Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 29 January 2015


Do Prettier, More Professional-looking Web Sites Increase Conversions? • 19 January 2015

When is pretty not necessarily better? When it's your website. David Mannheim discusses why a better-looking website might not necessarily be a more effective website using examples from Digg, Target and the UK retailer Marks & Spencer. "Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it."

In a retail context the effectiveness of a website is "conversions"--the visitors who end up doing what you'd like them to do as a consequence of that visit; usually buying something. The higher the number of visitors and the percentage of conversions the more effective your website is. In the case of a library website what's a "conversion"? Is it somebody using the online catalog, searching a journal database, scheduling a study room, etc.? It's useful to think about as you can't do smart design without knowing your website's goals. (Michalko)



The Myth of Epiphany • 13 January 2015

Don't wait on a flash of insight. In a shortish blog post Scott Berkun unpacks one of the innovation myths he has chronicled—the notion "that breakthrough ideas frequently come to people as a result of a flash of insight." See for instance the Newton's apple story.

I like that he admits the appeal of these epiphany stories but is clever enough to ask the right questions about them—what was the person doing just beforehand? What did they have to do to make the idea real? Does any of this help you have an insight? If you like this short blog post then you should check his summary of his own book The Myths of Innovation. P.S. The Newton's apple story seems to be true-ish. It did not bop him on the head, however. (Michalko)



Passion vs. Pragmatism: You Can't Always Do What You Want

Pacific Standard • 13 January 2015

Dreams are not the road to satisfaction. Joann McKenna takes issue with the standard advice about following your passion being the one true road to job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

She's not wrong. Her argument gets acted on in the recent California legislative move to create a pilot program for 15 community colleges across the state to fill a growing workforce demand for college-educated, skilled workers in fields such as health, science and technology. Basically they are going to allow these colleges to give a four-year baccalaureate degree but limit the subject offerings to science and applied or technical professions. (Michalko)



The Small Steps That Have a Big Impact on Achieving Goals

Knowledge@Wharton • 12 January 2015

If you lock up my iPad I'll come to the gym. In this short video interview accompanied by an edited transcript Wharton professor Katherine Milkman finds that there are relatively simple steps that people can take to help themselves—or their employees or relatives—to stick to their plans and adopt behaviors that are better for overall well-being.

Even though most of her research was around health goals—the unpleasant medical procedure, keeping up an exercise program, etc.—you can easily see how these insights could be applied to other behaviors. I was particularly intrigued by the power of what she calls "fresh starts"—moments after which you are more motivated to follow through on your goals. You can imagine the new year, the birthday, the first of the month but she argues that external agents can create these moments and they have similar power. Think about open enrollment dates for your health insurance for instance. (Michalko)



Questions, Predictions, Intersections

Forget Resolutions, What's Your "Beautiful Question" For 2015?
Co.Design | business + design • 13 January 2015

7 Venture Capitalists Predict What Will Happen In 2015
TechCrunch • 31 December 2014

12 Funny and Delicious Venn Diagrams
Mental Floss • 13 January 2015

The first because it's actually a really practical way to present a challenge so that it motivates action. Plus it's shorter than reading the book.

The second because predictions that have money behind them are much more likely to materialize. Spoiler alert: Unbundling will be big.

The last because they are clever. And somehow precipitated a comment string about Yoda's grammar. If commenters serious were, here would they go. (Michalko)



Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are two complementary approaches to library linked data?

Get the answer.