The details of (bad) design…

Scott Adams (the Dilbert dude!) put up a post recently on Bad Interfaces.  He starts innocently enough:

The other day I tried to change my address through a company’s web site and it wouldn’t accept my new address because I “already have a phone number.” WTF??? I tried various workarounds including no phone number, and a fake phone number, but it insisted that once you have a phone number, and the system knows it, you can never change your address. So I asked myself, am I the first person who ever owned a phone and wanted to change his address?

Then he continues talking about all the dumb designs in his new house:

Our new light switches have light indicators to tell you when a switch is turned off. That’s right: The “on” light indicates that the switch is off. At least that’s how my brain has interpreted it nine hundred times in a row. I understand that they want to make it easy to find the switch in the dark. But did they ever test how people use these things?

Now I agree with the address change.  I’ve moved many times and kept the same phone number.  But I’d challenge Scott on the light switch thing.

He asked if they ever test the use of these things?  Well maybe, maybe not.  I bet what they did do, is test if people brought them or not!

So Scott I’d ask you this:  How did these get installed in your home?  What was the process there?

(I’m not picking on Scott here.)  Take mobile phones.  Personally I used to be very pro Nokia.  I once switched  to an LG and hated it.  Then along came the N95!

A great phone with lot’s of positive reviews – but the thing was just too cumbersome to use!  Features like GPS or Camera or some applications are great, but if it takes me 6 – 10 button clicks then its too hard and I loose interest!

Its interesting how some people feel it is absolutely necessary to choose visual detail like the right carpets, tiles, bathroom fittings, but will neglect some of the more cerebral elements.

Why is the iPhone so popular?  Why do people love Dorf Taps in their bathroom?

If this type of thing is pushing your buttons, then perhaps you should take a look at what you like and why?  What don’t you like and why?

Rock on!

Upclose and Personal with Triiibes!

A few weeks ago, I decided to expand the blogs I read.

During this adventure, I found author Justine Lee Musk.

Maybe it’s just me, but more than once I’ve found articles from totally separate worlds that seem to talk to each other.  Recently, Justine wrote about the concept of using Facebook or Twitter to get up close and personal with her audience.

As soon as I read this, Seth Godin’s Tribes sprang to mind.  I’ve joined a few networks and found them to be fantastic.

I think Justine is trying to get a balance of accessibility vs friction.  Facebook / Twitter have a low barrier to entry, but (as was suggested in the comments) has far too much noise.

Brilliant cartoonist Scott Meyer recently had a “ask me anything” Q & A on Reddit.

So there are multiple ways of connecting with your audience.

Personally, I prefer the Networks (or Tribes!) over Facebook or Twitter specifically because they have a higher amount of friction for entry.

The one question Justine didn’t answer was why?  Are you looking for a forum to push more product? To connect with your audience?  To better understand who out there is paying you attention?

One of the interesting things I’ve learnt from reading blogs, is how the right person can easily influenced what I buy.  It doesn’t take much for me to buy Seth’s next book, or to try out a new razor.

If someone at work suggested either, I would tell them to bugger off and stop wasting my time.

Who do you trust?

Who’s teaching who?

Seth has a recent post on Teaching the Market a Lesson.

Some book publishers don’t like the Kindle. Either they’re afraid of it or they’ve crunched the numbers and they don’t like what they see.

Worried about the medium, they hold back, delay or even refuse to support it.

Which is fine if you have market power, but you likely don’t. No publisher does, certainly. The Beatles couldn’t stop iTunes from changing the record business by sitting out the platform, and there’s no book publisher who can stop the Kindle alone.

I like the idea of even  The Beatles can’t stop iTunes from changing the way we purchase music.  But I think Seth is being a little short sighted.  The Kindle isn’t available (yet) in Australia – actually it is only available in the US.  Compare this to another product that has international reach (iPhone!)

I think the Kindle is a game changer, but I can understand if Publishers haven’t jumped in just yet…

Crayon Physics Deluxe has gone beta (or how wrong was I!)

A while ago, I wrote about Crayon Physics:

I once read that $30 was the upper limit price point for what people will pay without too much thought.  That makes sense when you think of CDs, DVDs or other items.

Would I pay more??  I don’t know.  Maybe if it came out in a week or so.

But if this takes much longer my attention span will disappear and he will have gone from a $40 sale to nothing…

Well on a whim, I decided to pre-order the game. This allows me to be part of the beta program.

First impression? This game is brilliant! I wrote previously that I would have paid $40 (rrp $20).

It is hard to describe how well done it is. The game is well polished, the music is brilliant and the concept (drawing on a screen) is very very well done.

If you remember back to the good ol’ Commodre 64 days, it’s like seeing Summer Games or Impossible Mission for the first time.  Or playing Doom on a PC.

That being said, the “beta” version is restricted and only has the first 18 levels.  That might sound a lot, but this includes the tutorial.  If you took longer than half an hour to do all 18 then there is something wrong with you.

I am disappointed that the game was completed so quick.  This smells more like a marketing / promotion exercise than a beta program.

Regardless, the game is very well done and I think it is the beginning of a genre of games.

Rock on!

Google Upgrade

Google Upgrade

Yesterday I noticed that the Google Search results look a little different:

Managed Services Search Result in Google

Managed Services Search Result in Google

I thought I’d had an upgrade to one of my Firefox plugins.  Aparently not!

I read a post by Sebastian who couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  That inspired me to post this – thanks Sebastian!

Search for something on Google then you can vote up or comment wiki style.  I’ve used the Managed Services example above because our Company pays a hefty amount for that term.

Like Seth suggests, I believe the primary users of Adwords will jump in to game the system.

Who knows where it will go!?

Rock on!

Pachelbel’s Canon

I’ve put together a website for my partner: www.arcostringquartet.com Michele is a Professional Violinist.

Their market is background music for weddings and corporate functions.

One of the challenges when putting together something like this is what to include and what to leave out.

Apart from what you look like, the Repertoire List is the main focus of the site. The problem is, while everyone has heard it before, you may not know the difference between The Four Seasons (Vivaldi), Hallelujah Chorus (Handel) and Overture to Marriage of Figaro (Mozart).

I found this Pachelbel Canon on youtube:

Rock on!