Memorable Utility. Evaluating Convenience through Quick-MI.

clip_image001Through increased utility and stateful behavior, products are able to improve the User eXperience (UX) as well as strengthen the bond of the 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 become 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 to 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 at the measure of 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 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; sometimes also including 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.

01_offline-google-calendar Offline Google Calendar possesses a subset of the functionality as its online counterpart, being limited primarily to the display of the calendar information, earning it an Offline Utilizability variable value of 0.5.

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 its 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.

02_techmeme Another example can be seen in Techmeme, a product that provides all of its non-mobile functionality to a user’s mobile device, achieving a Mobile Utilizability value of 1.

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 03_identi_ca services, can the product be Utilized. A new product worth following, Identi.ca, with an Alternate Utilizability variable value of 1, is working on implementing the Alternate Utilizability concept via the OpenMicroblogging protocol — that 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 that facilitate the retention, reconnectivity, and, of course, memory. 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.

04_hootsuite People who use Hootsuite are happily familiar with the product’s ability to recollect all of the user’s settings and display configuration upon each successive return, earning it a Settings Memorability variable value of 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 some windows around, while 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.

05_eyeos Classic EyeOS, a web-based operating system, recalls some of your state information, icon placement, etc., from session to session, resulting in a Stateful Memorability variable value of 0.5.

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 & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

PS Try it out, tweak it, learn more about Modular Innovation and share you experiences.

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