The Product Guy: Superfine in 09

Snowman&Bell The Product Guy had another superfine year in 2009, sharing and exploring products, their experiences, and many innovative startups and the founders behind them, while getting to meet and speak with many of The Product Guy’s steadily growing readership.

And, as 2009 comes to a close, as I did last year, let’s take a brief look at the top posts that made this year on The Product Guy so totally superfine….

 

#9 Quick-UX Credibility from Likexo to Etsy

Quick-UX Credibility is a measure of the starting point, the foundation of a product’s Credibility. A look at the popular (and not so popular) examples of web product Credibility online.

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#8 World’s Best Programmer is… [w/ Respect]

The World’s Best Programmer wants respect.

And, respect is just one of those conditions prevalent within the environment of the World’s Best Programmer. In this last post in the series The Product Guy reveals just who exactly is World’s Best Programmer, and where/how they thrive!!

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#7 Converted by an Android. A short story of Gmail, in parts.

Part 1 in a series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook, what brought about this conversion, why it took so long, and what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption.

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#6 jQuery Plugin: It’s CuteTime!

Many online social products, and more continue to, avoid a formal timestamp format… 2009-10-10 23:14:17 and Thu, October 29, 2004 12:14:19 PM … opting for more user friendly, "warm and fuzzy," human-readable styles… 9 days ago and 5 years ago.

As a result, the time has come for the jQuery CuteTime plugin. CuteTime goes beyond similar tools and lets you 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 dynamically update the displayed CuteTime(s) upon request and/or automatically.

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#5 The Future: Gmail, Social Media, and You

Over the past many weeks I have explored, elaborated, and exhausted the extent of the then existent exercising of resistance. Now, with such resistance eroded, drawn out through my conversion by an Android, an exploration into the Future of Gmail and the ‘Should Do’ … Readability, Simplify, Organize, Integration and Consistency.

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#4 Google: True Colors Shine Through

In answering the question of Desirability, "Do I want it?" the sub-category of Color Scheme plays an important role. Google Search is an outstanding example of a Good Color Scheme demonstrating alignment of both colors and messaging. Learn from it.

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#3 Stardoll: Lost and Naked

When you look at a web page, the various elements of the page can often be seen coalescing into distinguishable regions and groups. Intentionally structured, or otherwise, these groups that constitute the page Layout play an important role in the web product’s Desirability. Stardoll is a great example of a web product with Poor Sequential Flow.

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#2 ThreeDots: The jQuery Ellipsis Plugin

Many online products employ ellipses within their products to improve various aspects of the User Experience, such as: allowing for easy summary scanning of page content, and fitting more diversity of content into a smaller space.

As a result, the time has come for the jQuery ThreeDots plugin. ThreeDots goes beyond similar tools and lets you easily and smartly truncate text for when: text is too long, text doesn’t fit within the available space, you want to employ highly configurable and flexible ellipses within your web product.

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#1 Quick-UX. Quick Heuristics for User eXperience.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX), consisting of the core components of Usability (‘Can I use it?’), Usefulness (‘Should I use it?’), and Desirability (‘Do I want to use it?’). 

Quick-UX provides a sure-fire, rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Growing in popularity by leaps and bounds since its original posting in 2008, this posting has earned prime placement amongst other, more recent, articles that made this year, 2009, SUPERFINE.

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This year also saw the launch of The Product Group (sponsored by Balsamiq Studios) in NYC as an opportunity for Product People of all sorts and levels of experience to meet, interact, and network, in a laid-back, conversational environment.  I am certain 2010 will bring many more exciting gatherings, discoveries, and opportunities; and for those reasons, this too, also helped make 2009 for both Product People and The Product Guy, superfine!

Group_Pic_1_20091001 DSC05663 DSC05662 DSC05661

Happy Holidays!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Great in ’08

Christmas-Bell The Product Guy had a great 2008, sharing and exploring products, their experiences, and many innovative startups and the founders behind them, while getting to meet and speak with many of The Product Guy’s steadily growing readership.

And, as 2008 comes to a close, let’s take a brief look at the top 5 posts of 2008 (by popularity) on The Product Guy, starting with…

modular innovation#5 Modular Innovation 101

Modular Innovations lead to users’ information that is Portable, Shareable, Interoperable, Customizable, Redundant, Accessible and, basically, their own. Here The Product Guy explored the various flavors and concepts behind Modular Innovation.

