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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Principle 5: Enable Meaningful Personalization

Of all the jargon Web builders must decipher, personalization is among the most baffling. For the sake of our discussion, we define personalization as the functionality that allows your customer to tailor or modify their experience on your Web site. Personalization typically requires an investment of the customer's time. It also requires the customer to entrust the business with their personal information, such as credit card numbers, address, and income. They need to be able to trust the business. So your site must have a credible privacy policy if you hope to persuade customers to adopt personalization. Likewise, personalization is costly and difficult to implement, and the payoff is sometimes elusive.

Web designers are confronted by three fundamental questions: Is personalization necessary? What should be customizable? How should personalization be accomplished?

Web designers should recognize that site visitors have tastes and needs that are uniquely related to their personal goals. For example, most mobile phones allow customers to choose custom ring tones. Not just a gee-whiz option, this personalization is meaningful. It helps distinguish your phone calls from others in a room.

Designers should allow customers to personalize elements that will be meaningful to their purchasing or selling goals. Personalization that is simple and context-sensitive will help customers be more effective when they revisit a site (See Fig. 2.12). Consider these examples of relevant commerce personalization:

  • Save my buying & shipping preferencesæGood for frequent customers.

  • Save my buying historyæGood for all customers.

  • Watch listsæGood for customers monitoring varying prices, such as stocks, commodities, or auctions.

  • Product recommendationsæGood for generating awareness of products related to the customer's interest.

  • Sort list by price, category, or alphaæGood for search results.

Customers need to be given a certain amount of personal freedom and control in order to feel secure with a Web site. If a site is too restrictive, your customers may be frustrated and find reaching their goals nearly impossible.

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