A/B testing

I did some A/B testing on the website for Shortcut Media. Well, I think there is clearly a winner. The plan was to let the experiment run for a week, but I guess that is not needed.

Variation 01 is outperforming the original page with 447% and shows a stunning conversion  rate of 20%.

The page offers a free QR code generator tool. I already talked about that in an earlier post. In the original version, the generator is on top and below I offer the visitors a (superior) alternative (the product we want to sell). On the variation page, I offer people first the alternative and then the QR code generator. As I had seen before in earlier tests, by simply putting the stuff you want the visitor to click on, on top, conversion increases dramatically. (Seems a bit obvious in retrospect of course).

Here is the winner!


How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?

Two animals of each kind right?

If you are like most people, that answer popped up in your mind within a split second. This is what phycologists call the Moses Illusion because: “Moses didn’t take any animals on the Ark. That was Noah.”

This experiment is quite famous and I believe first explored by Erickson and Mattson somewhere in the early eighties. Why now this subject? Well, I am reading ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow‘ by Daniel Kahneman. My father gave it to me for my 34th birthday. Although I am only at page 80, it’s already became clear to me that this is a very interesting book.

He speaks about your brain functioning in two different systems. System 1 and System 2. System 1 thinks fast and jumps to conclusions. System 2 thinks slow, needs to validate and rationalise, doesn’t trust things that much but – and here is the ‘problem’ – is also a quite lazy.

When you were happy with your answer “2” on the opening question, this was typically system 1 at work. Quickly coming up with a conclusion, not validating (that would be system 2) and move on, never knowing that you were completely wrong. Don’t worry, we are all subject to a set of reliable biases and illusions. Not just you.

Already I believe this is a brilliant book. It gives you great insight in how the brain works. He brings in his now research and that of many other psychologists and other scientists.

This world famous experiment by Professor Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris for example where you have to count the number of times a group of people passes the ball to each other. I’d seen it before, but if you don’t (lucky you) have a look at it. Enjoy 🙂

Did you see it? It’s funny that when you know the film, there is no way you cannot see it even when I focus as hard as I can on the task. It’s hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t see it. It’s so obvious!

And here is the book cover. Click on it to buy it on amazon (yes affiliated)


New Project: Coming Up

One of my dearest friends and business-partners had this idea. An idea to build an app. Now, often do we have ideas and often it doesn’t evolve beyond the idea and they fade away after some beers and weeks.

We both have 15 years of experience in online and our ideas are often not that bad. For example, we had a working demo of a ‘taxi-app’ long before you saw any taxi-apps out there. And too often we said “And this time we should do it.” (Note that we have executed many of our ideas before, but sometimes due to lack of resources we can’t).

We have left the building!

This time we went from idea, to wire-frame to production. It’s going to be an App called Coming Up. What it exactly does I cannot tell at this moment but it’s going to be amazing! We plan to launch beginning 2013 and have high expectations!

I will updated progress here on my blog!


Coder jokes… Oh well :)

Because there is a large part of truth in it…

You gotta have a QR code generator!

As you might know, with Shortcut Media, we are in the business of making print-media interactive. What does this mean? In a nutshell, we combine print-with-mobile trying to add more value to the print version. As a reader, simply point your phone to any page and the corresponding mobile page will show up.

One way of doing that would be by using QR codes right? It has an URL baked inside and the readers use a scanner to access those pages. We don’t really like QR codes because they are ugly, use up space and quite error-sensitive.

You might know that with our service we offer something much more elegant thanks to the  image-recognition technology by kooaba, our mother company. That way, the publisher can add content to any page without having to worry about QR codes and URL’s in an early stage. Oh, and there are much more advantages because linking offline-to-online is only the start of our service…

The problem though, is that – regardless of how beautiful our service is,  not every publisher is familiar with it and many of them are still starting out with QR codes. Those publishers are our prospects. Therefore we published a page that offers you to make your own QR code.

For this I used Google Charts. It took me about a day fiddling around to have everything working. The page itself is still a bit ugly and especially the ‘converting-part’ sucks, but right now it should be fine to go out as the (in)famous MVP.

To wake it up we add some AdWords on it for one week. Let’s see if we can get some publishers signing up for a demo. I did some analysis upfront so we have a nice benchmark to see if the effort is paying off.

The most famous beach ball in the world.

Famous in this case isn’t that flattering….

Don’t get me wrong here, about 1,5 years ago I am completely converted to Apple-everything and I love my Mac-stuff but more and more, I catch myself staring at this beach ball lately. Often moments before I start hitting cmd-tap and force close-downs while studing the effect on my activity monitor. Things I used to do quite often when working on my Windows machines, but not on my Apple….

But it has to be me because as far as I know, Apple just works right? Well, compared to Windows it does, but in reality it still has its flaws. Everyone that works on a Mac is well acquainted with the Beach Ball of Death. Even people using it only for – lets say – Facebook need to buy a new Air every two years.

Anyway, at least its a nice loader image and it has a reference to the old Apple logo. So here is my little tribute to the ball. Still, I would rather not see it that often.

Maybe it’s Apples way of telling me that I need to upgrade my hardware to the new MacBook which – by the way – I like very much.

Apple drops after executive position activity

I said in this post that one should start paying attention when you see things changing at the top level of the company. Well, it’s happening. Not sure what to think of it, but to me it is a sign not to let the guard down. Already the price is below 591 USD at the moment of writing. Still, I’ll sit on my share because I’m mostly a fan, but fan or not, once it goes below the 550 I am out.

