Discovery Is The New Cocaine - Going Beyond Engagement
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Discovery Is The New Cocaine - Going Beyond Engagement



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Web2 is about participation, but what comes after that? We think it is all about Discovery, the art of helping users serendipitously discover content and people that they did not know they wanted to know. Discovery is what makes people come back again and again, interact, and explore.

This deck explains what Discovery is, the psychological reasons behind it, and presents a set of very very practical examples and guidelines on how it can be implemented.

The inspiration for this deck was simple- We ourselves were frustrated by apparent random-ness at which we were implementing discovery for our own startup (discoverio), and were not able to find any resources that presented discovery in a holistic manner.

So just like anyone of you would have done, we decided to come out with process, and share it around with the rest of the world! :)

The most powerful piece is probably the very last slide, but we had not had time to expand on it yet.

Here it is, and we will love feedback! Contact details at the end. ;)

By Ming Yeow Ng, Yu-Shan Fung, Andreas Weigend



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  • @jboutelle thanks! i think we actually met a couple of times before at one of dave's events. haha. been such a long time.
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  • Thanks for sharing such an amazing explanation through nicely built presentation. I have two websites: and that I wish to embed this slide into them. I hope you don’t mind. Thanks.
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Discovery Is The New Cocaine - Going Beyond Engagement Discovery Is The New Cocaine - Going Beyond Engagement Presentation Transcript

