Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Virtual Meets Reality: Nomad Stylus

What do all of the images above have in common? They were all created on an iPad with a Nomad Brush. I just ordered a couple this morning to use for rapid prototyping, but also interacting with customers during field work. Show them a wireframe and have them interact directly with something that is familiar to them. I also ordered the PenGo BrushPen, so I will come back with feedback after using them to see which one works best in the field. 



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creative Folks Bypass Old School Judgment System: Amanda Hocking

The path for "making it" used to funnel through a select few anointed ones. For musicians it was getting discovered by someone at a major label, and signing a deal. That takes a lot of hard work, but a large portion of serendipity. There were only just so many people in the right place at the right time. These days, musicians don't wait for that to happen, they just create their own opportunities online. This is simple today because MP3 players and sharing music is commonplace.

In the world of writing, the same thing is happening more and more as eBooks become easier to consume on our gadgets. Amanda Hocking was rejected repeatedly by book publishers so she decided to self-publish. Now that the Kindle, iPad and Nook are becoming an outlet for avid readers, she and others like her can wave goodbye to having to pass through the gates of the major book publishing houses. Last April she self-published and has sold hundreds of thousands of books online. Here is her story:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Ballad of Mirco Wilhelm: Flickr Still Flying Without a Net

In 2004, the photo sharing and storage website Flickr was born. It grew quickly in its popularity because of its features and ease of use. It was a fun, good experience. In March of 2005, Yahoo acquired Flickr for $35 million. They have now had 6 years to grow this product from the great start they had with loyal customers.

So where are we today? Ask Mirco Wilhelm. He is an IT professional that has been posting photos to his Flickr account for years. Thousands of them. He tags them all and people link to them from all over. They are really lovely. Well, they were really lovely. You see, Mirco found someone illegally posting photos on their account so he complained to Flickr. By mistake, instead of deleting the other account, they deleted his. All 4,000 photos, stories, tags, links and everything that is Flickr is gone, and Flickr can’t do anything about it to recover them. They gave him a 4 year credit for Flickr Pro.

This would be horrible under any circumstances, but almost exactly three years ago to the day, the same loss of data happened to Steve Portigal. Someone phished him and deleted his account without his consent and Yahoo could do nothing to recover it. I blogged about it when it happened to illustrate that this is a simple scenario to plan for and that others do it all the time. Even Mirco says that it is part of what he does all the times in his day job.

This means that Yahoo/Flickr has known about this for three years and they just don’t care. Chief Product Officer, Blake Irving, just days ago tweeted the following:

"Is Yahoo committed to Flickr? Hell yes we are!"

Just days ago the New York Times wrote a story on how Yahoo is committed to Flickr, despite shrinking traffic stats. Here is a quote from the article by Matthew Rothenberg, Head of Product Strategy and Management of Flickr:

“We’re trying to build the best experience that we can.”

I think what resonates with people is not your strategy or tweets, but the experience you actually deliver. Here are the words from the Flickr support staff member sent to Mirco:

Hello,

Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours. I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled. Here is what I can do from here:

I can restore your account, although we will not be able to retrieve your photos. I know that there is a lot of history on your account--again, please accept my apology for my negligence. Once I restore your account, I will add four years of free Pro to make up for my error.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can do.

Again, I am deeply sorry for this mistake.

Regards,

Flickr staff

That is the real experience and message we get as customers, not what Product Managers tell reporters. Mirco’s story is being written about by large news organizations and propagating quickly around the web. I hope it doesn’t take Yahoo another three years to finally listen to these and other traumatized customers, and they fix this problem that everyone else seems to have solved. You have to afford and "undo" when it comes to your product, especially if you see this happen over and over.

Here is Mirco's story in his words: http://bindermichi.posterous.com/you-have-to-fucking-kidding-yahoo

Here is Steve Portigal's story from three years ago: http://www.portigal.com/blog/stories-lost-forever/

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dead Space 2: Listening to Your Customer...s' Mothers

Electronic Arts did something interesting for the new Dead Space 2 video game release. They interviewed the mothers of their core customers. If they hate it, their kids will love it. To seal the deal, they record the interviews and use the utter disgust of these moms to promote the game.

Leveraging feedback from a generational, or "user" gap is interesting. There are always disruptive waves of innovation within domains that cause a change in the primary persona base. Let's package up the feedback from the old users and use it to sell it to the new ones?