It was about time that I sell off my 2005 Acura that I purchased in 2008. I clocked over 110K miles on it under my possession. My commute had become 30 miles one way in a stop and go traffic of I-880. It takes me 1.5 hours each way and the 13 year old car was not going to cut it. Especially when its mileage efficiency was 19MPG in that traffic at Premium gas consumption.
So I ventured out to purchase a brand new car with new technologies that fits my budget as well as give a great MPG on a regular gas. After several trips to various dealerships I purchased a 2018 Toyota Camry LE.
This car was a downgrade from the interior luxury standpoint that my 2005 Acura RL was equipped with. I had to really get used to the plasticky feeling interior of Camry because my main intent of purchasing it was fuel efficiency and super low maintenance cost.
After few weeks of driving it, I came across few issues that I had in the car. The 2018 windshield appeared to be significantly sub-par to the 2005 Acura. This year Bay Area is being battered with much more rains than seen in previous years! Which led me to discover that the Radar Cruise Control threw errors while it rained and moreover I had no idea how to switch to regular cruise control, rear-view camera was not wide-angle which meant I still had to rubber-neck while backing out from a parking spot.
..we checked your glove compartment and found that the user manuals of the car are still sealed in plastic coverings. I you’d read them you’d know that everything is working as designed and there are ways to switch to regular cruise control.
So I made an appointment with the dealership and asked them to check out everything. Among all the issues, I had hard time understanding how to switch to regular cruise control when Radar cruise control failed. After all the checks, the service specialist mentioned that everything is working as designed and that there are no issues in the car.
What?! Everything was working as designed? The “malfunctioning” of radar cruise control was as designed!!?? What the *$%#!!
Now, professionally I help Consumer Internet companies build products that removes friction and provides a pleasant user flow on their websites. I help them develop empathy towards our users so that they develop the products and flow that are in line or well beyond user expectations that makes their browsing experience smooth, meaningful, and most importantly helps them complete the task for which they visited the website in the first place.
In short, I provide focus on design elements of webpage and their intuitiveness and what they data says about usage of those elements.
Surprisingly, in my rage moment with the Service specialist I lost the empathy towards him and argued on and on about the error message and that there was no easy way to switch to regular cruise control mode.
What made me tick specifically was when he said “...we checked your glove compartment and found that the user manuals of the car are still sealed in plastic coverings. I you’d read them you’d know that everything is working as designed and there are ways to switch to regular cruise control”.
When I look back at what I do, in Internet world, there are no “Manuals” of what each webpage does or what each button does. It is highly intuitive. Companies great UX team build “tooltips” or “on boarding flows” when user visits the website or uses the App for the first time. But after that, mostly it is driven by intuition on what each tab means.
If I still have to read a User Manual for operating a <insert product> then you have a lot of work to do!
2 Billion Facebook users did not read a user manual on how to use its website or apps. Similarly, in e-commerce world everyone universally understands the difference between an “add to cart” button vs “login” button. Age 55+ people in India haven’t read user manuals on Whatsapp before widely adopting it as THE app for their social consumption (although there should’ve been a manual for them explaining the social etiquette against forwarding relentless and ridiculous “good morning” messages!). Google has made a blank long horizontal bar and/or the magnifying icon synonym with a “search box” across the internet. Heck, there is no tooltip telling you that "this is a Search Bar" when you go to a new site!
Anyways, coming back to my gripes about the car, I straight away told him, “Cruise control as a feature has been around in the automobile industry for well around 20 years. If I still have to read a User Manual for operating a cruise control then, honestly, Toyota has a lot of work to do."
I told him that I understand that Radar cruise control might fail in rains because of visibility issues but couldn’t the car’s computer automatically switch to manual cruise control? Is Toyota that delusional! That is not an AI feature. It is a simple IF <this> THEN <that> logic. Let’s say that could be a hazardous feature where driver may not realize the cruise control has been switched to manual mode. There is a LED screen right next to speedometer. What good is it for?
That screen is not to show just fancy graphics. It should display information or help like the 90’s Microsoft Office Assistant Clippy! A better failure message could have given me the simple cause of it, and next steps, like “radar cruise control will not work in rains. Do <this> to activate regular cruise control.” And you may ask how the car knows it is raining? Because my wipers are ON! See, it is not a rocket science, just logic!
I think it is high time that automobile industry takes a page from Tesla and other standardized design elements from the Internet industry and simplify their products.
Every company should build their products with a philosophy that there will be NO user manual for this. They should ask if my 5 year old kid understand it? Can my 80 year old granny or father understand it? Only then it will be successful in winning the next generation of users. If it takes more than 3 seconds to understand a feature than the feature is an inflicted wound on the product and if not cared for quickly it will bleed to death.
Do you agree?
Honestly, I still did not get any answer on how to switch to manual cruise control as our discussions went into design philosophy and other feature lags in the 2019 Toyota.
