I hear two terms often and I think we could do better. “MVP” (Minimum Viable Product) and “mobile friendly.” Both of these say, “Let’s do the least we can to get this out.” But is that the right choice?
Who are you?
If you are a scrappy startup, it might pay to get something out sooner rather than later. Iterate on it. Keep improving. But show the world and investors that you are on the ball. You’re new to the scene and you don’t have too many users (yet) that would be alienated by a really early, very minimal version.
That doesn’t mean every company should do that. I don’t expect Sony to put out MVPs often or at all. I expect major companies to put out a fully-formed version 1.
I don’t expect a national bank to make something “mobile friendly.” I expect them to make it awesome. Easy to use. Well thought out. It seems like a low standard to shoot for. How about completely designed for mobile? Tested and validated? Even if it’s not “mobile first,” it can still be “mobile awesome.”
What tends to be cut for the MVP?
Often it’s the UX process. Hey, a product gal will lay this out, the artist will polish it, the dev will built it. Then we can see how people like it. I may be biased but I never recommend skipping the UX process.
We’ll just release it as a technology idea and see what people think. OK but if it doesn’t have a great user experience, your tech idea could be lost in an unpleasant-to-use product.
People will talk.
Internally, you might say hey, this is just an MVP. It’s a minimal pre-release of something. It’s a “mobile friendly” step towards something better next time. The problem is that you think your customer understands that, cares, and will cut you slack.
People LOVE to write bad reviews. People love to tell their friends negative things. Put out a sad MVP and you will see it somewhere. Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, app reviews. You calling it MVP doesn’t shield you from people responding in small or large, public or private ways. Are you prepared for that?
Is this a product you want customers to see? Competitors will see it too. Are you publicly traded? Wall Street might write about it.
Does this mean nobody ever puts out an MVP?
Of course not. But these decisions sometimes need more thinking through. Who are we? Who will see this? What might they think of us for putting out something so low-featured, simple, early, not as built up, etc…? Does it make more sense to put X more weeks or months of UX and dev into it so that it can be impressive, delightful, beloved?
I wanted to learn Italian. I got some books. I wasn’t sure I was pronouncing anything right. I was frustrated.
I tried apps. They seemed to mostly believe you’ll learn a language by repeating “the boy eats an apple” over and over (in Italian). Great! I can say that. How do I say I eat an apple? They eat apples? No idea. But if I repeat il ragazzo mangia la mela enough, I can say just that.
Another app wanted me to repeat pieces of a conversation over and over. The conversation was hey lady, do you speak English? No, not much. OK.
Well, now I can say excuse me lady do you speak English in Italian. And then whatever her answer is, I’m stuck. I can’t say anything else.
I don’t know who learns awesomely this way but it’s not me.
I don’t need “I’m visiting Italy for one day on a cruise ship and just need to ask where the ham sandwich is” Italian. I really want to learn Italian and be a fluent speaker.
I was watching a YouTube video when the guy said to check out Italki. Humans! Humans with advanced uni degrees! Humans who are pro, full time language teachers and professors doing more teaching in their spare time!
You pay by the hour. Italki has a whole booking/appointment system built in. You pay with “credits” which don’t make much sense but they translate to money so in the end it doesn’t matter.
Yes, this is for me!
I picked Dr Beatrice Ferrara in Naples and she’s been beyond amazing. Fun, helpful, adjusts things for me and my style. Has lessons that match my needs. Goes along with my wacky sense of humour.
If I want my answer to, “Are you married?” to be “never again!” she teaches me that. If I’m asked to describe a girl reading a book and I want to say, “She’s planning a revolution,” Beatrice laughs and teaches me that. Maybe we go off on a tangent and conjugate “to plan” since she knows I like to learn verbs by knowing the conjugation.
Yes, Beatrice is a pro and has a real plan. But she adjusts it for me and that’s super fun. Not everybody learns the same way and I appreciate someone adjusting for her audience/student.
How’s my Italian coming?
It’s still early and I’m nervous to use it with real Italians. I can say very simple things mostly in the present tense. I know a bit of past tense. I get articles and prepositions very wrong. Italian is not as much like Spanish as I had hoped so this is a bigger learning curve than I expected.
I will get there! I have a great teacher and lots of chances to practice when I’m comfy.
If you’re like me and you learn better from a qualified human who is listening, helping, and adjusting, throw away your apps. Find a professor on Italki and really get learning.
