The Make-Up of a Good Design

We have so many products around us. Some works well for us but some don’t. I have read numerous articles explaining what makes a good product design. However, I find this particular one interesting because the Writer doesn’t try to explain what a good product design is. She just thinks of random products around her and how people use them. And then draw a chart on what makes a product useful (e.g. a forklift), enjoyable (e.g. baking cookies with Kylie Minogue in person J), easy to access (e.g. A blunt eyebrow pencil).

You can make a product both enjoyable and easy to access e.g. Watching Kylie Minogue concert on TV.

You can also make a product both useful and easy to access e.g. A telephone.

Or you can make a product both useful and enjoyable e.g. A private jet.

The trick is to make a product with all 3 qualities above: Useful, Enjoyable and Easy to Access e.g. Smartphone. I call it the sweet spot of good design! Or rather the writer calls it The Holy Grail of Good Design.

So if you start thinking in the context of a software product, you would want the same thing too:

1.       A good user experience (Enjoyable)
2.       It solves a problem (Useful)
3.       User can access from any device with Internet connection (Easy to Access)

The writer goes on to give “art” and “design” a very simplistic definition: “art’s primary intention is to elicit emotion, design’s is to solve a problem.” With the combination of art (Enjoyable user experience) and design (Useful). And if the price is right (Easy to Access). You will end up with a product that is loved by your users.


User Experience Design is not what you think

This is kind of what I expected. Basically it’s saying that user experience design is not just about the app or user interface. It’s the user experience that comes first.

One example that I like is ‘Making Returns Painless’. Every time you order something online and you want to return for refund. It requires you to walk to post office and pay for postage and no way of knowing if money will come through after posting the item in mail. However, there’s a company that refunds to customers as soon as they requested. And then ask their customers the best time to pick up the item. All customer had to do is request for refund. Money transferred into their account immediately. And then wait for them to pick up.

Great user experience without having to design an app!

You are the best user researcher ever!

I like this article because it’s saying that you don’t need a dedicated resource to do user research. Anyone can do it as long as they know how to frame the question and a few other things.

One I really like e.g. is probe behaviour not intention: It’s not useful to ask how many times you intend to go to gym. It’s better to ask how many times have you been to gym in the last 2 weeks. It’s about finding out what your users are doing today.

Nice read for you when you’re traveling or whatever you’re doing at the time!

What I got out of this article:

  • Ask open ended question without leading user. Basically, do not put words into user’s mouth.
  • Get user to be specific. It’s not much point when they say it’s very helpful. It can be because the app gives them ability to track delivery real time or it can be because it’s easy to order a product.
  • Ask about behaviour not intention. As described above.
  • Keep user on focus so they don’t start going on about a topic they have a lot of opinion about. This distract you from answering the question that must be answered.

In short, you are the best user researcher every!

This is How We Do

I read about this article and thought you might like it. This goes against what every company is doing when Elon Musk from Tesla announced to the world what their Product Roadmap was:

Elon’s Product Roadmap for Tesla announced to the public in 2006:
1. Build sports car
2. Use that money to build an affordable car
3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don’t tell anyone.

At the end of the roadmap, he added ‘Don’t tell anyone’ as he was being tongue in cheek because this product roadmap was made available to the public in 2006.

Although it took him 10 years to complete all 4 steps above. No-one has stole his idea at all. What Elon was betting wasn’t the Idea. He was betting his money on the Execution.

You can read the article in full here.

Building a Brand is building a trust with your customers

I found this article today after we spoke about company branding at our meeting yesterday. As discussed, I still believe branding is about building trust with our customers. It goes beyond what a logo looks. So I did a search online and when compare the definition of branding and marketing, it becomes so much clearer the purpose of branding. Have a read at this article I found below:

I really like one extract from the above article:

The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.

The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not.

What do you think?

Do you agree?

Think Experience at a Restaurant. Not features.

Taking your customer to a restaurant without finding out what kind of food they like and just take them to a restaurant you are familiar with. From your customer point of view, this is arrogant. This same philosophy can be applied to building a feature in a software.

It also touched on how BT outsourced their call centres to India and caused an outcry. Now they have to reverse their decision. Imagine the cost! Customers care about being listened too and often the front line staff are the customers only opportunity to communicate with a company.

However, the software company I’m working at has always had a call centre based in Sydney. And this is one thing that we are doing right.

The rest of the article went on to talk about implementing the process to deliver customer experience. It’s basically about Customer Understanding, Measurement, Governance, Strategy, Design and Culture. I don’t find the process ground breaking. However, I like how they describe their philosophy by comparing to asking your friend what kind of food they want to eat before booking a restaurant.

So think experience at a restaurant. Not features!

You can read the full article here.

The Only Way is Up!

I saw this article and thought it describes exactly the way I’ve been setting myself up one step at a time. For example, developers need to get used to always provide estimates before they start development work. I started getting estimations for change requests once a week rather than waiting until the last minute. This makes it quicker for us to adopt to changes. I started scheduling for monthly release on the last week of previous release to allow more time for change in priority. And so on …

As you read the article, you will find the whole concept contradicting. However, I agree with the writer’s method especially a quote from the article below:

As counterintuitive as it might seem, one of the secrets of developing new habits is to set the bar really low, and make it impossible for yourself to fail.

Once you have formed a habit that you desire. And you gain the momentum to do it again and again.

The only way is up!

You can read the full article here.