Happy New Year! Product Management in 2012

2012Happy New Year! The last year has seen many changes in the world of product management. Yet, with all these changes, we can all expect ever more exciting trends, processes, and, especially, products in 2012!

A Look Back

In 2011, many of the prevailing trends we experienced were…

  • Increased focus on process for innovation and ideation
  • API’s, relationships, modular innovation, integration. You are not a true product unless you have an API.
  • Decreasing use of the free service / product business model. Growing on free is no longer the best policy. You can actually create a viable, sustainable business by charging customers money. (omg)
  • The new form factor — the tablet. While it has been around for sometime, the tablet (specifically, the iPad) has had a profound affect on not just tablet design, but all product design and product-consumer expectations of interaction — more intuitive, more touchy.

The Coming Year

It’s always fun to attempt to predict the future. Based on my interactions with the product management community, the following are my predictions for the big trends of 2012.

  • Offline. There will be a broad-based movement back to enabling the offline application, powered by HTML5, from document management to media consumption.
  • Death of XML. XML is on the wane, and JSON’s time has come. With all of the frameworks that have been developed to extract, transform, and transport XML, there will be great entrepreneurial opportunities in 2012 tooling-up JSON.
  • The number of product management roles will continue to grow. However, they will be filled by more and more junior people. These positions will also focus much more on the tactical side of product management (vs. the strategic).
  • In demand skills of the product manager of 2012 (and beyond)…
    • Tech / programming. There will be increasing need for technical experience or programming skills for product manager roles (even UX centric ones).
    • Statistics. Establishing and gathering metrics will become increasingly central to what it means to be a product manager. You need to demonstrate your value and make smarter decisions. (One of the key drivers has been the growth of Lean Methodology.)
  • Customer driven roadmapping will gain increasing momentum. And, mirroring that trend, but inward facing, more company-wide integrated product management will be taking shape.

What’s next?

What are your predictions and expected trends for product management in 2012?

Enjoy & thanks to everyone who followed, read, and participated in The Product Guy blog and The Product Group, new and old, in 2011! We are going to have a supremely awesome 2012!!! See you there!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Sketching a Path Forward

sketch-forwardDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Functional Forms

When your designer says “no”… how do you get them to “yes”? Let’s look at this challenge with respect to a few designer types that many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of working with.

The Perfectionist
The Innovator

This week, let’s take a look at…

The Mixologist
The Standard Bearer

The Mixologist

The Mixologist may lack vision or a good stream of resources. No problem.

Influence the sources. If the sources are blogs, suggest other blogs more inline with your desired approaches. If the sources are people, work with them, share your vision, share your perspectives, recommendations, creativity, logic and reasoning. Build relationships and foster broad support from below. Tread lightly here; you do not want to offend The Mixologist by overstepping or allowing any of your relationship building to be construed as anything threatening.

When The Mixologist is aligned with your goals and proposing ideas you have pitched and sought, get your ego out of the way… #1 is always to achieve the business objective. And, if you have built sound relationships, the right people will know where the credit truly belongs. Oh yeah… and frequent lunches with The Mixologist help too.

The Standard Bearer

“Standards are great, because there are so many to choose from.”

There are a ton of standards out there. For every standard, there is another competing one. Identify the competition, share it around the organization. Build support for the new standard, or at least for a willingness to experiment with it. Let those new supporters become the advocates of the new thinking. Foster an environment where multiple ideas, multiple standards can co-exist and compete on objective measures. Encourage and reward the experimentation with competing standards as well as non-standard concepts. Standards are great; they can always be improved.

Designers are people, too.

Yep. And, they too, do not often fit a simple character description. Most designers are a mix of traits, some potentially described here.

Generally speaking, the best influencer, the one to really buddy up to, is statistics– they can often be your best influencer and supporter in most cases. Collect the data, find the data, and introduce the data (“your key influencer”) to your designer and together understand it, explore it, and challenge yourselves to build upon it.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

The Pixel Perfectionist

pixel-pefectDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Functional Forms

When your designer says “no”… how do you get them to “yes”? Let’s look at this challenge with respect to a few designer types that many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of working with.

The Perfectionist
The Innovator
The Mixologist
The Standard Barer

The Perfectionist

Perhaps your idea isn’t perfect, or is suffering from The Perfectionist’s attempt for design perfection. Or, perhaps, the design is spiraling into endless edge case bottomless pits of despair.