In 2016, LogMeIn bought all the GoTo collaboration tools from Citrix. I wondered if they would kill Join.Me in favour of GoToMeeting, which I perceive as better.
In the fall of 2017, I got a survey as a paid Join.Me user. The survey was basically, “If Join.Me went away, would you be sad? And who would you go and use instead?”
UH OH. OK, I can take a hint.
Hey, thanks for showing me all the other options! I already know I don’t like most of these. And I was thinking that GoToMeeting is too expensive.
Amazon Chime? What’s that?
Turns out that Amazon has a GoToMeeting competitor called Chime. I downloaded it and gave it a try. It was pretty good. I considered switching. Join.Me was costing me almost $300 per year. Amazon Chime seemed to want much less.
Until I read the fine print.
Amazon charges you for call time.
Their Dial In Rates page tells the story. If participants join from their computer audio systems, no extra charge.
But there are two sets of rates. One if they call Amazon’s toll free numbers, one if they call the non-toll-free numbers. That means if your attendees dial a local, non-toll-free number, you are still paying.
You can pay $0.01191 per minute (how did they come up with that number) for each attendee calling in to a USA toll free number. Pay $0.002216 per minute for each attendee calling into the local USA number. That means if you have 5 meeting attendees calling a local dial-in and the meeting is a half hour, you will pay 33 cents for that meeting.
Sounds not bad. But if you’re like me and you do a lot of international meetings/training, what would that cost? Say I have a four hour training. 3 people from the USA, 1 from the UK, and 1 from Italy. Let’s imagine I want to look cool and I give out toll free numbers. The person in Italy is costing me 36 cents per MINUTE for his or her incoming call.
I could end up with over $100 in call fees if some of these people call the toll free number. Well, this doesn’t really make sense. I don’t want to be afraid to hold a meeting because of what a call might cost me.
Amazon is also killing the savings they were offering by penny and nickeling me over incoming call time.
When I emailed to double check this, a sales guy called me.
American sales guy confirmed that I wasn’t reading that wrong. You do pay for all the call time, and it can surely add up when you have lots of attendees, lots of meetings, or people who want to dial in rather than use computer headsets.
That may make it right for you but wrong for me. So I’m switching to GoToMeeting. I still think of them as best in class. Hopefully they’ll stick around, even after the purchase/merger.
Airlines and the media have been distracting us a long time. You want legroom. More legroom. Economy Plus has 3″ more legroom. Upgrade for more legroom.
Legroom legroom legroom.
I’ve noticed that most of the flights I’ve been on lately, I think my arms overlapped the arms of people next to me. Strangers. My shoulder is over their shoulder.
Many adults are wide. I think of myself as average width. Very average in American size. And no matter how I try to pull my arms in, I’m overlapping people next to me.
I will pay for more width.
I’ve upgraded seats often. I’ve had United’s annual subscription to Economy Plus seats. But I would rather pay more for more width.
Yes, airlines are unlikely to do that. Put two seats where three can go and you might think they lose that fare. I wouldn’t pay double for that seat. But I’ve paid $20 – $160 for an upgraded seat.
Would I pay 50% more for a wide seat? Depends on the flight and the fare. But if you get two people to pay 1.5x, then you have made up for the missing seat. Give me a free checked bag and maybe I’ll pay 1.5x.
Hey, Deb, Isn’t a Wider Seat a First Class Seat?
Not necessarily. I’ll sit with the economy peeps and get fewer drinks, food, mixed nuts, etc… but preferably have more width.
I wonder if anybody has run the math on this… since it’ll be about math. I imagine few people at an airline are shouting out, “How can we make passengers more comfortable?!?!?!”
There are two types of people. People whose mobile phone has rarely been out of their sight or possession. And people who leave their phone laying around, in airports, in airplane seats, at their Starbucks table, etc…
For the second type of person, we have screen locks and remote wiping. But what do we have for the first type of person?
Many Ways To Lock Your Phone
I’m on Android and I have many options for unlocking my phone. Swipe (no security), PIN, password, fingerprint, and probably iris scan. Some phones also scan faces.
Mess up the entry and you have to try again. Mess it up enough and you are locked out.
How Many Times Do You Unlock Your Phone Each Day?
If I had to guess how many times I unlock my phone each day to check things or do things (beyond turning the screen on to see the time), I would probably guess over 100. My phone is set to sleep (screen off, phone on) after 5 minutes. Whether I deliberately turn the screen off or it times out, I am probably unlocking this thing over 100 times a day.
