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Geeky Web Design Part II – Who Are These People and What Do They Want?

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This week in our website redesign saga, we try to answer the question: Who are these people and what do they want from me anyway? (You can catch up on Part I here)

I came across a theory that says people will do business with me if I can be the resource that finally answers the questions that visitors can’t get answered anywhere else.

Running with that for a bit, I decided to categorize web visitor types, and investigate what each category would want answered that they couldn’t easily find elsewhere, building off of four major personality types.

Site visitor categories would be things like Relocation Buyers, First Time Buyer, Those Just Looking, Move-up Seller, Investor, and so on. We’ll stick with 4 personality types, calling them Methodical, Spontaneous, Humanistic, and Competitive.

Let’s look at a Relocation Buyer – someone who has probably bought a home before, is moving to the area but is not very familiar with it. In my experience, this person is usually already convinced that they need an agent, and usually comes to me already pre-qualified for a loan.

category analysis for relo buyer

We follow this with a big brainstorm list of things that category of site visitor might like to see, just to get all our ideas out in one place. For our Relo buyer, it’s things like examples of typical costs and who pays them, explanation of local real estate taxes and auto registration, how to finance a home here if the existing house hasn’t sold, local attractions, more specific items like that. These are items that span many personality types and categories.

This was a more difficult exercise than I had anticipated. For example, I don’t get those Spontaneous types, those fast, emotional decision makers. I’m a Methodical. I understand the Competitives, and somewhat less so the Humanistics, but for the life of me, I can’t wrap my mind around what the Spontaneous-es want. Which means I probably won’t easily attract or work well with them anyway. It’s okay. I don’t want a site that sets expectations that I will be one way and then I’m totally different in person. However, I’m not going to neglect that personality type as we’re all most likely at least a little bit of each.

So now we know the various types of information and features that I need, and how to present it in different ways to attract a larger audience. Now, I can start framing paths for these various scenarios. I know that on a market stats page, I don’t need a big link to testimonials. I know that anytime I offer or describe a service, I need to quickly and clearly describe the advantages and link back to a guarantee.

This would be the framing of the site – figuring out how someone might enter the site, what information they want and how it should be presented, and eventually presenting them with a call to action that is a tangible reason to return to the site, to build a trust relationship with me, and want to work with me.

Man. It’d be a lot easier to come up with some fantastic feature list and pass it off to a developer! I am convinced this is time well spent, however.

What about your website? Who is your clientele and what do they want? How do you answer the WIIFM for them?

I’m running with the idea that answering questions that can’t be answered elsewhere will make people want to work with me: an implied quid pro quo. Does this make me a useless bag of information? Am I really adding value, answering a need, becoming useful? Or was Mom right about not buying the cow if the milk is free?

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at KelleyKoehler.com, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Carson Coots

    October 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    What a great way to approach a site… We are in the process of developing a master-planned community website, and one of the challenges is breaking up the audience into segments and targeting each effectively. Good way to brainstorm.

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 22, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    geez, your site is going to be awesome…

  3. Kelley Koehler

    October 22, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    thanks guys – we’re aiming high on this one.

  4. Benn Rosales

    October 22, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I think you have to, it’s a very expensive task.

  5. Nicole Mills

    November 1, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    “I’m running with the idea that answering questions that can’t be answered elsewhere will make people want to work with me: an implied quid pro quo. Does this make me a useless bag of information? Am I really adding value, answering a need, becoming useful? Or was Mom right about not buying the cow if the milk is free?”

    Hi Kelley,
    I’m constantly wondering about this. Since I started using a website, it’s always been my opinion that it should provide information…lots of it. I try to put relevant, useful info. too, not the canned, keyword stuffed crap you find on many RE sites. I also provide this information in hopes that the consumer will see that I’m providing something that others aren’t, and doing so in a “real” voice.

    I do get comments, occasionally, from clients that they like my site, and find it useful. Those comments keep me working on my site, but I do often wonder…am I providing too much and not asking enough in return??

  6. Kelley Koehler

    November 2, 2007 at 3:31 am

    Hi Nicole – that’s the question I’d love to have answered too! I’ve been reading a lot about online marketing and persuasion, and the recurring theme is to keep providing the right information, at the right time, to keep someone moving forward to take an action: to register, to email or call, to do whatever it is that you want them to do. We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the various types of visitors, what I can give them, and then taking it a step further – define what I want them to do. Only one way to see if it works, eh?

  7. Kerrie

    February 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I have been trying to figure out how to market ME. I’m a bit different than the “typical realtor” in that I sold new homes for over 10 years and that my personal is “owl, bull, tiger” quoting Charles Clark? I am almost equal parts to the tee with NO lamb.

    How do I attract people that will appreciate my thorough, scientific and numbers approach to real estate. I believe that my main asset is being able to take the emotion out of the listing price or buying price using data. I do also agree that buying or selling is an emotional experience but help the numbers take precedence. I also have an extensive psychology background that helps diffuse this. I work well with engineers and creative types, not so well with nice church ladies who must ask everyone they know before they make a decision. I have several types of websites right now & have taught myself to create & maintain them however am not very successful at increasing the page rankings. There are services you can pay but my budget is tight & I’d at least like to know how they do it so that I can make sure I am getting my money’s worth.

    I work great with email, text, google searches for info & more but need to get my site seen. Any ideas?

