Article 041: Feedback is how we improve - Bill Gates

In 2008, Marissa Mayer wanted to determine how colour influenced users’ engagement with Google Ads. Mayer performed extensive colour testing for Google Ads in which 1% of users were shown one shade of blue, and a different 1% were shown a slightly greener shade. Using this data, Mayer confirmed that ads that were a more purple shade of blue invited more users to click on them and was therefore optimal for the search engine’s ads. Mayer’s determination was mocked by many, including some of her own colleagues. Google’s senior designers were offended by the suggestion that millions of the search engine’s users might know better than the top paid design consultants. Enraged by Google’s support of Mayer’s methods, many of the designers even resigned. However, Mayer’s engagement with the data turned out to be a massive success. The exact shade used for Google Ads ended up earning the company an extra $200 million a year in ad revenue.

These days, the importance of data is universally recognised by every successful software company. It is similar to tapping into the collective wisdom of users. In the past, companies would manually survey clients to gauge any problems with their product or service, but now – thanks to automatic data collection – it has never been easier to identify and iron out the friction points. Apps can be set up in a way that rebel entrepreneurs can see exactly where users are getting stuck or falling off. With this information, rebel entrepreneurs can remove the friction points and then reassess. This process is known as the “perfection loop”. It’s ongoing, but with each revisit and engagement the product becomes better and better while user experience and sales continue to grow.

Data technology is excellent at identifying friction points, but it’s also useful in determining what’s working. With data engagement rebel entrepreneurs can find out what users love about a product or service and focus on optimising it to make the good even better. These results can then be channelled into the continuous process of perfecting your business and products.




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