The Perfectionist can be difficult to influence by anyone less perfect than themselves (nearly everyone else). You may recognize The Perfectionist by these additional traits…

  • Has to be in control
  • Gets carried away with the details
  • Frequently criticizes others
  • Refuses to hear criticism
  • Checks up on other people’s work
  • Has a hard time making choices

Leverage the Peer Group

At their core, The Perfectionist seeks acceptance and approval. Encourage praise from their peers and coworkers for their work; satisfaction breeds productivity and openness to more ideas (especially those that may have received firm “no’s” in the past)

Create an environment that rewards good ideas. Perfectionism can often be curbed through healthy, time-constrained competition – encourage speed and near perfection over 100% and lagging delivery. A mix of some competition with other individuals / groups coupled with tracking and metrics can help lower the individual’s reservations about taking risks while simultaneously establishing a structure for setting and achieving more realistic goals.

The Innovator

Innovator may find your ideas too bland and normal… that’s fine, provide avenues for their creative spirit.

The Innovator can be pushing the limits of design so far that their designs lose the ability to communicate form and function, usable value. The Innovator often seeks to inspire, rather than motivate – motivate the product users to action, to buy, to come back.

Set objective, measurable goals. For example, change the challenge from improving usability by moving the login button to a new location, to increase the rate of logins by 20% and time on the website by 40% for each logged in user. When you redefine the problem in these terms, you then empower The Innovator to iterate, to innovate, to dazzle, to do whatever they can envision… as long, at the end of the day, the goals are met.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager. Next week, we will look at …

The Mixologist
The Standard Barer

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Draw in the Designers

imageDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Let’s Take Designers

There are all types of designers. To describe a few…

The Perfectionist

Can often get lost in the weeds and minutia. They may even often fail at the on time delivery of a product since, for them, nothing less than 100% perfect will do.

The Innovator

A genius at creating new design patterns; and is always trying to work them into every corner of the product design. They seek to establish previously unexperienced trends. And, they may see themselves more as an artist than as a designer working to meet the business requirements of customers, or product managers.

The Mixologist

They take, borrow, improve ideas of their own, from their team, peers, as well as, from outside the company (blogs, designers, books, websites, …). They may not be doing the heavy lifting, but, make no mistakes, they are the design conductor behind the scenes.

The Standard Barer

This individual of rigorous ideals, follows only the establish design patterns — shirking from trying the untried ideas. Often they end up following these standards to a fault, impinging innovation and other business goals.

The Problem

Your designer doesn’t want to make the changes to the UI that you think will provide additional business value, through usability, productivity, better experience, …

What do you do? Twist an arm? Or, understand the individual, and influence the influencers?

What’s your advice for these and other types of designers?

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

jQuery Plugin: BetterGrow Your Words

jquerylogo256_thumb[1]

Many things grow, but none grow better than when they BetterGrow.  Used by products such as Facebook and Basecamp, textareas that can adapt to user input, growing or shrinking their height to the demands of the text entered, provide an oft-desired minimalistic user experience of progressive enhancement – providing just what is needed by the consumer when it is needed.

facebook

Despite the widespread appeal of dynamic height textareas, I have been unable to find one such code snippet or JavaScript plugin that would meet all my needs; the most important of which was responsiveness.  Every dynamic textarea plugin that I found had some shortcoming, from delayed reaction to required grow/shrink event, to annoying visual flickers and blinks.  BetterGrow was designed to have none of these quirks, and simply grow (and shrink) better, based on the specified options and text content.

I wanted a dynamic and customizable textarea that kept up with me, that

didn’t wait until I was done typing to resize,
was much more ‘elastic’ than other similar plugins,
never obscured the entered text,
adapted both quickly and smoothly to the user.

So, I wrote the BetterGrow jQuery plugin and open-sourced it under both GPL and MIT License so that I, and everyone else, could benefit from a textarea that didn’t just grow, but grew better when it had BetterGrow. ;-)

grow_and_shrink

Usage

BetterGrow is a customizable jQuery plugin for enabling the improved, dynamic expansion of a textarea.

<div>
	<textarea id="area51">
	</textarea>
</div>
$('#area51').BetterGrow({ / * OPTIONS * / });

When the text within the target textarea exceeds the initial textarea height the textarea increases its height sufficiently to accommodate the new text.