  • Discovery is the new cocaine Going beyond engagement By: Ming Yeow Ng, Yu-shan Fung (Discoverio) Note: Section on “ Flow ” was derived from “ The Science Of Designing Interactions” (SXSW 2008) by Andreas Weigend (people and data), and Ming Yeow Ng (Discoverio)
  • Why should you care about Discovery?
    • First off…
  • What is it about a Web site that might make it literally irresistible ?
    • We are programmed for scarcity and can't dial back even when information is abundant
    • … (addictive sites) all presented new information that somehow needed to be interpreted …
    • this triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good …
    • From Wall Street Journal:
    Source: WSJ, Why We're Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data March 12, 2008
  • Done right, Discovery can make a website irresistible!
    • In other words….
  • Desire by humans to be a live node in the network
    • We are always…
    • “ Constantly scanning the peripheral, always motivated by the desire not to miss opportunities”
    • “ Desire for other people recognizing us , make us feel important.”
    • “ Services that win are those that help us protect, filter, create meaningful connections ”
    • Linda Stone
    • What drives Discovery?
    Source: Etech 2006
  • What is Discovery?
    • Allowing users to:
    • Discover new, valuable information
    • Get Discovered by others
    • Discovering more about themselves
  • Discovery of Information New and Richly interpretable information triggers chemical reactions
    • Facilitate user towards:
  • Twitter, Friendfeed: Constant stream of new information
    • New information
    • Facebook Breakups
      • “ Who was she ?”
      • “ Was his girlfriend pretty??”
      • “ You mean she is gay???”
    • Richly Interpretable
  • Get Discovered by Others “ Who is paying attention to me?” “ Am I being recognized ?”
    • Helping users to:
  • MyBlogLog Who is checking me out?
    • Who is paying attention to me?
    Twitter Who is following me?
  • Discover More About Themselves “ Who am I to others ?” “ What do I like ?”
    • Allowing users to:
    Key here: People do not know what they want!
  • Tickle: What am I ? (400 million personality tests taken)
    • The Old Personality Test
    The New Personality Test What am I to others ?
  • Amazon : Collective Recommendation
    • What do I like?
    Stylefeeder: Analyzing attributes
  • Facilitate the Discovery Cycle for your users
    • Taking all 3 types together:
    • The Discovery Cycle for Your App
    Continuous Learning, Contributing, Recognition Engage and allow contribution of information , leaving of footprints , and giving of feedback 2) System to generate new insights for user 1) Discovery of Content and Users 3) Other Users to discover him Data becomes basis for: Personalized Recommendations Interactions that lead to reciprocity and interactions User learning more about himself Throughout the process: (Keeps him coming back!) Meaningful connections gets established
  • “ Intermittent Variable Reinforcement “
    • “ One of Skinner's most important discoveries was that behavior that is reinforced intermittently is much more difficult to extinguish than behavior that is reinforced continuously .“ – via Kathy Sierra
    • "You are not sure you are going to get a reward every time or how often you will, so you keep pulling that handle.“ - Patricia Wallace on slot machines
    Done right, this leads to
  • Discovery is less about predicting precisely right about what the user wants It is more about the entire user flow of discovery , with all the hits and misses
    • In other words...
    Think window shopping down the mall or walking through an expo hall
  • Discovering Activity by Social Graph Based on live updates My good friend The guy with great events The babe I check out Based on collective behavior and attention data
  • Collective Judging Collective Behavior
  • No concept of individual Personalization
  • Crowdvine: Updated profiles, comments are on front page Helping users get discovered Clear attention/intention data Crowdvine: want-to-meet, fan
  • Apache Social Network: Open source projects worked on together
    • Connecting based on commonalities
  • Exploitation Exploration
  • Connecting based on mutual interest
    • Randomness that shows the new and richly interpretable
    Flickr: Interestingness Etsy: Many ways to shop
  • Etsy: 10 different fun ways to discover! (boring categories are at the end)
    • Make it fun to explore
  • Understanding the elements of “flow” Feedback, Rewards, Lightweight, Reducing uncertainty
    • How to create the right user experience?
    Inspired by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
  • Direct and immediate feedback Successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed
    • Elements of flow (1)
  • Feedback can be by system or can be by other users
    • Feedback for users to guide their future behavior
    Metrics for: Maslow Hierarchy Contribution to others Achievements Popularity Wrong-doings
  • Yelp: popularity, achievement, and contribution
    • How am I doing?
  • Cash = power Value = desirability
    • Points as indicators of power and desirability
  • Linkedin Profile Completeness Pointing out “deficiencies” to induce actions
    • Setting expected “norm”
  • Rewards Intrinsically Rewarding Clarity of Reward Recognition for contribution
    • Elements of flow (2)
  • Twitter: Self Expression is its own reward
    • Intrinsically Rewarding
  • Twitter: Validation, and Social Interaction are powerful rewards by themselves
    • Intrinsically Rewarding
    • Clear recognition for intended actions
    Digg: Made popular by… Crowdvine: Updated profiles, comments are on front page
  • Best Match: Invite 10 to see “best matches”
    • Making Rewards Clear and Explicit
  • GetSatisfaction: I have this question too!
    • Suggest action and clarify reward
  • Lightweight Interactions Make it easy for users to contribute
    • Elements of Flow (3)
  • Crowdvine: Fan : expression of confidence Want-to-meet: initiate relationship
    • Lightweight, In the moment expressions
    Yelp: Variety of lightweight interactions directly on reviews
  • Lijit: Made the process entertaining and a little mysterious, with rewards at each step
    • Make user do as little as possible
    Signup Time 15m -> 2m Conversion 0.1% -> 4% Source: Lijit, SXSW 2008 Automated retrieval of external data, all user needs to do is confirm
  • Woot: One Single Action
    • Do not make users think
  • Reducing fear and uncertainty Uncertainty, even irrelevant uncertainty kills action
    • Elements of Flow (4)
  • Twitter: Communicating with little fear of incurring cost to recipient
    • Assurance that it is up to recipients’ “mode of receiving”
  • Zoosk: Flirt vs risk
    • Reducing Personal Commitment
  • HotorNot: No risk of “rejection”
    • Surfacing Improbable Matches
  • Crowdvine: Showing social behavior right on frontpage
    • Reducing uncertainty on “correct” behavior
    Latest Comments
  • Day Trading
    • Elements of Addiction
    • Attractor: Things happening outside your control in the system, yet affecting your status
    • Motivator: You have a stake (self-esteem/emotional/financial) in changes happening to your status
    Source: "Ariadne - Understanding MMORPG Addiction" Nick Yee
  • Systematically Introducing Discovery Into Your App (uncompleted)
    • Know what data points you need (Individual / Collective / External)
    • Know what mode of discovery (Recommendations / Search / Browsing)
    • Create pathways of discovery (Filtering / Anchoring )
    • Maximize exploration / exploitation within the pathway (Intention / Attention)
    • Providing reasons/context for discovery ( Context/Persona/Content)
    • Facilitating mediums for connections (Currency / Reputation)
    • Understand what metrics you need (Diversity, Virality, Engagement)
    Process by Ming Yeow Ng, Yu-shan Fung (Discoverio)
  • We LOVE Feedback!!!
    • Discovery is a new, unexplored and very exciting area to be innovating in, and we love to hear from anyone who is just as excited about this as us!
    • Touch base with us via any of these mechanisms
      • | @mingyeow (twitter)
      • | @ambivalence (twitter)