Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Don't ditch your product, ditch the experience

If you are wondering why your competition is speeding past you while your product is more sophisticated and feature-rich, you might stop looking at your engineers and start chatting with your customers. Sometimes a shift in your customer experience can turn your product into the flavor-of-the-month.I was visiting with a friend who owns a landscape design company and we were talking about online review websites like Yelp. He has a five star rating on Yelp and does everything he can to maintain…

Read the rest of my blog on

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

If Your Pants Have Loops, Wear A Belt

Your customers are complaining that your product isn’t as cool as the competition. You feel the heat of your sales force breathing down your neck because they don’t like making excuses to customers about how it works, and your customer support team spends twice as much time apologizing than they do solving actual problems. Essentially, in your rush to engineer a great product and solve some very important problems, you’ve let your appearance get sloppy.

It’s Not Your Product, It’s the Experience

Read the rest of my article on Wired...

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Other Interests:

I usually only post business-type stuff on this blog, but I do have other hobbies and interests. One of my favorites is embarking on Motorcycle Adventures. I have a 2012 BMW F650GS and I like to hop on and disappear. I also have a KTM which I take to the desert to get my fill of rock and sand. One of the best aspects of a moto adventure is when you experience the point of no-return... the moment you realize you must persevere because you can't turn back. It's one of the most amazing feelings. It's scary and exciting, it takes focus and the ability to make clear decisions. That's really what it's all about, the ability to make a decision and not waver in the face of adversity.

Well, I have a lot of other things to share about moto adventures, so I created a new web site dedicated completely to the topic: Moto Away []. It's my safe place to share motorcycle adventures with anyone interested in reading. I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is Marketing a Bunch of Smoke and Mirrors?

No... but if done correctly, Marketing can be magical.

When my kids were young we used to drive around town and take turns making up stories. At first it was pretty simple, a kid walks past a cave and he sees two red eyes. But after a while we started creating more intricate stories. We added tension and suspense. One day my son, who was about six at the time, made up a great story about a lion and a peacock. I was absolutely captured through to the ending... it was magical.

A great story is magical.

I've been in and around marketing for the better part of 20 years and the one thing I continue to stress is the importance of telling a great story. Yes, you can tell the story about features and benefits. You can tell the story of differentiation. You can tell the story of cost and value... But if you really want to see something magical, tell the story of integrity, prosperity, confidence, tension, suspense and values.

Your product or service is much more than a fact-sheet. Your story is about you, your employees, your values, your passion to solve problems in a unique way. Your story is also something your customer has been waiting to hear. It connects with them in a meaningful way. The Toyota Prius was never about MPG, it was a story about the earth... it told a story about integrity and values, and it allowed the customer to tell the same story just by driving it.

When I made up stories for my kids I used to try to build characters with strong values, but I never forgot to have fun, act silly and entertain them at the same time. Telling your customers about your features and benefits is like always telling your kids to brush their teeth. Entertain them instead.

Connect with your customers in meaningful ways. What is your story?

Whisk me away :)


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rethinking Enterprise UX in the Age of Consumerization

Check out my piece in UX Magazine on the difference between end-user and Administrator UX when designing for the enterprise:


E-mail or Email, Does it Really Matter?

I have been reading through datasheets, websites, product literature and user guides for years. I'm a product guy and I like to pay attention to the details. You can tell a lot about a company by the words they choose, and the way they use them. When a company uses different words, with different capitalization, and different spelling, that's a sign of trouble.

On the other hand, when I come across a website where the words are well chosen and consistent, there is an obvious attention to detail and it's easier to build trust and a relationship with that company... and I like that.

Take a look at the words you use within your product and within your literature. Make sure you are consistent and the same words are used throughout your entire organization. Here are a few common words used in software today that companies often stumble upon:

1. E-mail, Email, or email - This is a pet peeve, especially going across product UI, datasheets and user guides. It doesn't really matter which one you choose, just choose one and make sure it's used consistently in all communications.

2. Login, login, log in, log-in, Sign in, sign in, or sign on. - Here, again, it's important to choose one and stick with it. But it's also important to question which one you use. Are you keeping a log of your customer activities and that's why you need them to log in? Are you authenticating the user, in which case you need them to sign in? Ask around and find out what is best for your company—then stick with it!

3. Logout, or log out. - The same goes with logging out of a system, signing off, and so forth. Determine which is most accurate for your product or service and stick with it.

4. Alert, Warning, Notification, or Message - This is where it gets a little more complicated. If you use these words interchangeably it can cause stress for your users. I've seen user interface alerts that are just messages, and I've seen notifications that really should be alerts. Make sure you define these clearly for your engineers and don't be lazy when you QA the product. It's also important to understand how icons are used for alerts, warnings, notifications and messages. Don't use them interchangeably and, of course, don't mix them in your literature.

5. Host, Hostname, Service, Server, URL - I often catch large companies, like Microsoft or Apple, using different words to describe the location of their online services. Typically these are hidden in error code, which makes it even harder to catch. For example, when you download an app and it requires you to enter a URL so you can connect to a service, if you enter a bad URL you get an error. If an engineer coded this error at 2AM the day before code-freeze, it's possible he didn't use the right words.

Take a look at your product or service, read through your documentation and see if you can find any inconsistencies. It's not easy, but it's worth the effort. You'll earn the respect of your customers by paying attention to the details.

So in answer to the question of whether you spell email as email or E-mail—it really doesn’t matter just pick one and stick with it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Wait is Over

Well, it's time to announce the big update: FastPencil has been acquired by Courier Corp!

It was a great ride, I had a lot of fun, and now I'm moving on to start another business. But in the meantime I've joined Accellion in Palo Alto as their Director, Product Experience, where I get to help design and engineer great solutions for secure mobile productivity. It's a nice shift to be in the enterprise cloud industry as opposed to consumer internet products.

I will be writing again and sharing my ideas, so stay tuned... and though I don't have all the details of my new business fleshed-out just yet, I can tell you what it's called and you can start guessing: CORL8.

Hopefully we will launch before you connect the dots :)