Alt+Tabs of an Open Mind

Icon

Mobile Banking in Delhi!

Just read an article in The Economic Times about money transactions being tested by aam-junta through mobile phones.
The article however, does not mention details about payment gateways and what are the participating operators and banks doing for trust issues and security concerns.
If the scenario mentioned below is true, then this could be the next revolution for the great Indian masses.

Some excerpts-

“A pilot phase has already been successful between HDFC and Bharti Airtel in West Delhi. Chemist shops, general stores, residents, NGOs, anybody can register to become an authorized outlet. ET spent a day with one such outlet – Gupta Medicals doubling as an authorized mobile banking outlet in West Delhi to find out how the system works.


A customer (Kamla) comes to the shop in immediate need of Rs 200. She comes to the outlet and asks for withdrawal from her mobile bank account. Sumit Gupta, the outlet owner SMSes from Kamla’s mobile phone the following code – “*543*123*(the outlet’s mobile number)*200*Kamla’s 10-digit Pin code#”. He sends the SMS to 54321. Instantly, Rs 200 get deposited into the outlet’s account withdrawn from Kamla’s HDFC account. Mr Gupta hands over Rs 200 to Kamla with which she goes and buys fresh flowers for garlands. The transaction takes less than five minutes.

In order to confirm the transaction, HDFC bank sends an SMS to Kamla’s phone: – “Balance in your HDFC account as of 3/7/2008 is INR 900.” Kamla’s account is a no frills account. To graduate to a savings bank account she will have to submit additional documents.

With Mobile Money Transfer (MMT), the user can transfer funds to a mobile number, that is registered with mChek with a valid VISA card or to any 16digit VISA card number in the country. About Rs 20 is charged for a card-to-card transfer.

The SMS receipt can also be treated as a legal document under the new IT Act. Overall, while operators seem gung-ho on the service, it remains to be seen how much popularity mobile banking will find amongst India’s 270 million odd mobile subscribers and whether it will encourage 90% of the population which uses no bank to open a bank account.”

You can also read the full article.

Filed under: Copy+Paste, Indian

Physical Hyperlinks

Physical Hyperlinks

“Cell phones and bar codes are beginning to turn the offline world into an Internet. First you put a high-density bar code on any object to encode information about it, including audio or video. Then you put software in a cell phone so it can scan bar codes and get the information.

This is happening in Asia, and just beginning in the United States. You can point your phone at a food item and get nutritional information. You can point it at a billboard to download a movie trailer. You can scan a printed newspaper article and watch a bar-code-linked video on your phone, or point your phone at a house for-sale sign and get the real-estate agent’s details.

On the upside, this means the speed and convenience of cyberspace will soon pervade the physical world. On the downside, the invasiveness and din of cyberspace will come with them.”

How Its done?


“QR Codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or just about any object that a user might need information about. A user having a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL.”

Filed under: Copy+Paste

‘Good for the Soul’

With iPod’s fifth birthday around the corner, Steve Jobs discusses the MP3 player’s design, the cool factor and the impact on how we listen to music.

By Steven Levy

Oct. 14, 2006 – Oct. 23 marks the fifth anniversary of Apple’s iPod. CEO Steve Jobs reflected with NEWSWEEK’s Steven Levy (author of “The Perfect Thing,” a book about the iPod out this month) about the past, present and future of the device that changed Apple—and the world.

NEWSWEEK: During the iPod’s development process did you get a sense of how big it would become?
Steve Jobs: The way you can tell that you’re onto something interesting is if everybody who knows about the project wants one themselves, if they can’t wait to go out and open up their own wallets to buy one. That was clearly the case with the iPod. Everybody on the team wanted one.

Other companies had already tried to make a hard disk drive music player. Why did Apple get it right?
We had the hardware expertise, the industrial design expertise and the software expertise, including iTunes. One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.

What was the design lesson of the iPod?
Look at the design of a lot of consumer products—they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.

Some people say that iPod might lose its cache because it’s too popular—how can it be cool when Dick Cheney and Queen Elizabeth have one?
That’s like saying you don’t want to kiss your lover’s lips because everyone has lips. It doesn’t make any sense. We don’t strive to appear cool. We just try to make the best products we can. And if they are cool, well, that’s great.

What products, maybe outside technology, do you consider cool?
I like things that do the job and kind of disappear into my life. Like Levis. They just kind of get faded and disappear, and you don’t think about it much. If you look, you appreciate the design, but you feel something from them, too. A lot of quality is communicated through a feeling that people have. They don’t understand exactly why, but they know that a lot of care and love was put into the designing of the product.

