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This.Is.A.Test

23 September, 2010

What’s your Mantra?
If you had asked me what my “mantra” was a year ago, I would have found it difficult to come up with an answer. If you were to ask me what my “mantra” was today, it would be easy – “To test”.

The word “Test” used to scare me. In school, my Math teacher would surprise us all and announce we would have a test, but now I understand. Hurtigruten have been “testing” for over a year now, with the web and the online booking solution. Each test has turned into a new section because of its success. Although not all tests will end up the same way, because of this we have been much more creative in our test projects and the more creative we are, the higher the ratio for it succeeding.

Testing The Water

Hurtigruten NOW, products yet to be launched in our consumer booking engine, launching explorer products online and our “Book” page, these all began as a test yet since launching these pages this year; they have generated over 56,000 web visits. The blog you are reading from now was launched as a test, yet 25 blog posts later, it still exists.  That’s the beauty of web analytics is that we can see how well a test performs and if it is indeed a test, or something that is worth prolonging.

Testing Myself

Before contributing to the web blog, I had never written a blog post before. It has now become a great platform for me to express my thoughts and develop my blog writing skills. Not everything has to be picture perfect before its release, because for everything to be perfect, it must go through tens of meetings, be approved by several people and ends up being delayed for months.

Why not “test” the next thought you have and launch it, instead of getting caught up in meetings and waiting for others to approve it. By the time you sit down in your first meeting, you could have tested your idea and tracked its success in Google Analytics. It’s a lot easier to present your ideas with numbers, as oppose to “expectations”.

If our only goal is to test an idea then we cannot help but succeed. Feedback is the success, both positive and negative.

Inspiration

This blog post was inspired by a Derek Sivers article published in 2007, which I came across recently.  It’s great that his message still applies today and furthermore, that the message will apply for years to come. To read the blog post, please visit http://sivers.org/this-is-a-test

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alastair Brent permalink
    23 September, 2010 15:12

    Thanks for the post. It makes interesting reading.

    When it comes to the release of anything, I think that extensive testing can cause the iron to go cold before striking but it is important to get ‘some’ feedback from colleagues and feel that it’s ‘perfect’ in your opinion. Opinions are, of course, subject to change as a result of experience and, well, mistakes. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the past who appear to operate on a “will that do?” attitude. In an closed environment i.e. within the workplace, mistakes aren’t the end of the world. For instance, my weekly marketing updates have the occasional typo. Not a big deal, but it’s annoying to spot them. However, I think that when you’re releasing into the public domain, I think it’s more important to get it as close to 100% right first time as you’re going to be judged by your lords and masters i.e. the buying public. OK, if we’re talking about something that is subjective (like the positioning of a picture on a web-page or how certain copy could be perceived) and therefore impossible to be called right or wrong, the rules are different.
    In any company’s department though, there are years of combined experience in all fields and, after all, everyone likes to give their opinion on anything that is in their field of expertise. Keep it friendly and informal but get as many pairs of eyes on things as you can before signing things off and then you’ve got a better chance of being left with a chair if the music stops.

  2. 24 September, 2010 13:04

    An interesting blog post from Steven and an insightful comment from Mr. Brent.

    Years of experience

    Years of experience can be both good and bad. …

    Good – because it provides valuable insight into the ways things have worked before.

    Bad – because years of experience may limit ones ability to see new opportunities.

    Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    Launching before you’re 100% ready
    In the online world, there are many examples of successful companies that have launched new products/service without it being 100% ready. The beauty of the web is that you can fix things after you have launched it(this would never work with print catalogs)

    For some services, it’s an essential part of the business model. Look at Wikipedia. In the early days of Wikipedia, traditional encyclopedias refused to consider Wikipedia as a serious competitor. I don’t blame them. Just a few years later, people hardly use tradition encyclopedias(The previous market leader in online encyclopedias, Microsoft Encarta officially closed their operations in 2009).

    Other companies that launch before being 100% ready: Amazon.com, Norwegian Airlines, Google, 3M, Yahoo, Ebay, Expedia and many more

    Opinions and multiple eyeballs
    If you ask a customer for their opinion, they might say that they like your website. If you watch the same customer trying to use your website, you’ll see how they really feel about your site. What they say and what they really think of your website may differ greatly.

    The customers opionion of your website is far more important than internal people’s opionion. The more we can base our decisions on actual data, the better off the company will be. I do understand the importance of involving people in the decision-making processes, but if more people would base their decisions on data and actual customer behavior, the company would be much better off.

    Sources:
    Leading software developer 37 signals about testing real apps in the real world:
    http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch06_Test_in_the_Wild.php
    http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch13_Hollywood_Launch.php

    Leading companies launch before their products are ready:
    http://the99percent.com/tips/6313/the-beta-principle-skip-perfection-launch-early

    Ford and innovation:
    http://swampfoxinsights.blogspot.com/2007/07/henry-fords-innovation-lesson.html

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