Friday, November 16, 2007

Good UI: Amazon logo

I noticed a really nice touch today in Amazon's recently released UI: when you mouse over the logo on any page but the home page, the logo changes to a button and adds the text "homepage."

This is smart.

While having your logo link to your home page is a web standard (although it's surprising how many sites forget to add this basic functionality), I've never seen anyone call it out to the user specifically. It always feels like a gamble when I go to click on a logo, hoping that it's a link to "home." Amazon tells me exactly what is going on.

More sites should do this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The best thing we've done: Internal blogs and wikis

Seth Godin reminded me today that one of the best things we've done here at Palo Alto Software to increase internal communication was to set up an internal wiki and blog platform. Over time, the wiki has certainly proved useful, but the blogs have by far the most activity and are the most useful. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Log of site changes. Before our adoption of internal blogs, we tried (unsuccessfully) to track web site changes through excel lists, shared documents and a few other methods. Every few months we'd be looking at historical site stats and wonder why things suddenly changed. We'd then try and dig up the change log to figure out what happened. We'd almost never find the correct version of the change log. With our internal blog, the change log is centralized. Not only that, but everyone can keep track of site changes via the blog's RSS feed.
  2. Tracking marketing and advertising. Similar to our tracking of site changes, we use a blog to create a journal of all marketing initiatives and advertising. Again, we can look back and figure out which initiatives effected our sales and which didn't.
  3. Internal communication and transparency. These words might seem trite, but now everyone in the company has the opportunity to keep tabs on what is going on with our sales and marketing initiatives. No longer is tech support or customer service caught off guard with a site change or advertising message they didn't know about. Developers don't have to remember who to email when they change things. All anyone ever has to do is create a new internal blog entry and everyone knows.
  4. More communication. OK, I'm expanding on #3. Because blogs have comments, not only do the site change logs and advertising journals make sure everyone is going on, they enable people to comment on the initiatives. Comments create a great open forum to discuss advertising, marketing, site changes and more. And comments are much better than email because the discussion is archived for all to see and easily referenced in the future.
So, before you decide to implement yet another system to increase communication in your company, consider starting an internal blog or two.