Archive for January, 2006

Palm: Treo Contacts with shared information

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

True to the detail-oriented nature of this site, I’m going to start with an interface challenge to an interface-expert company, Palm.  Renowned for their ‘two taps to anywhere’ goals, the Palm OS team has been for years focusing on ease-of-use and succeeding extremely well.  However, there is one item that could be easily fixed that has been overlooked: Contacts who share information.

We all have some – the perfect example is couples where you know both people in the relationship. They generally share the same address and the same home phone number, but their cell phones are different and their email address too.  Maybe it’s your aunt and uncle and you have records for each of their kids so you don’t forget their birthdays or emails… or it could also be people who work at the same company with the same address.
So what happens when they move?

You have to chase down every record that has the old information, and change them independently.  Or, you have to have only one record that has all of the people listed and notate their differences by hand.  Not good.

The solution? Well, I think I gave it away in the title.  Allow records to share information.  Change it once and it ripples through the links.


Monday, January 23rd, 2006

The world is made up of users, consumers who purchase goods and services, and very rarely does a company focus on creating a perfect user experience. Whether a restaurant, a consumer electronics company, an airline, or a software shop, most companies do not believe in providing a truly outstanding experience to their customers.

I’m a software designer by trade but an experience analyst by nature, and I’m fed up and not going to take it any more.

People today are using more and more technology, with small annoyances considered acceptable because software companies have raised the threshold of pain so high. Airlines have gone from competing on comfort to competing on price, with only a few small outfits willing to focus on the experience. Small wonder JetBlue gets press for its service innovations when most other outfits herd their consumer cattle onboard and declare bankruptcy due to falling fares.

This column is dedicated to pointing out small items that keep a user experience from being great. I may cover larger issues when appropriate (when I wander into ranting) but as companies like Apple and Palm have proven, the details can build or destroy a company. No one is exempt from scrutiny, and perhaps the toughest analysis will be reserved for companies or products that are great – and could be transcendent.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and work in technology, so most of my examples will come from that arena. I anticipate posting weekly, though I will do so more often if I have enough material. If you have insights, please feel free to send them to me – you can guess my email with any reasonable attempt – and I will investigate and post based on them.

This is a voice, speaking for the user. Come and make our world a better place to live in.