Sketchin’ a Howard Stern App

Posted: April 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Design, Product | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Product Manager Venn Diagram

As part of my never ending quest to be a better product person, I’ve been making mockups. After taking a Learn Sketch course I was itching to apply what I learned to a real-world problem. As a Howard Stern fan I’ve found the Sirius iOS User Experience frustrating. I crave a less cluttered, easier-to-use app designed for hardcore Howard Stern fans like myself.

A Solo Howard Stern App

Supporting the hundreds of Sirius channels brings a lot of UI baggage. Making a dedicated Howard App allowed me to get rid of numerous pages and the bottom bar.

Sirius

With one focus, the Home screen can be simple and clean. Search is at the top of the screen, below you may browse. The UI brings attention to a Live show since no content is better than Live content.

My Mockup

 

The Sirius UI for downloaded shows is good but has room for improvement. The thin fonts and pale colors are difficult to read and there are many colors in use.

My mockup has two colors with only the most relevant information for easy reading.

The Player

The Sirius player takes up a lot of real estate for the background photo and title of the show.

I shrunk the the amount of space for a photo and considered removing it completely. That space would not be a static photo of the logo but would allow for a multi-media experience. Photos relevant to the segment, like a photo of a guest, would work great.

Navigating the Shows

The Sirius app allows a week’s worth of shows available for “On Demand” download for a limited time.

I envision access to the entire Howard Stern content library available for download. Another goal of this app is to expose new listeners to a taste of Howard Stern content. All content should have a degree of shareability. Allowing a user to share clips of a show via SoundCloud as they do now is a great start. Sharing Phony Phone Calls and Song Parodies are a perfect way to give people a taste of Howard.

   

 

Search

With access to 40 years of content the user must have a good Search to find what they are looking for. I’ve moved Search to be front and center in home. The results have labels with the most relevant information. It’ll be key to create a search based on machine learning that will improve overtime.

New Features

The Howard Stern Alarm Clock, Auto-downloading new shows and playing Sirius on an Amazon Echo are features I’d use everyday. 

Inspiration for the Settings and Devices page came from Overcast and Spotify.

 

 

Note – I used Sketch to create the mockups. I choose Open Sans as the font and downloaded it from Google Fonts. The Twitter and Facebook icons are from IconMoon. I wrapped the designs with iPhone chrome using MockUPhone. I learned about these resources through an excellent designer, Julian Haddad, who I worked with at Social Tables

 


The Simplicity of Spectacles and AirPods

Posted: March 29th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: apple, Design, snapchat | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This isn’t 2007 or 2010 when the iPhone and iPad debuted but the Spectacles and AirPods have had a lot of hype. I had my doubts. I never liked Earpods, they’re uncomfortable and fall out of my ear. I didn’t immediately dig the style of the Spectacles. Despite those concerns, I had to buy both and try them for myself.

What Spectacles Do

Spectacles take up to 3 consecutive 10 second 720p videos. Click the button once to take a 10 second clip. Click again when the video is about to end to extend it twice, up to 30 seconds. Pairing Spectacles are a breeze – use the Spectacles to take a video of your Snapcode to pair. When not paired, Spectacles take snaps and sync later once paired.
 
Spectacles excel with physical activities. Riding a bike and beach volleyball are great examples. Times where a first-person point of view is compelling. Any two handed activity, like pouring a beer or driving a car, make great Spectacle snaps.

What AirPods Do

Like the Spectacles, pairing with AirPods is amazing. Take them out of the case near your phone and they immediately detect and pair. Going from phone to computer is seamless. The sound, microphone and fit are outstanding. I forget they are in my ear. They’ve lived up to the hype.

Cases

Both Spectacles and AirPods come with high quality cases that charge the devices. The Spectacles case is bulky and I find charging without easier. The AirPods case is excellent. Bye bye Wires! Carrying a small case is a subtle improvement that affects me every day.

Simplicity

Spectacles and AirPods are simple and limited. Unlike Google Glass before it, Spectacles do one thing and only one thing. Spectacles can not take photos. At first, this seems odd but Snap has learned from Google’s missteps. Snap may be limiting the ability to take photos to thwart the privacy concerns. The light allows someone to know when someone is recording but a photo would be harder to convey to others.
 
AirPods have only one gesture, a double tap, which you may set to contact Siri or play/pause. I miss not being able to adjust the volume with my headphones. This constraint has affected my behavior. After years of slow adoption, AirPods has increased my Siri usage.

