Bad UX: Signing into Google Analytics

Something has gone horribly awry at Google Analytics. You click on the Sign In button and get this menu:

WTF? I can’t find the damn thing I want. What is all this shit? Here are the flaws:

  1. Skimming text doesn’t work.
    Every single item has the word Google in it. Is that needed? I came to the fucking Google Analytics site. Do I really need reminding it’s Google? No.  Looking at the other words I see the word “Analytics” in THREE different choices. WTF! What’s the difference between Google Analytics and Google Analytics Premium? What the heck is a 360 Suite? Why are they all here? What the heck is tag manager? Why is it in my face? Lastly, all of them start with Google except the middle one, Adometry by Google. Why does that one break the pattern? Why do they insist on breaking my brain?
  2. No icons
    With all these choices, icons could help me differentiate. But not, some graphics design asshole said, “No, icons will disturb my fung shui.” I hate you. Give me some personality, some color, something to help me see the difference. You suck.
  3. It doesn’t know who I am.
    I’m already logged into Google. Just realize who I am and just give me the one goddamn thing I look at every day. Log me in automatically and give me the option of finding other properties. GMail has this figured out. Close the window and open it back up, now I am logged out. Booo!
  4. The menu is 90% not clickable.
  5. Put your mouse a tiny bit under one of the choices and it doesn’t work. Is that really good UX? No, bastards! Make the whole line clickable. Be nice!

Ugh, this menu pisses me off. It’s such a simple thing and they have made every error imaginable. Boo, hiss, rubbish!

Movie Review: Whiplash

My son and I watched the movie Whiplash last night. He is a drummer and guitarist, so he was interested in this movie. (He loves Rush, but appreciates Jazz and Buddy Rich).

My definition of great art is when the piece evokes thought and/or emotion in the audience. Whether it is writing, music, paintings, sculpture, performance or just a good story, the goal is engage and provoke thought and emotion. A sad story can be just as powerful as a happy one. Art does not require neat tidy endings with answers to all of the questions. What is Mona Lisa smiling at?? Knowing the artists intention would actually diminish the artistic quality because it might discourage thought. The best art is interpreted differently by different people.

Whiplash is high art, in my opinion. It evoked emotion and thought every step of the way. To be clear, not very much happened in the plot. It seems (in hindsight) that there were very few scenes. However, I was left feeling raw and troubled with questions and ideas racing through my mind such as:

  1. Do “great musicians” require life turmoil to become great?
  2. What is the right amount to “push” a kid?
  3. Is the teacher a monster or a genius or both?
  4. I hate Jazz, but this is cool. Is this Jazz?
  5. What will the kid be like when he is older?
  6. How did the father feel after the ending?
  7. Did his father finally appreciate what made the kid special?
  8. What about the other kids, the no-so-special ones?

Whiplash is a great movie that will leave you feeling troubled and alive. The budget was just 3 million dollars. I hope more movies can be made with this level of artistic thought. Strongly recommend.

Wrist Progress Update

Im starting to get annoyed that this is taking so long. The therapist says this is normal and I’m doing well, but I just want to play tennis unencumbered. It’s not just the flexibility, it’s also the strength. My wrist, fingers and forearm are still a bit weak. Here is the updated flexibility.

The backward flexibility topped off at 70 because it’s still swollen and I can’t push it past a certain point. I told them that they should provide charts like this for all patients. It gives them a clear understanding of how things are going.

The UX of therapy: Give visual feedback. Have to think more about that.

MVP Deconstructed

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. I have had a long distaste for this acronym, but I think it is worth a deep-dive. I found an image on this website that sums up some of the problems. I’m going to deconstruct it to explain better.

Strategy #1: Build too much before launch

In this scenario, you build steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 before you release anything. The problem with this strategy is that it takes too long to build and you go too long without market validation. It raises risk very high. It also means you go to market much later than competition. This means you need more funding to survive the initial stages.

The benefits of this approach is that the actual launch is full featured and not missing anything. It makes a good first impression, assuming you did your research properly.

Strategy #2: Grope for your vision through iteration

This is a popular image on the web to describe MVP. This strategy works if you have no idea what you are going to build. This is when you have a use case with no clear vision of the solution. In this case, the use case is “need to go from point A to point B. All of the solutions work. You get something easy to build in the market and you learn.

Engineering-driven organizations often love this strategy because it allows you to iterate and not trust the vision of anyone. You get cold hard data and work from there.

I think the benefit of this approach is that you don’t need strong designers. You can just guess a bunch of times and hope to learn. This strategy is my least favorite because I feel it wastes too much time building stuff that isn’t part of the final solution.

Strategy #3: Incremental features of strong vision

In this approach, you have a strong vision of the final product and you break down the functionality over time. This allows you to go to market quickly, but not have throw away products or code. You know your end game and can work you ways towards it.

Given enough quality, this can be a MLP (Minimum Lovable Product) approach. It allows people to love a subset of the final solution/vision. It possibly may restrict the stories that can be told in the sales cycle, but you have to start somewhere.