Let’s talk about the iTunes store. How did you get the record labels, which had been resisting digital music, to sign up?
It was a process over 18 months. We got to know these folks and we made a series of predictions that a lot of things they were trying would fail. Then they went and tried them, and they all failed, for the reasons that we had predicted. We kept coming back to visit them every month or two, and they started to believe that we might actually have some insight into this, and our credibility grew with them to the point where they were willing to take a chance with us. Now, remember, it was initially just on the Mac, so one of the arguments that we used was, “If we’re completely wrong and you completely screw up the entire music market for Mac owners, the sandbox is small enough that you really won’t damage the overall music industry very much.” That was one instance where Macintosh’s [small] market share helped us. Then about six months later we were able to successfully persuade them to take down the barriers and let us move it out to the whole market.

Now people at some labels think that iTunes, with its dominant market share has too much power.
We’ve never once gone to them and asked them to lower their prices.

No, but you’ve asked them not to raise their prices, when some of them wanted to.
Our core initial strategy on the store was that if you want to stop piracy, the way to stop it is by competing with it, by offering a better product at a fair price. In essence, we would make a deal with people. If they would pay a fair price, we would give them a better product and they would stop being pirates. And it worked. If we go back now and we raise prices—this is what we told the record companies last year—we will be violating that implicit deal. Many [users] will say, “I knew it all along that the music companies were gonna screw me, and now they’re screwing me.” And they would never buy anything from iTunes again.

Do you think that it’s fair to the customer that the songs they buy from Apple will only work on iTunes and the iPod?
Well, they knew that all along.

At one point you were saying, “When our customers demand it, that’s when we’ll consider interoperability.”
Nobody’s ever demanded it. People know up front that when they buy music from the iTunes music store it plays on iPods, and so we’re not trying to hide anything there.

Microsoft has announced its new iPod competitor, Zune. It says that this device is all about building communities. Are you worried?
In a word, no. I’ve seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.

IPods now have video, games, audio books and podcasts. Will iPods always be about the music?
Who knows? But it’s hard to imagine that music is not the epicenter of the iPod, for a long, long, long, long, long time. I was very lucky to grow up in a time when music really mattered. It wasn’t just something in the background; it really mattered to a generation of kids growing up. It really changed the world. I think that music faded in importance for a while, and the iPod has helped to bring music back into people’s lives in a really meaningful way. Music is so deep within all of us, but it’s easy to go for a day or a week or a month or a year without really listening to music. And the iPod has changed that for tens of millions of people, and that makes me really happy, because I think music is good for the soul.


© 2006 MSNBC.com

Filed under: Copy+Paste, Inspiring

Cameraphone Photography

People are not in a habit to see an opportunity to click photos in cameraphones. To give them something so that whenever they see an interesting thing, their brains tell them – “let me snap it”. There are lots of applications which lets you share photos quickly, but no applications which makes you ‘want’ to click photos.

Cameraphones are not It happens so often that a moment looks great when you’re there personally but it loses its specialty when seen via a photo.

JAPAN Cameraphone culture – Phone cameras since 2000
===================

As the mundane is elevated to a photographic object, the everyday is now the site of potential news and visual archiving.

“In comparison to the traditional camera, which gets trotted out for special excursions and events … camera phones capture the more fleeting and unexpected moments.”

USES
====

Purikura Photography

User Scenarios- An Emerging Thumb Culture

http://web-jpn.org/trends01/article/030110fea_r.html

Strange Usage Scenarios- Clicking at a Funeral

http://us.gizmodo.com/gadgets/cellphones/the-latest-cameraphone-trend-funerals-155345.php

Comments to the post

> “This is what makes cultures different. My grandfather-in-law’s funeral was EXTREMELY well documented by a Japanese fellow (friend of his from long ago) who walked all over taking pictures (LOTS of pictures, per stereotype) during the service and at the graveside. Some people thought it was tacky, but they also appreciated seeing the pictures (of the deceased and of the family who gathered) afterwards…”

> “Ive actually taken photos at a funeral before with my cell phone. It was the only camera I had handy at the time and I thought it was much more respectful than pulling out the good ol 5.1 megapixel digicam.”

visual note taking. For example, wesaw one user snapping a photo of a job advertisement poster and another taking a picture
of the titles of some books she intended to track down in the library
This kind of visual note taking is relatively infrequent among the cases we recorded.
When they are no longer needed, these kinds of photos tend to get erased from memory.

“I thought if I snapped it I might remember it just a little later.”

“I took it thinking I would show my mom. My friend’s appearance really changed compared to elementary school.”

PROBLEMS
=======

“No matter what the technology, there’ll always be people who don’t mind their manners.”
Mizuko Ito, an expert on mobile phone culture at Keio University in Tokyo

“Digital shoplifting” is another concern.

“Sending and sharing pictures is a universal human trait so just making it easy for people to send pictures, and having handsets that take good pictures, that’s really the key. We’re only going to see that trend accelerate in the future.”
Matthew Nicholson of Japanese mobile firm Jphone

Attitude of the cameraphone owner
“personal awareness, persistent alertness to the visually newsworthy”

Filed under: Copy+Paste

Cell Sites

* There are over 70,000 cell sites all across the country
* Bharti Airtel has over 25,000 cell sites
* Reliance Communications has over 20,000 cell sites
* Setting up of a cell site costs around Rs 30 lakh
* Operating costs varies between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per site, depending on the rents in cities

Filed under: Copy+Paste

Identifying Product Opportunities

Inside Lenovo’s Design Quest
ZIBA Design’s search for the soul of the Chinese consumer

It doesn’t get better than this: the research from ZIBA Design for China’s biggest computer company, Lenovo. Managers striving to focus on the “fuzzy front end” of the innovation process should take note. At a time when you are launching all manner of ethnographic studies, ZIBA’s consumer research for Lenovo is among the best of its breed. It won a 2006 gold Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) from the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Lenovo faces fierce competition in its Chinese home market from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ), Dell (DELL ), and IBM (IBM ), which compete on price and status. Known for its innovative PCs, Lenovo wants to expand its lead in innovation and turned to ZIBA to help. We present here ZIBA’s raw consumer research, excerpted from the 2006 IDEA entry kit.

Find the Target Consumer: Innovate for Them Lenovo asked us to help them define product opportunities for their consumer divisions in desktop, notebook, and cellular so they could better compete on meaning and value. We needed to create an approach that captured the soul of the Chinese consumer and inspired Lenovo’s design teams. We needed to create new research tools to find out which design elements have meaning and value for specific groups of Chinese consumers. We provided Lenovo with a 36-month strategic product plan for each of its three consumer technology platforms. Because we were building a strategy, our design research had to create targets for idea generation and concept refinement.

Search for the Soul To create product experiences that connect with China’s consumers, the team needed to understand three cultures: China, users, and products. To build these connections, the team developed an approach called “Search for the Soul,” which integrates immersive experience (live-the-life), rapid ethnography, and method acting to uncover latent needs and wants.

Turn Insights into Experiences By bringing together a mixed group of social scientists, design strategists, and designers, we made sure our insights and ideas stayed aligned. Our design anthropologists uncovered the behavioral, sensory, and reminiscent needs of Chinese consumers. Design strategists packaged consumer insights for the design team, stressed the need for differentiation with competing products, and demanded relevance to the Lenovo brand. Designers worked closely with strategists to visualize the potential of every new product direction and to ensure that consumer insights were captured in exciting new designs.

Culture Starts Now Search for the Soul included jump-starting cultural immersion even before the team left for China. We studied the Chinese billboards and had the client send rock, pop, classical, and traditional Chinese music, which blasted in the war room. A professor of Chinese history was brought in to lecture on key cultural differences between the U.S and China. The team collected Chinese objects of desire — wallets, lighters, and cell-phone holders — and assessed their color, material, and finish properties. To connect with popular culture and messaging, we hired a Chinese exchange student to help interpret lifestyle and technology magazine articles and advertisements.

Live the Life There is no substitute for being there. The team split into two smaller groups, and both spent four weeks immersed in three different regions in China. Design anthropologists, design strategists, and industrial designers talked on cell phones as they commuted on bicycle with Beijing workers. They ate from street carts and dined on pig brain and pigeon in large banquet halls. They walked the ancient Hutong alleyways and sang late at night in karaoke bars. Observations and issues about use behaviors outside of the home were noted as the team rode buses and trains, wrote text messages in nightclubs, and used notebook PCs in Starbucks (SBUX ). Visual inspiration was drawn from fashion boutiques and electronics stores, from traditional gardens and modern architecture.

Find the Target The team leveraged demographic information from Lenovo on desktop PC, notebook, and cell-phone consumers. The team had to target the right psychographic group as well, given that Lenovo was looking to create platforms that would not just create buzz and die with early adopters but would achieve mass-market adoption and enhance brand image. The team developed psychographic screening criteria to target the “fast followers,” who are the first consumers to buy based on benefit rather than newness.

