Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not Intuitive

I'm sure when Facebook decided to change their user interface to stay competitive, they knew they needed to be careful not to alienate, frustrate or even annoy their millions of users. Or did they? There's been quite a groundswell of negativity toward the new design.

My personal pain came about when I was trying to help a coworker figure out how fans would upload photos to a special section called "Fan Photos". Logically, we went to the "Photos" tab, but there was no way to upload photos, just view them. We knew fans could load photos because other pages had tons of fan photos.

Were people tagging them with the page's name? Nope.

Was there a special app that allowed fans to do this? Nope.

I was so frustrated, I started mousing over and clicking all over the screen. When . . .

If you click in the text field under "Write something . . . " you get the option to add photos, links or whatever else you allow fans to post. Seriously? That makes perfect sense to the product managers, UX and QA folks who worked on this? You go to something that says "Write something . . . " to load photos.

Is it just me?
Sunday, March 8, 2009

No Obama

This is less a lesson on how to use Twitter for political campaigns and more one on what happens when anyone thinks they can. Let me preface this by saying I've been a long supporter of Representative Neil Abercrombie and so this is in no way a critique of him.

I found Neil's Twitter account a few months ago and started following him. At first he was tweeting just like everyone else, with updates on what he's been doing, bills he was supporting and his campaign for governor of Hawaii.

Then I started to notice his tweets almost seemed to be generated by a bot. The tweets were being fed from Utterli and kept saying the same thing except it had a slightly different link URL.

So I @neilabercombie'd him to find out what was going on. I got a tweet back from @ikitajima explaining that each tweet was indeed different and had I clicked on the link I would have heard a different message from Neil on Utterli.

Here are my issues with that answer and why I don't think it serves Neil or his campaign well:
  1. Inpersonal. By using the same exact "Aloha Everyone! It's me, Neil, reporting in." over and over, it feels like an afterthought or not worthy of the little extra effort it would take to customize each tweet. It feels very automated and cold. Not what you want to convey if you're running for a public office.

    Why not try to convey a little of Neil's personality? He should've talked about how he loved seeing "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen at the inaugural concert because he loves his music.

    Even if it's not him really tweeting all the time, you can provide some transparency by noting who is tweeting on his behalf at the end of each tweet. Even Britney Spears knows how to do that.

  2. Nonintuitive. Looking at each tweet, it looks like the same one over and over again. Almost like a mistake.

    Why not summarize what the link is about so people can decide if they want to click on the link or not? Are you expecting that the mystery of what may lie beyond the link will entice people to click on the link? You're not selling ad impressions. Better yet, get your message out in 140 characters, just like Obama did.
Friday, March 6, 2009

I'd love to work for . . .

I'm sure there are many in my field that would love to work for Marissa Mayer of Google. This is a great interview about how Google develops products, but more importantly you get great insight into Marissa.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kindle Content on iPhone

I recently got a Kindle 2 for a variety of reasons (which I'll post about later) with portability of many books being one of them. So when I saw this post on Gizmodo this morning, I was intrigued.

Essentially, Amazon launched an iPhone app that allows Kindle users to snyc and read their e-Book purchases. It's a bit odd in that Jeff Bezos and others at Amazon have mentioned in interviews that reading for long periods of time doesn't lend itself to backlit devices. Perhaps it's more a convenience feature for when you find yourself waiting in line or something and you don't have your Kindle with you, you can do a little quick, short reading on your iPhone?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Unexpected Surprises

When you get something unexpected and nice, it tends to get associated with the source. And when that source is a product, service or company, it gets associated with the brand--even if it comes in the process of getting one's oil changed.

This morning I took my car to Michael's Toyota in Bellevue, Wash. for a basic, run-of-the-mill oil change. I actually had two unexpected and pleasant surprises. As I was getting checked in I noticed a punch card for oil changes. The service tech noticed I was looking at it and she went through my records and found three prior oil changes. She went ahead and punched all the prior ones as well as the one I got today. So my next oil change is free!

Then after my service was completed, I was told my SUV was up front. When I walked out I couldn't find it so I pressed my remote entry fob and saw the SUV in front of me flash its lights and chirp. I hadn't seen it because it was clean! We had some snow about a week ago so it was covered in mud when I came in. I knew they washed cars for major service, but not for an oil change. Nice.

That little pleasant surprise stuck with me most of the day and I told several co-workers about it. Both suprises, the free oil change next time and the car wash, made me feel better about taking my car there. I don't remember what brand or quality of oil they used, but that doesn't matter. Don't forget the little things when it comes to making a memorable customer experience!
Monday, March 2, 2009

No help from yelp?

According to a New York Time's article, it appears that Yelp, the online review site, isn't playing nice with the business that are reviewed by its contributors. Unlike other review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp doesn't allow reviewed business to respond to posts.

Instead, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman's stance is almost militant:
“Business owners want to control their reputation, and we’re just not going to let that happen,” he said. His top priority is “to make sure the community is protected and can share without fear of being publicly spat on.”

“We can’t referee factual disputes,” responded Mr. Stoppelman. “Why believe the business owner who has skin in the game?”

So if I understand this correctly, it's OK for the community to spit on businesses with no opportunity to respond or address an issue? That sounds more like a one-way and very Web 1.0.

He appears to have a large bias against the integrity of businesses. What's most troubling, however, is lack of faith that users of the site can't make up their own minds after reading both points of view.

For example, on TripAdvisor, reviewed hotels can post responses to reviews by users. I can read all the reviews from multiple contributors as well as the hotel management before making an informed decision. If there are several consistent posts about bad service and the response from the hotel doesn't seem reasonable, I can take that information and form my own opinions. It works for TripAdvisor, so why not for Yelp?

There's always two sides to every story and every review. There's no need to remove any reviews, but let people decide for themselves after hearing both sides.

Did you know . . .

Got this via a Tweet from AOL founder Steve Case.
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sure of one's online persona

I saw this on several blogs last week and it's an interesting idea: Hand out cards with your name on it and encourage people to Google you.

If you're really confident on what will show up, at least on the first page, I say go for it. If not, you'd better not.