compare this to YouTube.com </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Cost Efficiency <ul><li>Advertise your site using viral and cheap techniques </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Amazon.com has stopped buying ads on mainstream TV, radio and print in favor on online referral programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media advertising did not bring in enough revenue to justify the cost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The site uses promotions with other sites and “street” advertising to get word on in the influential communities </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Communication is Critical <ul><li>If there is a dependency on technology developers, then the content experts must communicate early…and often </li></ul><ul><li>A good project can fail due to poor communication </li></ul>
  33. 33. Anatomy of a Failed Project <ul><li>Example: RealNetworks’ Rolling Stone Radio </li></ul><ul><li>Goal was to promote new “G2” technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A new version of RealPlayer with optimized streaming media playback </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. RealNetworks <ul><li>RealNetworks asked me to create a G2-exclusive Internet radio service </li></ul><ul><li>A business deal with Rolling Stone magazine was created </li></ul><ul><li>Rolling Stone Radio was born </li></ul>
  35. 35. Content Development <ul><li>My background is in editorial development and the music industry </li></ul><ul><li>I led the creative team </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design of the player </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partnerships with music industry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Another team was responsible for the technical infrastructure and development of the software code </li></ul>
  36. 36. Rolling Stone Radio <ul><li>Rolling Stone Radio was the first “mainstream” Internet music service </li></ul><ul><li>Introduced in 1999 </li></ul><ul><li>Co-owned by RealNetworks and Rolling Stone </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple channels of music </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive voting </li></ul>
  37. 37. Rolling Stone Radio <ul><li>Featured celebrity deejays </li></ul><ul><ul><li>David Bowie had his own 24-hour channel </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lots of “hype” from the media </li></ul>
  38. 38. So Why Failure? <ul><li>Rolling Stone Radio had all the ingredients for success…yet it failed. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul>
  39. 39. Communication Crunch <ul><li>There was too little communication in the production team </li></ul><ul><li>The decision-making process was too decentralized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal disagreements and chaos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology team and content team clashed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New technology changes were implemented without informing the content team </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Media blitz preceded the actual launch </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Several delays in the launch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Release was late, product was ‘buggy’ </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Business Model, Anyone? <ul><li>“Too much, too soon” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broadband wasn’t widely available yet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bandwidth was expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Customers enjoyed the site, but the cost of hosting the streaming media increased as more people “tuned in” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>The project did not make money </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Streaming media is bandwidth-intensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is paying for the media servers? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Advertising revenue was not large enough to support the costs </li></ul>
  41. 41. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Solid business model is necessary </li></ul><ul><li>“Cutting edge” = “Bleeding edge” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being first may not translate to success </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Key stakeholders in the content development teams must meet and agree to “milestones” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each “milestone” is a mutually-agreed “deliverable” in the product development cycle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deviation from the agreed-upon development is discouraged </li></ul></ul>
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