Answering the question “Would they use it?” before you build it

Answering the question  “Would they use it?” before you build it

How can you determine if something is worth building? Recently at the Warm Gun Conference Instagram founder Mike Krieger talked about what they called “The Wizard Of Oz Techniques For Social Prototyping” – what I’ve heard called “404 Testing” – where he said:

Krieger says him and Systrom tested an early version of a feature which would notify you when friends joined the service. Instead of building it out, they manually sent people notifications “like a human bot” saying ‘your friend has joined.’ It turned out not to be useful. “We wrote zero lines of Python, so we had zero lines to throw away.”

What could be a better way to find out if something was truly valuable to your customers – then to fake it. There are a couple stories, one dating back to early computing days when a company wanted to see if they could get admins to use voice dictation software. At the time, this was a very expensive project, with huge technology hurdles. Before starting to invest in this project, they decided to run a test. They installed a “working” prototype into an office, only it wasn’t real. While the admins talked, someone was listening and typing back what they said.

After some testing they found that the admins didn’t like the product, that it was taking away from their tasks, and they preferred other methods for input. This would have been a multi-million dollar project, that most likely would have flopped. They spent almost nothing to find out this product had very little value to their target market.

I’ve thought about how this could work for smaller feature sets – and then came across this:

Coming soon

It’s from a new travel site called: http://www.mrarlo.com/

While at first you could be thinking “lame, why not just add a under construction gif to the page?” – but if they’re tracking the clicks for this – they’ll quickly determine what % of visitors would be interested in the feature, and is it worth the investment to build out.

When asking customers if they would like feature A or B, they’ll usually say “how about both?” – to them features are free. They don’t know the development that goes into something as seemly simple as “neighborhood” for instance.

404 testing is a great method for finding value, from a single feature to an entire product. Remember, development is expensive and will keep you from delivering features your customers really want.

Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Move Fast: My UX journey to move faster

Today’s Dallas Digital Summit started with Alexis Ohanian (reddit and hipmunk fame) talking about how the internet is changing everything. And in his talks he touched on some aspects of product development – things like shipping, getting a MVP product out the door, and making sure customers find value in what you’re creating.

It’s good to get a startup vibe to start off the day – and I’m really passionate about bringing this vibe to other organizations. I think as User Experience Designers we’re in the right place to help change organizations – so it makes sense that things like the Lean UX mirrors elements of the Lean Startup movement and Agile Development.

So lets make things, great things, well designed things – build/measure/test – and may you ship as often as possible.

Here’s my presentation from today’s UX session @ Dallas Digital Summit:

#DDSUM12

I’m speaking @ the Dallas Digital Summit tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Dallas Digital Summit in the User Experience & Design track @ 4:10.



I’ll be speaking about Lean UX (and related topics) – dubbed: Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Move Fast: My UX journey to move faster. I’ll post my slides right after the talk (because you know I’ll be editing them until I’m on stage ;-)

The tickets are currently sold out, but if you’re there be sure to say hello! And if you’re not, you can follow along #DDSum12.

LTE made me do it…

I was wondering if LTE on the iPhone 5 would change my mobile internet consumption habits. Here in the Dallas area I’ve seen speeds that just about equal my Verizon Fios service. And the below was without Facetime being enabled (still hoping it will come to grandfathered plans!).

I’m wondering what has changed? I can view more, faster? Not as timid about watching streaming videos on the go? Whatever it is, I’d be surprised as iPhone 5 usage goes up, the LTE network doesn’t start to drag. Guess we’ll see how it fares in Austin during SXSW next year :-)

Game On! Gamification @ Big Design 2011

Game On Blog Post

I’m a little behind on this, but it’s always interesting to look back. In 2011 I gave a talk to a couple local groups and at the Big Design Conference on Gamification. We were hot off the heals of SXSW, where we had a great many talks, startups, and guests from the gaming world. But after more than a year, it’s still gaining ground, and we’ve yet to see the hockey stick growth in adoption – but I think it’s still coming.
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Europe – planes, trains, and no automobiles

I was recently able to spend three weeks in Europe – two weeks working in London, and one week traveling to Brussels and Amsterdam. I haven’t had a lot of long work engagements outside the states, but it really helps get a more global view, and in my case, getting some insights around our international audience.

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Will Fragmented Content Experiences Change your Home?

When you think about how people were entertained in their homes in the past, they would usually crowd around a radio or TV – which would be located at some central point in the home. Recently this has changed – with powerful, smaller, connected devices we’re able to fragment this experience. You have a home where everyone is on a different shared device, being more selective about the content they’re consuming – video, websites, games – all up to the individual, but still connected to their circles of family and friends.

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