Trends and other primordial indicators of the emergence of Modular Innovation can be found in many products that are out there, or in development, today on the Internet. This year demonstrated a clear evolution of existing online products, and an emergence of many others, implementing and embracing, to a ever increasing degree, Modular Innovation.

 

01_amazon#4 Overgrown Amazon

As part of the series exploring the quantification of product User Experience via Quick-UX, the Aesthetics of Amazon.com were explored.

Every single feature does NOT have to be crammed into the interface. A smart minimalist design will provide just enough of the core functionality up front, and allow for the gradual introduction of deeper features and extras as the user interacts with the product. Amazon.com is a great example of poor Aesthetics.

 

Configuration#3 Quick-UX. Quick Heuristics for User eXperience.

In 2008, I introduced the world to a process I use when quickly evaluating products. In subsequent posts in 2008 (and more to come in 2009) The Product Guy continued to provide examples and elaborate upon the underlying concepts and variables that make up Quick-UX.

The Product Guy’s introduction to performing quick, quantitative assessments of product/user experience.

 

pbwiki#2 Best Free Online Wiki Announced!

With so many wiki choices available, how do you choose? The Product Guy explored and ranked the free, hosted wikis available to both the individual and company.

And, just as PBwiki was about to achieve their own personal user base milestone, they too were recognized as the best, free online wiki.

 

00_yahoo_homepage#1 Yahoo News. #1 Online News Site.

Yahoo News represented the first news web product whose experience was studied in a 4 part series on the pros, cons, and suggested improvements (some of which have been implemented) of the top websites’ User Experiences.

Based on popularity, Yahoo News, at the end of 2007, was #1. And in 2008, this article delving into Yahoo’s News experience was the #1 most popular article at The Product Guy.

 

Happy New Year!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Standard Customization. Evaluating Flexibility through Quick-MI.

shellscript Having choices, broad capabilities and feature sets, is definitely a good thing. All of the previously discussed categories of Quick-MI (4 of the 5 categories)…

…represent the critical components that illuminate the key variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend.

Having the Flexibility, and being easy to grasp and pliable, further enhances the relationships inherent to the emerging products’ trend. Flexibility, in the abstract, prevents important relationships from breaking. Without Flexibility, a relationship becomes rigid. Rigid, brittle relationships don’t respond well to strain, often failing under the pressures of the people and products involved:

control,
self-determination,
change,
etc.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

Equally important, and another of the 5 categories that make up Quick-MI, is Flexibility. Flexibility is the measure of both the ease and degree of adaptability and customization permitted by a product.

In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Flexibility are…

  • Customizability
  • Standardization

Each variable and category (e.g. Flexibility) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

Customizability

Customizability is the measure of degree of plasticity of the other 4 categories of Quick-MI. The overall Customizability of the core components of Quick-MI as represented via a product’s present capabilities is sufficiently important to be represented by independent quantification.

Of each feature set representative of each individual Quick-MI category, Customizability is the evaluation of the proportion of the present capabilities that can be customized and adjusted to desired preferences. An example of Customizability of a data feed can be found in the permitting of the recipient, via an API, to customize the format of the data feed, e.g. choosing between JSON or XML.

The Customizability variable’s value is the sum of evaluated Customizability for each, individual Quick-MI category; thereby, resulting in a maximum value of 4 (a maximum value of 1 per category: Sharability, Interoperability, Portability, and Convenience). Each Customizability value is determined to be…

  • 0 if the Quick-MI category does not allow any Customizability,
  • 0.5 if the capabilities associated with the Quick-MI category are allowed some Customizability and indication of preference, or
  • 1 if the all capabilities associated with the Quick-MI category can be Customized and have preferences indicated.

Standardization

The benefits and value associated with Quick-MI‘s Flexibility category are weakened through the lack of adherence to common practices and standards. The more non-proprietary, standard methods and formats are employed, the more they will be made of use of in the relationships between product-product and people-product. And, in turn, the more resilient will be these relationships.

Some good questions to ask when evaluating the extent of Standardization within a product are…

  • Is there a non-standard API?
  • Is the resultant file in a proprietary file format?
  • Are standard methodologies employed throughout?

The Standardization variable is assigned the value of…

  • 0 if no standard methods or non-proprietary formats are employed within the product,
  • 0.5 if some places within the product make use of commonly accepted practices and formats, or
  • 1 if all of the product’s touch points follow common standards, methodologies and formats.