When the text within the target textarea decreases sufficiently to allow for a lesser height, and the height is greater than the minimum textarea height or initial textarea height, then the textarea height is reduced to the minimum height required to display the text within, while not obscuring the visibility or requiring a scrollbar to view any of the text

Important:  The textarea must reside within an encapsulating DIV.  And, to avoid problems in IE, you should explicitly set the textarea’s width.

Method

When initialized, the textarea object and its parent DIV have their attributes adjusted.  The method implementation supports chaining and returns the jQuery object.

The DIV should add no size to the textarea object or region.  DIV height is automatically set to AUTO.

The textarea’s overflow is set to HIDDEN and the WIDTH is set to the current WIDTH. (FYI:  WIDTH of textarea must be defined to work in IE)

If the DIV is missing, the plugin will attempt to wrap the textarea in a new DIV.  It is recommended that all targeted textareas are wrapped in a DIV before calling BetterGrow to avoid unexpected behavior.

If the textarea already has text within it when BetterGrow is initialized, the textarea’s height is automatically adjusted to fit the text (if a height greater than the initial height is needed to present the text unobscured).

Settings

By default, the textarea’s initial empty height, aka minimum height, is set to 26px, with no special event handling enabled.  These and many other characteristics are fully customizable, and fully itemized and explained below.

To change these settings, they can either be accessed directly…

$.fn.BetterGrow.settings.initial_height = 100px;

… or at the time of initialization…

$('#area52').BetterGrow({
	initial_height:	50px,
	on_enter:		function() {
        				submit_form();
				},
	do_not_enter:	false
});

The default settings data structure is…

$.fn.BetterGrow.settings = {
	initial_height:	26,                // specified in pixels
	on_enter:		null,         // callback function; if specified, this is called when enter is pressed
	do_not_enter:	true         // if true and on_enter is not null then enter event does not cascade / pass-through to textarea
};

The parameters are defined (and all can be overridden) thus…

initial_height

  • minimum height in pixels for the textarea
  • if the textarea is EMPTY, this is the initial height

on_enter

  • callback function that is called when ENTER is pressed within the target textarea(s)
  • by default, on_enter is DISABLED (set to NULL)

do_not_enter

  • if on_enter is ENABLED (pointing to a callback function) and
    • if do_not_enter is TRUE,  then the ENTER event DOES NOT CASCADE / pass-through to the text area
    • if do_not_enter is FALSE, then the ENTER event will trigger the calling of the function referenced by on_enter and be reflected within the textarea
  • In other words, if TRUE then the content of the textarea will not change as a direct result of the user pressing ENTER.

Get It

You can download BetterGrow, dual licensed under GPL and MIT, from…

Git
Public Clone URL: git://github.com/theproductguy/BetterGrow.git
GitHub: http://github.com/theproductguy/BetterGrow

Demo

http://theproductguy.com/bettergrow/bettergrow.demo.html

If you find this useful, or have any questions, ideas, or issues, leave a comment.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

The Product Guy: Astonishin’ in 2010!

Snowman

Wow! Another year of The Product Guy is now coming to a close… an awesomely astonishin’ 2010! Together we explored many exciting products and enjoyed the perspectives from very smart guest bloggers, from startups to user experience to modular innovation and more — all while getting to meat and speak with many of The Product Guy’s steadily growing readership.

And, once again, let’s take a brief look at the top posts that made this year on The Product Guy so awesomely astonishin’…

#10 Stribe to be Instantly More Social

Recently, The Product Guy had the opportunity to interview Kamel Zeroual, CEO of Stribe — Gold prize winner at Le Web ‘09. And he covered topics ranging from this Paris-based startup’s origins to where it is going and how it is planning to get there.

00_stribe_homepage

#9 brainmates Interview with The Product Guy

Two weeks ago I was interviewed by Janey Wong over at brainmates for their brainrants blog. We touched on some really good Product Management topics in which I think you would be interested.

So, here it is, reblogged straight from Australia…

image

#8 Why Startups are Agile and Opportunistic – Pivoting the Business Model

Startups are inherently chaotic. The rapid shifts in the business model is what differentiates a startup from an established company. Pivots are the essence of entrepreneurship and the key to startup success. If you can’t pivot or pivot quickly, chances are you will fail.

steve_blank

#7 Quick-MI Worksheet: Spreadsheet to Sustained Online Success

Over the past few years I’ve been discussing Quick-MI. Now, through the help of Google Docs, I’m sharing the Quick MI Worksheet to make it even easier for you to apply Quick-MI to your products, track progress, and share the results with your team. The Quick-MI Worksheet automatically performs all the necessary calculations and summarizes the product for you.

