Sunday, December 27, 2009

A UI design treasure chest

Here's a great UI/prototyping site that I stumbled upon. One kind soul took the time to collect links to all of the best UI and prototyping tools he could find. Browser templates, controls, icons...tons of stuff. Thanks very much to Henry Jones for this collection.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

I don't observe a lot of the history-book holidays, like Presidents Day, Columbus Day, etc., but I do take note of the solstices and equinoxes. I guess it's my pagan heritage. Anyway, Happy Winter Solstice, and enjoy the shortest day. And an early Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Graduation Day

Today is graduation day at NCSU. I've completed the MBA program, so I'm done with scholastics, at least for a while. It was difficult at times, but rewarding. I'm glad I went through it, and I'm glad it's done. I'll probably drink some strong tea or coffee to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Verizon's fund-raising scheme

We tend to think of poor design as a lack of attention to detail or just plain incompetence. Verizon phones have a nasty design feature that was implemented solely to rip off their customers. Read here in this NYT article by David Pogue. Thanks to Philip Hunter for forwarding this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jumping on the bus

A few years ago a friend of mine who lived in NY told me that whenever a bus in NY is involved in an accident a few people will jump on the bus and then claim to be injured. The idea, obviously, is to extract some money from the bus company for their so-called "injuries."

I thought about that scenario when I was reading the latest news about Tiger Woods' self-inflicted problems. There are probably a few bus jumpers in the crowd (9?), in addition to the genuine claimants.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Everyone has the same technology

It's true. Everyone has the same technology, or access to the same technology. So why do some self service web sites and IVRs fly like champions with their customers, and why do so many fail? Well, of course part of the reason is the way the technology is designed. It's the way the pieces are put together. You would expect a designer to say something unprofound like that.

Part of it, the part that's neglected too often, is the governance around the web site or the IVR. It's the ongoing commitment by everyone involved to make the site as good as it can be, given the limitations of the technology. That means breaking down institutional barriers that prevent different teams from working together to improve service. It means putting the right metrics in place, metrics that actually drive organizational behavior. It means lots of things that need to happen after the site goes into production. There are too many widowed web sites and IVRs out there - stuff that got pushed into production and then forgotten.

I worked at a company that invested huge sums in developing self service applications, but did little follow up afterwards. After a big project was over all the experienced people were released to new projects. When the self service didn't meet expectations the management's reaction was almost always the same: "The technology is no good. Let's get better technology." It was almost impossible to engage managers in a discussion about their ongoing responsibilities for improving the performance of the self service systems. "That's the service area's problem. They'll deal."

It was very wasteful. And frustrating. Getting the most out of an existing self service application helps ensure a good ROI.