Home Visits Rapid ethnographies were conducted in users’ homes. The team toured areas of work, relaxation, sanctuary, and socializing in each household. We went into closets and gained an understanding of users’ fashion tastes. We hired a native interpreter. Nonverbal, visually engaging tools helped users communicate more freely, revealing thoughts and emotions.

To understand how users live and use technology, we developed an approach that let us squeeze two days of observation into two hours. Prior to the interviews, participants were given a camera, a glue stick, and two poster boards. We asked them to photo-document a weekday and weekend or leisure day, giving special attention to moments when they integrated technology into their routine. These visual time lines let us into their daily behaviors and emotions.

To identify opportunities for product integration (for example, a laptop that’s also a TV), we created a tool called MatchMaker. MatchMaker puts people in a defined-use scenario and lets them explore which products (depicted as icons) they would use in particular circumstances. When users chose multiple devices, MatchMaker helped us identify opportunities for convergent devices.

We developed a concept-building tool to define and understand what people want in terms of features and benefits. Features were grouped into categories such as space-saving, entertainment, input, and communication. Our goal was to uncover why users gravitate to certain categories and features.

After each rapid ethnography, the team used a brief download session to check their impressions against the client’s understanding of Chinese culture. This approach helped our client understand our generative and qualitative methods, and it helped us improve our knowledge of Chinese culture.

Cultural Immersion Through Images In China, the team collected images of furniture, cosmetics, fashion accessories, cars, and architecture. Back in the U.S., we launched a Web-based visual study with 400 Chinese consumers (100 for each of four newly identified consumer segments) to help inform the direction for the products’ visual expressions. We cropped the images so users would focus on the forms and details themselves rather than on associations with the brand or actual use of a recognizable object. The study asked users to match the diverse forms, details, patterns, and colors to the desired product attributes that had been identified for their particular user group. The study identified patterns in how Chinese consumers visually interpret product attributes.

Benefits, Not Features The goal of the evaluation was to determine how design could benefit Chinese consumers. The goal was not to determine a single direction but to identify which design elements are valuable. One-on-one qualitative evaluations were conducted with 40 consumers (10 per segment). The team identified four key benefits that people wanted from technology products. For example, we asked each user to rank the importance of “connecting with my friends” vs. “staying up on the latest business trends.” Making reference to models and sketches, the participants chose those concepts that best matched the benefits they sought and the design details that were driving their impressions.

Cultural Insight We learned that consumers in China generally do not make impulse purchases of large items. Rather, making large purchases (such as technology products) is a highly involved and researched decision-making process. The team used this knowledge to help elicit detailed feedback on product concepts. By asking consumers which concept they would be most interested in purchasing, then asking which design elements contributed to their positive or negative ranking, the team got a second read on how the concepts delivered benefits through different design configurations.

Find Visual Gaps in a Saturated Market The team first tried mapping Lenovo’s and its competitors’ offerings on a two-by-two matrix, but this approach failed. Competitive desktops, notebooks, and cell phones, in particular, had run the gamut of visual expressions. The team switched lenses and instead developed a new tool for visual analysis: MediaMapping. Research in China revealed that users see value in convergent devices (desktop PCs, notebooks, and cell phones) for their ability to help them perform specific media activities, such as gaming, photography, watching videos, and reading. MediaMapping allowed our team to identify visual cues that current Lenovo and competitive offerings were using to communicate proficiency in a particular media activity.

Move from Everyday People to Aspirational Tribes. Innovate for Their Needs When the team returned to the war room, they distilled the visual worksheets, photographs, and observations from each interview into a single Ethnography Inspiration Sheet. These sheets use pictures and captions to highlight emotionally the key needs of each user group and to expose the top observations and challenges each user faced. The Ethnography Inspiration Sheets were bound for the client, to give a raw, visceral view into the current market.

To connect emotionally with consumers, you can’t just design to their current baseline needs — you also need to connect with their aspirations. Using the Inspiration Sheets as the foundation, the team began to identify the aspirations, behaviors, and needs of distinct clusters. These clusters became known as “technology tribes.”

The five technology tribes identified were: Social Butterflies, Relationship Builders, Upward Maximizers, Deep Immersers, and Conspicuous Collectors. Each of these groups has vastly different needs, ranging from the need to connect to a broad social network (Social Butterflies) to the desire to seek escape through fantasy and immersion (Deep Immersers). These profiles gave us a creative springboard for concept generation and filters for evaluating concept relevance. Our creative team worked with Lenovo to gauge the size of each market segment.

