January 04, 2002

It's all about who you know
I just found this awesome "people browser" on the CHIplace site. You could use the same type of navigation for a skills-based directory of employees or community members. Try the checkboxes on the right...you can combine them to find people with multiple roles (can do an "and" or "or" search)!
Online shopping experiences getting worse. Amazon can learn from a few competitors
A recent NY Times article shows that setting and meeting customer expectations is critical to a successful online customer experience.

[A] "Jupiter survey found that one-third of online consumers expect a response to an e-mail inquiry within six hours, and that virtually all consumers expect a response within 48 hours. Nevertheless, the number of sites meeting this expectation, including retailers, travel suppliers and financial services companies, slipped to 22 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001, the lowest level since Jupiter began tracking customer service response times."

It also looks like Amazon is no longer the best total user experience on the web according to a Reuters article in the Chicago Tribune:

"While Amazon's mediocre B-minus grade earns it a ranking below e-tailers like Target.com, which got a B-plus rating on PlanetFeedback, and Drugstore.com Inc.'s A, it is hardly alone with its rising level of unhappy customers."

I also noticed that in the NYTimes article, Target.com responded to customers within 6 hours, while Amazon only responded within 24 hours. The PlanetFeedback ratings seem to support the idea that response times have an impact on overall customer satisfaction.

January 03, 2002

Is your web site self-centered?
The We We Copy Calculator tries to measure the text on your site for customer focus. It's an interesting reminder that the words we choose imply our internal focus. The text version (linked above) works better then the URL fetching version -- plus it gives more explanation of the words evaluated.
If you keep saying these words, then the terrorists will have won.
In the wake of 9-11 these frigging words were banished with a surgical strike using doppler friendly fire.

January 02, 2002

Upcoming usability conferences
Make your travel plans now...

December 31, 2001

A better Word?
Interesting review of Word X for the Mac in BusinessWeek. It covers various interface improvements and oversights.

December 30, 2001

Linux needs focus not whiners
I recently read an article in LinuxWorld by a guy who I think is very representative of many Linux (and other open-source software) zealots. I'm sick of constantly hearing about the Evil Empire from Linux and Open Source zealots. Grow up! Are you saying "The Man" is keeping you down? Do you take no responsibility for your current condition? Are the rules of the game unfair?

The reason Linux is floundering, if at all, is that there is no unified Linux vision. There is no strategy, no marketing -- not even a targeted market segment. Who is leading product development for Linux? Who has identified and profiled the target users and their needs? Can anyone tell me, even in general terms, who Linux is designed for? So much Open Source development relies on the concept of evolution -- but evolution takes too long. In business, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there".

If success for Linux were defined as being a great, cheap, open source *NIX-like OS, then Linux has already succeeded many times over. The problem is that UNIX was never meant to be a broad-base desktop environment -- just like Cray's aren't built for gamers. So if you've defined Linux's success as domination of the desktop computing market, then you've probably started with the wrong product -- Linux was not designed as a desktop computing product for the masses. If Linux ever does become a Windows-killer for average computer users, then it will fail to deliver what most hard-core Linux users want today -- a free and powerful *NIX clone.

The question is not "Is Linux ready for Joe Sixpack?" nor "Are you ready for Linux on your desktop(s)?", but rather "Who's desktop is Linux designed for?". As far as I can tell, Linux is designed for people using Linux...since Linux developers add features they would like for themselves. Of course most business and home computer users are nothing like a highly technical software developer -- especially not in the ways they understand and use software.

The Linux community needs to determine what their goals are, get organized, and quit whining and blaming others for their situation. If all the energies of that community were focused, I'm sure they could make huge strides toward a better product and higher market share -- in whatever market they target.

Disclaimer: I'm not an MS hack -- I've installed and run both Slackware and Mandrake versions of Linux dating back to 1997...I use UNIX and Linux regularly. I was an OS/2 fan, and still crave the power of DOS and UNIX command line interfaces at times. I have seen the wonders that are PERL, awk, and grep and marveled at their beauty and power. And for all you conspiracy theorists: I also grimace at many of the things MS does. but Microsoft is an I/T vendor like all the others. I loved Netscape in the early days but was disappointed in them many times. I've seen both the up and down sides of IBM, Oracle, and other vendors...it's always a love/hate relationship. When usability and security take back seat to profits and market share, the idealist in me cringes -- but the realist in me reminds me that I'm free to NOT buy MS products, and I'm free to build my own alternative if I so choose.
You matter more than you'll ever know
All kinds of people die every day. Paul Battaglia just happened to die in the World Trade Center attacks. His Web page, however, lives on, complete with photos of his now-crumbled office and the view he once had. Since Battaglia was killed, people, including his parents, friends and family , have been remembering him in his guestbook. See the tragedy from a personal story is incredibly powerful.

The powerful part of it is not how he died or who he was or what he did, but realizing how many lives we each touch every day -- and that we make a difference. Whether you know it or not, you are valued and cherished by others. It's just amazing how we never get around to expressing that until after the car crashes, the doctors fail, or the bomb drops.