I still refuse to use a #$%&ing user manual. But I used one of the standard design cue and found out how to switch to regular cruise control! I tried “toggling" but didn’t work. Then I tried "long-press” and viola, I had turned on regular cruise control! My kudos to the Toyota designers for not telling me that on the screen but burying it in a 300 (my guess) page user manual.
P.S.: Even though I am a proponent of Facebook and Google advertising, I am strongly against running ads for a flawed product. A one time advertising for an awesome product should pay for itself over years in the form of increased Customer Lifetime Value. Otherwise every single cent is just a waste on buying traffic to a product that people would hate even more!
I'd like to hear your thoughts on design principles for software products. Please leave your comments below.
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How Valuable is a Customers’ Contact Information for Your Business? Would it Help Grow Your Business?
Business Websites have ONE one ONLY ONE purpose: to Get Contact Information of potential Customers (also known as “LEADS”) which can become paying customers and if the business website is NOT getting any Leads then the Money Spent building and maintaining it is as good as throwing it Away.
Biggest Pain local business owners face these days is getting New and Returning customers coming through their doors without spending anything on advertising. But in this day and age, it is hard to get attention of new customers without spending on advertising.
Businesses Spend Hiring Web Designers to Build as well as Maintain their Websites, pay for Google SEO services which are Thousands of Dollars per Month and even then Majority businesses DON’T get Any Benefits of Website or SEO so they end up Paying even more Thousands in Advertising via Flyers, sending Valpak and Money Mailer Coupons, Advertising on the Radio, Renting Expensive Billboards, etc.
Just Creating a Website and investing in SEO does NOT help Majority of the Businesses. SEO is brutally hard and slow. There is only 1 spot on Google to show up on the Top.
How to Effectively Spend Advertising Budget and Get Customers Coming In?
I will answer that in a moment but first understand what is really going on around you.
Young customers are spending over 3 to 4 hours per day on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and watching movies and videos on Youtube and Netflix again pay attention 3 to 4 hours PER DAY on their Phones. To Stay in Business it is of Utmost Importance to Attract Young paying Customers and hook them to your service or product. Otherwise, the Business will Become Irrelevant within 5 to 10 years.
MANY Business owners have realized this and Started Advertising on Google. Google is a Successful medium for attracting new customers.
But Honestly, Google is ONLY helpful IF your business is an ‘Emergency’ type of Product or Service. For Example, Plumbers for fixing leaks, Water Heater repairs in Cold weather, 24 hour Locksmiths, Appliance Repair, Towing Services, etc. These are Businesses customers look for on Google because they are Stuck and would like to Get Out of this situation as Fast as Possible. The Business showing up on the Top of Google generally Wins!
If your business is NOT an ‘Emergency’ service provider type of a business, chances are no one is even searching for it on Google. If you are an Accountant, Restaurant, Fast Food Chain, Contractor, Window Installer, etc. no one is searching for you under an Emergency. For your high ticket price businesses, customers research around for such businesses OR look for Referrals from their Friends or Families.
Most customers find reliable businesses like Dentists, Chiropractors, MMA instructors, yoga instructors, interior designers, etc. from referrals which means that your Business with Stellar Website and SEO did not even get a chance. Customers Do Not like leaving their existing service providers for a new business IF there is not enough Incentive being offered to try them out.
Most People are Busy in their lives to even give a new business any chance EVEN IF the Coupon sent Home is Enticing. Remember they are spending time on their phones and NOT paying attention to coupons delivered in there Mail Box.
So HOW can this be solved?
How to attract new customers to your business and have them spend again and again and again?
The short answer is Be Present where the Customer is Spending Most of their Time!
And I don’t mean stalk them at their jobs. What I mean is Start Showing Up Right in Front of their Eyes while they are glued to their Phone Screens!!
How Awesome would that Be!
Local Business Owners are Investing in a New kind of Internet Automation which is like a Factory Sending New Customers to their Businesses Day In and Day Out through their Websites!!
This means FINALLY the Business Website is Doing THE THING that it is SUPPOSED TO DO.
Imagine if such a system is Built for Your Business where a Potential Customer willingly gives their Contact Information into the Business Website. Would that make any difference for your business?
NO Matter the size of the Business, the technology has Advanced so much that any Local Business can take advantage of this huge opportunity and pull customers from their Local Competitors.
I urge Local Business Owners that Are NOT an ‘Emergency’ Business to Assess their Contracts with their Current Website Designers and Google SEO experts, and FIRE THEM Today! That will significantly save you some money.
After knowing the Truth about the state of your current Websites even a Penny paid towards it is money being Thrown Away.
Get an Automated Internet Lead Generation System built for your Business ASAP to Future-Proof your business.
If you'd like to evaluate the cost of implementing this system for your business, then get in touch by leaving a comment below or use "CONTACT" form located at the Menu on top of this Page.
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