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UX In A Box

UX In A Box

 

I’m proud to announce that effectiveui has just launched Effective User Experience. Now available for immediate purchase. No need to worry about costly designers or time consuming usability testing. You don’t even need to reach out and listen to your pesky customers! Now, for one low price, you can install Effective User Experience and watch your conversions skyrocket, your employes kiss their computers, and your profits soar…

Act now because for a limited time only, we will throw in our Web 2.0 Expansion Kit at no additional charge! That’s right, you can engage your users with the new “Social Web” with exciting options like FaceBook, MySpace and AJAX – The Internets have never been so easy!

Just Listen to Our Customers:

I’ve been using Effective User Experience for the last three months. I can’t believe how successful the software has made me. My boss loves me, our customers are raving, and it was all installed with a simple, one step process for just a few bucks!  – Eugene Puckfarkner, ABQ Corp

I convinced my CEO to buy Effective User Experience for our employees and we’ve seen an instant gain in productivity. How did we ever live without this unique product? – Edward Throckmorton, Widget Manufacturing 

We are so convinced that you will love Effective User Experience that we are offering a money back guarantee. if you are not 100% completely satisfied, just return the box and we will promptly send you a full refund..

Earlier today I posted about someone posting about somebody else’s post on jobs that are “recession proof” ( gotta love the internets :)

That post spawned a request from Jeremy Geelan over at Sys-Con to give my two cents on yet another “recession” related technology topic: 10 Tips for Riding Out the Recession as a Software Vendor.  

The post was crafted from 10 technology execs that had tips to hunker down and see this thing through :

  1. Prioritize Harvesting Existing Assets and Opportunities (Jeremy Chone @ Nexaweb)
  2. Plan For The Worst (Mitchell Kertzman, Hummer Winblad VC)
  3. Focus on Helping Your Customers’ Bottom Line (Jnan Dash, Curl)
  4. Get Revenue Control (Chris Keene, WaveMaker)
  5. Buckle Down, Conserve Your Cash (Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator)
  6. Push Agility and Speed (John Crupi, JackBe)
  7. Grow the Talent You Have (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  8. Make Your Top Ten 10% Better (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  9. Build Market-share (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  10. Adopt Cloud Computing (Michael Sheehan, GoGrid & ServePath)
Good post – the “2 cents” I shared with them – 

I think everyone of these tips are excellent for any business, but aren’t all of them things we should be doing anyhow? Recession or no recession? When we look to expand our business at EffectiveUI, we look for ways our clients can save big money or really grow revenue (or both). Why else would anyone hire us? Recession proofing your company is about making your company excellent. That way, during down times you will do more than just survive, and in bullish times you will thrive.

Our focus continues to be on attracting awesome talent and fostering a culture of teamwork, entrepreneurship and execution excellence. And then, most importantly, getting out of our own way. I’ve been astounded how successful it is when you empower everyone in a company to make a difference. What does empowerment actually mean? Giving permission to fail, as long as they fail forward. It means trusting your team has done their homework and has more context than you when making important  decisions. I’m not talking about anarchy – we all collaborate on a direction, provide insight based on our experience & education, and sometimes (but very rarely) managers have to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the entire company. However, we’ve come to realize that success does not look like a bunch of “heroes” at the top make miraculously insightful decisions that pull the company ahead – rather success looks like a bunch of small failures where managers provide support, encouragement, some structure, and above all else – foster a great team culture.

What I meant by my comments: To recession proof your business: Focus On Quality People! They are the best chance to ride through any downturn.  

Then, as an ironic coincidence, Guy Kawasaki from AllTop just twittered an old post he wrote over 2 years ago: “The Art Of Bootstrapping” … The “list”:

  1. Focus on cash flow, not profitability.
  2. Forecast from the bottom up.
  3. Ship, then test
  4. Forget the ”proven“ team.
  5. Start as a service business.
  6. Focus on function, not form.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Understaff.
  9. Go direct.
  10. Position against the leader.
  11. Take the “red pill.”
Guy’s post is a worth-while read for sure (you need to read it to dig into the meaning of each item) .
I would humbly argue the “proven” team item just a bit – He states that you should start with hiring young guys and gals that are really smart over experienced people from billion dollar companies. He’s forgetting about those people that come from mid-size companies that have experience under their belt and can get you where you need to go with less risk and much faster than if you hired a bunch of new college grads that have never actually put a UI on top of an SOA (or worse, they don’t know how to spell API or SOA). Even better – find a partner that has experience building enterprise applications for those billion dollar companies ;)  They can get you rolling quickly without the weight of a “corporate” structure – Best of both worlds!

