What if you built a site and all the right people showed up, but none of them bought anything? What if you looked at your traffic reports and analytics and you saw traffic streaming in in droves for all the keywords that perfectly describe what you do? What if you had killer content and tens of thousands of links, but sales were flat? What if you knew you had the best prices or the most unique offerings in town and STILL no one was buying? What would you do? Would you realize you probably had some usability issues? Hopefully. (If not, let's hope I just clued you in.) So what do you do about it?
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Larry Page should have been in a good mood. It was the fall of 2007, and Google's cofounder was in the middle of a five-day tour of his company's European operations in Zurich, London, Oxford, and Dublin. The trip had been fun, a chance to get a ground-floor look at Google's ever-expanding empire. But this week had been particularly exciting, for reasons that had nothing to do with Europe; Google was planning a major investment in Facebook, the hottest new company in Silicon Valley. Originally Google had considered acquiring Facebook—a prospect that held no interest for Facebook's executives—but an investment was another enticing option, aligning the Internet's two most important companies. Facebook was more than a fast-growing social network. It was, potentially, an enormous source of personal data. Internet users behaved differently on Facebook than anywhere else online: They used their real names, connected with their real friends, linked to their real email addresses, and shared t