The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (October 31, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/five_ways_to_keep_your_momentum.php
Strategies for keeping the momentum after your startup makes a big announcement.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.usabilitypost.com/2008/10/28/should-arrows-be-placed-before-link-text-or-after/
Discussing the dilemma of "Should arrows be placed before link text or after?"

On Modular Innovation…
http://ajaxian.com/archives/yahoo-browserplus-released
Yahoo’s Browser Plus is beginning to extend the platform options of, and introduce new connection concepts to, Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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A Spot on myPunchbowl

user-useitIntra-product-type consistency, the Recognition and intuitiveness present within a product, is a key component in determining the overall Usability of a product. For an air travel website to be usable, it should have some basic, recognizable, consistency with other airline products. For example, on the top-left region of most every air travel website you will find a form to enter starting and destination locations, departure and return dates, as well as the number of passengers traveling on the given trip.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Recognition is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, we will look at 2 examples of Internet products with Fair Recognition, representing a Recognition value of 0.5.

Example 1: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)

Starting on the homepage, a feature commonly expected and observed on almost every event planning website, is the ‘create event’ button (or ability), and this is noticeably absent on this website.

00_mypunchbowl_homepage

myPunchbowl is a sound online event planner achieving Fair Recognition, a Recognition value of 0.5. The product presents minor changes in how it approaches the event creation process, from modified grouping of information to the sequence of steps that must be traversed.

The beginning of the event creation process provides no guidance as to what the subsequent steps will require or where / when the user will be prompted for the basic event information (the "when" and the "where").

01_top_step1

In this first stage, when the user is just trying to orient him/herself, and accomplish the common task of defining an event, they are presented with four choices of how one may like to proceed, instead of just being taken to the next logical, expected, stage of the event process.

02_bottom_step1

It isn’t until the user gets to the ‘Your Design’ stage that they are presented with a very recognizable interface for guiding them through the remainder of the event creation process.

03_yourdesign

There are basic elements that a user expects when creating an online event, from understanding the sequence of events to knowing how to enter the minimal information to get the event set up and completed. myPunchbowl forces the user to jump through the hoops of ‘event type’ and ‘initiation design’ before having the opportunity to enter information into the most expected features of online event planning, Title, Date, Time, Address, etc.

04_details

Altogether, it will not take the typical myPunchbowl user, or for that matter, an online event planner user, too long to orient themselves (through some poking, clicking, interacting), adapt and learn how to use the fairly Recognizable myPunchbowl event creation process.

Example 2: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)

Sometimes the things that set you apart, those things that contribute to providing a unique experience can also lead to some unexpected results for the average user.

00_vayama_homepage

The typical travel website presents the user with a request for the basic information on the homepage, for example, start and end date, origin, destination, and number of passengers. Here too is where the Vayama, a travel website, begins the travel planning process.

After defining the basic parameters for a trip, a search is typically initiated. It is at this stage that Vayama‘s unique approach to simplifying the process results in a less Recognizable experience. On the generic travel website, the user, upon initiating the search, is brought to a specific webpage for browsing, and filtering the results.

Many websites also allow for the modification of the search parameters from the search page, while others require the user to return to the location from whence the search was initiated.

Vayama has combined all of these commonly separate pages into a single user interface that adapts as the user interacts with it. It isn’t until the user has to specify the travelers, select the seats, and pay for the tickets, that they even have to leave the homepage of the site.

01_page2

The combining of commonly separate steps presents its own set of Recognition challenges for the product’s users.

The initial search form alongside the search results makes one think that they can change anything on the page and alter the results. However, this is not the case. Search results pages typically present all of the controls that will filter and impact those results. The unique presentation and process at Vayama, result in different behaviors and set of expectations, requiring some finesse, poking, and interaction to adjust to this paradigm shift in travel planning.

This page requires some clicking and then paying close attention to see if there has been either no discernible reaction or, in other instances, an actual change. Expanding on this example, modifying information within the filter section has immediate impact on the search results, while modifying information within the top half of the form, the basic parameters, has no observable impact on the results, until the ‘search’ button is re-clicked (and all settings with ‘search section’ are reset and results erased).

02_search_and_filter

Another section of the website that results in achieving the Fairly Recognizable rating is the seat selection interface. The seat selection is very cool, but different. After a few seconds the user can orient to the 3D presentation — which is both unexpected and an unusual presentation within the travel industry. Most users won’t have an issue with the format, but the seat selection can be tricky and will require minor adaptation.

03_3dseats

Nothing at Vayama is overwhelmingly unrecognizable (much of the overall experience is fun) and, being Fairly Recognizable, can, with some finesse, be figured out and used by the average user.

* * *

To help everyone gain a deeper understanding of Quick-UX and how to benefit from performing quick, quantitative analyses of User Experience, I am, over the course of this series providing real-world examples of Recognition values…

Broad Recognition (value 1)

Fair Recognition (value 0.5)

Poor Recognition (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Recognition of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (October 24, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10071625-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
The upsides of another recession (depression?) in the tech startup space.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.webresourcesdepot.com/16-free-ajax-contact-forms-for-a-better-user-experience/
16 different Contact Form user experiences.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/who_will_control_your_data_web30.php
Determining the controllers of Portability and Ownership in the next generation of Modular Innovations.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Familiar pingg

user-useitIntra-product-type consistency, the Recognition and intuitiveness present within a product, is a key component in determining the overall Usability of a product. For an air travel website to be usable, it should have some basic, recognizable, consistency with other airline products. For example, on the top-left region of most every air travel website you will find a form to enter starting and destination locations, departure and return dates, as well as the number of passengers traveling on the given trip.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Recognition is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with Broad Recognition, representing a Recognition value of 1.

