- 7:30 am - Wed, Dec 4, 2013
Blog Post: What Is Your Hyperreality?
The airwaves in December are filled with making your dreams come true. Commercials (you know, the stuff you fast forward through), have taught us that everyone wants a car with a big red bow, the newest Apple device, and for him to go to Jared. Not only do we want it, we deserve it. It would seem that we have constructed an entire season around hyperreality.
Hyperreality is an image or simulation, or an aggregate of images and simulations that either distorts the reality it purports to depict or does not in fact depict anything with a real existence at all. Think of it as every perfect image we have in our heads for how the world is supposed to look.
While it’s easy to point to this happening with holiday retail shopping, many of us don’t quite realize we have done the same thing in our own lives. In our morning commute, our team interactions, and company culture, we have created a reality that may or may not be based upon reality. As the definition states, our reality may not even depict anything that actually exists.
In our teams and company culture, how can this happen?
Every company, project, and colleague shapes our view of our current situation. Some experiences may be amazing, and can fuel open minds and hearts. Imagine how positive your mindset most likely is if your previous company culture fostered innovation. At the same time, you will probably hold your current team accountable for previous hurts and hangups previous co-workers.
There’s nothing wrong with either side of this coin, mind you. Regardless of how long ago the positive or negative experience occurred, there’s real growth to be had from acknowledging the existence of your hyperreality. Cliche aside, if you aren’t willing to talk about the lack of reality you bring into your current team culture there is no way you can right the ship.
Just how exactly is this supposed to happen?
I can only imagine the raised eyebrows that would appear if I started a retrospective with, “let’s talk about our experiences from previous jobs that may affect our current work”. Some thoughtful responses may come out of that session, but most of the time we want to address tangible action items instead of intangible feelings. This is why food and laughs are always great precursors to this discussion.
However you ply your fellow team members, once the pump is primed it is important to still lead with transparency. Be fully prepared to discuss some of the great experiences that helped get you to where you are at in your career. At the same time, come clean with some of the horror stories you have been witness to and acknowledge your part in the matter. Even if your part is the reaction only.
Just like normal retrospectives, there will be a few themes and common threads that bubble to the surface. These can be turned into action items on your part, or just underlying things to consider when interacting with the team. Don’t be afraid to call them out on your board. Just like tangible achievements, there are less obvious goals that can be attained during the process of making amazing products.
Will you need to suck it up and deal with some cross looks? Your team would have to be asleep for this not to happen. Fortunately for me, I’m fine with fielding a few jokes and chuckles. Humility will take you a long way.
Lastly, I understand I am proposing an exercise that is a little “touchy feely”. The fruits of this labor may be difficult to see immediately, because everyone will be looking around wondering who is going to take the words spoken to heart. What will happen, in the end, is everyone begins to understand each other better. For teams that remain together for a while, a cohesiveness and camradarie will emerge to fuel your future efforts.
Will it make your velocity improve? Hard to say. Then again, who said improved metrics were the only benefit to growing individually and as a team?
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- 7:30 am - Tue, Nov 26, 2013
Blog Post: Does Your Team Have A Scoreboard?
The post began with me very earnestly breaking down a very well-written post by Tony Shawver at Matrix on burndown charts. After voicing on Twitter that I respected his thoughts, but disagreed with the execution. With the relationship I had built with them online, they suggested I write a rebuttal. It was really good, in my mind.
Ultimately, though, I think we are in agreement.
I do have my nits to pick. Nearly all of the teams I have worked with in my career are neither mature enough or stable for long enough to get the true value of burndown charts. I also think that evolving requirements decided upon as late as possible keep the line (or bar) graph impossible to get a clear picture of work in progress on a day-by-day basis. If you want to get to know them more, please read Tony’s post. I would like to address the nuance.
After constructing my arguments, I wasn’t satisfied with my retort. Regardless of the validity of my thoughts, something just felt off. How could I be against one of the few artifacts in Scrum? My inner Mike Cohn told me to keep digging.