To drive concept generation, the team used method-acting techniques to understand how, for example, a Social Butterfly would use a cell phone compared with how a Deep Immerser or a Relationship Builder would do so. Search for the Soul led to a clear understanding of who Lenovo’s target consumers ought to be (four primary tech tribes: Social Butterflies, Relationship Builders, Upward Maximizers, and Deep Immersers) and laid the groundwork to create product-line strategies for Lenovo’s desktop, notebook, and cellular platforms.

Deliver Actionable Insight The purpose of the evaluation was not to select a single product for each platform but to build insight into how users read benefits. The insights had to be actionable for the design team. We emphasized the need to communicate insights in the context of design elements. The result was a strategy that uses research-based insight to communicate visually the desired product benefits. If the team and the client wanted to enable Deep Immersers to escape into immersive fantasy games on their cell phones, the deliverable highlighted the appropriate design elements. Each concept was evaluated for its ability to communicate benefits to the consumer.

Understand, Then Innovate Our research produced a desktop PC for Deep Immersers, a notebook/tablet PC for Relationship Builders, and a cell phone for Upward Maximizers. The products address the unique needs of specialized customer tribes. The modularity of the multimedia desktop PC enables users to easily modify and upgrade their systems. The notebook/tablet PC makes sharing content with friends easy for Relationship Builders. The cell phone has a PDA and camera, giving Upward Maximizers the chance to multitask.

The definition of rich, psychographic tribes gave Lenovo’s senior management and marketing teams a common language and a common vision of the future. Our research gave them a defined segment map (based on behavior, attitudes, and values) to guide the development of appropriate products for target consumers. Future product lines are now organized around the needs of specific “tech tribes.” Our research gave Lenovo an understanding of Western approaches to creativity and markets. Within months of the completion of this project in 2005, Lenovo cemented its commitment to high-value design by acquiring IBM’s PC (ThinkPad) business unit.

So that’s how great consumer research is done. Can your company match it?

Filed under: Case Studies, Copy+Paste

How Did They Make Google Calendar?

Google’s Formula for Product Development

Carl Sjogreen, who led the development of Google Calendar, provided a deep look into how Google develops products during a presentation at The Future of Web Apps Summit.  What follows is a play-by-play of his presentation, which is self explanatory.

The project started with the typical small Google group–one product manager (Sjogreen) and three engineers. The project was driven by customer feedback and internal interest in having a calendar, since it’s a close relative of email. Google also concluded that there wasn’t much innovation going on around calendars and nothing existing was “right.”

First things first…talk to real customers

  • It’s amazing how little it is done…talk to real customers, not Silicon Valley geek buddies
  • Speak to many people, sometimes even in their homes
  • Students, families, schools, working couples, PTA organizers
  • Tried to find a whole spectrum of different technical backgrounds
  • Keep probing–busy isn’t the same as ‘needs a calendar’–it turns out that students, for example, with regular schedules that don’t change often, are busy but not calendar challenged. Busy and variable time is the sweet spot.
  • Easy to share so you can see your whole life in one place
  • Key themes emerged

    • Calendars are necessary but a chore
    • Calendars are really personal and emotional
    • Calendar collaboration is just too hard

    We set out to build call that works for you.

    You need a vision, three or four things you have to get right, or it’s just a bunch of features

    The four things

    • Fast, visually appealing, and joyous to use
    • Drop-dead simple to get info into the calendar
    • More than boxes on a screen (reminders, invitations,  text messages on a phone, etc.)
    • Easy to share so you can see your whole life in one place, make it public, private or somewhere in between and see all their events in the context

    Designed for a consumer world where not everyone has a calendar (or one on the same system)

    • Open APIs (import and publish), allowing data to flow back and forth
    • Invitations for everyone–it has to work no matter what calendar you have

    Vision in hand start to build the product

    Lots of prototyping

    • Relatively easy to get a basic system up and running–the details are hard
    • Focused on getting interactions and the user model right before thinking about scale (a significant challenge for us)

    Internal use: Pros and cons

    • Got a ton of great feedback form other Googleers
    • Got interaction basics right and generated a lot of feature ideas
    • However, keep in mind that your early users might not be your target users
    • Look at feature requests through the appropriate lens

    Once we felt we had it mostly right, work on making it real

    • Backend infrastructure designed to scale
    • Front end/UI rewrite to pixel perfect mocks and static HTML
    • Doing all the hard parts (recurrences, parsing ical, API testing, interoperability, etc.)

