EC Privacy Directive – cookies, cost and negligent regulation

I promised a post on the EU privacy directive.  The so called cookie directive. To be honest I don’t really know what to say.  For a small business owner, or even a manager of a big corporate site it must be annoying to say the least to see the ICO’s recent backtracking a few hours before the deadline for compliance.

If anyone is listening.  As a user of this thing called the internet.  I need to understand what I am agreeing to and when my agreement is implied.  The best way to achieve this is by the tool I use to browse multiple websites or digital properties not on a case by case basis.  The browser. What you achieved for privacy you have destroyed for usability and perhaps more important accessibility.

The idea that a user will browse the web and remember the settings for each website they browse is a nonsense.  The blanket acceptance of all cookies which will result, is actually a step backwards not forwards.

But it is the incompetence with which things have developed that is really prominent in the latest debacle.  People, businesses, non profits and the like have paid real money to ensure they were compliant with the directive. But the decision, to fudge the issue was taken at the latest possible time and that money has now been spent.

It was a nonsense from the beginning and as someone who is generally pro the european union, did not reflect well on their understanding of the digital lanscape.

Search is changing – Google launch Knowledge Graph

screen shot of knowledge graph using marie curie as the query
screen shot of knowledge graph

Something big just happened in search engine land. Whether rushed through in response to developments at bing or part of a wider master plan, the search giant Google has just launched what it is calling, the Knowledge Graph.

Here is the BBC story

So what is the Knowledge Graph?

Google has announced a new feature, the Knowledge Graph, as part of their core product, search.  They claim it is the beginnings of a step change in search engine technology, towards a search engine that can understand the meaning behind a query.

Just an excuse to include a nice garden photo

Putting things in context.

It what we humans do every day. Listening not just to what is being said, but how it is being said and who else is listening. Initially I think it will be quite limited. The examples given by Google included the search engine being able to understand the difference between Taj Mahal the building and Taj Mahal the blues musician.

Walled Gardens.

The idea is to keep people within the search engine rather like facebook does with its social network. It has led some to express concern that the once free web is being divided off into a number of very big, but very walled gardens.

The upshot is that many users will end their internet search without leaving Google’s pages, when in the past they might have continued to a site such as Wikipedia, which is collaborating with Google on the new search features.

Guardian Tech May 16th 2012

his line drawing editorial cartoon pokes fun at the policy they maintain, which to many observers, seems rather hypocritical, which is basically summed up as: It's OK for Google to copy everything and make money from it. But you can't.
laughzilla for thedailydose.com

Google ate my website.

But the biggest area of potential controversy around the Knowledge Graph is not search, or context but content. To keep users in the walled garden they will need content. So far the biggest content partner as you would expect is Wikipedia who seem happy with the relationship. But content owners and organisations that derive value from content are sleeping very nervous tonight as it is clear that Google is no respecter of traditional copyright models.

Google said it could actually drive more traffic to Wikipedia, which will be prominently linked to in the summary boxes. A Wikipedia spokesman said Google is using Wikipedia information in an appropriate way.

Guardian Tech May 16th 2012

I will keep you updated.  As they say this one has a long way to run…

What do you want your website to do?

A lot of what I do is to get website owners to focus up on their goals.

Goals

It sounds silly really.  The goal of a website should be obvious, to entertain, to inform, to generate leads, to convert sales…

Each of these is track able (to some degree or another) and so the first thing I do if it is not already present is install web analytics. I use Google Analytics which is free but there are other alternatives out there.

Benchmarking

The reason I do this first is that it is really important to benchmark all activity so that when you make a change you can really understand the impact it has made, because in some cases, even what you regard as a common sense change can impact negatively on what you want your website to achieve.

Conversions

Not visits, not page views, not time or page or bounce rate but conversions. And once you know how many users a website is converting you can start to get in the habit of making changes, checking their impact on conversions and then building a better website based on evidence.

Usability

You are probably not the best person to talk to about your website.  Your customers, clients, fans or supporters are.  You have too many preconceived ideas about how people use the destination and probably because you use it every day you are not using it in the same way as they are.

Iteration

That is not the say that there aren’t some things that you don’t need to test but get in the habit of making a change, then testing it before adding anything else that could have had an impact or should be a factor in the mix.