In a meantime read what John Gruber has to say about Forstall leaving the company.

Should you get rid of your Apple stock?

Honestly, I just recently bought one Apple share (at USD 665). Yes, even after Steve Jobs has left us. The main reason is the trust I have in the sales of apps via their hardware. This gold-mine will be up and running for a while. Still there is no tablet-market but only an iPad market, and millions of iPhone users emerge daily.

Though, I have started to get my doubts since the patent wars begon even in 2011, continued this year with Samsung (/Android) and will continue in 2013. Apple always was in the position to sue everything around them. But they didn’t. Although, not on a level they do now. They had bigger fish to fry. Making innovative products for example.

But their aggressive legal steps made me wonder if there was something troubling them. And then it hit me. Could it be possible that Apple’s pipeline is getting a bit empty? Slowly I’m proven to be right…

Apple has nothing left to sell?

The iPhone 4S came out. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing special. Just an overpriced upgrade of that what already was great. The main feature SIRI was (and still is) half-baked. Something that isn’t typically Apple that rather ships products that ‘just work’. Now the iPhone 5 is there. Same problem. Nothing new plus half-baked features (the famous maps-gate). And then there is the gossip around a possible smaller iPad…. Excuse me? Steve Jobs would turn around in his grave. Trying to compete with a ‘cheap’ version in an existing market…

What I wonder why there are still no Apple Smart TV’s. Or Apple cars, or very well designed refrigerators with fancy features and great apps on the door. Or even office phones that people are able to work with, connected to your other Apple devices.

Will history repeat itself

If so, you rather get rid of your apple stock this year still. There might be an upswing for a couple of months to come but will it stay? The question is, when Apple is loosing its mantra of making out-of-the-box products that simply work perfect into shipping half-baked products will the fan-club be as large as it is now? If people are going to be beta-testers anyway, why would they choose for the very expensive Apple?

If you want to be as arrogant as Apple, you have to be lightyears ahead of the rest. But the gap is closing. Not because of patent infringement, but because of lack of innovation on Apples side.

If you don’t have any cards left in your hand what do you do? You try to sue the competition! You try to milk the cows!

Currently Apple is the most valuable company in the world and this will not change overnight. Me, I just bought my first iPhone (the number 5) and this proves at least on a very small scale that the products are still attractive.

Buy, sell or hold

To anser the question if you should get rid of your stock I can only say this. I decided to keep sit on it for a while. My share already went down 30 bucks since I bought it, but hey, as long as it stays above 550 I keep it.

Let’s follow product development for a while and see what it is that will come next. If great innovations are staying away, management is changing too fast and people are getting a bit tired of Apple  you might want to consider some put options at one point. Just Remember where Apple came from. Not even 10 years ago prices were below USD10.

How much more up can it go? You never know right? I think I am going to search for companies that are now what Apple was a couple of years ago rather than hoping it will rise to the 1000 USD per share and earn a 40% profit…. One of those companies – not completely comparable of course – is Facebook. I would actually advise to change your Apple stock into Facebook stock. They had their beating, and now it’s waiting for them to come out with some sort of genius advertising system. Preferably outside their FB network, using this very valuable information they have to the max. I believe Facebook has potential to rise up to a couple of hundred bucks per share. It could go quite fast – if they play it smart. Oh, and please, don’t get rid of your Google stocks. Those guys are simply amazing!!!

Should you care about profiling?

This post is a short preview about a subject I have been thinking about quite a lot lately: Targeted advertising. Should you care about the fact that Facebook is selling your profile to advertisers? Or Google?

I’m not quite sure to be honest. The fact is that we (as consumers) have been a victim of targeted advertising for quite some time already. This game was played long before Google or Faceook. It is only now that ‘digital companies’ such as the ones mentioned before can build ‘profiles’ until a level that was unthinkable before. And what do they do with it? Serve an ad based upon the location you have been? Show some ads that might be relevant because you liked Nike on Facebook. Or even worse; Throw in some banner of hotels because I googled for ‘Hotel in Wherever’. Is this wrong?

In the past, even during my studies, at least ten years ago, I had websites running that gathered profiles. I am talking about the period before AdWords, and before Facebook. It wasn’t a big thing back then, nor were there clear rules or at least people didn’t bother much… I had tens of thousands and I knew a lot about those people. Age, Gender, Where they lived, what they liked (within a certain context (horses)), Email etc.

It was (and still is) so easy. But I pulled the plug out of my websites and deleted my databases. (In a later post, I will tell you all about the sites/projects I had back in 2003).

Facebook is worth a lot of money right!?! Well, at least we (the people) are worth a lot of money to advertisers. Lets pretend that I am an advertiser and: “I want to reach people that are located in Zurich, work in technology and are over 24 years old….

And thus, this advertiser reaches me instead of my mom. Is this bad?

I guess it is if you look at unethical parts of markting in a broader perspective but besides that, I don’t think so. At least I won’t get bothered with advertisements of baby-day care because I never Googled for it or liked Pampers on Facebook.


Shortcut Media AG is a fact

Together with two partners, we founded a new company called ‘Shortcut Media AG’. The company offers an ‘Interactive Print service’ to publishers of printed media (eg. Newspapers and magazines).

Shortcut Media is a spin-off/sister company of kooaba AG.

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