Interesting article at Pluggd.in which prompted to pen down some thoughts on the same. I guess the article title is rediff-logo-july08self-explanatory that Rediff screwed it up for themselves by overhauling its website design. The point of contention is that “users not properly guided are users not engaged“.

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Now I’m particularly not in favor of such point of view but if we sit back and look at the Indian internet space then I think the contrarian approach is somewhat not applicable here. Though personally speaking, I’m a great believer of clean design and most often than not, I stick to any specific site if it has a neat and clean approach. But now I can’t take myself in the general Indian internet users. So that’s where the above mentioned article makes so much sense to me also.

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Now look at the author’s PoV:

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1. A TVC in India will always get you new users. People who do use the Internet but are still exploring sites to settle with. And specially when you are a content site the user is actually looking to kill time with you.

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Agree to some extent. Except for a TVC will always ensure that you will get users. The point is not only to get new users but to make the old users stick to it. But I don’t think that TVC’s can always ensure that stickiness of any web portal and that too a content portal.

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2. Now if an user is looking for more links to click on, he wants more content. He wants to choose from a given set of links (options). But when he finds very little options he believes he is at a bad place. Its like going shopping. Although you need to buy only one, you still want to see more before you decide. But when the shop keeper cant show you more, you simply leave.

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Absolutely! This is sort of holy grail of any content site in internet. If there ain’t any matter then what the hell is a user supposed to do. The question is to increase the stickiness of the website since it increase page-views (i.e. more eyeballs) which can indirectly mean more revenues i.e. stickiness increases the probability of generating revenues from online ads.

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3. The suave users [those who read IMB types :)] know what they want and will look exactly for that but TVC does not fetch you such users.  The number of links on pages of Rediff has been reduced largely and that means a reduced number of options. When the user finds no places to click he simply quits the site and looks for another site which offer him more links to kill more time. This is clearly visible as there is no rise in Rediff’s traffic even after a huge promotion campaign.

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This point is related to design, usability and target audience. Rediff has never been the site for as such suave users (except for I use Rediff to check Stock market updates which they provide real-time without much hassles). Other than that I don’t use Rediff much. Now I’m classifying myself as suave user since I know exactly what I want from the medium – be it news, updates, information. But for general Indian internet users, Rediff can be the repository of information which they can browse from. Now truncating number of links, and that too on the homepage makes user think a lot of the trade-off i.e. times versus probability of finding something relevant. Now I don’t think, a horizontal portal should test this funda with users since its like asking the user to find their stuff on their own. Come on, if they knew what they are looking for, they wouldn’t landed up in Rediff.com, right?

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These are my two cents on the article. But more importantly which we missed in between is the classification of a general Indian internet user. Here we are talking about UX, usability, neat design blah blah. And there I’ve seen websites like MoneyControl.com (India s leading financial information source) which is so badly designed with all those hardcore intrusive ads (I don’t want to go to the extent of bad mouthing it but seriously someone out there should listen that how badly they have designed their site), but I guess its still garnering huge amount of traffic in its segment while Rediff is working on its paltry number & figures.

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Finally, I guess what works best for Indian online junta is content – design, usability, user experience etc comes much later; at least for most of the Indian internet user.

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