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Updated: 2015-11-06T16:59:00-06:00

 



Don't Let Your Prejudices Rule Your Perception of Your Customers

2016-01-18T13:51:57-06:00

We all have blind spots. In November, while preparing for my son's first birthday party, a good samaritan helped me spot mine. And I never even got a chance to meet him (or her). The rain was coming down with... We all have blind spots. In November, while preparing for my son's first birthday party, a good samaritan helped me spot mine. And I never even got a chance to meet him (or her).  The rain was coming down with vigor. The forecast promised enough of the wet gift from the heavens that it forced us to relocate the party for our youngling to the inside. First birthday parties are more for the parents than they are for the infants, anyway. The infants are mostly oblivious about what is going on. Assuming they aren't tired and are otherwise good-natured, though they appreciate the extra attention, the presents are a short-term distraction. Because of the relocation left us without the use of picnic tables and a grill, we needed to get a few extra pleasantries from the ubiquitous Walmart. Now, I have never had a problem shopping at Walmart. They sell stuff that I need, so when I need stuff, I know where to go. I never bought into the "Walmart is evil" crowd, though I've used this space to discuss Walmart before (both critical and defensive).  Even so, I am not immune from being subtly influenced by the collective denigration of the "Walmart shoppers" that is in vogue within our culture today, especially but not limited to advertising. You know what I'm talking about, right? It's plastered at the end of news articles like a carnival barker, "Come on in and see the FREAK show of Walmart shoppers!" It doesn't even matter what follows or even whether I click on the link — they are the backwards, knuckle-dragging Republican neanderthal wing-nuts, and I am different from them. NASCAR Blindness may as well be Walmart blindness.Alan Wolk, who coined the phrase "NASCAR Blindness," put it this way: "This disease is the strongly held belief that if no one in your little bubble of upscale, artsy Bobo friends is into something, then clearly no one else is, either." So when I dropped my wallet in the store after picking up some of those needed supplies, with my son just turning one, Christmas and my daughter's birthday right around the corner, and with my wife expecting early in 2016, my heart dropped. I cannot afford to be wasting time or losing money by being too mind-numbingly stupid to not keep track of my belongings. My first hope was that I dropped it at the gas station instead of Walmart, so I checked there. No luck. So as a last resort I drove back to Walmart and headed to the customer service desk. Things were looking bleak.  But when my turn arose, the person at the desk was just informed of a lost item. Instead of being hopeful, though, I assumed that someone would have taken my cards and/or my cash, and that the rest of my afternoon would be spent recovering from this disaster. It was not to be. Not only was my wallet returned, but every single spec of dust that I left it with was returned with it, and I had to face the prejudice of my heart that led me to so quickly dismiss all Walmart shoppers (of which I am one) because I gave influence to the subtle and flagrant attitudes of the world against people who shop there. I was wrong, and though they did not know it just a few minutes ago, I owe Walmart shoppers (and/or employees) an apology. Thank you for having integrity. I know it won't always be so and isn't 100% of the time, but you did not earn my scorn, and I had no business giving it to you. Are you pre-judging your audience? - Cam Beck [...]



