Career advice

Follow your passions. Don’t take on skills or projects you’re not passionate about.

However, don’t limit your purview so much that you’re unable to bring value in multiple areas of any organization. You’ll find yourself unmarketable.

-jlp

Continuous Deployment Gone Awry

I frequent Patterntap.com for UX pattern inspiration. They were recently acquired by Zurb and quite frankly has become difficult to use. Ironic for a site which targets user experience professionals.

I can’t help but notice that every time I go to the site, it has changed. I have to relearn how to use it, which is incredibly frustrating for me as a busy professional.

Clearly Zurb uses a continuous deployment model. Unfortunately, they don’t have a clear understanding of their users tolerance for change. Having such an understanding along with a clear strategy for how to handle it is crucial when utilizing a continuous deployment model.

In the meantime, I find myself seeking alternative pattern sites. What are your favorites?

The Bait & Hook: Outdated Business Model?

"Bait & Hook" refers to a business model pattern characterized by an attractive, inexpensive, or free initial offer that encourages continuing future purchases of related products or services." (Excerpt from Business Model Generation)

Classic examples of the bait & hook are:
Cellular service providers - they bundle your free or deeply discounted phone with a contract for service, guaranteeing them a return.
Printer manufacturers such as Canon & HP - they sell their printers relatively inexpensively & then earn their profit from the sale of ink for the printer.

There is an obvious downside to bait & hook: once you’re lured in, the company may lack motivation to provide the best possible experience for you as you have no choice but to stay with them long enough to give them a return.

Additionally, consumers often find themselves longing for their contracts to be up or seeking cheaper alternatives, with a feeling of uneasiness about the quality of the alternatives.

In today’s age of consumer & human friendly products & services, is bait & hook an outdated business model? Will we begin to see it be replaced by models which provide far more motivation to provide great experiences?

Devoted to Makers Mark

About 12 years ago, I signed up to be a Makers Mark Ambassador. Ambassadors are entitled to their name engraved on a nameplate which is then attached to a barrel of whiskey. As the barrel ages you are notified of its progress and when that barrel is ready, you are afforded the opportunity to visit their distillery in KY to buy a bottle from the barrel. In addition, over the years Makers Mark has sent me various branded bar ware and merchandise.

When I originally signed up to be an ambassador, I was only doing so because it sounded cool and I wanted free stuff. I really didn’t drink much Makers Mark. However, over the years of exceptional treatment from the distillery, I have grown to be a loyal consumer & fan.

So, when I received a large poster announcing my barrel was ready and an invitation to come to the distillery to buy my special bottle that was 12 years in the making, I was pretty excited!

Tomorrow, Friday, February 15, 2013, I will board a plane to Nashville, TN with my boyfriend, who is also a Makers Mark fan. On Saturday, we will make the 2 hour trek to the Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY to pick up my bottle. I RSVPed for the occasion and have been informed there are other surprises in store for us.

Why should you care about my trip? When you compare the cost of this upcoming trip and the cost the Makers Mark bottles I have casually purchased over the years, I’m confident I would find that Makers Mark made a relatively small investment in me in comparison. I am not only a devoted consumer, I love telling others about them. Whoever came up with this program was smart.

While I’m there I hope to get a better sense of just how smart they are. And of course, I’ll have the opportunity to sample delicious whiskey. I plan on reporting back.

By the way, we won’t only be there to sample the whiskey. We have a jam packed weekend planned of spelunking Mammoth Caves, taking in a Country music show, visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, and trying Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken.

Excited!

Can fitness trackers really go mainstream?

My parents gifted me a FitBit One for Xmas. I requested it as I’ve plumped up since moving to the Bay Area & need some extra motivation to get back into an exercise routine.

I clip it to my pocket every day & it tracks my steps & hills/stairs I’ve climbed. At night I strap it to my wrist with the provided wrist band & it tracks how well I sleep & has a wonderful vibrating alarm that wakes me up, but not my honey. (I’m a serial pusher of the snooze button, which drives him nuts.)

I can then sync the FitBit to my account online & easily track my progress.

I am what I call “fitness challenged.” I’m clumsy & have poor hand/eye coordination. Being active doesn’t come easily to me, but I know I need to do it to remain healthy. Despite knowing I need to remain active, it’s really hard to actually do it. I can use all the extra motivation I can get & FitBit is a great product to assist with that. Based on the rate of obesity in this nation, I know I’m not alone in needing motivation.

Similar type products are starting to pop up all over the place, however I opted for the FitBit primarily due to the word of mouth praise I have heard. It’s also a plus that it is easy to hide under my clothing. Bracelets like the Nike+ Fuel Band do not appeal to me. As I’ve stated, I’m not a fitness nut. I’m not wearing this thing as a badge of honor.

Compliments aside, I have one complaint which doesn’t yet seem to be addressed by any of the products in this market space: they don’t allow me to easily connect with others to receive & give motivation.

FitBit is certainly trying to add the social aspect in a couple ways:
1. By allowing connections with your Facebook friends. Once connected you can message them, cheer them or taunt them. I can also see how my activity compares to theirs.
2. Poorly implemented forums that are intended to help you connect with like minded people.

Unfortunately though, both pieces of functionality are only available online & are not accessible through their mobile app. I’m left wanting oh so much more!

Now, I have no doubt the good people at FitBit are concepting ways to make their product more social. From what I understand, they have come a long way since inception. The concern I have is whether they truly understand what it takes to motivate the fitness challenged such as myself to really engage with their product. I hold this concern because the people at FitBit are generally fitness buffs. Do they have what it takes to set aside their personal perspectives & help the rest of us? I believe the company who can crack that nut is the one that will ultimately become mainstream & win in this market space.

The *most* annoying banner ad EVAR. I’ve accidentally activated it 6 times now. I just want to cook my meal. :(

The *most* annoying banner ad EVAR. I’ve accidentally activated it 6 times now. I just want to cook my meal. :(

Design is not a checkbox item

Recently “Startups, This is Design” ( http://startupsthisishowdesignworks.com/) made the rounds across the Interwebs. We all rejoiced as someone finally explained it so succinctly. Now all startups who read it will truly understand the value of design to their business!

Clearly, I was excited too. The problem, however, is that people don’t like to read things thoroughly on websites. They only get a glimpse of what the message is & then immediately equate design to a checkbox item in their magical list of what makes a viable business.

I recently received an email from a well meaning Product Manager, with the following opportunity:

“I’m looking for a local ixd to help create initial branding and design work for a very unique apparel ecommerce site I’m building… I need front end design (mostly just a custom home page & slight customization of our magento template), branding/logo design, and design of a few custom elements of the site.”

In this post I’m not going to touch on the fact that this guy isn’t really looking for an IxD professional. I’m also not going to go into the smoke & mirrors compensation he promises later in the email. What bothers me is the fact that he believes if he simply checks design off his magical list, his company will be a success.

When I received this email, my initial reaction was to point him to the aforementioned website. But it occured to me that he has either already seen it or he has read articles attempting to explain the successful business triad which the reference site explains. The real problem is that he hasn’t really taken the time to understand what it means to integrate design into a business model.

Now, I wish him the best of success in his venture, but for obvious reasons, I will not be jumping on this “opportunity.”

Although, to be honest I often wish I wouldn’t feel like an asshole by responding to him like David Thorne did to Simon Edhouse. I recommend reading it if you’re in need of a laugh.

A place for my user experience observations and notes of interest.

Learn more about me at http://jessicapetersen.com/

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