Online personalisation and engagement

How I want to interact with my online services

Right, lets just say, I am working in a large corporation and the building I work in is a miracle of modern architecture all glass, metal and angles. The reception area is a welcoming atrium full of light and plasma screens and maybe there’s a franchised coffee outlet.

So far I am enjoying my experience and I feel proud of the aesthetics of my workplace. This pleasure continues when I get to my desk. The lack of paper and clutter makes me feel organized, the flat monitors and the other technologies reassure me that my employers are not a back-street operation and the personalised items around the desks are important to me, very important. They let me imprint a little of my identity on my work area – be it the photo of my girlfriend, a snowboard calendar, or the Chelsea FC pictures. It’s a little bit of me in a corporate environment.

Personalisation. That’s what I’m talking about. My generation has grown up with the desire to personalise our environment. You will see this everywhere. Look at snowboards – covered in stickers, look at Nike id (where I can go in and order a unique trainer, complete with my initials), go to a web 2.0 conference and the exterior of our laptops are covered with designs and stickers, which make us stand out – I’m not talking about choosing a red cover on a Dell laptop here. I’m talking about a deeper connection with delivery of content.

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But as communicators we should enable the action within the laptop to be just as individual and as easy to personalize. Imagine launching an intranet or another internal platform and letting the audience choose how they receive the information, the page layout, the colours, the tools. Do you think you would have a more engaged audience?

I do.

I want to aggregate my information; if I want to receive information that’s important to me I want to be able to set the service so it suits my needs. The BBC understood the change in how people work with web services when it re-launched its website. Yes, it’s for external audiences but it’s a great example of how you can change the way you behave online.

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The BBC ‘get it’ look how you can change the layout so the news featured is relevant – self organisation is one way of calling it. Basic design changes affect the audience’s enjoyment  – check out the differing colours and positioning on the BBC site – it took me a minute to personalise it.

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Any webservice worth its salt will now offer you the ability to change what you see; they know interaction and personalisation will create a starting level of engagement and aesthetic pleasure in a new webservice. Internal solutions providers should not let this shift in behavior pass them by. My generation expects this now; the next generation will demand even more .