A Tale of Two Cecil(e)s

2015-07-31T11:26:49-05:00

"One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic." - attributed to Joseph Stalin Two PR nightmares have been filling my Facebook newsfeed over the past month. One concerning Cecil, a Lion, who was killed in a... "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic." - attributed to Joseph Stalin  Two PR nightmares have been filling my Facebook newsfeed over the past month. One concerning Cecil, a Lion, who was killed in a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe by an American dentist, and the other concerning Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, whose organization was exposed for negotiating  prices for the human parts it sells from the over 300,000 abortions it performs per year. The dentist at the center of the lion controversy, one Walter Palmer, expressed ignorance that what he was doing may have been illegal, as he claims he was merely following the advice of his guides. The guides face charges in Zimbabwe and are out on bail, while Palmer hired a PR firm to handle the fallout.  At the time of this writing, three undercover videos have been released concerning the practices of Planned Parenthood (with 9 allegedly left to go if they are not suppressed by the courts). The latest shows people involved in this illegal practice discussing how they can get the lawyers to make it appear legal. Having followed many in the PR industry who ordinarily do not hesitate to jump at the opportunity to use PR crises as a "learning opportunity," I was saddened and disgusted that I've seen more outrage from the marketing professionals on behalf of Cecil the Lion, a massive, striking and admittedly impressive predator of the wild than of those innocents who did nothing to deserve being torn limb from limb—and have their parts sold at higher prices so that the medical director at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Dr. Mary Gatter, can get a Lamborghini.I have a hard time getting worked up about Cecil the Lion. I am a conservationist and believe the just laws to protect wildlife should be followed. But the wild is a rough place. By definition it is uncivilized. Animals are killed all the time. Cecil the Lion probably killed quite a few in his day, as well, and I don't see anybody up in arms about Jimmy the Gazelle or Zachary the Zebra that he probably ate. It appears someone may have broken those conservation laws, and that should be addressed—especially to find out if this is a systematic problem (like sex trafficking) or an isolated incident. But I'm not getting worked up over a lion. Sorry. On the other hand, everything that has been released so far—and the effort to suppress the evidence on behalf of Planned Parenthood—suggests that this is a systematic problem that starts at the very top, known by everyone with intent and effect to cover it up and demonize those who exposed them. But to my marketing friends—and the mainstream media running interference, Cecil the Lion deserves ink. And the people who exposed Planned Parenthood—for selling body parts illegally or advising underage girls how to conceal statutory rape and obtain abortions without the consent of their parents— are extremists that should be shunned and rebuked. Why? God only knows, but I suspect it's because they identify with Democrats, who support keeping the practice legal. After all, we are motivated to be consistent in our actions. Maybe they've had abortions themselves or know people who have, and they believe that their friendships and love cannot countenance being outraged by Planned Parenthood. Maybe they really don't believe there is anything wrong with Planned Parenthood's behavior. If a profession could have a soul, I wonder when we sold ours. - Cam Beck [...]



Net Neutrality and the Death of Self-Government

2015-02-27T09:18:19-06:00

Back in 2006, I wrote an article about Net Neutrality that has become more relevant given the recent decision to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, which allows it to be regulated as a Title II entity. If you're...Back in 2006, I wrote an article about Net Neutrality that has become more relevant given the recent decision to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, which allows it to be regulated as a Title II entity. If you're just joining us, that sounds like a bunch of gobblygook, and for good reason. It is. The people who have been calling for Net Neutrality rules, such as Barack Obama, John Oliver, The Oatmeal, as well as most of my colleagues, welcome this news as a signal that ISPs will no longer be allowed to give preferential treatment to certain types of Internet traffic, regardless of what people may be willing to pay for of their own free will.  One of my colleagues, an Obama supporter whom I nevertheless am very fond of, expressed absolute incredulity that I cautioned patience over his dissatisfaction with his choices of Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the service they offer. It will get better with time, I said, just as it got better from the old CompuServe and America Online days of needing to dial long-distance numbers through a modem to get a connection that allowed you to hook up to a chat room to tell spam jokes (true story).  On the other side, fellow Texans Ted Cruz and Mark Cuban (whom I've criticized from time to time) find themselves, more or less, on the same side regarding Net Neutrality.  The intent of Net Neutrality sounds good on the surface. Who wants fast Internet all the time? And for less, too! I do, I do! However, we have to separate the INTENT from not only the CONSEQUENCES, but also the MEANS, for ignoring the means or treating them as inconsequential has indirect consequences that affect all of us. The means they are using for SWEEPING changes to the role the federal government plays in Internet access bypasses people’s own personal choices (first) and their direct representatives (second) in favor of a bureaucratic decision (on a 3-2 vote) that is absent any meaningful oversight. Regardless of what we think of the intent, the process matters. Accepting the maxim that an unelected bureaucracy can and should make such sweeping (rather than, say, incremental) changes on a vote from the board of directors effectively divorces the American people from self-government. We are no longer in control. Second, the direct consequences of these new regulatory powers are detrimental to the free exchange of goods and labor between private parties — meaning the ISP and the people who are willing to pay for access, on their terms, and substitutes the terms of an unelected regulatory body that apparently has the power to change its mind on a whim.  Third, having the ability to throttle certain channels taken away from them, ISPs must either slow down the “fast-track” channels to compensate, or invest in infrastructure to expand the bandwidth so speeds can keep up with the increased demand. The natural consequence for this is slower speeds and higher prices, which the ISPs will dutifully either lobby to be paid for by the taxpayer (higher debt or taxes), or pass on to the consumer in the form of higher fees. What’s worse, it’s going to take a few years for this to get through the courts (more costs!), so by the time we start seeing higher prices and/or poorer service, we’re going to forget how we got here, and we’ll be powerless to do anything about it, because the FCC doesn’t answer to us. This was passed amidst the singing accolades from people who should, but do not, know better, and those whose knowledge of the issue is limited to the dismissive rantings of a comic or the biting parody of a cartoonist. We should not mistake that for informed consent of the American people. - Cam Beck [...]