I’m the first type of person. My phone is always on my body. Not in a bag. Not set down on a table somewhere. How many times in a day would I like to enter a PIN? Wait for my fingerprint to scan? Type in a password?
Zero. I’d like to do that zero times. That’s a security measure designed to keep other people out. I’m keeping other people out by “wearing” my phone so that nobody will have it. I’ve had a pager (old school) and then a mobile phone of some sort continuously since 1993. I have never lost a device. I’ve never left it somewhere. I’ve never had it stolen. I don’t let friends and boyfriends use my phone. Don’t have kids (hooray!).
If my phone were ever out of my hands, I’d use Android Device Manager to remote wipe it. That’s set up and ready to go.
If Your App Requires This Security Level, I’m Not Using Your App
Android Pay. Sounds like something an Android fan would want to use, right? I don’t use it because it requires that my lock screen have more security than plain old “swipe to unlock.”
Samsung Pay doesn’t require extra security. My online banking app doesn’t require it. American Express app doesn’t require it. I have endless information in Evernote, Google Contacts, and other apps… they don’t require that I have a more secure unlock.
Semaphor suggests stronger lock screen security when I launch it from my phone but I can cancel out of that message and continue using it. Thank you for giving me the choice. LOVE Sempahor.
Where I’m contracting for work right now (as of writing this), I can get into Outlook email and calendar through mobile web. No problemo! If I install the Outlook app, it requires that I have a stronger lock screen security. But mobile web has no such requirements. Someone steals my phone, unlocks it, and goes into mobile web…….. So I use mobile web and not the app, problem solved.
Many of these apps don’t save my login. Every time I launch the app, I have to log in. Not fun but I greatly prefer lengthening my app start experience in lieu of lengthening my unlocking-my-phone-every-single-time experience.
I Tried It. I Won’t Do It.
I tried having a PIN for a while to use Outlook. I tried unlocking with the fingerprint thinking that’s even faster. I tried it for 3 weeks. I hated how much it slowed me down. I have something to see or do now. Just get me there.
There are other apps I have uninstalled or avoided because they wanted me to change my behavior and use more security. UX practitioners know it’s hard to change existing behaviors, especially when the user is happy with his or her choice of behavior.
Do You Want To Create Obstacles For Your User?
Should unlocking my phone, something I do at least 100 times a day, change because of one app? Why not build that app to have greater security?
As a user and as a UX chick, I would say let’s look at personas and scenarios. Does this app have sensitive info? How can we adjust logging into the app, notifications, and other features so that we are happy with how we’ve locked it down without changing the other 99 times the user unlocks her phone with no intention of using our app at all?
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Facebook ads. They are really way out there. How does Facebook think I have children? Or I’m plus sized? Or really, how do they think ANYTHING about me? Why do the ads sometimes feel so irrelevant and poorly targeted?
This can be answered by visiting the Ad Preferences page. Here you will see the hundreds if not thousands of things Facebook has decided you’re into. I have no idea how some of these end up here. Some are real doozies!
Apologies to people from Suriname but I don’t even know where that is!
OH BOY. Someone doesn’t know me AT ALL. X those out as fast as possible! And there is no way I clicked on an ad related to pregnancy. NO WAY. On desktop, hover over the box and click the top right X to try to tell Facebook you are NOT interested in this stuff.
These are all way off and look at that drop list… I have hundreds more I have to X out, one by one. No mass way to say get rid of all of these.
You can also click on one of these topics to see what kinds of ads Facebook WOULD serve you.
Here you can see targeted ads in action. I have allowed Facebook to know I like a band/musical project called Ayreon. Here are the ads I MIGHT see because these other musicians are targeting people who like Ayreon:
But it might not be bands. The ads could be for products. The ads could be propaganda aimed at people with certain interests.
You can clean this up.
I still don’t know why Facebook only showed me bra ads for weeks. I’m not into boobs! But for everything else, you can go into Ad Preferences and attempt to clean up what you’re not interested in. Please note that you will need to do this often as Facebook constantly assigns you bizarre interests seemingly randomly.
It’s been a while since I told you my fave tools, the services I pay for that help me run this business. I am not rewarded or compensated by any company for these plugs. I like these companies and want you to know about them. Links aren’t coded; I make no money by recommending them.