    Find the right balance doing hard things that you don’t know if can do and the must-haves that take time

    Worked on our UI design in stages as well

    • Get the interactions down and try them out
    • Focus on the look and feel while engineers are making it real
    • Save the pixel pushing for when you know you have it right

    Launching

    Private betas are a good thing–even with all our internal testing, we learned a ton from testing with a small group of real users

    • Quick add improvements (being smart isn’t always best)
    • Underestimated the importance of import (such as calendar info from Yahoo and Outlook)
    • Fixed a bunch of issues with SMS alerts
    • Better support for small screens (screen density is the most important issue, and Google developers on 19-inch screens is the most common environment for calendar viewing)

    Launch day 4.12.06

    Flipped the switch, and didn’t sleep for the next 36 hours

    6 key insights that might be useful for your next product or company

    1. Easy is the most important feature

    • Always keep a close eye on the minimum feature set that most people will use
    • Product usage tracks directly to how easy a feature is to find and use
    • Figure out what you absolutely have to get right and relentlessly refine it  (redesigned the event page at least three times)

    Don’t spend too much time on the less important areas, know where you will get the most bang for the buck

    2. Know your real competition

    • Know what your competition does well
    • The real competition is paper calendars
    • 6 billion people who all something going on in their lives
    • 300 million use electronic desktop calendars,  mostly at work
    • 10 million Web calendar users
  • Clearly, the need to keep track of your time is being met through other means
  • How to beat paper

    • Non-tech and low-tech mechanisms are the way most people communicate and interact
    • Email vs. Evite
    • Notepad vs. Tada lists
    • The kitchen calendar vs. Google Calendar
  • Paper has a bunch of great advantages that you need to beat
    • Easy to carry with you
    • Doesn’t require boot time
    • Doesn’t require login

    Focus on removing the hurdles to adoption

    • Import, offline, mobile, etc
    • Mimic the flexibility of paper
  • Focus on what the Web can do that paper can’t do
    • Collabororation
    • Access from anywhere

    3. Visual design matters

    • Great Design = Usability + Visual Joy
    • Usabity is clearly essential, but visual design helps create the personal connections
    • If you are spending hours a day living in the product, it needs to feel good to you

    4. Build products for people who don’t want to use them

    • Not everyone who can benefit forn your service actually wants to use it–changing behavior and workflows is difficult
    • Need to make it as easy as possible for people to use your product with as little work as possible
    • Get your product in front of the applications people use every day, such as integrate with email
    • Make it painless for people to start using your product without fully switching into a new way of doing things
    • Make calenar useful even for casual users

    5. Timing the launch properly

    • Launch early and often is the mantra of Web companies
    • However, the old adage ‘you can only launch once still applies’
    • Leverage internal testing and private betas
    • Make sure your product is worthwhile once it lands on Digg, TechCrunch, etc.
  • Launching is hard to do–it’s never an easy call
  • Ask yourself if you could really see your target user using what you have at day one, or switching from something else
  • 6. Driving usage

    • We have a steady rate of new users signing up daily with very little marketing
    • Think about how your product can generate touchpoints that extend beyond your applications, and make it easy to do so, such as adding stuff such as reminders and sending invites…
    • Social reinforcement is key for validation–my friend telling me to use the product is 10x more valuable than hearing it from the company
    • Relentlessly remove acocunt signup–it’s obvious but was surprising to me how much of a barrier account signups can be

    Filed under: Case Studies, Copy+Paste

    Personae- Great Article

    Reconciling market segments and personae
    Elaine Brechin, Senior Designer

    Market segmentation and personas are two different techniques that are often perceived as conflicting methods, but they are actually complementary tools that organizations can use to design and sell successful products.

    The value of market segmentation
    The marketing profession has taken much of the guesswork out of determining what motivates people to buy. One of the most powerful tools for doing so is market segmentation, which groups people by their distinct needs to determine what types of consumers will be most receptive to a particular product or marketing message. These groups form a consumer model.

    To develop these models, marketers classify consumers according to a set of demographics and geographic variables such as age, race, education, and location. More sophisticated consumer models also include psychographic and behavioral variables like attitudes, lifestyle, values, ideology, risk aversion, and decision-making patterns. Other classification systems such as VALS segmentation and PRIZM clusters can add greater clarity to these models by predicting consumers’ purchasing power, motivation, self-orientation, and resources. These consumer-modeling techniques are not only able to forecast marketplace acceptance of products and services, they can also be powerful tools for convincing executives to build a product. After all, if you know X people might buy a product or service for Y dollars, then it is easy to evaluate the potential return on investment.

