Guido Jansen is a man of many talents. He has an educational background in Cognitive Psychology. He uses the concepts of human behavior he learned at university and applies them to cleverly optimize the user experience of online businesses. Want to know why your customers are behaving the way they are? Guido is the man to ask! He works with strategists, business consultants, SEO professionals, graphic designers, developers, and marketers to deliver the best web usability optimization possible.
Apart from this, Guido is a regular speaker at conferences and events around the world. His talks involve diverse topics related to ecommerce and psychology. Another great talent of Guido is that he’s a prolific community builder. He has made possible many Magento events. Today, we are speaking frankly to Guido Jansen. Let’s see what he has to say.
Cloudways: You could have easily scored a Bond movie! 😀 How did you end up learning psychology at University of Utrecht? You know three languages: Dutch, German & English. How did you become a super human?
Guido: Yeah I don’t know where it went wrong. The James Bond gig that is…
I started at the University studying Economics, but the content and the way it was taught didn’t really resonate with me. I switched to Psychology (the biological/usability variant) because I was (still) interested in how humans behave, why we make certain decisions and why we often behave so irrationally. And as it turned out, knowledge of psychology can be very beneficial for human economic behavior too. Daniel Kahneman (a psychologist) even won a Nobel Prize for his work on behavioral economics.
Cloudways: Learning Psychology and communication science back in college, who were some people you can remember to be your inspiration? What made you go deep in understanding how humans communicate?
Guido: I don’t remember having a certain role model in college. I guess I was curious enough by myself. 🙂
Cloudways: What made you lean towards Magento? How did Magento community and ecosystem fascinate you? How did you make it to the top in the Magento community, share some tips.
Guido: At first in 2008, the big appeal of Magento was how far ahead it was compared to other popular systems. At that time, I was mainly working with Joomla! and I also felt that ecommerce was a way more interesting “niche” than just building a website. Especially back then, after building a regular website, the project was usually done. But when building a web shop, it starts getting interesting after the launch. But that is not why I stayed. Because in the end, Magento is ‘just’ another piece of software, just like there are many. What makes Magento so special is the ecosystem around it: all the people and companies contributing to it, whether it’s software or additional services.
For example, take the Meet Magento events. Tell me which other commercial company has a worldwide community as large as Magento’s that organizes around 30 big events worldwide (like Meet Magento) and hundreds of smaller meetups every year. And, our community does this autonomously, Magento the company doesn’t even need to organize them itself. How awesome is that? Basically, the Magento community takes fangirling to a whole new level. I don’t feel like being on top of anything in the Magento community. We’re all equal here and we’re all just trying to make a better ecommerce experience.
If anything, I’m just somewhere in the shadow trying to facilitate a community of real stars: the developers who are contributing countless hours to this great product.
Cloudways: You are the organizer of Meet Magento NL. How do you define Meet Magento events and what are the major attractions of this year?
Guido: The Meet Magento events are a bit different compared to events organized by commercial companies (Ebay or any other for that matter) because they are organized by the passionate people that live in the ecosystem and the events don’t have a commercial approach. That vibe is noticeable throughout the events. At MM Netherlands, we always try experiment with new concepts for the event.
Last year we had an additional day for merchants who were not using Magento (yet) which we repeated this year. Last month during our 7th edition we experimented with an Award Show (which was awesome) and added iBeacon functionality – (provided by https://snowdog.co/ who also did this for MM Poland and Germany) – to the conference app and we tagged all the stands and presentation rooms. This helped our visitors to easily get around and provide us with presentation feedback. And of course we had a great party at the center of Utrecht with live music, drinks, secret gifts and traditional Dutch snacks!
Cloudways: Magento 2.0, the new build is just around the corner. It’s late from its schedule, why did that happen? How will you predict the future of Magento when there are many other ecommerce solutions like WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce are climbing up the ladder?
