Nathaniel Ward

‘Realistically, do you care?’

“For most websites, ‘change only one thing per test’ is pretty bad advice,” Alex Birkett writes at Conversion XL:

While you might get precise knowledge about what specific element caused a lift when you test one element at a time, you may be missing the forest for the trees.

“Let’s say you change 100 things, and sales go up 30% – but you don’t know what caused the change,” Peep Laja says in the article. “Realistically, do you care?”

You’re probably leaving money on the table by not running radical tests. One-element tests can limit the scale of your lifts—they can hit local maxima, in optimization speak—and can take far longer to yield meaningful results.

Read the whole thing.

By Nathaniel Ward on


4 books that are worth your time

These are four books I finished recently that you should read too:

1. Rework

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Targeted at entrepreneurs, but offering clear lessons to anyone managing a project or team, Rework explains that the keys to success are 1) having the right team in place; 2) launching your product; and 3) constantly improving your product.

2. Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins. This engaging thriller makes for a good escape from more serious fare.

3. Subliminal

Leonard Mlodinow. So much of what we do every day is governed not by conscious thought but by our unconscious: automatic processes we don’t even know exist. Subliminal is an important read for marketers who want to understand human behavior.

4. Children of Monsters

Jay Nordlinger. An absolutely fascinating look at the children of the 20th century’s worst dictators.

By Nathaniel Ward on


Slack doesn’t want you leaving Slack

Slack really doesn’t want you to use apps other than Slack to get things done:

As Slack rapidly grows, its approach to keeping users in one place increasingly looks like Facebook’s. The same way that Facebook doesn’t want you straying into the wilds of the open web to read a news article that one of your friends posted, Slack doesn’t want you heading over to Tumblr to search for the perfect reaction GIF for your Slack chat. So where Facebook has Instant Articles (which allow users to read outside articles from within Facebook), Slack has integrations with companies like Riffsy, which offers a smattering of GIF options when prompted by a Slack command (kind of like the Giphy command in Slack, but without the terrifying roulette quality).

The real question is why you’d want to use Slack in the first place. Not everything is urgent, and the tool’s implied need to be “always on” undermines rather than reinforces productivity.

By Nathaniel Ward on


Meetings should be 30 minutes or less

“How did an hour become our standard time allotment for so many meetings, phone calls, and appointments?” Peter Bregman asks. There’s tremendous value in keeping meetings to 30 minutes or less:

Here’s why: my intensity is higher (I know I only have 30 minutes), I eat better (I don’t rely on my workout to keep slim), I integrate movement more into my day (I don’t rely on my workout to take care of all my fitness), and I never miss a workout (I can always find 30 minutes).

If you have half the time to accomplish something, you become hyper-aware of how you’re using that time. And hyper-focused during it. Most of my phone calls are now 30 minutes or less. My podcast is 15 to 20 minutes. Even many of my conference calls, with multiple parties, are 30 minutes or less. People on the calls, aware of the time constraint, are more thoughtful about when they speak, and more careful not to follow tangents that aren’t useful.

By Nathaniel Ward on


How are you using your downtime?

Teddy Wayne:

There are many moments throughout my average day that, lacking print reading material in a previous era, were once occupied by thinking or observing my surroundings: walking or waiting somewhere, riding the subway, lying in bed unable to sleep or before mustering the energy to get up.

Now, though, I often find myself in these situations picking up my phone to check a notification, browse and read the internet, text, use an app or listen to audio (or, on rare occasions, engage in an old-fashioned “telephone call”). The last remaining place I’m guaranteed to be alone with my thoughts is in the shower.

It’s not just during downtime that you’re mindlessly distracting yourself. You’re checking Facebook “just for a minute” a half-dozen times at your desk. You’re catching up on your Pocket reading list when you could be enjoying quality time with your family. You’re reading about a news event and then checking Twitter to see what the hot-takes are.

Avoiding these distractions and refocusing on what matters requires deliberate effort. Turn off notifications on your phone. Disable the “ding” that indicates you have a new email. Log out of Facebook. Delete the apps you hate that you use.

By Nathaniel Ward on