Researching Usability

Roundup 23rd April: Tracking Impact

Posted on: April 26, 2010

Last Thursday I attended a Webinar organised by AmbITion called Tracking Impact. It was presented by David Sim from Open Brolly and 4TM who discussed ways to track your organisations activities online. As a webinar, it was streamed live to almost 50 people at one point but I was lucky enough to attend in person due to its close proximity to the office. The full webinar is available on the AmbITion website and the presentation slides are also available. Consequently instead of a full report on the presentation I have listed some things which came out of the event that were of interest to me and the project.

Research conducted suggests Facebook is a good tool for asking short questions

Asking short questions is an effective way to generate a dialogue between an organisation and its patrons or between users. Often questions which are easy for people to answer, such as favourite recipes or opinion on a book or movie get the biggest response. Not only does it generate interest in the organisation but also provides valuable information on your users, something which can cost time and money to obtain. In addition, the analytical tools available on Facebook provide some of the most detailed profile information on your users than anywhere else and this provides valuable data. Although I agree with this research it would have been nice to know who conducted this research in order to read it for myself.

Retweeting is a good gauge of influence and expertise

This may seem obvious to some but definitely worth pointing out. If an individual or organisation is using Twitter and their content is retweeted by others, this demonstrates an authority on a subject and the value others place in the information provided. There is something powerful about the ‘collective wisdom’ or ‘collective intelligence’ demonstrated by retweets which is characteristic of Web 2.0 (Högg et. al 2006). Retweeting behaviour goes some way to measuring impact and influence within social networks and is therefore one tool in an otherwise difficult to measure environment.

To search an exact phrase use inverted commas

OK so for any librarians reading, this will seem like a no-brainer but I have to admit I never considered it till it was pointed out. This tip was provided in relation to using Google Alerts to monitor an organisation or brand but also applies to any type of search. Often keywords are common and can return a lot of irrelevant information. Using exact phrase searches can reduce the amount of unwanted information getting through. I have now amended my own Google Alters to get more accurate results and have also used the minus (-) technique to remove any results from the UX2 project tag as it turns out it’s also a piece of sounds equipment!

Social media will become more useful

This was one of David’s  predictions for the future during the Q&A which followed the presentation. I have to agree that the semantic web will make it possible for information to be shared and accessed when a user needs it much more easily. It’s a shame there wasn’t more time for discussion on this subject as it’s something which I am keen to explore in more detail.


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