Max Ventilla of Aardvark on Startups & User driven design

If you are going to be doing a startup for an average of four years if you are unsuccessful and eight years if you are successful, it makes sense to devote six months to deciding what to do in the first place. If you go with whatever comes to you first, unless you are very lucky, you will likely waste far more than half a year before you can pivot to success. More often, you’ll run out of money and morale and end up in the dead pool.

being user driven is a tax. I’d estimate that we moved about half as quickly as if we’d just gone with our gut consistently. In return, we dramatically reduced the chance that we would make wildly wrong bets and have to double back, abandoning large periods of work. Ultimately, investors gave money as much for our process as for our team and concept. Being truly user-driven also created a much better environment for our engineers, who got to work on features that had been vetted prior to beginning development. Finally, our process let us avoid the tantalizing product concept ratholes that could have used up years of our collective energy and time to no avail.

Source: User driven design


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Distraction Virus

Internet distractions evolve to become ever more “distracting” all the time — like a virus. Distractions now “seek you out.”
Distractions mask the toll they take on productivity. Everyone finishes up their work days exhausted, but how much of that exhaustion is from real work, how much from the mental effort of fighting off distractions and how much from the indulgence of distractions?

Pundits like me are constantly talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and humor sites, not to mention old standbys like e-mail and IM. One gets the impression that we should be “following” these things all day long, and many do. So when does the work get done? When do entrepreneurs start and manage their businesses? When do writers write that novel? When do IT professionals keep the trains running on time? When does anyone do anything?

The need for “attention,” rather than “hard work,” as the centerpiece of the new work ethic has arisen along with the rise of distractions carried on the wings of Internet protocol. In one generation, we’ve gone from a total separation of “work” from “non-work” to one in which both work and play are always sitting right in front of us.

Source: Attention Control

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Scott Adams on blogging & writing.

Regular readers of my blog know that the goal of my writing is to be interesting and nothing else. I’m not trying to change anyone’s opinion, largely because I don’t believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some. But I do think people benefit by exposure to ideas that are different from whatever they are hearing, even when the ideas are worse. That’s my niche: something different. That approach springs from my observation that brains are like investment portfolios, where diversification is generally a good strategy. I’m not trying to move you to my point of view; I’m trying to add diversity to your portfolio of thoughts. In the short term, I hope it’s stimulating enough to be entertaining. Long term, the best ideas probably come from people who have the broadest exposure to different views.

Scott Adams

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Dear Airtel please redirect me. I am waiting since forever.

Dear Airtel customer experience manager,

I am an internet  junkie since Rs 50 an hour for a 128kbps snail fast internet in a dingy cyber cafe days. One of the happiest day of  my life was when private telecom players like Airtel started broadband  services in India. I tried all of them and decided to stick with Airtel. For a hardcore internet junkie I still believe Airtel is the best. I am happy Airtel customer from past two years. Service is reliable and customer support is prompt and efficient. I do not remember regretting my choice and paying the premium for Airtel services  (remember BSNL is always cheaper 🙂 ).

Though I am a satisfied Airtel customer I often  face some really silly issues which make me cringe. Good thing is that most of them are not  I-want-to-change-my-service-provider type but more of why-Airtel-why kind. They are not be related with performance and downtime but are definitely spoiling my overall customer experience.

For example take  internet  usage update service. One trigger this whenever one cross his download limits. Since I am using Youtube as my cable-tv substitute I trigger this more often. This  services is expected to update me on my usage and redirect me to whatever I was doing. The problem is redirection never works! Not even after refreshing the page.

Next is online bill payment service. It never works on my fav browser! In fact whole Airtel website is Crome agnostic. My question is again: why. Why it is so hard for a top telecom player to get a cross browser  payment gateway. Only reason I can think of is a lazy IT department. I assume  like other  infrastructure Airtel  must be outsourcing the whole damn site and developing a website that works across all browser is no rocket science. And even if it is they money to pay for it and its worth every penny.

Last but not the least your triff plans. They suck big time. Selecting a right triff plan from Airtel site is harder then solving a sudoku. If I ask my father to do it I am sure I will never have a broadband connection. Again a why. Why selecting of plan have to be so hard. Why can’t we just give every customer  connection for some trial period and  suggestion a planing  after gauging his usage?

The things I mentioned above may not make or break deal for me for now but they will when other providers will improve in their services. But they are surely  damaging the  perception  of Airtel as a brand  and my overall customer experience.  The good thing is that this damage  can be easy managed and repaired and it will do not cost Airtel a fortune. All you have to do is to manage your IT service provider well and ask them to design your site for laziest and dumbest of the users.

I am just wondering if you can look into these trivial issues and see if something can be done.

Expecting better customer experience in future.

Satpal Parmar                                                                                           An otherwise happy customer

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Beautiful song

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Color Founder Bill Nguyen explains reasons behind poor experience and not so favorable early reviews

BI: Some of the first reviews of the product have been pretty rough. I think that’s because there’s not a lot users and not a lot of data in there yet. Are you seeing a chicken and egg problem here?

BN: We tried our best — and we can always do better — but we tried to tell people “don’t use this alone, it’s not very fun.” If you download the app with someone else and they’re right next to you, you’re going to have an amazing experience because literally everything you see that they capture on their camera you’ll have on your camera. It’s a completely surreal experience.

Today when you and I go to an event and take pictures on our phone, we’re uploading to a service on the Web and people view them, but it’s as if we were never together at all, it’s a two uncorrelated events. With our application, when you launch that application with other people, it’s intimate, you’re part of a group of people.

But I think those reviews are all really accurate and great. We did a poor job of telling people “don’t use this alone, or it’s kind of pointless.”

BI: Do you expect that your ratings on iTunes will go up as more people download and test it out?

BN: Number one, more people will come on. Number two, once we do a better job explaining how it works.

We could have done a way better job of creating a tutorial. We did a lot of the UI things that will be the right paradigms early, but they’re a little bit challenging right now. Like not having labels — that’s because we want to be international from day one.

But it’s crazy, the usage has been insane. And the ratings on iTunes are really weird always, I look at the number of reviews and it’s not even one tenth of 1% of the number of downloads we’ve gotten

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Frédéric Filloux of Monday Notes on NYTimes subscription pricing.

The New York Times paywall is like the French tax system: expensive, utterly complicated, disconnected from the reality and designed to be bypassed.

The New York Times’ pricing structure, the fact that it is also designed to protect the paper’s physical circulation, the paywall’s porosity all complicate projections. One thing is sure: $35 a month ($420/year — $455 year for 52wks) to view the online paper on three devices is ridiculous, not matter how elitist the target group is fantasized to be. You simply don’t charge such an amount in a (US) market where services like Hulu or Netflix cost $7.99 per month.

Source: NYtimes’ Fair Price

But what if they are testing the water? Selling digital subscription is fairly new media business for them. There are no fixed rules.  So they are starting with something that they can control better in future: high pricing. They can always reduce price if response do not meet expectations. Can you do that by starting with a lower price?

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