Live Chat – Olark
I really like the look and feel of Olark. I like that I can start small and grow into more operators. I like the shortcuts and functions. It’s just a really nice system. Works on mobile too.
Pricing: They have a free trial and a free plan. I’m on the pay for 2 years up front and it’s $12/month per agent. I’m the only agent. Yes, I really answer all the chats when I can!
Project Management – Teamwork
Holy cats I love these guys and gals! I have tried other project management systems but love Teamwork the most. You’d have to check it out to see all the features. From messages and files to time logging and billing to tasks, milestones, and Gantt charts, Teamwork does so much.
I love inviting clients here to collaborate. I also use it as a repository for all of the project feedback, decisions, etc… That way nobody has to dig through emails to figure out what we agreed on.
I also use an “internal” project to track leads and potential business. Helps keep that very organised. I also track non-billable hours to see how much I spend on the “sales cycle.”
Pricing: They have a free trial and a free plan. I’m paying for it but I’m also grandfathered into old, lower pricing. The paid plans appear to start at $69/month. Still, if you can be way more organised and way more professional with your clients (and your team if you have one), it can easily be worth it. How many hours of time would you have to save for $69/month to pay for itself? One? Two?
If you’ve ever used or peeked at our online calendar system, it’s Acuity. While Acuity may be more designed for the salon or fitness centre, it has a lot of nice features that I enjoy. Of course, you can book appointments on web or mobile web.
I love how it handles time zones. I really love that I can create free appointments or paid appointments; you can’t book the time without paying. I can create packages (like pre-paying for 4 training sessions) and then book them all at once or whenever you want. I can create “intake forms” for different types of appointments. What I ask you before a consultation call might be different than what I ask you before a training session.
Some neat behind the scenes conditional logic. Let people buy this but not this. Let them book this appointment at this time but not this time. For this type of appointment, block out X minutes before and Y minutes after also.
Best feature and hard to find in scheduling systems: 2-way sync with Google Calendar. I’m a big Goog Cal person. It knows when I’m free based on hours I’ve set up for my biz AND what isn’t already blocked in Google Calendar. When someone books, I have an appointment in my Google Calendar. Boom boom boom.
People can also cancel and reschedule appointments easily. I could go on but give it a shot!
Pricing: They have a free trial and a free plan. I’m paying for it so that I can get extra features. It’s $10/month for one person and $19/month for 2-6 people. Room to grow.
TicketSpice is from Webconnex. They make other flavours of event ticketing. RegFox is more for conferences. GivingFuel is more for fundraising. RedPodium is for races, triathlons, and sporting events. GroupRev looks a bit like GivingFuel but members can make their own sub-donation pages… like individual sponsorships for a parent fundraising event.
I use them for our events for one main reason: fantastic conditional logic. How often are you frustrated by events that have really complex matrices of pricing, oh this costs extra, oh it costs this after this date, oh you get this discount for this many people. Many events dump this on you. You have to pick the “right” ticket type for when you are registering, how many in your group, etc… Or you have to enter discount codes. As a UX chick, I don’t want you to have to think about ANY of that.
I can set up conditional logic such as:
- Early bird pricing. Before X date and time, discount [which tickets] by [how much].
- Group discounts. If the number of attendees is greater than 1 and less than 5 (a team of 2, 3, or 3 people), discount [which tickets] by [how much]. If the number of attendees is greater than 4, discount [which tickets] by [how much].
- If [whatever the heck I feel like] show or hide different fields on the registration form. For example, hide the “who is the main contact person for your team” question if they’re only registering one person.
- If the number of attendees for workshop 1, workshop 2, AND workshop 3 are all greater than 0, apply an extra bundle discount for booking all 3 workshops together.
And on top of that, I can make coupon codes that are limited or unlimited in use and are for a % or $ off whatever I want. But again, the shining star here is the easy-to-build conditional logic that lets me make lots of different discounts totally transparent to the customer. UX dream!
Pricing: 99 cents per ticket. That’s it! They’re not taking a percentage of your ticket unless they’re acting as the credit card processor, which is an option. I have my account plugged into Stripe.
These are my main tools!
And have been for a while. I haven’t found anything else yet I like more. Sometimes I do check. I still have a hard time finding scheduling with 2-way Google sync. I have a hard time finding event systems with really good conditional logic that’s easy to build. Have a system you love? Write to me and tell me about it!