What Facebook and Google+ lack?

10 07 2011
Came hame háááá! By R'eyes

Came hame háááá! By R'eyes

Some days ago, I’ve stepped over what I feel might be the biggest barrier Facebook/Google+ will have to jump in the near future. But before we get into that let me explain what I feel is the usability calling of Twitter and that of Facebook/Google+.

Facebook/Google+ true calling

What most of us users of this social networks have been found doing of late is using these platforms as communication hubs. No need to remember the email or the phone number of your friend’s second cousin pal at work. You want to keep in touch with her? Easy: you’ve just to remember her name (you do get her name didn’t you?). Glimpses of such realization by the social networks themselves can be seen in the latest news: Facebook brings Skype as their squire (fear Ser Telco they are coming for you. For an interesting insight upon this battle jump boat to Patricia´s post) and Google+ lets you create a virtual water cooler.

 

Twitter’s motif

The lovable birdie also heard the call and started as an asynchronous text based communication tool (as opposed to a synchronous one such as MSN Live), but due to simplicity constraints (if you want to gather more on why constraints sometimes boost creativity follow this link Alice) their platform will be used more as an intermediary than as a communication hub. Let me get this knot fixed. What I mean is Twitter is inhabiting a space long left empty by Google: social search. Just as Ebay helps buyers find sellers, and vice versa, Twitter helps followers read very short messages posted by the people they think are interesting and easily decide to jump into the conversation or follow the link recommended on the twit.

Signal vs Noise

This last is what I think Facebook/Google+ haven’t harnessed yet. Their informational hub (FB’s wall and Google+’s stream) have few constraints* whatsoever regarding message limit thus amplifying channel noise and hampering scanning and fast decisions, where Twitter’s constraint obliges the poster to really think an interesting message to gather attention, more like a Daily’s headline.

*
Facebook: limits a wall comment to 420 characters, if it is longer it asks you to make a Note. Twitter constraint forces you to first think the “note” and then the bait.
Google+: has no text limit whatsoever, it just “cuts” the posts short on the stream, thus not even letting posters think of a draw and therefor increasing channel noise.





Seth Godin’s New Book: BUM! PAM! WHAM!

9 05 2011

Yes you read it alright! Seth Godin new book (Poke The Box) is full of action.

Other reviewers have summarized the book greatly: get off your chair and start doing things. Some with a 4+ rating others with a plain 1, mines is a 5…here is why.

Need a little adjustment by Cordey

As some of you might have experienced before there are some books that promise to bring you THE new way of understanding thing yet they end in a puff bringing either an innovative idea with no application to us the small mortals or a vapor-idea, the kind that doesn’t have a hold and is unattainable.But truth be told: this is a book revolving a simple idea ACT.

But it is not the kind of book that marvels yet leaves you alone to your own it comes with the equivalent of a bag full of goodies: actions and strategies rooted on experiences by the likes of you and me.  Its tone is insistent and keeps asking you to DO, ACT, GO, MOVE, TRY. It sounds just like the football coach on the sidelines: Why are you staring at me! Grab that ball and run!

Surely, if you follow Seth’s advice you will fall lots of times. But hey! At least you will break your chaings and have control and accountability over yourself. By those falls you will learn what steps to take to succeed, trust me I have some bruises to show you.

Go!

Pd. By no means ACTING means you are encouraged to run head on into a wall, you’ve gotta know where you are running and towards what you are running, still you don’t have to keep planning so much you stall.

Pd2. “What happens when a publisher has a tight, direct connection with readers, is able to produce intellectual property that spreads, and can do both quickly and at low cost?” Find out more at Seth’s new project. Domino Project.





Can Muhhamad Ali teach us a thing or two about online products?

7 07 2010

My, my. What a way of returning to the post pace, don’t you think? Let us tackle the elephant in the room first: I was neither dead nor unconcerned about my blog. What happened is that Tobías Felipe was born (April 27th, 2010) and I had the marvelous idea of starting my MBA there for strangling my schedule. Ok, enough with the mumble on with this post’s scope. Have you heard the phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”? It is actually Ali’s boxing style and his most remembered quote. Waddya know?  I think it can summarize an online strategy!

The Greatest -Muhammed Ali- by achimh

The Greatest -Muhammed Ali- by achimh

Float like a butterfly

You have dwelt upon your product, designed a fulfilling experience and actually developed it. Still … there you are drumming your fingers and not a single visit around the corner. Ok, ok, let us tone down the drama: at least not as much visitors as you expected. What to do? In comes the butterfly: your product might have followed a clear design path and it actually fulfils an unattended need, still you need to show it around town. Make yourself acquainted with where your audience abide and expose your product, let them know you’ve heard their pain and create the remedy.

