The Subtle Art of User Friendliness, i.e. IE 8 and others…

by Xavier Comments: 0

A few days ago I finished reading Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think. It is amazing how this guy has been able to summarize so many useful advice in what can be read in a few hours. I believe the architects and designers from big corporations should all read a copy of this book, because in the end a big part of the success of a product lies on whether end users like your product and make it part of your life.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you don’t design your product well people are not going to use it. Let me show you a few examples:
– Skype vs MSN Live vs Google Chat & Voice: Skype is by far the best product, the lifeline of communications for millions of folks worldwide. The other services have the same features, but Skype by far is better. (Maybe that’s why MS bought it)
– Google Chrome vs Internet Explorer vs Firefox vs Safari: IE might have killed Netscape and others, but Firefox came and showed how it should be done, especially with its big community building add ons. IMHO Chrome is the best, I like it’s speed. Like I said, IE had its prime, but not adhering to standards, being slow, and pretending they were alone was not sustainable. IE 9 is trying to fix this, but only time will tell
– Dropbox vs Live Mesh: in this one Live Mesh tried to present an offering that had everything you need and in doing so made a product so unusable that a simple “have a root folder, drop all your stuff there” approach worked as it fitted for the biggest number of users.

And I can go on and on and on… However I just wanted to point out how sometimes building a great product is only a matter of building it usable. You know the old saying, “Elegant simplicity is the ultimate sophisticaiton“. That’s what I try to do with everything I build in my life.

BTW: AS I am writing this post, I bumped into this dialog. I can’t count how many times I’ve said “later” or did the process and it still comes up. This can’t be more annoying!

The Problem with Microsoft Now

by Xavier Comments: 0

I read today a great article called The Ballmer Days are Over,  in which Ben Brooks describes some of the problems that Microsoft is currently facing.  Here is my take on Microsoft:

I used to work as a v- for Microsoft for a few years and then I cofounded a company that provided vendor services for them (7 years total – and already left the company), so I know my way around Microsoft.

All the time I worked there I was never able to understand why everything was so bureaucratic and slow… innovation didn’t seem like the norm.

MS Consulting IMHO is not what it could be, I worked there too and they have extremely good technical people, but the only thing a lot of them seem to be passionate about is being a Microsoft employee and not building amazing stuff. Besides, a lot of them look down on other companies when they shouldn’t.

 

They are too arrogant about other products, when instead they should respect and even fear the competition to be able to build something amazing.  I mean, even a fat guy can run fast if you put a lion behind him.

 

The innovation I saw (I was an evangelist for Windows 64 bit in the DPE group – you can see all the places I presented here )  was usually centered around the technology, not the user.  All projects were about “let’s use this technology” but didn’t care much about what was really important, which is “why would the customer care to use my product”.

 

Also there was a mentality of “let’s build it and see if it sticks to the wall”, which is a good approach only if people are committed to what they are building, the attitude that I saw was not correct given that most people were only interested in keeping their steady jobs with MS and not take any chances. This is good to pay your mortgage, but not to make history.

Oh, and Skype. Why buy what they already have with Live. Oh I know, because Skype is built better. Anyway, maybe they bought it because they recognized that they couldn’t do it right like Skype did. I have no idea…

 

And last but not least, sadly within Microsoft people are usually not fired.  They are moved from one group to another. So ironically, if someone gets hired into a group but that person does not live to the expectations, then that guy GETS RECOMMENDED so that he/she is hired by another group! This is something I’ve never been able to understand!!!! Recommend someone because he/she is not good, so that you pass the problem along to another department!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Microsoft and I am a total Microsoft technology guy.  Just that it feels like they are just hanging to the train but not pushing it…. or even better, they could be pulling it!

My take on meetings

by Xavier Comments: 1

I found an extremely interesting article today which talks about why some people love meetings and others hate them, but still go to meetings quite often.

Here is the link:

Another Meeting? Good. Another Chance To Hear Myself Talk

The part that I love is:

David Mazel, a research analyst, thinks people like meetings because “you can stay busy without accomplishing a thing.” He says “having gone to the meeting is the work.”

New rule for me: for every meeting that I have control over, something actionable will come out of it.

New rule #2: avoid meetings that are only to “discuss XYZ” but nothing actionable nor any decision is taken, or that we do a meeting that will just lead to another meeting.

In fewer words, I will make my best not to waste anybodies time nor mine.