Fast and Flexible

Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.

With too much rigidity, an inflexible relationship can strain and even break. Flexibility of the components of Quick-MI and simplification of benefiting from that Flexibility, through adherence to commonly accepted standards, is crucial to forming strong, sustainable products and product relationships.

Altogether, the 5 categories of Quick-MI

Sharability,
Interoperability,
Portability,
Convenience, and
Flexibility,

… constitute a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

Enjoy It, Try It, Tweak It, Discuss It & Share!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Memorable Utility. Evaluating Convenience through Quick-MI.

kwallet Through increased utility and stateful behavior, products are able to improve the User eXperience (UX) as well as strengthen the bond of relationship between product-product and user-product. This manner of contribution, to the strength of products’ relationships, is better understood and evaluated via Quick-MI‘s category of Convenience — 1 of the 5 components of Quick-MI.

In my ongoing discussion of Quick-MI we have already explored the importance of…

…as essential components for successful Modular Innovations. Quick-MI consists of 5 components, or categories, that bring to light critical variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend. Modular Innovation (MI), along with a product’s User eXperience (UX), combine to be strong indicators of a product’s adoption and success.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Convenience are…

  • Utilizability
  • Memorability

Each variable and category (e.g. Convenience) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

Utilizability

Utilizability is the look at how useful the product is from various, diverse, points of entry. Utilizability can also be seen as a look at how product and people relationships are maintained and fostered under non-desktop browser situations. It is a look at the diversity of means by which the product may be able to be put to use by the user. Utilizability consists of 3 sub-variables, whose values are summed to constitute the final Utilizability variable value:

  • Offline Utilizability
  • Mobile Utilizability
  • Alternate Utilizability

Offline Utilizability assesses the dependence upon a persistent Internet connection of a given product. Furthermore, Offline Utilizability evaluates the extent to which the capability permeates all facets of the product. Some products make use of another product called Google Gears in order to provide additional functionality to their products, of which sometimes also includes the ability to use all or part of the product Offline. Google Docs, for example, makes use of Google Gears to provide local, portable access regardless of the current state of an Internet connection.

The Offline Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no Offline use of the product exists,
  • 0.5 if some of functionality the product can be used Offline, or
  • 1 if all of the functionality of the product is able to be used whether or not there exists an Internet connection.

Mobile Utilizability evaluates the degree of Utilizability of a product from a mobile product. A mobile product can be anything from cell phone, to PDA, to any other device with handheld-portable intent. A good example of partial Mobile Utilizability is Facebook’s mobile interface. While Facebook does provide an easy to use interface to much of their key functionality, the mobile version of Facebook limits the capabilities (e.g. no access to Facebook apps) that are Utilizable from a mobile device.

The Mobile Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no Mobile (portable device) use of the product exists,
  • 0.5 if some of functionality the product can be Utilized via a Mobile device, or
  • 1 if all of the functionality of the product is Utilizable via a Mobile device.

Alternate Utilizability addresses the “other” of Utilizability. How does a product “help” the user use it – beyond Offline and Mobile Utilizability? For the purposes of quick assessment, Alternate Utilizabilty is limited to assessing the degree of Utilizable data and functionality facilitated via alternate products and services. Through what 3rd-party products (digital or physical), or other online services, can the product be Utilized. A new product worth following, Identi.ca, is working on implementing the Alternate Utilizability concept via the OpenMicroblogging protocol — which will eventually allow people to send and receive their Twitter and Identi.ca “tweets” from any Laconi.ca (the ‘guts’ behind Identi.ca) server — completely independent of the current status of the Twitter service.

The Alternate Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if none of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate products,
  • 0.5 if some of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate products, or
  • 1 if all of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate services and/or products.

Memorability

Most products have some degree of Memorability; typically in the form of Setting Memorability. The more that is remembered, the more Convenient is the interaction as well as the underlying functionality, to use and benefit from, and so too are the relationships to retain, reconnect, and, of course, remember. Memorability is the saving of conditional information and is represented as the sum of 2 sub-variables:

  • Setting Memorability
  • Stateful Memorability

Setting Memorability evaluates the degree of Memorability of user settings. Not all settings are always remembered. For example, some products may or may not remember a customized color scheme.

