Thursday, December 31, 2009

Einstein Quote for User Experience Designers

I will end 2009 with a quote from Albert Einstein. Something that all User Experience designers and Product Managers should keep in mind in the upcoming year:

"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."

The Onion puts its spin on bigger and more complex:

Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Change Blindness: What Are You Paying Attention To?

Depending on what we focus on, our brains can be completely blind to obvious changes going on around us. This is called, “Change Blindness” and it is unnerving when you can easily see it. Here are a couple videos showing this in action. The first is an experiment conducted at Harvard where 75% of the people in the test don’t notice that the man in front of them has turned into another man. Below the Harvard experiment is a video of magician Derren Brown exploiting this blind spot we have in a much more dramatic way. Can you imagine a white male changing into an Asian female without noticing, right in front of you?

This is similar to “The Awareness Test” video I posted last year. What I always think of first when I see things like this is what are we failing to capture when observing people using the products we design? What do we don’t-know-we-don’t-know?

Direct link to Harvard's Change Blindness Experiment:

Derren Brown - Person Swap - The most amazing home videos are here

Direct link to Derren Brown's Person Swap:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

YouTube is the new Incubator: Panic Attack! (Ataque de Pánico!)

Following in the footsteps of singers Esmee Denters, Justin Bieber and Arnel Pineda (Journey), YouTube has launched the career of Filmmaker, Fede Alvarez. Fede spent about $300 creating a 4 minute short film and posted it on YouTube. Just like Journey being able to find a singer in a way they could never do in the past, Fede’s video was seen by Sam Raimi online and quickly signed to produce a $30 million film. Here is what Alvarez said about the process of being discovered:

"I uploaded (Panic Attack!) on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of e-mails from Hollywood studios... If some director from some country can achieve this just uploading a video to YouTube, it obviously means that anyone could do it."

YouTube has become a listening channel for discovering talent, wagging serendipity for anyone out there who has the goods. What have you uploaded today?

Here is the video from Fede Alvarez, Panic Attack:

Direct link to Panic Attack video:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Not Knowing Something is a Business Requirement: LED Traffic Light Design Fail

If you had to create a new traffic light bulb, what would your business requirements be? It turns out that it’s not just about the amount of light they cast or the energy they use. There was a hidden business requirement in designing new traffic lights bulbs. LED traffic lights are much easier to see and consume up to 90% less energy, but something the designers didn’t consider was something incandescent traffic lights do naturally. They melt snow. People can see current traffic lights in snow because the heat that they produce melts the snow that accumulates on them.

If someone made that a requirement in designing the new LED lights, they would have addressed it. Instead, police departments are reporting an increase in traffic accidents where LED traffic lights are installed. Are there important product features that get removed during an upgrade because people weren’t aware of their importance? Product Managers have to make sure they know what features of their products are vital.

UPDATE 1 Jan 2010: The New York Times article on this same topic -

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Domino’s Is Changing, But Half of Us Still Prefer Our Local Pizza Place

There is a story out today that Domino’s is changing the taste of its pizza because it ranks very low amongst customers. The company says that it took two years to upgrade their recipe and that they have invested much more than they have on food launches in the past. Is this why Domino's isn't what people prefer?

At the bottom of this story there is a place to vote on your favorite pizza. The “mom-and-pop place near where I live” beat everyone easily with 49%. Do we love our local pizza places because of just the flavor? People love to recommend and talk about their favorite pizza. Domino’s might want to look at the entire mom-and-pop pizza place experience and the connection people have with them.