Coolness

Both products have that X factor of coolness. Not very scientific but the products look and feel cool. People are curious about both and strangers will stop you to ask questions. In Venice the stops are more of an attack of how could I support Snap, who is “ruining” Venice. Spectacles, being smack dab on your face, get more questions than the AirPods. People express concern but are less freaked out about being recorded than I expected.
 
The Spectacles’ storefront on Venice is the epitome of cool. Facebook or Twitter isn’t pulling something off like this and wouldn’t think it’s worth it. Facebook once caught criticism for no longer being cool, as if that signaled doom. Companies don’t have to be cool to be successful but coolness can be a differentiator. Right now, Snap owns cool in the Mobile Entertainment space.

Bottom Line

Spectacles and AirPods are simple, cool and useful. I will use AirPods nearly every day making their $159 price tag cheap considering the value. Spectacles won’t get that amount of use, I prefer the aesthetics and feel of my New Wayfarer Ray Bans. Now that I live in Sunny LA, I’m sure I’ll wear them over 100 times this year. At $129, they’re worth it….as long as you don’t lose em!

Just Enough Design for B2B SaaS

Posted: December 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Design, Product, SaaS | Tags: , , | No Comments »

For decades, design in B2B software has been an afterthought. There are products making billions that were designed with no taste and no thought. Those who have been around the game for a while will tell you “Design in B2B software doesn’t matter!” and based on history, they have a leg to stand on. These design haters will go on to list successful companies that have what many would consider poorly designed software – Peoplesoft, Salesforce, Taleo, the list goes on.

Design in B2B SaaS matters less than Consumer

“Consumer Products” are bought and used by the same person. In the B2B world, this isn’t always the case. Since the Buyer may never use the product they are less likely to feel the pain of poor design than the end user. B2B software is more likely to have upfront costs – setup costs, integration costs, training costs, etc. These upfront costs immediately make the software more sticky, sunk costs be damned, the buyer will have a tough sell to their manager if they bail on a product after incurring the upfront costs.

Design matters more in B2B SaaS than it use to

The world is shifting, as people grow up using consumer-grade (better designed) software, expectations for design become higher. Even the buyers, who may never use the software, are becoming more critical of the appearance and this impacts their buying decision.

Furthermore, the SaaS model typically has lower upfront costs than on-premise B2B software. This lower cost decreases the buyer’s reluctance to switch if the end users complain. The low cost SaaS model makes it easier for a small team to adopt a product in an organization and let it spread from there.

Slack is the best example of this phenomenon. From a feature list standpoint, Slack is not much different than its IRC predecessors. Where Slack differentiates itself is through superior design – both aesthetic and usability. Slack’s free tier allows small teams to try it risk-free, and once they fall in love, it becomes viral within the organization.

Design & SaaS metrics

  • Close Rate & ASP. Looks matter. If your product looks “professional”, buyers are more likely to believe it’s a more expensive product and pay more.
  • Churn & NPS. Usability matters. It may look pretty but if it is difficult to use, the end users will complain and this increases the chance of churn
  • CRC (Customer Retention Cost). Intuitive software cuts down on training and long term support. Ideally, a user should learn the product without personal hand holding

When making a case for a design overhaul or adding more effort to your design process, these are the metrics that can be valuable when establishing your goals and measurable results.

Design & Market Factors

  • Buyer = End user. Design, particularly usability, will be more important to reduce churn.
  • Self-Serve SaaS products. Making your product intuitive becomes more important if you will not have a salesperson explaining its value or a Customer Success Manager training the end users.
  • Competition. The more competitors in your space the more likely design will become the differentiating factor. When I worked at Jibe, design became our core competency. Jibe provides a consumer-grade experience for applying to a job on a company’s career website. The incumbents – Taleo, Kenexa and SuccessFactors, are weak at this and Jibe is taking that opportunity and running with it.
  • Age of end-users – Older users, although generally less savvy, are more tolerant of poor design. They’re use to it. A younger user base is more likely to demand a well designed product.

For the past six years I’ve worked at venture-backed SaaS companies. In my experience, we don’t have time or money to design products in the thorough, methodic fashion many product people would like to. It’s tempting to read the latest design book and want to implement all of the suggestions but it’s not practical at an early-stage SaaS company. Does design matter in SaaS? Absolutely. Know your market, track you design efforts with measurable results and invest your time and money wisely.