    However, understanding why somebody wants to buy something is not the same thing as actually defining the product—what it is, how it will work, and how it will be used. Market segmentation is a great tool, but it’s not an all-purpose one, and when segmentation is used to solve product definition problems, the results are often suspect. For example, one of our clients spends a lot of money every six months on user research (which is both unusual and commendable). At the beginning of our project, ten reports were thrust into the team’s hands with the expectation that somehow we would be able to design the product using only the data in the reports, without conducting additional user research or analysis. The problem was that the reports contained statements like “a third of all baby boomers loved the idea” and “less than 33% of users over fifty would buy it in the next two years.” This kind of information may be valuable from a marketing perspective, but it isn’t specific or detailed enough to determine exactly which features or information to include in the product, or how to prioritize their accessibility. For example, market segmentation information might suggest that a particular e-commerce site appeals to the needs of consumers on a tight budget. But then what? How do you design the site to meet the needs of those consumers?

    What is needed is a product definition tool that takes the guesswork out of the process—a tool that provides insight into what motivates people to use a product, so that well-grounded decisions can be made about features and how they are presented. The tool must be every bit as effective in determining the definition of a product as market segmentation is at forecasting market acceptance.

    The value of personas
    Cooper has found success in defining products by creating user models we call personas. Personas are a set of fictional, representative user archetypes based on the behaviors, attitudes, and goals of the people we interview in our research phase. Personas have names, personalities, pictures, personal backgrounds, families, and, most importantly, goals; they are not “average” users but specific characters. A persona is a stand-in for a unique group of people who share common goals; at the same time, persona characteristics encompass those of people in widely different demographic groups who may have similar goals. (For more information on crafting personas, see Kim Goodwin’s article, Perfecting your Personas.)

    For example, people across all demographic boundaries have similar goals when using an ATM: to get cash quickly and to complete other transactions with as little hassle as possible. These goals can guide a design team responsible for developing a new ATM by helping to determine appropriate functionality, prioritize the feature list, design the interface, refine the scope of the target audience, and even uncover new market niches for a technology. Personas bridge the gap between market segments and product definition.

    How do you select the right personas? At the beginning of every design project, designers conduct qualitative research that includes reviewing the client’s market segmentation and demographic data. Designers also interview stakeholders, customers, and users, in order to gain insight into the product domain and user population. This information feeds directly into the types and characteristics of the personas.

    An example
    Personas and market segments provide different kinds of information. Market segmentation provides a quantitative breakdown of the market, while personas provide a qualitative analysis of user behavior. These two techniques also serve different purposes.

    Market segmentation identifies attitudes and potential buying habits, such as those illustrated in the following example:

    In a survey of 150 people, participants were asked about Rear Seat Entertainment (RSE) systems. It was found that most respondents believed it was a “lifestyle” purchase for parents trying to entertain or distract their kids while driving. Most felt that the system was appropriate for children between the ages of 4-15yrs, as children needed to be old enough to use headsets as well as some form of remote control. Among the high quality brand names mentioned were Sony, Hitachi, Magnavox and Nintendo. High system prices were cited as a barrier to purchase in the next two years. However, many expected prices to fall significantly over the next five years.


    Example survey chart

    Personas, on the other hand, reveal motivations and potential usage patterns. A consumer’s motivation is what gets them interested in using a product. For example:

    Kathleen is 33yrs old and lives in Seattle. She’s a stay-at-home mom with two children: Katie, 7, and Andrew, 4. She drives the kids to school (usually carpooling with 2-3 other kids) in her Volvo wagon. Kathleen is thinking about buying the Sony rear-seat entertainment system she saw last weekend at Best Buy to keep the children occupied on the upcoming trip to see family in Canada.

    She doesn’t want to be distracted by the noise from the videos or games so wants to make sure she can set the sound to be heard only in the back seat. Kathleen also wants to make sure her kids are watching appropriate programs; therefore she wants some channel controls close at hand, but she thinks Katie should be able to control the system most of the time so she won’t be distracted.

    From this example, the designers can ascertain that Kathleen does not necessarily want her kids to be wearing headphones for an entire journey, as she likes to talk with them on their trips, and that she may want Katie to have some control of the entertainment system from the back seat.

    Both market segmentation and personas provide useful information; one informs the other. Using the appropriate tool for the task at hand without bending, adding, or removing from either can provide a rich, complementary set of user and consumer models, that can ultimately create a useful and more successful product definition than either could in isolation.

