I first came across this “technographic ladder” idea in a AMA web workshop in New York. Charlene Li explained that not all of us interact with website in the same manner, nor we can expect all of our users to be engaged in the same way. In her book, Groundswell there’s a whole chapter dedicated to this concept: “The Social Technographics Profile.”
There are two big implications from this concept that I’ve been applying:
(1) Design for several user types:
According to this technographic ladder, people have different levels of interactions, so rather than expecting everyone to be a “creator” let’s build a multitude of opportunities for engagement at different levels. Allow the “creators” to do something in your site like post videos, allow for “critics” to rate and comment on the creations. Allow “joiners” to follow you on twitter or become your fans on facebook. In other words design to fit many types of interactions so you don’t loose any chance to increase site engagement.
(2) Adjust metrics & expectations:
There’s no one metric that tells us that a site is successful or not, but rather we have to look of many types of metrics that can indicate success based on different types of engagement. For example, you can measure how many readers you have (page views), how many people subscribe to your feeds, how many comments you get, referrals, rating, etc.
… and then optimize based on engagement!
If you end goal is to generate $ with your site. You can leverage your new engagement metrics determine the correlation of engagement types with say, good old products sales. Even if you are not generating money with your website, you can certainly continually improve your blog posts and features to maximize the user experience and engagement.