  • If none of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 0.
  • If some of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 0.5.
  • If all of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 1.

Stateful Memorability evaluates the degree of Memorability of user state – the portions of the experience which, upon user interaction, indicate a preference or customization, but are not directly settable as a user setting. For example, some products may allow the user to re-arrange the UI, moving windows around, minimizing others. Within similar products, the user is manipulating the state of the product, and the degree of Stateful Memorability is seen as to how much, if any, of the window positions and similar customizations are retained upon the user’s later return to the product. Another abstract example: Imagine a user Utilizing a product and getting to step 12 of 45 before having to leave. A form of Stateful Memorability that this product may provide is allowing the user to return later to continue from Step 12 and move beyond it, from the desktop, or even a portable device.

The Stateful Memorability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no state information is remembered,
  • 0.5 if some state information is remembered, or
  • 1 is all state information is remembered.

Conveniently Quick

Success of a product is more than having the most awe inspiring UX. There is a lot more to it. Another component, another dimension of sustained success online is Modular Innovation.

Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.

Important to successful relationships is the ease with which one can re-establish and return to those relationships. This Convenience, when present, can strengthen and even encourage the stronger Modular Innovation relationship and bond through well done implementations of utility and retention, Utilizability and Memorability. These conveniences are another key to understanding the trend of Modular Innovation.

Remember, Convenience is just 1 of 5 categories that make up Quick-MI. The other 4 categories are…

Through all 5 categories, combined, a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

Enjoy, Discuss & Share!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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To Have and Own. Evaluating Portability through Quick-MI.

fileshare In my ongoing discussion of Quick-MI we have explored the importance of Sharability and Interoperability as essential components for successful Modular Innovations. Quick-MI consists of 5 components, or categories, that bring to light critical variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend. Modular Innovation (MI), along with a product’s User eXperience (UX), combine to be strong indicators of a product’s adoption and success.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

The next of the 5 categories that make-up Quick-MI that we will explore is Portability.

Portability, a key component of Quick-MI, is a measure of degree of ownership and control over one’s own content, as a user. One’s own content is commonly referred to as User Generated Content (and abbreviated UGC).

In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Portability are…

  • Exportability (UGC & Settings)
  • Importability
  • Editability
  • Controllability

Each variable and category (e.g. Portability) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

 

Exportability

Seen by many as dealing most directly with the actual UGC of all the 5 categories of Quick-MI is Portability. And, readily apparent in bestowing the sense of ownership and control over one’s own content and data is Exportability. The ownership and control derives from the ability to download or transfer your content to your local computer or 3rd party service. As a result, the content can be retained independently and re-used independently of the service through which it originated.

Exportability consists of 2 sub-component variables:

  • UGC Exportability
  • Settings Exportability

UGC Exportability evaluates the degree of Exportability of the UGC created by a user. This can be anything from pictures to blog articles — works created by the user and used with or simply placed upon the studied product.

Settings Exportability evaluates the degree of Exportability of the settings and configurations that directly impact the UGC and resultant User eXperience (UX). For example, the settings can indicate…

  • which of the content is public or private,
  • the color scheme (theme) to use when displaying the information,
  • the user’s friends that are permitted to view each UGC element,
  • and more.

The value of the Exportability variable is the sum of the values of the variables: UGC Exportability and Settings Exportability.

The UGC Exportability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if none of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded,
  • 0.5 if some of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded, or
  • 1 if all of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded.

The Settings Exportability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if none of the user’s UGC / UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded,
  • 0.5 if some of the user’s UGC /UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded, or
  • 1 if all of the user’s UGC / UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded.

 

Importability

The logical progression of ability arising from that of Exportability is Importability. Exportability and Importability are logically linked, however, not inextricably so, as one characteristic can exist without the other. It is not uncommon to find a wiki that allows for the exporting of the full contents of the wiki, but provides no capability to import that which was exported. Importability, within Quick-MI, specifically is the ability permitted by a product to import, or re-incorporate, content and/or settings that were previously exported as well as the product’s capability to manage change, edits, within the imported content.

An example of Importability is demonstrated by Google Base. Google Base allows users to externally edit the content that was stored or generated within the product and then upload and re-combine the edited content with the user’s existing data.

The value of Importability for a product is…

  • 0 if data that was transferred away, exported, from the product cannot be re-imported,
  • 0.5 if the data that was exported from the product can be re-imported, but not edited, or
  • 1 if the data that was exported from the product can be both edited and re-imported.