No Diving Allowed: Putting Performance First to Make Sure Your Projects Start Right

2014-06-30T15:33:55-05:00

Starting a new client-agency relationship can be very exciting. It isn’t uncommon for a new pairing to be jointly celebrated with announcements given to a cheering crowd, toasts, and cake. Once a company has decided to invest in a new...Starting a new client-agency relationship can be very exciting. It isn’t uncommon for a new pairing to be jointly celebrated with announcements given to a cheering crowd, toasts, and cake. Once a company has decided to invest in a new digital marketing project, those responsible for its completion are under considerable pressure to speed up the development cycle and start getting results. The primary result project managers seek is the conclusion of the project. However, in all of the excitement about the new project and the rush to get it done, design teams must not neglect the first step that will make it possible to determine the project’s success in the first place – the business objectives against which it will be measured. Going forward with design without a structured measurement model is like diving into a pool without knowing how deep the water is – and not being terribly confident that you even know how to swim. The beginning of a digital project is critical. Take, for example, a website redesign project. The motivation that initiated the request often is no more complicated than an executive team’s general dissatisfaction with the look and feel of the company website. They may have a sense that the site is not “user-friendly,” and they might even have a few anecdotes to support this theory. This seeming lack of accountability to concrete, measurable results may seem to be a blessing for the team responsible for building it, but it produces a lack of clarity that is actually quite detrimental – and costly. How costly?  According to an article written for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), avoidable errors in software design waste billions per year. Some of the more egregious examples include a $400 million purchasing system abandoned by Ford (2004), $3.45 billion tax-credit overpayment by the UK Inland Revenue (2004-2005), and the explosion of a $350 million rocket by Arianespace (1996). In fact, claims IEEE, the total estimated yearly cost for faulty software is enough to “…launch the space shuttle 100 times, build and deploy the entire 24-sattellite Global Positioning System, and develop the Boeing 777 from scratch – and still have a few billion left over.” The scope of the losses is difficult to put into context when accustomed to considerably smaller budgets for digital projects, but since digital marketing consumes 17% of a typical marketing budget for the year, it had better not be wasted. Regardless of how meticulously it was conceived, no effort is without risk. However, the IEEE study suggests twelve ways to mitigate that risk. Two of them deserve special attention: Set and document realistic and meaningful project goals, and Craft well designed project requirements. Think about that for a moment. Two of the major reasons software projects fail (and a website is a form of software) – costing billions to the organizations who initiate them (passed on to everyone else through higher prices, taxes, or debt) – have to do with the act of defining the thing the team is building. Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik (Web Analytics an Hour a Day, Web Analytics 2.0) put it this way:  “The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.”  The problem, more often than not, isn’t the lack of a definition, but an abundance of them. To make sure your team working toward the same end, your company needs a we[...]



