Random ruminations as I figure out and deal with life, grad school, being an engineer and a product manger; learn more about technology, marketing, economics, news, writing short stories and other stuff that distracts me from doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing....
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Examples in good design: HPs Retail Site and Gilt
I saw two examples in good design today:
HP Retail site.
When a product makes it much easier for you to do something than you expected (in the process delighting you!) that's good design!
Simple lesson from HPs retail site: When I went back to the site, I did think about checking out a printer I'd seen earlier and right there (well-placed on the right towards the middle of the screen) the site made it easier for me to do so. Good for business; good for the user.
The illusion of scarcity is a great way to make people feel like they're getting something special. Today when I wanted to test this retail site, they made me sign up and get on a wait list. Tastefully, getting back to me a letting me know within a day (just quick enough so that I don't lose interest) that I'd been "selected" to join.
In general I'd have expected to be annoyed by the pretentiousness, but given the positioning of the site (secret discounts on high-end retail) my take is: Nicely done. They get bonus points for a really well-designed site.
Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…
I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.
I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.
It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…