Don’t Surprise your Customers

So yesterday, I had a small printing job that I uploaded to Kinko’s. (It will always be Kinko’s to me, no matter what FedEx decides to call it.) I’ll spare you all of the details, but – when I went to pick it up, I found out that they had printed my black and white document on their color printer and my bill was over $100.  (I was expecting it to be about $15.)  Surprise!

We haggled a little bit, she knocked some off the bill, I paid and left the store irritated. As I drove home, irritated turned to mad. I realized I was much madder than the situation actually called for, but that didn’t change how mad I was.  It reminded of something Seth Godin wrote here about being disrespected – “Looking back, I’m really sort of amazed by two things: First, how visceral the feeling is when I feel as though I’ve been disrespected, and second, how easy it would be to avoid.”  Visceral was a perfect adjective for how mad I was. Continue reading

Eat your own Dogfood

I spent the day helping a client set up a software system to help them keep their bank accounts reconciled. It was a ridiculously frustrating experience. The idea behind the software package is that now that most banks have web sites where you can download a file containing the account activity, it should be simple to pull a new file down every day and constantly make sure that you and the bank are on the same page about how much money is in your account.

After spending most of the day at this, I feel pretty confident in saying that no one involved in building the software ever actually used it to reconcile a bank account. Technically, the software did do the things that its feature sheet claimed it did, but I don’t know that the user was any better off as a result of having it

I think that’s the problem with a lot of software design – people think about the data the software must track or process, without really giving much thought to the steps that the user will have to perform to use it. Continue reading