Information Architecture for Gov2.0

Besides all the other UX related things, if there’s one thing that Gov2.0 related initiatives really-truly-madly-urgently need, it’s Information Architecture. Almost all Gov2.0 related digital initiatives I’ve ever seen can benefit from Information architecture. Take for instance or – you don’t have to be a UX expert to see that these sites were designed by IT folks to be consumed by IT folks (even though they did not intend it to be that way). talks about “semantic web”, “linked open data” and “xml/rdf” etc. on it’s home page – can you beat that? I dunno but if this website was created to engage regular citizens then I doubt if it’s really serving its intended purpose. The labels, the vocabulary, taxonomy… whatever, nothing seems to have been designed by keeping ordinary citizens in mind – so much for user-centered-design!! huh.

On the similar note, during a recent Social Business Summit, Karen McGrane from Bond Art + Science discussed how “UX will make or break social business”.  I believe, this is an incredibly insightful observation and it’s high time we moved beyond the global gyan (5C’s and 4P’s of social business) and started doing something about creating relevant social experiences for users. This is more important for Gov2.0 initiatives because unlike other web 2.0 related things, there's no obvious incentive for people to engage with govt. agencies. Is it fun? Is it useful? Can I make a difference? Hell, I don’t event understand what they are talking on their websites…

Shouldn't we design our Gov2.0 initiatives in a way that regular citizens would actually want to use?

What’s wrong with social shopping?

Two things:
  • They either offer discounts to people who would have bought anyways.
  • Or, they sell to deal-seekers, who always wait for deals before buying stuff; basically customers with permanent negative lifetime values.

Hell, as Groupon becomes more popular, even regular people are becoming deal-seekers!!

In a recent study (How effective are Groupon promotions for businesses? Sept-2010, Prof. Utpal Dholakia, Rice University), 42% businesses who used Groupon said they would not want to use such services again. That’s a big red herring. Not sure why Groupon is still valued at $ 6 billion.

It seems Groupon and other social shopping sites are adding some value to new and small businesses that are yet to establish their brands and are seeking new customers.

The study suggests three interesting ideas to make services like Groupon more useful for businesses:
  • Reward relational behaviours of consumers over transactional behaviours. Instead of offering $60 food for $30, offer $10 off on each of customer’s next three visits.
  • Instead of offering a discount on a consumer’s total bill, offer specific discounts on various items and give businesses opportunity to cross-sell.
  • Help businesses use unutilized capacity through promotion offers or sell unpopular items. A yoga studio can offer classes on a weekday afternoon, for example.

I think social shopping needs to learn a lot from well established database marketing principles or we’d just be making mistakes and reinventing wheels. Kevin Hillstrom and Jim Novo have some very interesting things to say about how database and multichannel marketing principles can be used in social/digital world.

Part-II is here.