Getting Them to Click: Information Foraging in the Wild

2014-01-02T11:15:09-06:00

In spite of traditional marketers’ best efforts over the years to influence human behavior, mind control is still thankfully beyond our reach. But getting people to do what they ought to do in the wild doesn’t require mind control any...In spite of traditional marketers’ best efforts over the years to influence human behavior, mind control is still thankfully beyond our reach. But getting people to do what they ought to do in the wild doesn’t require mind control any more than getting a lion to chase a gazelle does. All you need to know is what they’re looking for and provide a clear trail to their prey. The lion provides the appetite. That’s the basis of a theory developed by a couple of researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center in the early 90s. They postulated that people’s information-seeking behaviors are analogous to the food-seeking behaviors of animals. Put simply, we subconsciously perform a cost-benefit analysis when we are seeking information with the goal of expending as little energy as necessary to get it. People are ruthless when they’re on the hunt for information. Depending on the goodwill they have stored up with you, they might not stick around long to find out whether they can find it with you. This demonstrated lack of patience forces us to look at visits from a different perspective. An undisciplined obsession with clickstream analytics has given many companies the wrong idea. More pageviews and time on site are good things, right? Well, maybe, maybe not, and there lies the rub. We don’t know. If your visiting informavores are jumping from page to page because they lost the scent of their prey, then more time on site or more pageviews are undesirable. However, if they are confidently creeping closer and closer to their hunt, then a higher pageview count may be, in fact, desirable. In reality, the real brand goal—for any brand—is not typically to keep visitors on your site longer, it’s to increase the audience’s storage of goodwill, which will give them the sort of confidence that you want them to have in your brand: that you can provide them what they’re looking for, even if their immediate experience tells them otherwise.  So how do you make your website appealing to these starving information hunters? The core principles are pretty simple: Make something they want to consume. Make sure it is easy to catch. This brings us to two key aspects to finding information, which are information scent and mental models. Information Scent Information scent in user experience design is the extent to which a given thing accurately communicates its function and the information the author intended to communicate. That sounds pretty academic, but think of your web visitor as a predator who is sniffing for clues that might lead it to its desired target. If the scent gets stronger, they will keep pursuing. If it gets weaker, they either change course or abandon the pursuit altogether. Information scent has applications beyond the digital realm. Think of the last time you were at a door and you pulled when it was push only. The “Push” sign was right in front of you, yet you still pulled. Why? The door’s interface (handles) communicated “pull” more strongly than the word communicated “push.” Donald Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, put it this way:  “When a device as simple as a door has to come with an instruction manual—even an one-word manual—then it is a failure, poorly designed.” The same is true of digital interfaces. Your average visitor in a mass-consumer market won’t stick around long enough to learn a simple interface, much less a complicated one. Your audience shouldn’t have to learn it at all. It should just work the way they expect it to work. A strong information scent will help your visitors get from Point A to Point B with little effort. Mental Models Where do people get their expectations about ho[...]



But what if they leave my site?!

2013-11-05T17:50:16-06:00

Small- to mid-sized companies may have a heck of a time getting attention. Because of their size, they likely don't have the resources to afford integrated, enterprise-level solutions, and therefore rely on third parties to fulfill certain functions in a...

Small- to mid-sized companies may have a heck of a time getting attention. Because of their size, they likely don't have the resources to afford integrated, enterprise-level solutions, and therefore rely on third parties to fulfill certain functions in a potential customer's web experience. These third party solutions may, in the short term, take users to a different domain or subdomain. They may or may not include:

  • eCommerce storefront
  • Loyalty programs
  • Application process

And small- to mid-sized companies aren't alone. Even larger companies looking to be efficient with their budgets may run a trial program and hope to curtail some of the up-front development costs by leaning on the companies that specialize in these sorts of things. 

So the question inevitably arises -- When people try to access these services, should we open a new window/tab, or should we direct them to the service in the same window/tab?

Marketing professionals tend to think that they lose something if the user navigates away from their site. Over the years, they've learned to focus on the wrong things.

Let's go ahead and put that baby to rest. People will leave your site. They will always leave your site. In fact, they'll probably spend most of their time on sites other than yours. Now relax. And focus instead on delighting your customer. 

If you really think there is an opportunity to delight your users by increasing their pageviews and time on site (and there may be), give them something that delights them. Don't annoy them by making it difficult to manage their windows and tabs.

How annoying is it? In my years of observing and moderating usability studies, I've met people who have expressed...

  • ...satisfaction that a link opened in the same window
  • ...satisfaction that a link opened in a new window
  • ...disappointment that a link opened in a new window

What I've never once seen is someone who has expressed disappointment that a link opened in the same window. 

Ultimately, how you handle outside links depends on a number of factors that I won't go into here, but don't automatically assume that linking them off is going to harm your brand. - Cam Beck @cambeck

 

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Hobby Lobby: The Intersection of Belief and Business

2013-10-03T12:18:01-05:00

Hobby Lobby finds itself amidst controversy again this year when, allegedly, some frontline workers expressed some sort of rejection of or indifference towards the business of Jews. I've never looked into it, but I can imagine that Hobby Lobby probably...

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Hobby Lobby finds itself amidst controversy again this year when, allegedly, some frontline workers expressed some sort of rejection of or indifference towards the business of Jews. 

I've never looked into it, but I can imagine that Hobby Lobby probably attracts people who identify as Christian, just by reputation of the company. However, I wonder if there is a corporate culture that endeavors to teach how Christian principles meet everyday management and interaction with non-Christians. The Bible tells Christians to spread the Good News to all nations, but even as a company that (probably) attracts Christians, what mechanisms do they put in place to provide spiritual guidance to their workers to do that? How does that intersect with what they lawfully can do?

(As far as I know, Hobby Lobby does not discriminate against people for unlawful reasons. The above is conjecture concerning who they probably attract.)