Ultimately, I ended up in my boss’s office because he has a better BS detector than anyone else at Bottle Rocket. I laid out Tony’s article and all my reasons for disagreement. He smiled and told me that I wasn’t really against burndown charts.
“Your team may not need a line or bar graph to tell you the team’s status,” he said. “You just need a scoreboard of some type.”
Instantly, the idea clicked into place. Having watched and played sports my entire life, I know how important it is to know the score. You plan, attack, and defend differently depending on the score. Reporting comes differently if you are up or down. You certainly carry yourself differently if you are “winning” or “losing”.
On my team, we have lists of features, bugs and polish items that are re-prioritized, rewritten and re-planned every day. When an item is done, the completer strikes through it on the white board with great pride. It is then verified and accepted.
Some teams keep score by just using story or task cards and keep them moving. Others point each task and use graphs to communicate to higher ups. We just do it differently.
If you are using burndown charts because that’s all you know, and are frustrated it isn’t getting the attention from your team you hoped for, try something new. Change isn’t bad, it keeps everyone on their toes. I’m not saying you rewrite your entire process in medias res, you just tweak to get their attention.
There are no participation trophies in this game. You may not necessarily “win” in this game, but you can definitely “lose” if you don’t do a good job of keeping score. Of course, once you finish the game and “win”, there is a trophy to be mounted on the wall. We’ll tackle that another day.
Thanks to Mr. Shawver for making me think and question. While I may have not agreed with the exact execution, I realized I had been using a burndown chart the entire time. It’s just not a descending line.
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- 7:30 am - Wed, Nov 20, 2013
Blog Post: Grandmommy Taught Me To Welcome
I am writing this from the airport as I prepare to fly my family to Amarillo. The occasion will be bittersweet at best, as I help my mom bury her mother. It was time, and she was in some pain. Having lost her husband a few months earlier, I think my sister-in-law said it best:
“Well, at least they are together again.” LlThat, and they don’t have the burden of their broken vessels anymore.
Grandmommy was the glue that made us all play nice at times. When her husband and children were feeling a bit ornery, and the grand kids were feeling their oats, she reminded us that we were family and we can be decent to each other.
What made that work was the environment we all frequented. Her house will also be the most comfortable house I will ever enter. The home was always warm, inviting and always stocked for visitors. The five grandkids frequently skipped town in college for weekends in lap of luxury there.
As a result, it made all of us pass it on. In our own way, the five of us love welcoming people and making them feel at home.
I’m reminded of this whenever I host a meeting, plan a standup or send out an agenda. To get the most out our time together at work, it makes sense to help everyone to feel welcome or at home. Think of how productive the team can be if we merely pay attention to this detail.
This is why it matters how the coffee tastes, the chairs face, and how time is kept. Maintaining an attitude that welcomes is what invites everyone to participate. The result is trust, which builds transparency.
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- 1:25 pm - Tue, Nov 19, 2013
Blog Post: Grandmommy Taught Me To Welcome
I am writing this from the airport as I prepare to fly my family to Amarillo. The occasion will be bittersweet at best, as I help my mom bury her mother. It was time, and she was in some pain. Having lost her husband a few months earlier, I think my…
- 7:30 am - Sat, Nov 16, 2013
Blog Post: Can You Tell Me About Your Process?
We get this question asked a lot by our customers. Some are asking because they want to know what could possibly produce so much quality work, others because they want to know if they can trust us. Either way, it’s a common consideration for anyone choosing a vendor. If you can’t wrap your head around the path your money takes on the road to Creativitytown, you’re not likely to part with it anytime soon.
Most “process” decisions made by the company tend to focus on reverse-engineering the most successful project in existence. As crazy as it sounds, it can be a useful took for discovering what teams are capable of in the right situation. Problem is, the right situation is rarely repeatable.
Customers need different things at different times. Teams vary in size, velocity and preference. So if there are incomparable variables on each side of the equation, how are we to expect that using the same process will provide stability?
What would be honest is to tell customers that you don’t really have a process because of those very reasons. If you are forced to do work for them the exact way as before, there’s no way you can guarantee the success of the project.
Of course, you can’t do that. Answering the question in that manner would leave clients so dumbfounded, running away screaming would seem logical. Instead, you perform a ritualistic song and dance with jazz hands to get the customer to sign on the dotted line. Please tell me I’m not the only one that sees the folly in this methodology.
You might be successful during execution. I’m experienced enough to know there is the possibility you may hit a home run and seem like a genius to your client. Unfortunately, the probability of this happening is low enough to make you wonder why you ever dreamed of doing it.
Be honest about your process. Let customers know that instead of shoehorning them into the mold they need to fit into for your idea of success, you want to tailor your process to what fits them. If they require a regimented Scrum approach with defined requirements, sized user stories and clockwork ceremonies, you can easily pull it off. If they have a less stringent view of scope and release schedule, you can really test the boundaries of possibility and reach for the moon.
Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and XP all lend themselves to this solution in various flavors. Wouldn’t it generate more confidence in your results and properly frame expectations if you look at each project as an individual work of art and paint the canvas as needed?
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- 7:30 am - Tue, Nov 12, 2013
Blog Post: Should We Be Training Our Users?
When showing off a recent build to our president and chief user experience stakeholder, I was privy to an interesting conversation in regards to introducing new interactions. The particulars are not that interesting, but it relates to some feedback we received in testing. As a rule, we firmly believe that user testing and sign off from inside stakeholders are key to the success of everything great we have released.
When he reached a particular screen, a suggestion was offered as to how we can really add some innovation to the interaction. It would be new, and not something we felt that our core audience would understand immediately. What came next was one of the most interesting things I have heard in recent memory:
“So what if they don’t understand. Make them learn!”
I was sort of taken aback by the sentiment. Based upon what my years in the enterprise space (i.e. the Red Tape Years) had taught me, we don’t try to change our users. Let them tell you what they want, then go build it!
As we unpacked the discussion (there were several interactions that fit this criteria), we had to look at each one and decide which ones we wanted to let the user decide and which ones we wanted to decide for the user. Each provide an interesting set of pluses and minuses and can pay off big time.
If you continually poll and test, your users will tell them what they like and allow you to be safe. Your application will provide an experience that is easy to pick up, share, and follow the trend that has been successful. At the same time, what is “successful” may not necessarily be correct. It’s just what people are used to. You could be leading the user down the same, incorrect path your predecessors have.
Choosing to lead the way in a bold, new direction makes certain decisions for users. There is the opportunity for some user confusion at first, because could be expecting the old interaction or flow. You may have some sort of training mechanism to update the user, but there is no guarantee they will care to utilize it. On the other hand, you may be setting a trend that may be followed for many years.
Many of you might be thinking I am suggesting the latter choice at all times, in unison with the stakeholder I mentioned earlier. Rather, I think both choices are valid depending on the situation.
If you fill your app with a ton of new interactions, your users may spend more time lost than exploring all of the magic you have designed for them. As studies have already shown, some user frustration may be okay but prolonged exposure to the emotion will lead to your work being deleted from home screens. There may be even enough evidence to suggest you wait to blaze a new trail.
That said, you can’t be afraid to try new things. Pick one “delighter” that is your favorite (and hopefully most researched) to try in the first version. If it doesn’t work, you can always have a mulligan and try again. Regardless of the success, you can then move on to the second choice and give it a shot. As always, make sure you measure well so your users can tell you what they prefer.
In the end, we must be pioneers of the future. That can’t happen without someone bold enough to step out. Just don’t do so blindly, or your users won’t follow for very long.
, user experience
, user testing
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- 7:31 am - Fri, Nov 8, 2013
Blog Post: Will ‘Reverse Showrooming’ Define 2013 Holiday Shopping?