 

Editability

Editability is the measure of the degree of dependence the user has upon the product from which the UGC originated, or was modified by, once the UGC has been exported. Without an independent means of editing exported content, the exported content primarily exists as a backup of a user’s data — with limited reusability and flexibility.

  • If none of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 0.
  • If some of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 0.5.
  • If all of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 1.

 

Controllability

Delving into the ‘where’ of Portability is a look at the Controllability of one’s own data, or UGC. Data can be Portable, but…

How close can you get to your data?

How much control can you exert over your UGC?

Can you “touch” it?

Some social networks allow their users to import friend lists directly from 3rd party services, e.g. email or other social networks. The social networks, may also allow the users to easily add, remove, and modify all their friends information. However, the control of the transferred content, for this example, is limited, since neither the social network, nor the origin of the content permitted downloading or other remote storage of the friends data — thereby, limiting the user’s overall control over the content.

The Controllability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if none of the data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store,
  • 0.5 if some of the data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store, or
  • 1 if all of the data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store.

 

Swiftly Portable

Success of a product is more than having the most awe inspiring UX. There is a lot more to it. Another component, another dimension of sustained success online is Modular Innovation.

Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.

Integral to successful relationships is the inherent sense of control and ownership over one’s own work and contributions. A relationship cannot hold together without the individual’s “ownership,” and resulting control and pride that accompanies. A relationship cannot hold together without Portability, quantified via the Portability score (a summation of the above variable values).

Remember, Portability is just 1 of 5 categories that make up Quick-MI. The other 4 categories are…

Through all 5 categories, combined, a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

Enjoy, Discuss & Share!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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At and Between. Evaluating Interoperability through Quick-MI.

web In my earlier discussion, I outlined the importance of Sharability to successful Modular Innovations and Quick-MI. Quick-MI consists of 5 components, or categories, that bring to light critical variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend. Modular Innovation (MI), along with a product’s User eXperience (UX), combine to be strong indicators of a product’s adoption and success.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

Equally important, and another of the 5 categories that make up Quick-MI, is Interoperability. Interoperability is the measure of the degree of integration permitted.

Interoperability is the means by which information is shared and disparate products can continually exchange information.

Interoperability is about the connection. It is the Interoperable, integrated connection between products that facilitates sharing and exchanging. This includes the ability to make that connection, to establish that relationship; or the hindrance,

    thereof. Through the study of Interoperability a clearer understanding can be formed of the immediate benefits achievable, as well as the quantification of these benefits and capabilities.

    In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Interoperability are…

    • Connectivity
    • Redundancy
    • Legality

    Each variable and category (e.g. Interoperability) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

     

    Connectivity

      Perhaps the most obvious variable of Interoperability is Connectivity. Connectivity is the means by which the current product can access and interact with external products and platforms. To exchange information a connection must be established and methods must exist that enable the relationship to take hold and let flow the content.

      The content can be anything, from basic status information to images and friends lists. Connectivity is typically achieved via an API. A well known example is the Twitter API. This API provides a simple, web-based interface that allows people and 3rd-party products to perform actions, like read messages and status updates of the people on Twitter, as well as submit new ‘tweets’ and direct messages.

      Connectivity flows both ways, in and out, read and write. The Connectivity variable value (with a starting value of 0) is determined by way of the conditional summation of the following…

      • Add 0.5 if the product can read from, “pull-in,” content from one or more external products, and
      • Add 0.5 if the product can write to, “push-out,” content to one or more external products, and
      • Add 1 if external products can read from, “pull-out,” content from the product, and
      • Add 1 if external products can write to, “push-in,” content to the product.

       

      Redundancy

      When integrating with another product, is the user forced to choose exchanging information between either product A or product B? Or can both products be used in parallel?

      Redundancy is the ability, provided by the product, whereby external products are leveraged to provide replication of functionality and/or content.

      Building upon the Twitter theme, some services exist to facilitate this very sort of Redundancy. Most notably, Ping.fm comes to mind. Ping.fm does not force integration with one external product over another. Ping.fm allows for simultaneous, parallel integration with multiple similar products; making the user less dependent on any one of these services, in the event of down-time or other failures. Beyond “peace of mind,” Redundancy also provides for means to replicate content and maintain functionality that results from such integrations. For example, when I use Ping.fm, I can simultaneously send a status update to Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk

      • saving me time,
      • replicating my status updates, and
      • ensuring that I can continue sending updates even if one or more of these products goes offline,

      … all attributes, benefits, of Redundancy.

