Thursday, December 17, 2009

UX Confessions of an iPhone and Mac paranoid fanatic

In the Mac and iPhone community recently there was much a debate whether we (iPhone users) are delusional liars and paranoids - according to a report by a consulting firm from Denmark. Well, let me address these allegations and admit... that I might be a little paranoid... and I'm pretty happy with that:

Iphone-features

iPhone lacks features and iPhone users are defending it

It's a fact that iPhone lacked lots of features when it launched (just look at the chart above to compare first iPhone 2G with Nokia N95 at the time of iPhone launched) - let me address the most important issues with the first iPhone and why I think these were really wins by Apple:

No 3G - big deal. But Internet is REALLY built in.

Other phones had 3G, so what? You still couldn't use the Internet in a convenient way. These had some strange WAP or other crappy browser. With iPhone you could really touch the Internet - browse web sites and use it perfectly. What's more lots of web-apps (with Javascript and AJAX, including iNozbe) popped up so you could use the Internet in a totally different way. Fantastic.

Apple cannot multitask, can you?

The idea of iPhone not multitasking (although you can call people and run apps in the meantime) is a really good decision - you open app, you close it, you know where you are, you don't have to open "Task manager" to kill some apps that drain your battery (Windows, anyone?) Face it - to be productive we really cannot multitask anyway, right?

Apple controls the Appstore... really? Did we have Appstore before?

iPhone introduced the Appstore - first time in history my mum has a an iPhone (smartphone) and she installs apps by herself. I mean really - this is breakthrough - my mum is installing apps on the phone! Before the iPhone there were some Java apps you could install on some phones if you were a geek. Apple made it so simple and we blamed them for it.

No physical keyboard - but a virtual one that works like a bliss instead.

Especially when iPhone 3.0 software update introduced the horizontal keyboard across almost all the apps now, writing emails and SMS messages is really fun and fast! Why would I want a physical keyboard that can break down, with really tiny buttons? The virtual keyboard is a lot bigger and better.

Changing the industry with User experience not features.

To all the startup owners, founders, entrepreneurs - just look at the iPhone's success - it's not about the features, Nokie with more features lost it. It's about the User Experience. Apple decided to reinvent the user experience of the mobile phone. They made us love our phones again and made people use a lot more of their phones capabilities (did I mention my mum uses iPhone to check Email?)

Do you like your current mobile phone? Are you iPhone paranoid? Which features you'd like iPhone to have?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Readership - Usability, Specs and Getting to Know your customers

Today is Friday and although I've been quite silent on my blog this week, I'm going to get back to posting more often... and today's my readership day and I've got cool articles I'd like to refer you to....

image_1354753400.4548

Usability and Conversion by Maciek Saganowski

The image above is the screenshot from his blog, sorry Maciek, couldn't resist :-)

This is a new blog by a good friend of mine, Maciek, who's also the guy responsible for the User Experience of our new Nozbe 2.0 - he also chose posterous as his blogging platform - make sure to subscribe to his blog to learn more about usability and user experience - Maciek knows a lot and practices what he preaches.

Now, to comment his article - I find it very true. Usability is not everything, but it's so important!

Maciek actually made me aware of many usability issues in our web app and I'm glad we've worked many of these. Now it's time for KAIZEN - continuous improvement and making it even better.

I've scheduled each Monday morning with my developer to work on one usability improvement for Nozbe - this way we'll have at least one issue worked out a week and ultimately our app will be getting even better on a continuous basis... and hopefully it'll also have an impact on our revenue and conversion... and overall happiness of our users :-)

I really dig David's advice and we'll be commenting more on the stuff from this interview in my next blog posts.

My initial comment: We're working on a new web app right now and I had the idea for it about a year ago... then I started developing specs and feature ideas.... and project kind of started to stall... I started to lose motivation although I think it'll be a great tool and would go with our current Nozbe really well...

And then I started building it... I started from its core feature... and now I know a lot better how this tool will work, suddenly things started to make more sense, my app started to look even cooler than I initially thought.. and I'm extremely excited about it.

It's a lot more fun and a lot more productive to start building something and seeing it grow... and starting from the core feature... and use it right away.

Tim Ferris in his "four hour workweek" said that asking for users how much they'd pay for something is useless, until you actually pull up the product and say - OK, sir, you said you'd pay for this kind of device 10 bucks - well here it is, how about buying now?

They you'll know if the potential client is in fact.. a client-to-be or just a person who's being nice to you.

Anyway, 37s advice on charging for things from day 1 is a great one and I intend to follow it with every product I've got... having people pay for your stuff makes the commitment on both sides a lot better and tighter. And is very rewarding for both parties, too. And as in this article - you get to know your real clients right away :-)

Question of the day:

Now it's your turn - which articles you'd like to refer to me? What stood out for your this week? Any cool piece of advice?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Removing features, noise and buttons to make your product perfect

Today I visited our local Apple store to finally "feel and touch" the new Mighty mouse - world's first multi-touch mouse. Man, it's a beauty and pleasure to play with:

Photo
This tiny mouse looks like one of the most powerful mice in the world and yet...... it has no buttons and no scrolling wheels!So it basically lacks everything you'd expect from a mouse.
And yet it's so powerful!And this doesn't mean you have to learn to use this mouse. Not really. Just move it around, click, scroll, right-click... Same old same old.
Plus it has new gestures even!This the typical Apple genious - remove noise, remove unnecessary buttons but improve the user interface and the way stuff works "behind the scenes".In the world where all mice manufacturers where adding buttons, scroll wheels, etc. - Apple removed them altogether.As a startup owner/founder my goal with Nozbe 2.0 was to do the same thing: remove noise, remove buttons, sliders, dropdowns...And yet when I look at it I see there is still a lot that can be done... So I decided to do "weekly reviews" of Nozbe in a search for something to remove.That's right. I'll be removing stuff from Nozbe. Literally.Follow Apple's advice:Keep removing noise while adding new features.
Make stuff work "behind the scenes" and not "in your face".
Question: Which product has made your life simpler lately? If you're a Nozbe user, which stuff you don't want to see on your screen?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.