Aug 15, 2006

Entrepreneurs/ Product Managers – Realizing the importance of ease of use in increasing customer adoption

Happened to meet an entrepreneur on a recent flight. We got talking about work and the topic went on to his business. He gave some information on his product which was basically storage solutions. After which I asked him as to how he would differentiate it from the other products in the market.

This was his reply: The average time taken for data recovery using his product would be a whopping 400% less than the market product. How: Ease of use?

The dude has completely concealed the technical complexity of the product and the interface is a ridiculously simple process that requires absolutely zilch in terms of effort spent by end users in learning the solution. Therefore, instead of the features lists/technologies, if Entrepreneurs / Product managers could focus on the learnability and ease of use of the product, their products would have a greater chance of customer adoption.

Bank-visit causes pain in the neck(Importance of information design in physical spaces)

Information design is not only limited to the software screens that we design, it has to be designed keeping in mind the users, physical environment and ergonomics as well.

I recently visited a bank after a very long time. After ATM’s, visits to banks have become very rare. The cash withdrawal limit in ATM's forced me to do so.
Entered the bank and found a receptive amd smiling clerk who pointed out to a token dispenser. So far so good.

The token dispenser had approximately eight different buttons with pretty self descriptive labels against them. For e.g.: press here incase of cash withdrawal above 50,000.

Once you press the button, you get a token slip with a number. This experience is fine till here. Now the experience degrades and becomes a pain in the neck. Literally.

There are a row of chairs and one is expected to await your turn till a display TV panel placed very close to seating area, flashes your number. The only problem is that the TV panel is at a height of 12 feet. This is the most idiotic case of bad ergonomics you sit at a level of 2.5 feet and have to literally strain your neck to see whether your number has come. And to make things worse, the only indicator that the number has changed is a beep. So that means you will always look up whenever there is a sound regardless of the sequence of the numbers displayed.

This was very discomforting and left me with a pain in the neck. What does this say about the bank’s concern for giving the customer a pleasant experience? Or are they completely clueless? I wonder whether I could sue if I faced a similar experience in the US:-)

Bad usability affects self esteem!

What should companies know when they market poorly designed products is that bad usability goes beyond mere dissatisfaction n with your product. It affects your user’s self esteem.

Let me share an incident with you.

Our cable guy came to our house with a set-top gizmo. He installed and explained the operations and set up to my mother. Needless to say, she understood the procedures then, but the very next day when a procedure had to be repeated, she did not have a clue.

To add insult to the injury, the cable guy made a grandiose and a condescending statement there was no problem with the box, it was only a lack of understanding on her part. This got her, a normally docile lady, furious. This statement had an impact on her self esteem and that made her aggressive

The rule of usability s that if your user has problems with the learnability and the memorability of the product, there is something wrong with the product and not the user.

Aug 12, 2006

Monica-the Closet Information Architect

Love friends and never tire seeing re-runs of the same. The more I see Monica, the more I am convinced that she is a closet information architect.

Let’s start with her natural affinity (or fetish) for packing. Have you ever seen the way she lists items in categories. This goes on and on like this blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and more blah! It is hilarious, and shows her compulsive obsessive behavior for listing and categorizing. Then comes the organizing items in their natural (to her) respective categories

Another re-run recently has Joey and chandler discussing about Monica’s categorization of towels of different textures, feels, etc. Soft, semi soft, hard, and so forth

But, the recent trends in IA would not have Monica happy at all. Yes, I am talking about Folksonomy (tagging, where users themselves categorize pages, or photos, etc, like flickr etc.)

Sacre blue, me myself and I (Monica) can be the only one who can categorize… this is a specialist’s job. Do not leave categorization to the plebeians. How can they even think of such a thing…who will love me if everyone does the same thing..:-(

This is a complete absurd post. Do not take it seriously. Chill!!

Any more points on the IA in Monica would be welcome