      Redundancy can be found on the user-facing side, like Ping.fm, or just under the surface, e.g. using multiple data clouds to store data. The Redundancy variable is assigned the value of 0 or…

      • 1 if multiple external products, per touchpoint, can be (or are being) used to replicate functionality and/or content throughout the primary functionality and interaction points of the product (e.g. everything from status updates to pictures to messages to data storage), or
      • 0.5 if, for each touchpoint, a single external product can be (or is being) used to replicate some of the primary functionality and/or content (e.g. status updates sent to both Twitter and Jaiku)

       

      Legality

      Terms of Service and other legal restrictions and requirements have a significant impact on the resultant Interoperability possible, or worthwhile. In some cases, broad capabilities of Interoperability are possible, but only for personal usage. Other exemplary cases, allow for Interoperability, but with an associated monetary cost.

      The website, Yelp, provides a range of Interoperability that allows external applications to access restaurant and related data. However, those products making use of Yelp’s Interoperability have the following restrictions / requirements…

      • Clearly display Yelp branding alongside any obtained content,
      • Product must be non-competitive with Yelp,
      • Cannot locally store any obtained content,
      • And, more.

      Legality is a measure of freedom, and allowable range of use and usefulness, of the ability to integrate and be Interoperable. The Legality variable is assigned the value of…

      • 1 if there are absolutely ZERO legal restrictions placed on the Interoperability of the product,
      • 0.75 if commercial use is permitted,
      • 0.5 if only non-commercial use is permitted, or
      • 0 if no Interoperability, via API or other means, is permitted.

       

      Rapidly Closer

      Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation. A relationship cannot hold together without the “glue,” without Interoperability, quantified via the Interoperability score (summation of the above variable values).

      Remember, Interoperability is just 1 of 5 categories that make up Quick-MI. The other 4 categories are…

      Through all 5 categories, combined, a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

      Through the growing presence of Modular Innovation, and the important category, the important element of Interoperability, everything is becoming increasingly and rapidly closer.

      Enjoy, Discuss & Share!

      Jeremy Horn
      The Product Guy

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      Permission and Content. Evaluating Sharability through Quick-MI.

      community_users The first of the 5 components of Quick-MI, that I will be discussing in greater depth, is Sharability. Sharability is the measure of how much and to what degree information can be shared.

      For relationships to work, between products, just like with people, sharing must be present. And to share, to receive, there must be both Permission as well as the more fundamental characteristic, of having something to share.

      In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison) the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Sharability are…

      • Content
      • Permission

      Each variable and category (e.g. Sharability) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

      Content

      Without any Content that can be shared, the ability to share breaks down pretty quickly. The Content that one can share with another can be many things, from that which is personally generated, to Content available to a specific group, to part or all of an individual’s settings / customizations.

      Further examples of Content can be seen as metadata, text, images, settings, stories, conversations – a blog post, comments within a forum, avatar image, and identification of one’s favorite topics.

      Determining the value for the Content variable is done through briefly surveying the product, followed by the assignment of a value…

      • 0 if there is no Content that exists that can be shared, or
      • 1 if some of the Content is found to be sharable, or
      • 2 if all of the Content, personal, group, global, including all user settings, are sharable.

      Permission

      Some products allow sharing of Content with only registered users. Others allow sharing within parameters based on the type of user or method of access.

      The Permission variable value is broadly determined as the sum of affirmative confirmations to the following conditions (with the starting value of 0)…

      • If the Content can be shared with everyone, add 1, and
      • If the Content can be optionally shared with specific groups (e.g. clubs, types of members), add 1, and
      • If the Content can be optionally shared with specific individuals, add 1.

      Quickly Shared

      Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation. Relationships have to start somewhere. And, at their start, and an important cornerstone to Quick-MI, is sharing and, therefore, the product’s Sharability score.

      Sharability, as the summation of both variables of Content and Permission, when combined with the other categories of Quick-MI

      … present a sound, representative, quantification of a product’s ability to foster relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of a product online.

      Enjoy & Discuss!

      Jeremy Horn
      The Product Guy

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