  8. Bob Wilson

    February 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Kelley & Nicole,

    I have done this with my site. It features an integrated blog where I write only for consumers. Since I’m in San Diego where distressed sellers are the rule, I started doing a series on HR 3648 from its introduction to its passage and becoming law. I then wrote an overview of the new law.

    The response has been far more than I expected.

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Can you legally monitor your employees’ online activities? Kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are they ways you are monitoring your employees online even legal? Did you know there are illegal methods? Yep.

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Edward Snowden’s infamous info leak in 2013 brought to light the scope of surveillance measures, raising questions about legality of monitoring tactics. However, the breach also opened up broader discussion on best practices for protecting sensitive data.

No company wants to end up with a data breach situation on their hands, but businesses need to be careful when implementing monitoring systems to prevent data loss.

Monitoring your employee’s activity online can be a crucial part of safeguarding proprietary data. However, many legal risks are present when implementing data loss prevention (DLP) methods.

DLP tools like keystroke logging, natural language processing, and network traffic monitoring are all subject to federal and state privacy laws. Before putting any DLP solutions in place, companies need to assess privacy impact and legal risks.

First, identify your monitoring needs. Different laws apply to tracking data in transit versus data at rest. Data in transit is any data moving through a network, like sending an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires consent for tracking any data in transit.

Data at rest is anything relatively immobile, like information stored in a database or archives. Collecting data at rest can fall under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which typically prohibits unauthorized access or disclosure of electronic communications.

While the SCA does not usually prevent employers from accessing their own systems, monitoring things like Gmail accounts could get messy without proper authorization.

Who you’re tracking matters as well regarding consent and prior notification. If you’re just monitoring your own employees, you may run into disclosure issues. Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, prohibit employee monitoring without prior notice.

The ECPA also generally prohibits tracking electronic communication, but exceptions are granted for legitimate business purposes so long as consent is obtained.

Monitoring third party communications can get tricky with wiretapping laws. In California and Illinois, all parties must be notified of any tracking. This can involve disclosures on email signatures from outbound employee emails, or a broad notification on the company’s site.

Implied consent comes from third parties continuing communication even with disclaimers present.

If you’re wanting to install DLP software on personal devices used for work, like a company cellphone, you could face a series of fines for not gaining authorization. Incorrect implementation may fall under spyware and computer crime laws.

With any DLP tools and data monitoring, notification and consent are crucial. When planning monitoring, first assess what your privacy needs are, then identify potential risks of implementing any tracking programs.

Define who, where, and why DLP software will apply, and make sure every employee understands the need for tracking. Include consent in employee onboarding, and keep employees updated with changes to your monitoring tactics.

Protecting your company’s data is important, but make sure you’re not unintentionally bending privacy laws with your data loss prevention methods. Regularly check up on your approaches to make sure everything is in compliance with monitoring laws.

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Should social media continue to self-regulate, or should Uncle Sam step in?

(MEDIA) Should social media platforms be allowed to continue to regulate themselves or should governments continue to step in? Is it an urgency, or a slippery slope?

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Last week, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook suffered a massive outage around the world that lasted for most of the day. In typical Internet fashion, frustrated users took to Twitter to vent their feelings. A common thread throughout all of the dumpster fire gifs was the implication that these social media platforms were a necessary outlet for connecting people with information—as well as being an emotional outlet for whatever they felt like they needed to share.

It’s this dual nature of social media, both as a vessel for content that people consume, as well as a product that they share personal data with (for followers, but also knowing that the data is collected and analyzed by the companies) that confuses people as to what these things actually are. Is social media a form of innovative technology, or is it more about the content, is it media? Is it both?

Well, the answer depends on how you want to approach it.

Although users may say that content is what keeps them using the apps, the companies themselves purport that the apps are technology. We’ve discussed this distinction before, and how it means that the social media giants get to skirt around having more stringent regulation. 

But, as many point out, if the technology is dependent on content for its purpose (and the companies’ profit): where does the line between personal information and corporate data mining lie?

Should social media outlets known for their platform being used to perpetuate “fake news” and disinformation be held to higher standards in ensuring that the information they spread is accurate and non-threatening?

As it currently stands, social media companies don’t have any legislative oversight—they operate almost exclusively in a state of self-regulation.  This is because they are classified as technology companies rather than media outlets.

This past summer, Senator Mark Warner from Virginia suggested that social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, needed regulation in a widely circulated white paper. Highlighting the scandal by Cambridge Analytica which rocked the polls and has underscored the potential of social media to sway real-life policy by way of propaganda,

Warner suggested that lawmakers target three areas for regulation: fighting politically oriented misinformation, protecting user privacy, and promoting competition among Internet markets that will make long-term use of the data collected from users.

Warner isn’t the only person who thinks that social media’s current state of self-regulation unmoored existence is a bit of a problem, but the problem only comes from what would be considered a user-error: The people using social media have forgotten that they are the product, not the apps.

Technically, many users of social media have signed their privacy away by clicking “accept” on terms and conditions they haven’t fully read.* The issues of being able to determine whether or not a meme is Russian propaganda isn’t a glitch in code, it’s a way to exploit media illiteracy and confirmation bias.

So, how can you regulate human behavior? Is it on the tech companies to try and be better than the tendencies of the people who use them? Ideally they wouldn’t have to be told not to take advantage of people, but when people are willingly signing up to be taken advantage of, who do you target?

It’s a murky question, and it’s only going to get trickier to solve the more social media embeds itself into our culture.

*Yes, I’m on social media and I blindly clicked it too! He who is without sin, etc.

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Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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