#6 Modular Innovation 201

The products and concepts that constitute Modular Innovation are those that connect, enable, produce, enhance, extend, and make use of these relationships and, in turn, users’ online experiences with them. Let’s get to understand them better.

image

#5 Facebook PDQ

In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Page Load plays an instrumental part. Facebook is one such excellent example of a web product with Prompt Page Load Time.

00_facebook-homepage

#4 Automating the Path to a Better User Experience

Quick-UX evaluates the degree to which a product successfully addresses the following 3 questions: Can I use it? (Usability), Should I use it? (Usefulness), and Do I want to use it? (Desirability). Now, through the help of Google Docs, as I did the other week with the release of the Quick-MI Worksheet, I’m sharing the Quick-UX Worksheet to make it even easier and faster …

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#3 jQuery ThreeDots: yayQuery Plugin of the Week!

I’ve been a fan of yayQuery since shortly after their initial podcast episode. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise and elation when I heard them announce that my ThreeDots plugin was this week’s jQuery Plugin of the Week… almost falling down the stairs as I listened this past Friday while entering the subway here in NYC.

yayquery-plugin-of-the-week

#2 jQuery Plugin: CuteTime, C’est Magnifique! (v 1.1) [UPDATE]

I am very pleased to announce the latest major update to the CuteTime jQuery plugin. CuteTime provides the ability to easily: convert timestamps to ‘cuter’ language-styled forms (e.g. yesterday, 2 hours ago, last year, in the future!), customize the time scales and output formatting, and update automatically and/or manually the displayed CuteTime(s).

In addition to the inclusion of French CuteTime in this latest release, version 1.1 features: ISO8601 date timestamp compliance, insertions using the %CT% pattern of computed numbers within the CuteTime cuteness, support for all foreign language characters and HTML, Spanish CuteTime translations, courtesy of Alex Hernandez, richer demos and test, improved settings flexibility of the CuteTime function, documentation updates (corrections and clarifications).

jquerylogo256_thumb[1]

#1 jQuery Plugin: Give Your Characters a NobleCount

In my quest I have been on the lookout for a jQuery plugin that would provide the ability to: (1) provide real-time character counts, (2) enable easy to customize visual behaviors, and … While there are other similar tools out there, none adequately met these goals. Therefore, I created the jQuery NobleCount plugin.

twitter

 

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This year The Product Group grew beyond all possible expectations! Now with 600+ active members in NYC we Product People of all sorts and levels of experience to meet, interact, and network, in a laid-back, conversational environment on first Thursday of each month. Thank you to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios, RYMA Technology, and Sunshine Suites, and to every one of you who attend, engage and help make The Product Group the astonishin’ success it has become!

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Happy New Year!

Jeremy Horn 
The Product Guy

57 Varieties: Relishing Accessibility

clip_image001In creating this series on Quick-UX and Accessibility, I studied over 50 products before carefully selecting the ones that made the articles’ final cut. While the products I chose were semi-random, at best, their resultant distribution…

clip_image003

…was most informative and encouraging regarding the strength of my rapid Accessibility assessment tool of choice, FAE:

clip_image005

Of the products discussed within the articles, I decided to plot some radar charts to see if there was any additional insight that could be gleaned via visual inspection. I hope you too find the patterns, visualized below, useful too.

Comprehensive Accessibility

clip_image007

FAE QUA value = 0.976

RoundHouse QUA value = 0.904

Nearly Comprehensive Accessibility

UseIt.com QUA value = 0.636

Eboy QUA value = 0.668

clip_image009

Moderate Accessibility

clip_image011

Borders QUA value = 0.428

Bloomberg QUA value = 0.596

NY1 QUA value = 0.580

Fair Accessibility

CNet QUA value = 0.376

Drudge Report QUA value = 0.240

NBC NY QUA value = 0.380

clip_image013

Poor Accessibility

clip_image015

GoodReads QUA value = 0.176

Barnes and Noble QUA value = 0.072

Furthermore, I am providing the access to the worksheet where I collected, collated, and crunched the raw numbers for all 57 products.