Guido: Well, on the why you should ask Magento/Ebay, but I think that the switch to Ebay and the yearly changes in strategy didn’t help (X.commerce fabric anyone?). Like I said: the Magento software was way ahead of its time which gave it a luxurious position and a lot of time for the community to grow. This allowed Magento to be a bit lazy on the product development side and allowed others to catch-up technology wise (but there still is no match for Magento’s community power).
The smart thing about Magento was that through it’s open source community version, it was able to create a huge install base (25% of all ecommerce sites, source) which then could be monetized on by Magento itself (upgrades to Enterprise) or community companies (selling additional products or services). People were already using the free version, so upselling is relatively easy.
Especially on the low-end, there are now many competitors that could slow down the addition of merchants using the community version into this “monetization pool”. The biggest “threat” for this imho is WooCommerce now that it has been acquired by Automatic and can utilize the power of the already huge (albeit less e-commerce oriented) WordPress community. But hey, WordPress is open source too, so I think either way is a big improvement in the way we do our work and can collaborate with each other worldwide ;).
Cloudways: How does psychology help you be a better conversion optimization strategist? How important is user feedback in optimizing the overall product and brand experience?
Guido: Well, despite all the advanced technology, we’re still trying to sell products and/or services to a human brain. So knowing how our brain works, what the limits are and how we make (irrational) decisions goes a long way when you want to improve on how you communicate through online channels and better serve your customers in the long run.
It’s currently really easy to see WHAT people are doing on your website. Most people use tools like Google Analytics to analyse this. But that is only half of the story. Adding user feedback (in the form of feedback forms, questionnaires or lab sessions) tells you WHY people are behaving that way, which makes it much easier to interpret the data, and not only optimize for short-term behavior, but also for long-term engagement with your website, products and brand. This is such an overlooked yet important part of the optimization process, I even created my own product for quick and multilingual user testing called UserLegion.
Cloudways: You are the founder of Dutch Magento community “Dutchento”. When did you found it? What was the purpose behind creating this community? How is it helping the Magento community in the Netherlands?
Guido: I founded Dutchento in 2008 after being denied to use DutchMagento by Roy Rubin, but I think that turned out to be for the better ;). I loved the product, how far ahead it was and what great potential it had. But since I’m not a developer, I can’t contribute in coding, so I started contributing by enabling local collaboration: translations, documentation, blog, groups, workshops and we started with the Meet Magento events in January 2009. The Dutchento platform works as a facilitator of the local Magento community. It also functions as a central organ that promotes the use of Magento, through which all companies can benefit.
Cloudways: I follow you on Facebook and I saw that you like Snowboarding. What is the best place to snowboard in Europe? Give our readers some tips to be a better snowboarder? What about other activities in your life besides being a Magento community guy? Do you like fine dining? What are some quality places to eat in Amsterdam?
Guido: Not sure if it’s the best, but I really like the Gletscher in Kaprun, the place where Winter edition of Developers’ Paradise is held (organized by nr-apps.com). But I might be biased towards that place because it’s always so much fun at that event ;). And a tip for both snowboarding and business: lean towards the front so you can pick up speed and keep being in control. Besides snowboarding, I like to go swimming or play some squash. I’m also working on the aforementioned startup project UserLegion.
And if you visit Amsterdam, walk to a fish stand and try the herring, any place will do.
Cloudways: Most of the online customers want to access shopping sites in less than 2 seconds. Speed matters a lot for Magento web stores. How can we improve the speed of a Magento-based website?
Guido: There’s a blogpost for that with my 101 tips. 🙂
Cloudways: What do you think about Cloudways being a Magento hosting platform provider? How can we be more effective in the Magento community and become a choice of every single Magento website owner?
Guido: I think that in the Magento hosting space there was ia long time advantage for hosting companies in optimizing their server setup for Magento, since the generic server configurations didn’t cut it and could make Magento look really slow (especially on shared hosting environments). Currently, I think we’ve reached the point where just having great uptime and being fast aren’t enough. I think the next step is to provide better tools for developers to make their work much easier and save them a lot of time while working on Magento sites and deployments.
You can follow Guido Jansen on Twitter at (@)