Friday, June 20, 2008

The Flip-Flop Kids and Project Management

Design for your users, the flip flop kidsphoto by jspad

Web 2.0 enthusiasts, start-ups and even early adopters are all heavily involved in their projects and how the web revolves around their world. That's cool. They have every right to be.

The rest of the planet, however, is using these tools is a completely different light, or may have not yet even seen the light. I admit to get caught up in the over analysis of new products nearly everyday. The buzz of product "a" is undeserved because product "b" does it better and faster and so on.

What about User A vs User B
In one of my latest meetings we were talking about integrating OpenID or some other form of log-in system that will make things easier for the user. I think this is brilliant, that may also be because I belong to more online communities than most everyone I know.

For User B, or the mainstream population, being a part of OpenID or Plaxo or whatever is still another site for them to manage and be a part of, keep updated and, well, know how to use.

My Wife as an Example
She has a Myspace account, posts photos on Photobucket and Flickr, built a community around our wedding (aww how cute), has log-ins for her computer at work, her work email, her personal e-mail, AIM, T-Mail (stupid Sidekicks will be obsolete on July 11th she says), and I'm sure possible others.

That's a lot of data to remember. But she does it. She is not a Social Media leader or influencer. She has never complained about password or Social Networking fatigue. In fact, she still signs up for stupid travel deals, and well some of them actually work.

Hitting Mass Appeal
Did you hear that I said Myspace is her number one thing. That's because it has reached mass appeal. Notice how I didn't mention Twitter. It hasn't to people like her and many others.

The problem
I think a lot of start-ups have a closed minded view of the overall assessment of their site, software, application, etc. Myspace is far from perfect, but it does everything most people want it to. It connects them with friends, allows you to look at pictures, comment on things, watch video and find and listen to kick ass bands.

Most early adopters hamper on little things like Friend Feed implementation, or Twitter integration as a sign of something being cool or uncool. They say that the interface is not clean enough or doesn't function like "website A."

Mass Appeal Reply
Who gives a shit. When I took a backseat today to look at some of the sites I was running I started to look at what someone like my wife was looking at. I took the view of someone that doesn't critique any and everything on the page, they just wanted to use the site, casually. What I saw on this particular site was a great place to do what the site wanted you to do. It didn't want to integrate with today's latest trend. It doesn't want an interface that rivals an iPhone.

It wanted to do one function and it does it good enough to where the average person can dig it. (No, not that Digg.) They can get involved, maybe tell their friends and be a loyal user.

I want those users like that
The user who understands and abuses my service until it can go no further and yet still produces the results it needs. Your product doesn't need to do everything. In fact I encourage your product not to do everything. It gets your focus and attention away from the thing that makes your product great for whatever reason that may be.

The next time you are getting into technical discussions on features, make sure to take the vantage point of your "average" user. Not the super user or Scoble type. I'm talking about the average 16-25 year old who wears t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops to class or work and casually uses your product enough that you don't have to work a desk job.

When you are in the "War Room" who are you thinking about? The early adopters or the flip-flop kids?

The Flip Flop Kids of the Myspace Generation-Greg Rollett
Let's talk on Twitter or Pownce


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