I conducted a little research today on our intranet. We have a links list that can be personalized to your preference.
It turns out that 88% never use it. Of 4,264 users, only 524 people have edited their links list. That’s 12% that uses (or at least have used it at some point).
I am no exception to the majority. Why should I add a link to my personalized list? The only fair reason is to bookmark an intranet page that’s hard to find.
In my opinion, I’ll prefer better navigation and search features over a personalized links list. And by the way, I’d also use my browser’s bookmark feature over adding favorite links to a personalized website.
That’s why features like personalized links don’t add value, and why such features in general fail.
My finding is similar to what Jacob Nielsen wrote about in his alertbox 8 years ago:
Web users are extremely impatient and want to get something useful out of a site immediately: they don’t want to spend time setting up complex personalization features. This is one of the main reasons Firefly failed.
Because of the paradox of the active user, even a website that relies on personalization needs a good default design to greet first-time users. Again, personalization is proven not to substitute for good basic design. Second, the personalization features have to be extremely easy to set up: no complex or long-winded interactions – or users won’t take the time.
Gerry McGovern wrote Why personalization hasn’t worked in 2003 backed up by a Jupiter research report:
Not surprisingly, the Jupiter report finds that personalized websites are four times more expensive to run. It also finds that personalized websites are twice as likely to attract visitors who will never pay for anything. Worse still, it finds that 25 percent of consumers actually avoid personalized websites because they fear that their personal information will be abused.
Any similar findings on this topic? Examples where personalization works?
You are welcome to share your thoughts, examples and numbers.