The little things matter

I have a hummingbird feeder by my front porch. The recipe is fairly simple 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.  I tried last week to use the most organic plain sugar I could get which was raw sugar from Trader Joe’s.  After using the organic sugar I did not have much hummingbird activity. It turns out that the hummingbirds don’t love organic sugar they prefer the bleached white Domino Sugar.  After whipping up a small batch with the regular sugar the hummingbirds eagerly came back to the feeder.  

This small change that in my opinion was more natural and better for them turned out to reduce their frequency.   It is interesting because you can often find the same behavior in software usability. Companies will make an update and change something that they perceive as very small and in the users best interest yet customers just do not like it.  Many times, you will not get emails telling you that they are unhappy, they will just reduce usage.  This is why it is important to have a baseline behavior measured.  That way after the change you can see if there is any affect on usage.  I admit that I don’t always take a baseline measure before making many changes but the hummingbirds reminded me how important it is.

Sometimes a major update causes major issues

Tonight “Developer Epic Games has announced that Fortnite servers are being shut down due to several issues with game services.” 

After after a major update sometimes you can encounter major problems and that seems to be what happened tonight 4 the popular game fortnite.  

The the company has been not only working on solving the problem but doing a very good job with keeping the community up to date through all social channels on their progress.  It is impressive to see how well people are taking the outage and supportive of the company as they work through this.   

Test Driving Beam from Suitable Technologies

I have used a lot of webcam and conference systems that are all designed to allow you to participate from miles away.  Today I got to test drive, Beam from Suitable Technologies in Palo Alto.  Emily from Suitable sent me an email with my invitation and a few clicks later I was ‘beamed’ into their sunny California office.

Beam is a remote presence device, think Avatar and Jonny #5.  I was able to take over a robot, drive it around the office and interact with people all from the comfort of my desk.

Here is the video of my test drive:

World Usability Day 2013 is here!

WUDToday is World Usability Day. The theme for this year is; Healthcare: Collaborating For Better Systems.
There are activities planned around the world to celebrate usability.  I am going to attend my local Connecticut Usability Professionals Association meeting tonight at Manchester College (Click here for more info).  The main talk will be from Mad*Pow’s Chief Experience Officer, Amy Cueva.