Archive for the ‘Product Design’ Category

Bananagrams – Innovation through Easing Scrabble’s Pain Points

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Scrabble is one of the most popular games of all time, far ahead of the many competing word games out on retail shelves.  However, it is not without its pain points, which lessen the enjoyment of the game for many.  Some of the pain points are: time spent waiting for other players to take their turns, luck factor in drawing high value letters, time to play a full game, and the need for paper, pencil and board along with keeping score.  A new game called Bananagrams solves those pain points while still keeping much of the fun of Scrabble.

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Incentivize Users to Drive Traffic to Your Site

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

If you want to get a lot of cheap traffic to your site and quickly build up a user base, then incentivize users to spread the word and market your site for you.  Pyramid schemes work because users have strong incentive to attract more users.  While illegal and non-sustainable, they are still a good example of the how powerful it is to have your users work for you.  SEO traffic takes time to build and can rise and fall with competitor efforts and algorithm changes.  SEM traffic costs money for each user and grows linearly.  Word of mouth traffic grows exponentially.  Below are some examples of sites that have thrived from giving users incentive to spread the word and get their friends involved.

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Psychology of Choice Guiding Product Design

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

How we make decisions is a very interesting topic, and one with much research and literature written about it.  Many findings may seem counter-intuitive but make sense once you think about them more carefully.  Below are a few things to be aware of about how users deal with choices when designing products.

Choice Overload – It may be unintuitive to many, but people have a hard time choosing when there are more options rather than fewer choices.  Many designers, marketers, and manufacturers try to give consumers as many choices as possible, hoping to provide the perfect product for every user.  However, studies have shown that users will consistently choose to make no choice rather than try to choose one from many options.  This is called choice overload.  In general, people would rather have a handful of choices, even if none match exactly what they’d want, rather than dozens of choices that may include a few favorites.  When designing products, it is important to keep this in mind.  For example, if you provide a list of categories to browse, show the user roughly 7 choices, not 20.

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Users are Like Salmon: Help them Swim Upstream

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The majority of consumers are not power users.  If your solution to a pain point is complicated, or different from the normal methods, then most of your users may have trouble seeing, understanding or using the product properly.  Users scan websites instead of reading them, and expect your website to work like the other ones that they use.  So if yours differs then you may hit a block with users using your product incorrectly or not at all.  That does not mean that your solution has to be relegated to a niche product.   What it does mean is that you need to ensure that you offer a compelling basic service to meet the needs of the average user.  Then you can move them upstream to more complicated and powerful tools over time as they use the product by surfacing the advanced functionality to them.

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