MySpace = eBay = Ghetto Fabulous
Found this article, MySpace: Is ‘ghetto’ a design choice?, surfing around the net. It all started with a simple question:
“From a design perspective we have to look at it as a failure, but obviously it’s not. Why is that? Why hype ugliness?”
And further snowballed to 40+ comments. I have to say this is one of most interesting post + threads I’ve come across in a long time. The whole thread raises a lot of very intriguing questions in a very stream of conscious, conversational way. . .
1. The correlation of success (adoption? revenue?) with usability as well as “production value”
2. Inside peek at a startup from an employee’s view point
3. Disgruntled employee in a startup
4. Employees leaving a previously successful startup to take on the employer
5. Founder as a micro manager (reminicent of Steve Jobs)
6. How startup succeeds despite of bad processes/decision making infrastructure
7. How startup succeeds despite not listening to customers
8. How startup succeeds despite of itself in general
9. Relevance of standards to the end users
10. How challengers can overtake incumbents by taking advantage of situational and tactical mistakes of its competitor
11. Customization and personalization as a key competitive advantage in the web 2.0 world of “personal web”
12. User trust and its correlation with brand and look-and-feel
13. The hidden cost of “change” -> learning curve
Each one of the issues raised could be a post in of itself. . . maybe one day when I run out things to write about I’ll come back to this post.
Personally relevant to me is that as an eBay employee and somewhat responsible for its functional design and look & feel, eBay is held up both as what not to do, as well as what to do. More from Jason Kottke here and Vincent Lombardi here. The truth is that we struggle with these issues all the time but everything we do is of conscious choice. We are fully capable of adhering to any spectrum of design standards but one thing that we try to do is to take “user centric” design to its ultimate literal interpretation . . . ie listen, survey, and talk to our community constantly and always.
WWGD: What Would Google Do
Eventually some consulting firm will be founded based on the idea that people want to know what Google will do next and is willing to pay to find out. Actually the idea is not that far fetched since Microsoft has just one such firm tracking its every single move called Directions On Microsoft. I’ve read some of their stuff and its actually pretty good. The most useful and insightful are their indepth knowlege of the Microsoft org chart and how strategies relates to the people issues in the company - and vice versa.
Until then, we’ll have to settle on Nivi and me playing casandra to the masses. While Nivi takes a “inferential” approach to his predictive model:
Take any piece of software you use all day: e.g. address book, calendar, web browser, iTunes, MS Office, stock charts.
Ask yourself: “What do I really really really wish this product could do?”
Wait for Google to make your dream come true. Or develop the dream product yourself so you can sell it to AOL/Yahoo/IAC/MS when Google launches their version.
I will take the bottom up HR driven approach. . . (althought the predictions are the same). . . Basically this is what we lay man knows about Google.
1. The famous spend 20% of your time working on whatever project you want directive
2. Engineers/PHD’s runs the company
3. Its a bottoms up culture where ideas are bubbled up to marketing, PM rarely dictate product direction w/o engineering buyin
4. Kinda like the premodial goo, chaos breeds creativity and eventually something great will happen
So what does this have to do with WWGD? Well, since most products/ideas are initiated by engineers who spends most of their time at Google coding away or playing with colleagues this is what I say Google is generally up to.
1. Innovation that is driven by coders as end-users (dont expect Google Supply Chain Optimizer anytime soon)
2. Products that is widely used (Skype) by Google community of engineers
3. Common products they think they can do one better (sometime naively - ie opening up AIM)
4. BHAG, costly, ambitious, ideas (scanning books? wifi net?) that can only be pushed through in a company not using NPV analysis
5. Consumer applications or services (+ maybe Engineering related products)
Now, I just have to sit and wait maybe someone more qualified will chime in.