Example: Broad Recognition (value = 1)

00_pingg_homepage

The typical event planner either presents all of the event options on one simple page, clearly allowing for the control of all facets of an event, or distributes the event creation into a directed, common sequence of steps (a,b,c,d..)

pingg provides a good example of an event planner with Broad Recognition, a Recognition value of 1. From the moment you arrive at pingg, there is no question as to what you can accomplish with the product, with clearly recognizable ‘Create’ buttons throughout the product. pingg‘s event creation process puts everything both expected and needed right in one place, on a single page.

01_create

The event creation page allows for easy, familiar review of the controls that have come to be standards within the online event planning market space. The event details allow for providing as much or as little information as may be required with respect to the date, time and location — each visual component interfacing through standard methods (e.g. the date selection is made via a calendar drop-down).

03_details

The guest list too, is right at the user’s fingertips, and ready to import a friend list or take manual entry of each guest.

04_guests

All of the labels and sections on the pingg website use very familiar terminology and cater to the base inclinations inherent to defining and launching events through the help of online tools, extending throughout the product, and also evident on the user’s homepage / dashboard.

05_dashboard

pingg‘s presentation of a broadly recognizable User Experience eliminates the need to hunt and poke and click to figure out where, and if, something being sought is available.

To help everyone gain a deeper understanding of Quick-UX and how to benefit from performing quick, quantitative analyses of User Experience, I am, over the course of this series providing real-world examples of Recognition values…

Broad Recognition (value 1)

Fair Recognition (value 0.5)

Poor Recognition (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Recognition of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (October 17, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://www.taptaptap.com/blog/severance-new-beginnings/
An inside view on tap tap tap’s startup split-up.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.graphicrating.com/2008/10/07/alltopcom-lesson-of-clean-and-design/
Design lessons to be learned from Alltop.com.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/startups_10_micro_trends_to_bet_on.php
The micro-trends of Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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On the Recognition of Quick-UX

user-useitOn the top-left of the front page of most air travel websites you will find a form to enter the starting and destination locations, and departure and return dates, as well as the number of passengers traveling on the given trip.

aircanada airchina continental
delta jetblue usair
 

A common thread amongst blogs, regardless of the theme, is to have a top-level search box alongside an obvious RSS subscription link.

cnn sai world_roland
engadget techcrunch tpg

 

With online shopping websites, some of the most familiar and common characteristics are top-level, browsable categories, a search box in the page header, and, often, the presentation of special or new products.

amazon ebay overstock
planet_online yahoo bizrate

 

Intra-product-type consistency, the Recognition and intuitiveness present within a product, is a key component in determining the overall Usability of a product. For example, for an air travel website to be usable, it should have some basic consistencies with other airline products (see aforementioned examples).

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Recognition is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

The Recognition variable’s rubric is:

The Recognition variable is assessed from the perspective of an average user and is assigned a value of…

  • 1 if the interface and product, in general, feels familiar and is easy to use,
  • 0.5 if some poking, finesse, and interaction are required before the user will be able to gather his or her bearings in the use of the product,
  • 0 if the average user will have clear difficulty understanding (1) how to use the product and (2) what the product is trying to communicate.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Recognition values…

Broad Recognition (value 1)

Fair Recognition (value 0.5)

Poor Recognition (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Recognition of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Del.ico.us Furl Reddit Magnolia Google Add to Mixx!

The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (October 10, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://www.thisisgoingtobebig.com/2008/09/what-is-early-s.html
The question is asked, "What is an early stage company?"

On Design & Product Experience…
http://css-tricks.com/the-usability-problems-of-useitcom/
On the usability issues of Jacob Nielsen’s UseIt.com.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.drpic.com/
Modular Innovation in the online image editing and storage space by DrPic.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Overgrown Amazon

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, “Do I want to use it?” the sub-category of Aesthetics is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, in the same spirit of Quick-UX, let’s take a quick look at an Internet product with an Aesthetic value of 0.

Example: Overload (value = 0)

01_amazon

Amazon implemented a good deal of my advice regarding their User Experience, but still suffers from information overload, and an Aesthetic variable value of 0. The tangled experience has too many gaudy interactions, from spinning to intrusive drop-downs, as well as other elements that (sometimes) popup, seemingly out of nowhere. Amazon needs to focus on the minimal, clean implementation of the site content with experience augmenting mouse-user interactions enhancing Desirability. Transitions and other content presentation and interactions should be enjoyable additions, not the troublesome hindrances that most are today.

Dropdowns can be experienced sometimes unexpectedly popping open when traversing from one region of the page, increasing the noise / interruption and detracting from any strands of simplicity that may exist.

02_amazon_popup

Instead of being able to simply interact with and browse content, somewhat randomly, a spinning element will be presented to the user containing a grouping of products. This results in a more complex, non-minimalistic presentation of the content, the products – providing an excessively animated, gaudy user interface device.

03_amazon_spinning

Over the course of this series I am providing real-world examples of Aesthetics values…

Clean, Sharp, Pleasing, and Enjoyable (value 2)

Incomplete (value 1)

Overload (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Aesthetics of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (October 3, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://gigaom.com/2008/09/27/6-ways-to-build-a-financial-crisis-proof-business/
Tips for protecting your business in an ever tightening credit market.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.erikakendall.com/10-reasons-why-your-website-kinda-sucks-part-2/
Why your website (may) kinda suck.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.centernetworks.com/social-web-future
A look at potential implications of the evolving Modular Innovations with respect to the next generation of the social web.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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