Good for you Best Buy. Shame it took you this long to figure it out, but it appears you have the hang of this whole “showrooming” thing.
I’ve called it out several times in this space, but big retailers such as JC Penny and Best Buy have been wringing their hands over the trend in brick-and-mortar shopping this year. Whenever a shopper enters a store, scans and item with a mobile device and purchases it online from Amazon, they’ve just been “showroomed”. Many have used that trend as a reason to declare the death of big box retail chains.
Turns out, if you just provide a unique shopping experience and are willing to match the prices of online retailers, you might have a fighting chance. Who knew.
Don’t listen to their stats, because it doesn’t tell the real story. Best Buy recently announced that 40 percent of shoppers enter their stores with no real intention of purchasing anything. I am surprised the number isn’t higher, but that’s retail shopping. I can’t tell you the number of times I have walked into an Apple store without any desire to do anything other than play with the new shiny toy they released. Best Buy used to be the place for that, because who doesn’t like playing with new stuff. Often, however, I ended up leaving with something because of a great deal or sale they had at the time.
Mobile devices and showrooming won’t change that.
Instead, offering to sell me the product I want for the price I find online beats Amazon at their own game. With the ever-evolving tax rules for online purchases, the field is leveling. Plus, I’m already there. I might as well get what I want instead of having to wait for Fed Ex.
Some brick-and-mortar shopping experiences can’t be mimicked online. It’s what makes holding that sliver bag with the Apple logo on it so appealing. I get an amazing, unique experience that can’t be done online. New Sony boutiques inside Best Buy will only further enrich customer visits to physical locations.
Look, some shoppers are just willing to go from store to store with their device in hand with the purpose of saving a buck. There are television shows devoted so such shoppers, and I have no desire to become one of them. Most don’t, in fact. We would just prefer to go look at a product somewhere, decide to purchase and then get the best price while we are there. Having a mobile device in hand only ensures that we know what that price is now instead of taking the store’s word for it. The sooner retailers respond to that feedback from customers, the easier they can breathe.
CEO Hubert Joly isn’t a genius for implementing this strategy. He’s just bold enough to calmly listen to what his customers have been saying to him and then act on it. Imagine if you did that for your customers. Instead of viewing mobile devices as the enemy of your store, look for ways to integrate mobile web and app content with events in your location. Here’s just a few examples:
- Give out a prize for the best social media share in store.
- Surprise them with a bonus coupon the moment they set foot on the property.
- Personalize sales for people that come in sporting an Amazon deal.
- Actually advertise on these magical devices.
Stop looking at showrooming as a barrier to retail shopping, and look at it as another way to get people in your four walls. Once they get there, it’s up to you to provide value.
Tagged: best buy
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- 6:30 am - Sun, Nov 3, 2013
- 1 note
Blog Post: Define ‘Done’ Before Defining Done
Whenever I get into a gigantic blowup with my wife, chances are unmet expectations are at the root of the problem. One of us communicated a commitment (intentionally or otherwise) that did not get met. Which, of course, brings up all the other memories of unmet expectations, and before I know it we have spent so much emotional capital to figure out we didn’t make sure we saw eye to eye on what was expected. Whether it’s a team of two, or many more, this is usually the cause of any friction.
And yet, we still manage to go throughout our days at the office without any care of this principle. Let me explain with a recent example.
One of my colleagues recently asked me to help facilitate the planning session for his team’s very first sprint. His backlog was not only properly organized and prioritized, but had just about every asset imaginable attached to each user story. This sucker was ready for sizing. To get things started, I gave a brief overview of the goals of the session. If I’m going to ask them to properly define a goal of the sprint, I need to do the same for sprint planning. Before I did that, however, I asked a basic question: ”How do you guys define done for a story?”
The silence was much longer than I had expected.