    Filed under: Copy+Paste, Inspiring

    AdSense Tricks

    http://adsense-exposure.blogspot.com

    * Larger ads outperform smaller ads. Wider ads also outperform more narrow ads.
    * The Large Rectangle (336×280) is the best performing ad unit.
    * Web users are accustomed to seeing menus on the left side of the web page. Move your menu to the right and place your AdSense ads on the left.
    * Use the Google AdSense Heat Map to determine where to place ads. The darker spots are areas where users spend more time looking. Place your ads in the darker areas
    ————–
    http://www.wolf-howl.com/22/google-adsense-tips-tricks-and-secrets/

    Google has also has published a list of the highest performing ad sizes:
    * 336×280 large rectangle
    * 300×250 inline rectangle
    * 160×600 wide skyscraper
    ——–
    Adsenes Heat Maps
    http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/internet/google-heatmap-2.htm

    Filed under: Copy+Paste

    Why UX?

    Usability does add some overhead to a software design process (because of the reviews and iterations at each step), and I won’t deny that. But why not a little more from the start, than a lot more once the bugs and complaints start rolling in? How does a ton of bugs and irate customers add to your return on investment (ROI), while usability does not?

    http://hnarsana.com/2006/03/06/usability-in-startups/

    “If you are a startup in the services space, usability might not be that important as the design is done by the client before the work gets to you. But if you intend to create a product, usability does become important as it differentiates you from the competition”
    Gaurav Bhatnagar (co-founder of Tekriti)

    Tips for startups

    http://www.paulgraham.com/startuplessons.html

    usability testing & soy lattes
    “With Powerbook in hand, it was just a matter of approaching subjects with a smile and the offer of a free coffee, pastry, or anything (really, startup founders don’t have the same inhibitions most people do) to get them to try out a new website.”

    “…they sat down and diligently tinkered with the site (all the while thinking aloud as I’d instructed). What we learned was quite interesting and my only regret is that we hadn’t done it sooner, but hopefully we can make good use of what we discovered.”

    http://reddit.blogspot.com/2006/05/usability-testing-soy-lattes.html

    Notes on StartupSchool

    http://notelab.infogami.com/startupschool2006

    Filed under: Copy+Paste

    RSS Alt+Tabs of an Open Mind

    • iOS7 UX Problems October 15, 2013
      Buttons and Flat Design Buttons and interface widgets, when present, need to be easily distinguishable from content. They need to have good affordances that invite users to action. In the absence of strong signifiers, they can get ignored, and users may find themselves lost and disoriented. http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ios-7/
      ashim
    • Ubuntu Donate Page March 12, 2013
      I love the fun details on Ubuntu’s donation page. There is none of the boring one text field, asking us to enter an amount. Eight sliders ask you to ‘customize’ your donation amount for various sections of the project. The copy is great too! And there’s more. As you adjust the sliders, the contribution amount […]
      ashim
    • Modern, Stone-Age Families March 12, 2013
      This analogy hit home for me :)
      ashim
    • YouTube Commercial Break March 7, 2013
      Google cross-selling its Google+ property. They make us choose between watching one Google ad or watching 4 other 3rd party advertisers’ ads. I would rather choose 4 commercial breaks than watching a Google+ ad.
      ashim
    • Glass Demo February 21, 2013
      I am wary of demos of unfinished products. By the time these products hit the market, the scope is considerably reduced and they end up being a ..meh :( I hope Google Glass isn’t one of them, but comparing yesterday’s and the last year’s videos tell kind of the same story. For most part, it […]
      ashim
    • A Smart Car February 15, 2013
      I have been following, with much enjoyment, the New York Times vs. Tesla Motors spat over a review that a NYT reporter wrote last week. Elon Musk wrote a great rebuttal on Tesla Motors’ blog. And he showed car logs (two of them above) to prove that the review was biased and false. Looking at […]
      ashim
    • Complexity February 13, 2013
      Not a big fan of the latest Android design language, and this is another example from Google Play. I would never understand what these icons mean just by looking. http://developer.android.com/design/building-blocks/progress.html
      ashim
    • Apple's design problems aren't skeuomorphic November 7, 2012
      Reblogged from counternotions: From Tim Cook's letter announcing the latest reorganization at Apple last week: Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his longtime role as the leader of Industrial Design. Jony has an incredible design aesthetic and has been the driving force behind the [… […]
      ashim
    • Surface Impressions November 6, 2012
      :) * I can touch the screen! If I get stuck, I use the screen to tap and it feels totally natural. * The trackpad on the touchcover has multi-touch gestures (that’s a mouthful!) :( * Keys on the cover don’t move. So there’s no tactile feedback. Typing isn’t all that better than tapping a […]
      ashim
    • Mobile Payments October 28, 2012
      Japan is being hailed as an advanced and mature market for mobile payments. People have been using mobile payments before the first iPhone launched. So I dug a little deeper and what I found broke quite a few myths.
      ashim

    My Twitter Feed

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.