Inspiration Log 2: Entry 12

6 Tips for Successful Personalization

This article, written by Amy Schade of Nielsen Norman Group, provides 6 helpful tips for effective personalization within a website. Her article concludes that successful personalization “carefully considers the creation of roles or types, ensures content is available for those roles, goes beyond content, and retains some user control over the experience.” Personalization enables a website to recognize users as certain types or individuals by remembering specific behavioral patterns they demonstrate while online. The goal is to cater to specific users by delivering them the information they seek as fast and as easy as possible. Although, personalization must be implemented in the correct manner in order to ensure successful results and a positive user experience.

The first helpful tip is to carefully assign roles to users. Personalization can certainly allow for an enhanced user experience; however, a user may undergo a frustrating experience if they are tagged as the wrong “type” of individual. This is best avoided by understanding that past behavior does not always predict future behavior. Consequently,  a user should only be tagged as a certain “type” of individual after they have repeatedly exhibited a unique behavior or pattern. Secondly, personalized experiences should restrict access to specific options as little as possible. This is because user patterns may change over the course of time, and you do not want to restrict access to something that a user may be interested in at some point in the near or distant future. The third tip for effective personalization is to refrain from creating more user roles than you are able to support. This can be achieved by providing content which is relevant to numerous or all possible roles. The fourth helpful tool advises designers to personalize both functionality and content. This can be done by recognizing frequent actions and selections as well as recent searches. In doing this, users are enabled to more effectively browse by picking up where they left off after conducting specific searches or processes.

The fifth tip for personalization stresses the importance of always providing an appropriate “out.” This is done because sometimes users want access to information that was not personalized specifically for them. A popular solution to this issue is the incorporation of a “View as” function. This allows individuals to temporarily view content as if they were another “type” of user. The final helpful tip warns designers to review roles regularly. This is necessary because user behavior is constantly changing and adapting to the fast-paced technological world. Some ways to ensure this is done effectively include constant monitoring of web traffic and keeping records of user complaints regarding personalization. In summarization, personalization has the potential to create an enhanced experience for users on any given platform. Although, careful planing and detailed execution must be employed the ensure the right information is presented to the right users. I, for one, believe that personalization is an extremely important aspect of user experience throughout the web today. Also, personalization is only going to become more and more of a necessity as user patience decreases and expectations of personalized content increase.


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