To add some extra color to this model, check out this picture below:

The picture clearly shows that you need to be reliable, usable and have some emotional design even in the first iteration. It is just short on functions.

Strategy #3 is clearly my favorite and most closely matches my own process. However, I want to add on a few extra caveats.

The first thing you “ship” is your designs. I make my designs as storyboards that are mid-to-high fidelity so that I can show them to prospective customers. The fidelity matters. You can’t react properly to wire-frames and text. You need it to look mostly like a UI. Tools like Invision are possible, but I find that prototypes don’t get better feedback than storyboards. They are more useful in testing usability, but in the beginning you are determining if the model you have designed is going to fly in the marketplace.

Second is that positioning and storytelling by the sales team is imperitive to success. You can’t just have a better product. You need to be the ONLY product that solves the problem the right way. You need to be 10x better. You need your sales people to have weapons at their disposal to inspire and close deals. This is going to change how you think about MVP.

For example, having cupholders may be required even in the MVP. It let’s your sales people say, “Hey, if you don’t have cup holders you are going to hit a bump, spill your drink and careen off the road and die! We are the only ones with cupholders!” These are unique differentiators and even an MVP needs that.

So none of these pictures is perfect, but I think deconstructing them is helpful to wrap your head around the issue. At Engagio, we are gearing up to launch our MVP of a new product. It’s really exciting, but also tense. You never know until you do it. Hopefully, it will go as well as I imagine.

Color Inspiration

When designing a new product or brand, you need to get inspiration from somewhere. We are about to launch some new stuff and I realized where my inspiration came from…it was the view out of our window.

During the day, it’s especially bright and the reds in the wood glow. The combination of the reds, blues and cream are beautiful. In my mind, this was combined with an underwater landscape filled with coral reefs, bright blue and reds.

Your inspiration may be closer than you think.

Product Camp 2016

Product Camp is a free, user-driven, collaborative “unconference” for Product Managers and Marketers. It’s in a few cities now. This weekend was the 2016 Silicon Valley edition. I usually go every other year.

This year seemed to have diminished in attendance from previous ones. Accordingly, the number of sessions was also diminished. One of the problems is that the conference is free. “Free” possibly boosts attendance, but it also has some negative side-effects.

One piece of wisdom from my boss said is “People don’t value free things.”

I have seen it in many forms. Free trials don’t get as much attention within the organization as a paid trial. Free software doesn’t have the same commitment.

The freeness of Product Camp has two negative effects. First, it makes people feel overall that the event is less valuable. And second, it robs the event organizers of resources to make the event go well. They do the best they can and certainly pulled off a reasonable event, but without professional resources, you can only take it so far.

The sessions themselves felt kinda boring to me. Some were clearly designed to sell books from the speaker/author. Others had monotone speakers with low energy. I actually found the most value outside the sessions in conversations with people in the hallway or outside.

Here are my suggestions to the organizers of P-Camp.

  1. Have more panels. I would have loved to be on a panel. (Someone just needs to ask)
  2. Have time in between sessions. The talking in the hallway is part of the experience.  Don’t cram sessions so tightly.
  3. More sponsors. I know this is easier said than done, but their money can help fund improvements.
  4. Better directions. This is specific to this year. “Leavey” should have said “Lucas”. Google was little help here.
  5. Have session liasons. It’s hard to put your own session together. Have a few people who help. They can recruit speakers and possibly pair people together.
  6. More sessions with fewer people per session. These things are better when they are small and intimate.

I wanted to do a session about the last 6 months of my life. I worked on product market fit for a new product, did research, gathered requirements and designed the whole thing. We are almost finished building it. It’s right up P-Camp’s alley. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to put together the presentation.

Maybe next year.

Make Something Great Again

I’ve seen two advertisements leveraging this Donald Trump meme.  One was a billboard on 101 that stated “Make your data great again!” and today, I got this email that proclaimed, “Make your events great again!”

Both times I saw the ad, Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan came to mind along with a bunch of questions such as:

  1. Are they supporting Donald Trump with this advertisement?
  2. When was data (or events) great in the past?
  3. How did they get NOT great?
  4. What drove the change in the first place?
  5. Is putting it the way it used to be going to have unintended consequences?
  6. Why are marketing departments thinking this is a good idea?

To be fair, most people saw the sign and thought, “Whatever” and moved on with their lives. I am cursed with trait of overthinking every single thing I see/hear/experience.

To be specific for Donald Trump, I believe this slogan is code. It’s code for “Let’s support white men at the expense of minorities and women.” I think that it’s code for rolling back abortion rights, business regulations, civil rights and the economy to the 1950’s. Back in the glory days of white men owning everything and businesses running amok.

I don’t think Donald Trump means back to when we had an actual progressive tax code (FDR) and the government spent money on the arts and infrastructure. I don’t think he means to take us back to Teddy Roosevelt and trust busting. I think he means the 1950’s.

Anyway, marketers should get more creative. This slogan sucks.