I look over at my buddy and say to him, “you’ve talked about this before, right?” After a quick nod in the affirmative, the rest of the team started chiming in. The discussion had occurred before sprint planning for sure, because I heard a lot of the familiar ways to define “done”. It just was not as clear in their heads as the PM’s.
Some thought that “done” meant the acceptance criteria had been met. Others thought the item needed to pass QA. Another mentioned the client needed to accept the work before something was “done”. That’s when the lack of clarity started to reign chaos into the meeting.
This is a huge issue in most companies today, whether they know it or now. For something so basic as defining when work is complete, it gets passed over most of the time as an assumption. Even if the assumption is made from the C-suite or higher, we know what happens with those leaps.
Most of my hurdles with teams defining done is clarifying the granularity of doneness. Some would prefer high-level definition as to allow more room for creativity. Others want very fine-tuned definition so they know exactly what is expected of them at all times. Side note: don’t assume which side your team falls on. Many creatives want boundaries, and developers freedom. What’s funny is when QA is the one pushing for larger granularity. It happens.
It’s also for all work disciplines to weigh in on this topic, not just leadership. Design, development, QA, product and senior-level management all have valid definitions. Therefore, the definition must include them all. Self-managing teams must give everyone the same voice, even if someone’s boss is in the room.
Please also don’t forget to document the definition and make sure it’s visible at all times. I usually like to stand right by the DOD and sprint goal during daily stand ups so that if there is ever any doubt of either, I can merely point. Nothing wrecks a sprint more than half-done work that was presumed to be finished.
There is so much more work on defining “done” in an organization needed, but it can’t happen until this first step takes place. If you know what is expected by you and your team every day, you can look at the smaller chunks of work more clearly and know when it’s time to move on. Please feel free to send some examples of how your team define’s doneness, the more the better!
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- 7:30 am - Wed, Oct 30, 2013
- 1 note
Blog Post: What Fuels Your Growth?
In what appears to be a growing trend with services that connect to social media platforms, Buffer was recently hacked and thousands of user tokens were stolen. This caused a bit of a kerfuffle, as spam posts started showing up in all our feeds. For someone who is very careful about what email links he clicks on, this kind of issue would have been unexpected. I would have spent more time responding to “you’ve been hacked” messages than creating new content.
Good thing I knew about the issue before it got to that point.
Buffer responded to the adversity in the same way they respond to any kind of feedback from their users: quickly, openly and graciously. There is a culture of over-communicating on the team, and their support team has created a lot of rapport with users like me because they always have confidence and hope in their product.
Please don’t mistake my use of the word hope there. I do not mean to communicate that Joel Gascoigne and his team act as if they “hope” the product Buffer will work on a day-in-day-out basis. Just like my company, I have no doubt that everyone there striving for the best at Buffer works hard towards perfection.
At Bottle Rocket, we deliver premium apps for our customers by paying attention to every single detail. Whether you are designing and coding a new feature, answering an email request from a customer, or conceptualizing the next great hall-of-fame app with a prospect, we must look for innovation in every nook and cranny of the strategy. To accomplish that, we must have hope.
It is the only thing that can fuel real growth. If you wan to move beyond your current capability and understanding, you need fuel. There is no way I would have grown as much without it.
Without knowing all of the story behind Buffer, I am going to speculate a little here. Unless they are the one exception to the rule, most great company cultures start with some growing pains. Not every user and customer wakes up every day happy with your service. Some iterations result in bad code, poorly researched features, and untested edge cases. When those growth pains hit, something better be propelling you forward to the goal.
In other words, hope.
We have hope in our ability to resolve roadblocks and fix problems. We are confident that our ideas have legs. For sure, we are sure that we will listen to every concern and answer every question. That goes beyond a brand identity. It describes corporate cultures, company values and personal creeds. I hope I’m answering for Gascoigne, Calvin Carter, Tim Cook, Sergei Brin, Leo Laporte, and more.