The failure of Hobby Lobby in this case isn't about selling things for Hanukkah -- lots of companies don't sell Hanukkah stuff -- it's about teaching its people how to interact with honest, hardworking people, willing to spend money, who have a simple, unassuming question -- or even those who set out to trap or embarrass them.

The corporate office seems to "get" that the original interaction was flawed. Now we get to see what they do about it.

Photo credit: Fan of Retail 

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The Google Encryption Dilemma

2013-09-27T10:13:43-05:00

If you've been only moderately interested in looking at your search reports in Omniture, Google Analytics, or whatever tracking software you're using for your website, you've probably noticed an alarming growth in the number of referring search keywords that are...If you've been only moderately interested in looking at your search reports in Omniture, Google Analytics, or whatever tracking software you're using for your website, you've probably noticed an alarming growth in the number of referring search keywords that are (not provided) for you to see. If you're in this space heavily, you're probably well aware of it, and you may be  a bit miffed at Google for taking away these insights from you. I've also come to enjoy the sorts of insights made available by this data, but take some comfort knowing that the sky is not falling. Your jobs just got a little more interesting. Why did Google do it? Folks are saying it is a response to being dinged in the public arena for cooperating with NSA's prism program to track what people are doing online.  If you understand how we actually get our data in Google Analytics, you know this explanation is curious. Excepting third-party CRM applications, we can't actually see who is searching. In Google Analytics, we can only see what they are doing in the aggregate, once they get to our site. Why can't Google send the aggregate data as they have been, so we can see which keywords are having the greatest success, so that we can optimize our site for the better-performing keywords? Happily for us, there is a solution, which unfortunately means more specialization and attention than before, with fewer actionable insights. But it isn't nothing. Note for beginners: Always have a Google Analytics profile with no filters applied. If you don't know what this means, I recommend picking up the excellent Avinash Kaushik's Web Analytics 2.0. I may address this at a later date, but he's your man, if you want to learn how to do this stuff. Essentially, you have to "trick" Google Analytics to tell you what landing pages people are arriving at, when you're examining keywords from Organic Search. This doesn't tell you the keyword, but you see where they're going. Here's an excellent tutorial by Kiss Metrics that explains how this is done. Also, install Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you can see which keywords are bringing people to your site. Even the "encrypted" ones (See? Was that so hard, Google?). What you can't see is what they did when they arrived at your site. Examine your paid search performance to use as a proxy for organic search. In this case, Google isn't really telling you what people did, they're telling you what you're paying them for. Continue your keyword research using whatever you've been using to try to identify opportunities for content development and writing.  Rinse and repeat. So what's coming? I have no idea. It's crossed my mind, however, that either Google is leveraging this unnecessary move in the name of a specious allegience to "privacy" to sell more stuff -- either more AdWords, its DoubleClick advertising platform, or access to Google Analytics premium -- meaning free access to Google Analytics basic gravy train would be on the way out (Hopefully a lower-cost option than GA Premium or Omniture, or else smaller companies just wouldn't be able to afford it). Until that happens, the sky is not falling. And if it does, it will be time for smaller companies to look at other solutions. It's always good to be prepared. [...]