 

RIAs Can Provide Complex Functionality on the Desktop
Adobe AIR, Curl, Google Gears and Mozilla Prism all offer off-line desktop like functionality combined with RIA technology. Do these technologies represent a new kind of client platform?

 

Removing the Noise: How to eliminate unnecessary distractions from projects
– The EffectiveUI Project Management Team
The EffectiveUI team of project managers compiled this list of quick ideas that will help any team increase its productivity.

 

Easy Lookup is the Secret Sauce for Large-Scale Database App
Learn how Nitobi’s ComboBox allowed users to quickly search thousands of records in Counterpoint Systems’ online database.

 

How Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) Increase Brand Value
–Me :)
Your corporate brand is more than just your logo or your jingle. Your brand is also the emotion raised when someone thinks about your company. In this article from Business Trends Quarterly, Franco explains how a well-designed RIA entices people do your brand.

 

RIA Penetration in the Enterprise
Ron Rogowski from Forrester Research, and Richard Monson-Haefel and Richard Treadway from Curl, discuss RIA technology such as AJAX, Flex, Silverlight and Curl and their level of penetration in the enterprise.

This week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Web Innovation Summit. Overall, the sessions were good … I really loved the one by Christine Connors @ Dow Jones on the Semantic Web – With the exception of Christine’s session (which I think was an advanced topic for the folks here) I’ve noticed that the sessions are not asking the audience to take the big steps necessary.

 

Some background: As we are dealing with larger and larger enterprises, I’m noticing a common conflict brewing. There is a demand from the business to create better user experiences that directly conflicts with the sheer complexity of the legacy systems & IT’s inability to make any progress forward. The truth is that most of these systems are “frankensteins” – 2 year old software bolted on 5 year old software bolted on 10 year old software (even all the way back to 20+ year old vacuum tube systems).  — The question: is your IT group enabled to pull your company into “today”?

 

Here’s the rub – how do you tell an enterprise to be innovative when business realities are not allowing them to be so. Hell, sometimes large enterprises are struggling to make simple, incremental improvements. And, the truth is most of them are not willing to take the risk and make large scale strategic moves to re-build their infrastructures from the ground up.

 

So… here we are at the Gartner Summit, primarily geared towards telling big business how to be  innovative… And I’m thinking to myself that these sessions are not really telling these people what they need to hear. I know it is not because of the quality of the analysts – when I meet with them individually they are very bright and have well informed opinions. I’m left feeling (I’m am over stating this for effect) that these analysts have just learned that enterprises are so opposed to change that the best these analysts can do is to incrementally bring enterprise into “this decade” … The bigger issue : change is happening so quickly that every year a business makes what they think is a big change, they are actually falling behind even further. 

 

Where does this leave us? Ironically, I believe the big winners of tomorrow are the market laggards of today. I think current market leaders in the enterprise are going to be less willing to take risks in areas where their competition may be willing to make them – and given the real value of making large investments in online customer centric initiatives, there is a very real potential to leapfrog.

 

My humble advice:

  • “Walk the factory floor”. In other words, take the time to talk to your IT folks (not just the managers, but the system analysts, developers, QA personal) … They know what needs to be done to bring you up to date, they know what legacy systems are holding you back. Let them know that you are not passing judgement on “how we got here” – I would say 80% of the fortune 500 is behind the times, and 99% of them have some legacy system skeletons. 
  • Talk to your customers – and involve objective 3rd parties in the process. Do not wholesale put your trust into what 3rd parties tell you – use them to give you insight without ego and another perspective (or even validation for what you have found in your own customer research)
  • Establish metrics for success – let the teams know how you will measure their efforts.
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I’m not suggesting that all your legacy systems need to go (I’m not that delusional) – but put systems in place that starts to abstract the legacy environment from the presentation tier. That way, years from now, you can incrementally replace without having major impacts to the business
  • Get horizontal organization buy-in. Make sure the key stakeholders across the organization departments are all bought in. You may even need to help break down silos and create cross-departmental teams to help.
  • Invest now – Someone in your space is already doing pilots in online customer portals with RIAs or desktop software or employee productivity software…. all of which (if executed on properly) will show positive ROI results in short order.
  • Be patient – innovation is incremental. Gartner suggested that the ROI on these efforts is about 2 years. Don’t place unrealistic demands on release dates because that will force your IT to continue the frankenstein process.

I’m speaking at AJAX world this morning on RIAs. I’m asking the audience to challenge me here on my blog once the keynote is done… 

Question: Who the hell goes to a keynote @ 7:30 in the morning?? 

 http://www.ajaxworld.com/general/sessiondetail0308.htm?id=118

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