The Dynamic Effect of Offline Activities on Your Online Work
We spend a lot of time staring at computer monitors every day looking for information to give us an edge.
We read the latest blogs, go through tutorials etc., but it’s also interesting the positive effect that seemingly unrelated offline activities can have on our online work.
In a previous post on Optiverse, Derek mentioned that he found guitar playing to be helpful for the creative portion of his CRO work. (link here - https://community.optimizely.com/t5/Community-What-s-New/Faces-of-Optiverse-Derek-Hammond/ba-p/3016 )
I’ve found that the volunteer work that I do with surf camps for kids with special challenges has been helpful for my CRO efforts. The kids at surf camp have communication and or physical limitations so traditional sports like baseball and soccer are not set up to include them.
With surfing, there is no winning or losing only having fun riding waves and being in the ocean.
In order for the kids to have the best experience possible, we teach them in a way that works best for them. Some kids respond great to a lesson on the beach before going in the water.
They need to get right on a surfboard in the water with an instructor to have fun.
It really opened my eyes that by that by taking the same lesson but teaching it differently, the outcome could be remarkably different.
Books are another great offline resource.
I recently read about complex data presentation, "Knowledge Is Beautiful: Impossible Ideas, Invisible Patterns, Hidden Connections--Visualized".
There isn't a single word in the book about split testing, but what is CRO but split testing information presentation?
There are a lot of talented people posting on Optiverse.
It’d be really interesting to hear what offline activities you’ve found that have helped your online work. Please take a few minutes and post them below.
For me, the most enlightening experience for my online work is watching others interact with a computer, smart phone, or any other device. I grew helping my parents with computer issues—it wasn’t uncommon for a question on what a popup was asking or how to send an email with a picture attachment (or just how to send an email). From watching others interact, you begin to see things that, to an untrained eye, might be a little less obvious. This could be something simple like finding a Checkout button or just witnessing frustration with how many steps it takes to order a certain color T-shirt. From observing those that aren’t completely familiar with technology, I have come to appreciate how desirable a simple interface is.
Aside from that, I take a lot of cues from nature to help me with my online work. To me, there is nothing more refreshing and relaxing than being outside, away from a screen, and distraction free. I find that things in nature can appear very simple, but often have a complex structure and a connection that is not immediately apparent. For example, picture a valley with lots of trees nearbye and a river—suddenly you see a deer start drinking from the river. This echoes a feeling of simplicty and congruence. However, there are layers upon layers of complexity that we needn’t consider, but are certainly there to be found. This makes me relate back to my online work, because it is important to reflect simplicity to a user and allow natural interactions to occur...leaving the hard work to the website designers and developers.
Knowing Your Audience:
Right away the sales guy sized up my wife and I. He assumed that I was the person to persuade, but he did not know this car was for my wife. Even after we let him know that this is was for my wife, he still kept addressing me when showing us a few cars. It really turned off my wife and we eventually used a different sales rep to finish the deal.
Knowing how to speak to your audience is key off and online.
Testing Your Pitch:
During the final negotiations the sales manager used several closing lines / tactics in an attempt to close the deal. We went back and forth several times. I am sure that the car sales rep had tested many different pitches over his career to close deals and I will assume I fell victim to one of them as we purchased the car.
Good thing car salesmen don’t have real life Optimizely software because there would be a lot more new cars on the road.
This is a great topic, Keith. Thanks for raising it, and for mentioning to me that it's here!
I truly believe in the saying: “In the next 5 years you will become a combination of the books you read and the people you spend most time with.” (Possibly partially originated by Jim Rohn.)
Bar none, reading is the number one offline activity I do that affects my online work. I read books in a wide range of areas: business, psychology, leadership, marketing, focus, flow, health, economy, fiction and even conversion optimization. (Joke) Regardless of the topic - whether it has a direct application to CRO or not - the insights all influence the way I work and think. Paul Graham wrote an interesting perspective on how knowledge intermingles, where he said "even if you forget the experience or what you read, its effect on your model of the world persists.”
I have a few favourites that I recommend to my team at WiderFunnel — they may be of interest to you:
- Psycho-Cybernetics: I went through a period where I would read this every year. To a point that now it is ingrained in my mind.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carengie - This changed my life in high school and helped me not to be quite to painfully introverted.
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Dr Suess - not just for kids!
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - How and why you can reach the flow state in your work on a regular basis.
- Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, Jonathan Haidt - Many people think success will bring happiness, Jonathan argues happiness brings success.
- You Should Test That!, Chris Goward - A classic, obviously.
Learn more: http://www.widerfunnel.com/blog
I'm off to read the Paul Graham link you posted!