Guest Post: Why Mobile First is the New Present and Future

2013-08-15T11:42:36-05:00

Fun Facts: New mobile device purchase/usage is growing 4x as fast as new people Every Day: 371,000 Babies are born 500,000 iOS devices are sold 700,000 Android devices are activated 200,000 Nokia devices are used for the first time 143,000...Fun Facts:  New mobile device purchase/usage is growing 4x as fast as new people Every Day: 371,000 Babies are born500,000 iOS devices are sold700,000 Android devices are activated200,000 Nokia devices are used for the first time143,000 Blackberry smartphones are purchased_______________________________________________________________________1.45M devices vs. 371,000 babies per day About 25% of websites are viewed exclusively on mobile devices The Mobile First approach to concepting, designing, and developing responsive websites is a relatively new concept that has received a lot of attention and support lately as the primary approach to handling responsive websites.  Since being first introduced by Luke Wroblewski more than four years ago, then radically adopted by Google in 2010, Mobile First has lately been making a strong case for becoming the new norm moving forward. It was one of the main focuses at this years Adobe MAX conference and still gaining momentum as mobile internet usage rapidly increases.  Benefits, Opportunities, and Hurdles From a design and UX perspective, a Mobile First approach forces us to to focus on what's really important.  Graceful degradation, browser to mobile, has us think of these larger-scale, oftentimes much more robust experiences, as a starting point - leaving us with the afterthought, "Okay, so how does this scale down for the mobile users." Many times there are problems with browser functionality that just don't translate well to touch screen devices.  With Mobile First, "Smaller screen size force designers to eliminate the irrelevant and unhelpful aspects of their design." It can really even been seen as a creative exercise to order content and graphic elements by importance and relevance before expanding creativity to larger, more robust screens - strategically streamlining only essential content. From a development perspective, more and more frameworks are coming out or releasing new versions that are embracing the Mobile First approach - emphasizing how 'lightweight' they are starting at the base mobile screen. A problem with Graceful Degradation is that the elements are hidden for smaller screens but often loaded anyways - increasing HTTP requests and load times. Progressive enhancement, Mobile First, loads only the most basic elements and styles first and adds to those as the browser size increases - making mobile sites much more lightweight and letting users 'often have load times reduced by 30% - 40%.' Not the mention that the CSS styling from this approach results in smaller, more maintainable and easier-to-read code. This approach would also make it easier to incorporate specific assets and styles for high resolution retina-ready screens and devices as well by detecting browsers by whether their pixel aspect ratio is above 1.5 or not. . It would not further weigh down smaller resolutions and at the same time provide retina users a better experience. While this all sounds well and good on paper, it does come with a few hurdles. It can be a little weird to think of laying out an entire website starting on a 360px wide canvas. Creativity may seem very constrained, especially when having to consider, 'Wait, how do you even do that on a phone.' It's certainly the reverse way we're accustomed to approaching responsive websites, but it's a concept that probably isn't going away any time soon and has potential benefits that seem to outweigh the initial awkwardness of starting small.  If our users are continuing to get their internet content from mobile first, shouldn't that be where we start too? - Damon Carlstrom[...]



This Outsourced Life

2013-04-05T15:46:34-05:00

According to Quartz, experts predict that 40% of America's workforce will be freelancers by 2020. Of course, this is barring the government doing anything to compensate for this trend by -- for instance -- barring companies from hiring contract workers...According to Quartz, experts predict that 40% of America's workforce will be freelancers by 2020. Of course, this is barring the government doing anything to compensate for this trend by -- for instance -- barring companies from hiring contract workers instead of part-time employees, or by forcing them to hire a greater percentage of their worforce as full-time. This would be a collossal mistake. In fact, the current trend toward freelancing is largely representative of the market's adjustment to government mandates on employers.  How? Let's take a look. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (A.K.A. "Obamacare"), when in full effect, every person will be required to have "health insurance." How they are mandated to pay for that insurance is quite a tangled web, but the end result is that it becomes more expensive to keep a full-time staff onhand. Companies under 50 employees have to think long and hard about the implications of growing beyond 50 employees in a manner commensurate with the risk they're willing to take, simply because they're opening themselves up to higher expenses in penalties or fees. So what do they do? They have a few options available. They can just not hire that 50th employee and have everyone else work longer hours They can reduce the number of full-time employees and rely on a number of part-time employees (I've heard fast food restaurants already do this) They can farm out much of their work to contractors instead of employees They can hire the extra employees and assume the associated costs There is nothing "ideal" about any of these scenarios. Each one has an associated benefit and a cost. And here's another newsflash for people who want to tell the companies which one of them they have to pick: You don't know all of their businesses, and therefore you don't know which one they can afford to do and which one they can't.  When economists talk about the cost of labor, it tends to make workers seem like a commodity. And in economic terms, they may be, but we risk desensitizing ourselves to the very uniquely human needs, hopes and dreams that go along with the people who are affected by these policies. However, this applies both to the workers as well as the people who own and manage the companies that this affects.  Attempts to demonize companies for doing the best they can under the macroeconomic climate they probably had no hand in creating may win votes for certain politicians, but it is counterproductive to the goals of reaching full employment and increasing prosperity for the whole of the people.  Postscript:It's also important to consider the other effects of the increased cost of living such mandates require. This started long ago, but the new law now requires younger people to subsidize the cost of insuring older people, and healthier people to subsidize the care for less healthy people, average families can ill-afford to have only one working parent, which means two-parent families also have to outsource the raising and caring for their children, irrespective of what they would otherwise be capable of doing if only these requirements were never handed down from the rulers on Mount Washington. Related articles Companies cut hours of full-time employees to avoid providing health care under new rules Worse than the Great Depression: Mass Unemployment, 100 Million Americans Live in Poverty Turning Outsourcing into Near-Shoring Even small companies are outsourcing [...]