In this story I will tell you how I designed a solution which allowed me to save my clients and my startups lots of money of development and at the same time let them use personalization in their UX.
Personalization takes your user experience on a whole new level whether you are an online store, a blog or any kind of online service.
Serving personalized content to your users based on certain characteristics like geolocation, browsing behaviour, interests, specific date, day of the week, holidays etc. will certainly improve your users’ happiness and your conversions.
I have worked with any number of clients as well as I have started few projects of my own and most of the time we did not have a dedicated developers in our teams.
Apart from that hiring external company or developer to develop a single personalization feature is not very cheap especially if you need to test your hypotheses, tweak settings, combine it with other personalization characteristics etc. And that requires a lot of iterations and espcially for a startup that adds quite a number to the monthly budget.
Most of the clients I have worked with used WordPress as a platform which they used to build their products – online stores, subscriptions services, bettings sites etc.
The problem was that we did not have a ready-made solution for WordPress that allowed us to easily deliver personalized content to different types of users. And most importantly that provided us with the freedom to combine different characteristics and develop our own solutions that will be shown or not based on this combination of characteristics.
I believe that developing a WordPress plugin that will allow my clients to serve content to specific users based on different characteristics will help me together with their UX teams, WordPress developers and admins test and implement personalization features a lot cheaper and quicker.
Testing the Hypothesis
It all comes down to money. I have calculated the average amount of experiments that we do with our clients and how much they usually cost them if they pay a developer. Then I have calculated how much a certain solution it is going to cost me to develop.
The math was straightforward. It is a lot cheaper for my clients to base their personalization experiements on my solution.
My work with different project managers and stakeholders allowed me to do extensive research on what is needed so a solution like this can be useful to both UX teams and WordPress developers.
In general the target audience for a solution like this are the clients of mine as well as their teams. Since I work mostly with startups this solution will be targeted mostly at starting companies. But the teams within the startups can vary depending on the company. So in general people who will be working with this solution will be – firstly me, then WordPress site/content managers, WordPress developers within a small team.
Based on the insights I realised that there are a couple of directions that we can go.
1. Make it very useful and scalable but for people who have some technical knowledge in WordPress. That means develping a featured or experiment based on this solution requires a little bit of coding.
- The pro’s in this option is that the WordPress savvy people have lots of freedom to develop different features which are powered by this solution.
- The Con’s is that it is very limited in terms of what you can do only with clicking with your mouse in the WordPress admin panel. So non-tech-WordPress savvy users will not find lots of value.
2. This option is exactly the opposite to the first one. But as with every solution which is made for users with non-technical knowledge they tend to be very very limited in terms of what you can achieve with it. That means if you need something that the developers and the designers of the solution haven’t thought of you are doomed. Just look at WIX.com. Perfect for people who just need a website but if you need a specific feature tailor made for your business then it is no good for you.
Then I needed think about exactly what I need this plugin for.
I need this plugin to power different experiments on my websites and on the websites of my clients. That means I will go with option number 1 from the above because in order to develop good experiments and features for me and clients I needed lots of freedom. The drawback was that we needed some technical knowledge to do so. In most of the cases I can do pretty well with html, CSS, JS and WordPress php or the client usually has a dedicated developer. Therefore usually this is not an issue.
To provide other WordPress site owners with the option to do personalization experiments themselves. Then I had to go with option 2 from the above and make it very user friendly so people can do lots of stuff with their mouse only. But in that case I will be very limited to code my own custom experiments. This option will be good if I want to make a buisness out of this. In other words – if I want to sell it.
I decided to go with option number 1 but leave space for a version that will serve the people from option number 2 as a later stage in case I decide to develop a business around it.
The solution that I came up with is a WordPress plugin that allows the WordPress site manager to segment and target different user audiences, based on certain characteristics of the users and show different content to each group.
Content can be added or replaced based on one or more of the following conditions:
- First time user
- Day of the week
- Time of the day in the user’s time zone
- Time of the day in a specific time zone (GMT, UTC, etc.)
- Specific date
- Specific URL visited any number of times
- User tries to leave the site
- User’s device (Desktop, Phone, Tablet)
- User scroll any number of pixels
The real power of this plugin comes from the fact that it allows the site administrator to combine different conditions and really to target narrow and specific customer groups.
Since the development of this plugin has been completed it helped us power more than 20 personalization features currently live on different websites helping with conversions. From personalizing for different countries and cultures to targeting new users. And more than 100 other experiments and tests.
Currently the plugin works perfectly in helping me, my clients and my team to test and develop different features so the plan to develop a viable business around it we have put aside. That being said we still developed a website where the users can learn how to use it and possibly purchase the full version.