SPREADSHEET (Google Docs Version) (Excel Version with charts & highlights)

Quick-UX Accessibility 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. With decreased Accessibility comes limited market opportunities, decreased Usability, and hindered inter-product Interoperability. As a result of the availability of a variety of very usable tools and due to the current state of web technology, addressing and improving Accessibility should no longer be an afterthought. And, through Quick-UX, addressing Accessibility, as well as the larger categories of Usability, Usefulness, and Desirability, can be done quite easily and quickly, providing…

  • a summarized view of a product’s overall User eXperience,
  • directional guidance for a product’s future development, and/or
  • metrics for comparison with other products.

Check out the Quick-UX Worksheet for the broader set of User Experience variables and heuristics.

QUICK-UX WORKSHEET

And until next week, when the exploration and discussion of products, user experience, modular innovation, startups, or perhaps something quite new, enjoy reviewing the products and ensuing discussions of this series, and see you then.

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

Enjoy & Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss out on future series, interviews, events and product insights from The Product Guy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Less than Grand GoodReads

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 2 examples of products with Poor Accessibility, with a Quick-UX Accessibility value below 0.2.

Poor Accessibility

Accessibility standards exist to provide people with disabilities a means of using products, from reading and interacting with those on the web, as well as many very positive benefits beyond this group of individuals. For these reasons, for this article, I made the ironic selection of the following 2 products, whose missions are to get and keep people reading and interacting online.

Example: GoodReads

GoodReads is a very cool product that brings all types of book fans together, sharing recommendations, tracking read and wanted books, and doing other fun book club-y things.

00_goodreads_homepage

GoodReads received the following results from FAE…

01_goodreads_results

…resulting in an Accessibility variable value of 0.176 and Poor Accessibility.

Should Do

Beyond making sure that all images have ALT text specified, this product would do well to address its use and identification of “decorative images.”

Text Equivalents

  • Images with empty ALT text are assumed to either be informational, whereby the ALT attribute should have been populated with contextually relevant information, or was left empty – a decorative image. Such decorative images should typically be removed and implemented via CSS.
  • In this product, the NULL specification for the ALT text is generally accepted – informing assistive tools to skip the images with alt=””.

02_goodreads_null

However, the implementation of tracking pixels throughout the product is inconsistent. Another example of a tracking pixel within this product provides attention getting ALT text on an image 1×1 pixel, that is also not intended for consumer consumption.

03_goodreads_quantcast

Example: Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble, famous brick-and-mortar bookstore chain, provides a web product that goes beyond just selling of books.

00_bn_homepage

The tattered results delivered by FAE for this product were…

01_bn_results

…resulting in an Accessibility variable value of 0.072 and Poor Accessibility.

Should Do

Throughout this series many examples of areas for improvement have been stated and explored for other products. And, for this product, these ‘should do’ items, for the most part, apply here, too. Most significant amongst these areas for improvement for Barnes and Noble are…

Text Equivalents

  • Always provide Alternate text for images.
  • Remove images with no Alternate text specified.
  • Make sure Area elements also have Alternate text specified.

HTML Standards

  • Include a valid DOCTYPE declaration at the top of each page to facilitate rendering and validation.
  • Make the pages’ character encoding clear. For example, by including…

02_bn_encoding

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

NBC NY Bringing Fair Accessibility

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 last of 3 examples of products with Fair Accessibility, with a Quick-UX Accessibility value between 0.2 (inclusive) and 0.4.

Fair Accessibility

Example: NBC New York

NBC New York’s online news product presents a visually pleasing and minimalistic user experience.

00_nbcny_homepage

FAE’s evaluation of this product resulted in …

01_nbcny_results

…with an Accessibility variable value of 0.38 and Fair Accessibility.

Should Do

While demonstrating strength in HTML Standards and Styling that went beyond the basic visual, there still remains room for improvement in the areas of …

Navigation & Orientation

  • Beyond the importance of always specifying at least one <H1> element, it is equally important that every one of these elements contains text (as well as the subsequent <H#> elements).
  • Button, Submit, and Reset form elements must have either a value or a title attribute set.

Text Equivalents

  • While a common problem in many products with a heavy dose of images, especially news content with a constant stream of news and images, it remains no less important that every image should always be associated with a descriptive ALT text attribute.
  • “Decorative Images” used to such effects as positioning, typically images with either a height or width less than 8 pixels, should either be rethought and redesigned or resolved using CSS techniques.

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

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.

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