I know I’m answering for Chris Murman. That hope gets me out of bed every morning and is based not just in myself. I’m thankful for that attitude, and it’s source. It has pushed my personal growth through alcoholism and seven awesome years of marriage, professionally in the mobile industry as an agile coach, and spiritually to realize it’s not all about me.
Do you have hope?
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- 9:42 am - Tue, Oct 15, 2013
Blog Post: Is Apple’s Retail VP Hire Best For It’s Brand?
I’m sure the instant analysis will be all over the board, with pundits both praising and bashing the decision of Apple to hire Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as it’s new VP of Retail. It certainly keeps with what many expect of an industry leader like Apple: high end brands take careful shepherding and care to remain at the top of the hill.
The move would have been better 20 years ago, unfortunately. I don’t think that Burberry is near luxury brand it used to be.
Remember when the British brand was at the top of it’s game in the 80’s and 90’s? The plaid pattern was mentioned in virtually every art form as the item anyone with money wanted to have. What better way to capitalize on this success by allowing others access to the copyrighted material for license?
Unfortunately, the brand was more than watered down because everyone was not able to purchase Burberry products.
Is that what Apple is purchasing with it’s hire of Ahrendts? Her moves since 2006 are lauded as re-establishing the dominance of Burberry’s brand, but many are wondering if the trend is for good.
The best move she made at the helm is getting rid of all the outside vendors wanting to put the plaid everywhere.
Yes, the inclusion of iPads into the sales process (as well as an e-commerce channel) make Ahrendts seem like the perfect combination of retail savvy and technological know-how for the VP of Retail at Apple.
After speaking with a few trusted co-workers, it would seem like a coup for Cupertino to pull her away from her current position. It’s also an opportunity to pump some life into the brick-and-mortar locations before they have a chance to become stale in design and experience.
She also provides a female on the board for the first time, and someone who could be groomed to replace Tim Cook whenever he decides to retire.
Is all of that going to pan out, or will she last just as long as her predecessor? This position hasn’t really been sought after by many, but then again not many are able to pull it off.
We will soon see. I don’t think it will take long for Ahrendts to make a splash. We will all be watching.
- 10:49 am - Fri, Oct 11, 2013
- 1 note
Blog Post: Why Should We Pay Money For Content?
With all due respect to my precious Infinity Blade downloads, it’s become a bit outdated to ask people to pay for apps these days. With so much available for free online and in app stores, customers have proven over the past year plus they don’t really want to pay for anything until they have a taste. A quick pass through Candy Crush revenues prove that.
Of course, why make them pay for anything at all? Once Angry Birds was released for Android devices with an ad-based revenue model, it quickly passed the iOS version in terms of the most profitable iteration.
Then came the “pay with a post” model. Instead of paying 99 cents for a ringtone online, just post to Twitter or Facebook as payment. If I like the brand and product, I’m willing to promote beyond even the first post or even expand my social media circle. Several blog posts have been about products that originally I tried with model.
This applies to ads as well. If premium brands will pay you for every qualified view of their product, why not let users pay for your product with the requirement of my time viewing the brands advertised?
This week, Sports Illustrated announced that they are testing this model with digital issues of their magazine. If people are willing to read their content on devices (that is much cheaper to publish I might add), why not give it to them with currency that matters most: their time.
Suddenly, the option of reading an issue of SI seems more palatable to some users and could possibly mean more in terms of revenue to the publisher.
Does it make them as much as the subscriber/advertising combo model that ruled the magazine industry for so long? Absolutely not, but we’ve known that print publishing has needed to change their expectations for some time. If this can help save their business and still generate amazing content, I’m all for it.
The revenue model your business has known for years needs to change. Regardless of how technologically savvy it is, how you generate revenue is one innovation away from being rendered obsolete. Experiment now, because if you can be a pioneer.
With a lot of extra cash to play with, that is.