You say there is not a single spot where your birds perch? Don’t worry, use the old marketing/publicity amalgam:  produce a message to be portrayed in different venues (the ones most likely your audience will hang around) where your product is depicted and its claim clearly stated.

Sting like a bee

This will resonate with you. A great marketing campaign with a memorable pitch and a clear claim that actually tackles an unsolved problem you’ve been fighting with. On you go to the site and…..emergency break! WTF!!!! After so much noise you are face to face with a poor experience, an over pitched product or worse: you cannot make head from tail of what you are being shown. Hmpf. Enter THE BEE. Your product exposition, even more than its proposal, should be simple and compelling, something your intended audience will find not only easy -transparent? KISS anyone?- to use but something that actually delivers what it promised: the sting.

Pd. This post is actually dedicated to my dad. Old man lots of things you taught me did stroke a cord deep inside me, thing is, it takes some time to realize it.

Pd.2. The butterfly, bee, 1,2-2,1 (it works backwards too) dance might actually apply to other things in life for example relationships!





Hawk or peacock? – The relationship between product aesthetics and usefulness

17 12 2008

Having some leisure time of my own, err, I am kidding myself again, let us start over again… Having more time to spend on reading, analyzing and pondering over anything related to my line of work and passion -product development-, I’ve found myself meditating around several situations I had been in while performing my duty, trying to understand what was going behind the mind of the people on scene and whether this circumstances are common events on the product development arena.

My apple by .p a n e.

My apple by .p a n e.

One of such situations is when your product receives the unexpected “I do not like it” statement. Whether it comes from a manager, costumer or a peer, it is still an infamous phrase to hear. Yet again, in the age of the iPod and the value of aesthetics it is something you will surely face on a frequent basis. If you haven’t heard it, don’t over joy; you will my friend, sooner than what you expect. The need of classifying something on sight is embedded in the human being, a natural reaction to encountering something new. It is the mechanism that has helped us survive: is that hairy multi-eyed spider something I would want to touch?

I am digressing here, back to the subject at hand. Is it so terrible to produce something someone else doesn’t found compelling? I really don’t think so; a negative commentary might be an opportunity to better your product. Before committing into a discussion, asses the person who is delivering the critic. Is she someone who recurrently plays the devil advocate or says whatever comes to her mind first? Or is she someone who delivers new insights and adds value to your work? Done? Ok now you know what you are in for. Let us assume the person stating her no appreciation of your work is someone who adds value, we will deal with the other kind of people in a future post.

Prior to doing a defensive stance let she state her motives but, give hand her a helping hand: reintroduce what are the business and user goals your product is trying to attain, what are the users’ expected mindsets when using your product, the different scenarios it might be used, etc. Hmm, we should have done this before, don’t we? Yes we should have. A way of working around the “I don’t like it” lance is to prepare the terrain earlier; we are not delivering work of arts here where interpretation is left to the eyes of the beholder. We are talking about delivering products of use to our costumers, people; hence we need to clearly understand, and be able to put in plain words, not only the business motivations but also who these poor souls are and what are they trying to conquer by using our product.

If you all of the aboveis cleared and you have done a correct introduction prior to exhibit your prototype or final product you will then have more chances of understanding what the “I don’t like it” meant. Try to understand if what your critic is rejecting is the way your product solves the needs of your costumers or is it the way it presents itself. It might be something in between: the way it presents itself works against what the users are trying to achieve.

All this doesn’t mean you have to completely left aesthetics to rot aside. Emotion has come to be known as an important and valuable factor to take into account when people evaluate the possibility of purchasing or using something; and, aesthetics recall emotions that in turn trigger actions. A cluttered page, an appliance with button labels with an ugly typeface, might pose as unreliable to your users. While, a clear interface, a page with well placed elements and the just quantity of attention attraction on the correct objects, would prove even inviting and delicious to be used.

Aesthetics are a matter of balance and of understanding the context your products will be used in and what your users are reaching for. An over decoration might prove a futile addition to the end of an emergency door. While an over boxed item page or a results page with lack of critical information might scare costumers off. Hawk or peackock indeed.

Words are very unnecessary... by lepiaf.geo

Words are very unnecessary... by lepiaf.geo

To wrap things up, I support and rally the idea that products and services should be designed to go as unnoticed as possible by the people who use them. In other words, you should design your products with one goal in mind: be useful to your costumers. How can your product be not useful? Run the functionality race: products that overwhelm their users with either a myriad of functions just because the competition has them, put too much effort on the looks that costumers instead of pursuing their objectives sat back and watch your work of art. Or simply stab yourself and play the vanity queen, stubbornly shut yourself from the outside world and decide by yourself (or within the organization) who the users are, what they are trying to reach and what is the best for them without ever contacting those weird people we call costumers. As in the aesthetics and usefulness pulse, the need of innovating within in contrast with innovating with the help of the outside world is a matter of balance.