Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Judge the book from it's cover!

Most of us, growing up, were told to not judge people bases on their looks, we we thought to appreciate the inner beauty of things and people and not make a fast judgement based on appearances.

One day this idea expended on books and material objects, and we learned from our elders and decades after started teaching our children the well-known truth Don't judge the book from it's cover... You have to look inside, you have to read it to be able to understand, and only then make an opinion about it.

Only if the latter argument true, if people were not to judge books by their cover books would come without covers. All the books would have the same font, so people would not be tempted by the cover. The books of the world would have light green jackets, have their Title written in Times New Roman, 14 font bold, and the text maybe in Times New Roman, 10.

I have been toying with this idea for a long while and it is something I believe in. Do Judge the book by it's cover!

Most if not all bestseller authors of modern day take the time and spend the resources to get professionally made covers that would particularly appeal to their target audience. As an example, if I am in a bookstore eyeing the bestsellers, after the first glance I know which one of these books I am going to most likely going to buy and read - that is the first one of three I pick up, a decision made entirely based on the cover:

If all these female-friendly titles above do not appeal to you, that simply means the covers were not designed with you in mind, so feel free to skip all the three books.

The same principle, only magnified, applies to User Interface (UI) of software, apps, websites, tools, etc.

The customer today has a very short attention span, and does not have much time to spend "learning" your interface, I am sure there is research done that will tell you how much time you have exactly before the attention span is lost -> your app is uninstalled, your website closed, a quick review published "Doesn't work". (Yes, I know how not helpful and painful it feels going through 1 star reviews saying "it crashed", "didn't open". When you know it works).

Few months ago, I called the biggest and most well-known flower delivery store in Yerevan, to order surpise flowers for a birthday. The pleasant lady on the phone, who held an impressive title, like International Customer Relations Manager, told me she can't take the order over the phone, it has to be made online. Guess what, I had been trying to do exactly that for the last 45 minutes. I called only because I couldn't figure out how to operate their site. The steps for making an order ended up being something like

  1. Open IE,version 8 or earlier supported
  2. Provide your credit card information (Note, I haven't chosen anything yet)
  3. Confirm delivery address and gift message
  4. Choose the flower bouquet 
  5. Click "Buy", then "Deliver" (Note,I haven't seen the final price yet)
  6. The final charge appears on your screen

The lady had to walk me through these steps one-by-one and answer my annoying questions, probably thinking why I was so slow and need so much hand-holding  After the bouquet purchase was finally confirmed, I tried to justify my reasons of being "slow" and taking so much of her time, and explained what I expected from an online store, namely

  1. Browse and select an item
  2. Add to card
  3. Provide credit card information and address
  4. See and confirm pending charges

Just because that's how online stores work today. Her answer was:
"I know it's tedious the first time, but you learned and will do better next time".

Guess what?
If there is another moderately trusted website available, by the time I plan to send flowers to Armenia again, I won't go through this experience again. Had the answer been "we are planning to redesign" I would think again.

Don't be the guy who provides this experience on his website, people won't return.

Judge the book by it's cover, and the website by it's UI.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Google Glass

Recently I had the opportunity to try the Google Glass for myself. The following is some observations noted about the newest tech innovation, that sounds really cool today, and will continue to sound even cooler as it gains more popularity.

The tagline is that Glass is a great concept and is most likely to be a great gadget in near future, and a household accessory within very few years.

To summarize in few bullet points

  1. Lightweight and comfortable - Looks impressive doesn't it? After few minutes of adjusting the projector at the right position, it felt pretty well fitted
  2. Speaks in your skull - Glass uses "bone conduction" and sends sounds directly to your skull unlike the traditional devices. This enables you to hear better in noisy places, and not broadcast the sound to everyone in the building
  3. Take videos and photos fast - I have a goPro camera for sports activities, which I recently took to karting. While I wouldn't risk ruining the Google Glass during rafting and surfing, for bike riding, karting and many other sports it would serve better than goPro, since (a) you see through the projector what you are filming, and (b) you can use voice commands to start and stop taking the video
  4. Opportunity for innovation - There are not many features available yet, so why not innovate, now is the opportunity to write your own apps and rock the world
  5. Coolest new device - Expect to become the "popular kid on the block" as you are one of the first people in you company/school/town to own them. People will try to be friends with you just to try the Glass!
  1. Doesn't fit well with glasses - I wear prescription glasses everyday and didn't find it conformable to wear on top of those
  2. Not ready for consumer use - Do not expect to get an out of the box solution like your IPad, this is a concept, so expect lots of crashes, draining your phone battery when synced on Bluetooth and brace yourself in public since you are likely to say more than a few times "OK Glass" to activate
  3. Not many apps yet - It was just released to lucky few, so it doesn't come with Angry birds on it, wait for innovator to come up with the apps, or better yet design your own
  4. Public acceptance - Not surprisingly people have mixed feelings about the futuristic device suddenly brought to reality from SyFy movies. The glass was already banned from number of bars and casinos, management claims that customers should be able to relax and not worry about being secretly filmed. I'd recommend not to take it on a date, unless your date is a dedicated Geek, others won't appreciate you looking like Terminator and communicating through "parallel universe"
  5. "OK Glass" command - currently the only way to activate through voice command is saying "OK Glass", in case there is another person in surroundings with Google Glass "speaking" to his glass, or someone decides to say "OK Glass" suddenly, that will affect your Glass as well, and they will be in command of it! Expect this will be fixed soon.

So would I use one? Sure, I would love to. Would I buy one? The only scenario I could justify buying it myself, is committing to writing Glass apps at least part time, otherwise it's too pricy for a conceptual gadget.