- 7:30 am - Tue, Oct 8, 2013
Today’s link provide some amazing metrics and studies involving project teams that are in it for the long haul. Whether you are talking about your favorite sports team, church small group, or even your own family: people that do work or life together for a long time are going to be better at whatever they are working towards.
Unfortunately, the reality of today’s IT landscape is teams don’t get to stay exactly the way they are for very long.
As much as I have experience that, though, there are many companies that managed to not only keep some semblance of continuity with their teams, but manage to hold onto employees as well.
I just don’t know how much that happens anymore. How long do teams stay together on one project at your place of work?
- 7:30 am - Mon, Oct 7, 2013
After my first couple of months in the realm of QA, I noticed something rather interesting. Some of my colleagues, who did the same work I did for the same pay, started describing themselves with different verbiage. Specifically, they changed their titles on email signatures and LinkedIn. Before I knew it, we were all calling ourselves Quality Assurance Engineers, Test Engineers, Test Strategy Coordinators, and so on.
Didn’t change the fact that we were QA. Certainly didn’t change how we were viewed by PMO or development.
That’s what I think of when I read articles like this very well written piece by Startup Blender on the difference between a Minimum Viable Product versus Minimum Delightful Product. Regardless of whatever differences you see, if the first iteration of a product does not delight stakeholders or the customer, then it’s not viable in the least.
I wholeheartedly understand and support the sentiment the writer aspires to. Viable is boring and utilitarian, which is not what a designer or big thinker wants to put in front of users. He wants to wow them from day one, and if that isn’t achieved you must start over.
Just be careful that you don’t walk down a rabbit’s hole of making sure the title of your idea is perfect. You might make your next pitch session a little peppier than normal, but those you really want to impress won’t be fooled.
You delight your users by finding what is described as the “product gestalt”. This description of the perfect union of design, UX, and ideas was the best part of this post. As that famous person said that time, “form and function are one.”
If you need to change one word of MVP to achieve that, go for it. Go on with your bad self delighting users. Just don’t try and convince me that’s not what viable is supposed to mean. We all know better.
- 11:16 am - Thu, Oct 3, 2013
- 1 note
It’s hard to argue with hard data that suggests apps with zero initial cost are more successful than paid apps. As articles, such as this piece from TechCrunch, argue, developer revenue and download metrics both suggest there is little value in asking users to pay up front for anything.
Tell that to Epic Games.
The maker of the Infinity Blade trilogy has not only made a killing off their hugely popular apps, the price of each subsequent version keeps going up. Doesn’t matter, as download numbers keep rising in addition to the company’s bank accounts.
At the same time, games like Candy Crush continue to beat expectations by asking customers to invest nothing except what they want after playing a few levels. If I’m being completely honest, I have invested more of my Apple credit in Candy Crush than Infinity Blade.
So is there such a thing as a “correct” model?
Just remember that the goal of every app is not to make money in today’s market. A restaurant like Chick-fil-A or Starbucks can release an app as part of their branding strategy and not necessarily make their money back. If the app helps drive customers to their locations, it is a success.
An upcoming movie release may choose to have a free game integrated into the marketing campaign to help generate excitement. It also helps keep the movie top of mind for when the DVD is released. In that vein, any revenue generated is secondary to push a tentpole movie into pop culture conversations.
Granted, if the goal of the developer is to have a profit generated just from the development of a single app, it is very hard to argue with freemium. Unless you have a proven brand people are willing to pay for like Infinity Blade, it can be difficult to ask users to pay without trying.
Yet, I see more and more apps hit the iOS and Android stores with that request. Will they be more successful than their free counterparts? If downloads are the goal, then there is no way for that to happen. Hooking some dedicated first-adopters with great UI/UX and concept and making a profit off them is for sure on the side of paid apps.
Don’t let articles such as this scare you away from your strategy. Build your users up with anticipation for your upcoming release and they will gladly reward you with their discretionary income. Great software will succeed no matter what price you set it at (with some obvious exceptions).
What has worked for you? Which pricing model do you see taking off in the next year or two?