Doing More With Less

clip_image001Guest post by Leslie Grandy.

In a world of economic‐downsizing, we are seeing less of everything – less merchandise on the shelves, less people to service our business, less value from our investments. As a society, we are facing individually and professionally, the need to do more with less.

When we are desperate, we often try too many things to fix what is broken, or we think any effort is progress. We are often motivated by our Quixotic belief it will be possible to find that single silver bullet to fix all that has broken. Everyone is, after all, only a lottery ticket away from the Powerball.

Sadly, the same thing happens in product design and the odds of a winning design that accomplishes everything that every customer wants are not in a product manager’s favor. Smart people are inventing technology faster than other smart people can knit it together into anything useful, valuable or economical. This is causing segments to beget niche sub‐segments, making interaction behaviors even harder to predict.

Redacting our everyday lives to meet a tighter monthly budget requires we make hard choices as consumers, but reducing is never easy once you have had a taste of more. No one wants to give up premium services or features and pay the same price for less value, but companies big and small are providing us slower response times, less durable products, low quality goods and consistent experiences because they are forced to cut back while we all aren’t spending as much anymore.

Whether 2010 is a just a low watermark for the economic tide, or it provides a persistent financial basement on which we found our future as consumers, product design teams should heed the underlying message because it holds a simple truth: economizing can be the most innovative thing a new product or service experience offers. The ones that reduce the amount of time it takes to accomplish a familiar task, eliminate redundant tasks that waste time and resources, and enable me to focus on only those tasks that really matter are always going to be at the top of my list of things I want to buy, even in harder fiscal times. How about you?

 

Leslie Grandy combines sixteen years in technology product marketing and development with thirteen years of previous experience in motion picture and television commercial production, to create innovative solutions that drive measurable results for both B2B and B2C companies.

Interested in being a Guest Blogger on The Product Guy? Contact me.

CNET & Drudge: On the Cutting Edge of Fair

clip_image001Accessibility is the measure of how many differently skilled/abled types of people (including individuals with disabilities) in varying locations (e.g. mobile web) can make use of a given product. There exist many, very thorough, guidelines for determining the degree to which a product adheres to accepted accessibility standards. However, many can be very complex and time-consuming, also requiring the study of a good deal of the underlying code — much of which goes against the goals of the ‘quick’ part of Quick-UX.

Quick-UX

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Accessibility represents one of the more complex components.

Today, we will look at the first 2 of 3 examples of products with Fair Accessibility, with a Quick-UX Accessibility value between 0.2 (inclusive) and 0.4.

Fair Accessibility

Example: CNET

CNET is a news technology product. In CNET’s own words…

“CNET shows you the exciting possibilities of how technology can enhance and enrich your life.”

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FAE evaluated CNET, returning the following results…

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…resulting in an Accessibility variable value of 0.376 and Fair Accessibility.

Should Do

It is good news that it is much less a technology problem than it is an education and implementation problem to achieve Comprehensive Accessibility. However, there is still a good deal of room for improvement for the product that “shows you the exciting possibilities of how technology can enhance and enrich your life.” Some of the problems not yet explored within other products of this series are…

Navigation & Orientation

  • Regardless of the page content, each page should have at least one <H1> element; and it should contain text.

Styling

  • Very common to products at all levels of Accessibility is the misuse of font styles. Separating the presentation from the functional layers is also important, not just to the development process, but also to Accessibility. The use of <font>, <center>, and other inline styling should be moved to the product’s CSS.

Example: Drudge Report

The Drudge Report is another news product. In this case, this product’s focus is in the aggregation of conservative news.

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Drudge Report achieved the FAE results displayed below…

01_drudge_results

Should Do

To conform to the more traditional standards of Accessibility, this product should start by focusing on HTML Standards.

HTML Standards

  • DOCTYPE should be specified at the top of every page to facilitate validation and rendering of the content within.

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  • The default language for the content of the webpage should be specified. In this example, English…

<HTML lang=”en-us” …. >

Quick & Usable

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring the ins-and-outs of a variety of products, and walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Accessibility

Comprehensive Accessibility [RoundHouse & FAE]
Nearly Comprehensive Accessibility [UseIt & Eboy]
Moderate Accessibility [Borders, Bloomberg & NY1]
Fair Accessibility [CNET & Drudge Report & NBC NY]
Poor Accessibility [GoodReads & Barnes and Noble]

Quick-UX Accessibility Summary, Charts & Data

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components 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

Pondering Pricing, Astounding ALOT & Lean-ing to Greatness in October!

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A big thank you to everyone who made it to our latest roundtable meet-up of The Product Group, as well as to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios, Sunshine Suites, and Ryma Technology Solutions.

IMG_0134 Over the course of the night a few of the highlights were…

  Featured Product: ALOT
exploring the product, its challenges and successes, from the understanding one’s customers to establishing a new business model
(a big thanks to the ALOT team: Sean Conrad, Jim Sanders)

Pricing Strategies
from models and methodologies to communicating change

The Product Group meet-ups are an opportunity for Product People (managers, strategies, marketers, etc.) to come together to meet, interact, and network in a roundtable setting. It’s awesome to meet fellow Product People in a laid-back, conversational gathering.

IMG_0145 If you are a Product Person who would like to have your product or methodology featured at an upcoming meetup of The Product Group, contact me.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our next meetup …

  Thursday, October 7th @ 7PM
@ Pace (163 William Street, 2nd Floor, NYC)
RSVP Now!

And, stay tuned for more announcements about October’s Featured Product, Yipit.

If you would like to attend our next meet-up, RSVP today or visit our group webpage at…

http://meetup.com/TheProductGroup

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

P.S. Interested in becoming a sponsor or host of The Product Group? contact me.

From the Powerful Fat Marker to Standardizing Portability

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

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On Starting Up…

http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/29/founder-institute-how-to-launch-in-10-steps-with-less-than-2000/
Getting to launch in $2000 (or more).

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.pathf.com/blogs/2010/08/thick-marker-bold-sketching/
Give in to the power of the fat marker.

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03_koala

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2010/08/open-source.php
Standardizing the portability of your Modular Innovation.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy