I recently installed the iPhone version of a social app that was previously iPad only.
In less than a day I got the “welcome to the iPhone version, you want to invite your friends?” email.
It was needy. I’m not inviting them.
Calls to Action are a pain to write. Too passive and they won’t drive people, too pushy and they’ll drive people away. And invariably what works for some won’t work for others. Judging the assertiveness/aggression is tough; but easier is never, ever, sounding needy.
Asking me to invite people within 1 day of installing something feels that.
It might be a considered decision to strike while the iron is hot, but failed; for me, at least.
I’m going to apologise upfront for this post, it’s a bit Mac Fanboy.
There’s advert for HP laptops at the moment. In the smallprint on the advert: “Colour not available in the UK”.
Advertising a product that isn’t available the country seems a tad short-sighted.
subtitle: It’s 2011, we can fix it
Sometimes it feels like we’re still failing to solve the basic problems time after time. Can I present my first list of things we really shouldn’t be launching without solving.
Further suggestions welcome.
- Be respectful of users who will accept they get content free because of it, but don’t be silly (e.g. don’t show me adverts then tell me I’m geo-blocked from the actual content)
- Don’t auto play any video unless the page is a destination page for audio/video
- Make decent videos: owning Final Cut is not enough to make you a producer
- Don’t play background music, and if you do remember if I press mute between sessions
Authentication & Registration
- Let me skip registration until I really need to
- Allow people to login with google/yahoo/facebook accounts. Do not make me create a full account and connect it to facebook/google, make an account with that identifier and ask for the bare minimum extra.
- Don’t ask for more permissions than you need from Facebook and don’t ever post to my wall without permission
- If someone needs to authenticate, take them to where they were and not the home page
- Never store plaintext passwords (unbelievable this still deserves a mention)
Content sharing & Social-Media
- Give people tools to share, but stop nagging them: if it’s funny people will share. If they like it they will favourite or subscribe.
- Don’t call a blog a blog unless you’re engaging with comments. If you’re not going to do that don’t allow comments and call it News
- Don’t have a twitter account you’re not going to reply to people sending comments to but don’t reply to everyone mentioning something tangentially related to your brand name
- If you say something stupid: retract & apologise. Don’t start saying “your account was hacked”
- Don’t #obsessively #hash #tag
Dates & Times
- Include the day: I know I want to fly out on Sunday and back on Saturday so make that the date 4 months in the future.
- The web is international, so avoid 11/11/11: it’s perhaps wordy, but “Friday 11/Nov/2011″ is unambiguous to english speakers.
- Make time-zones clear
- Avoid unless you have to, not just because of iOS users
- Degrade well without it
- If you can’t keep it up to date don’t put it up there: sure it’s frustrating that information isn’t visible, but even more so to be told “that’s out of date”
Geo & Mapping
- Accept partial postcodes or addresses in searches. Users are not always searching from a known address.
- I care about your opening hours: I care less about your ethics and principles
- Your address needs to be plaintext so i can copy the postcode into google maps
- Menus and price lists should just be HTML, and at a minimum a well converted PDF that I can copy from
- I don’t know what sector I am, I just want to see what laptops you have. Forcing me to choose a sector upfront makes me think I’m only going to see a subset of models. Offer me “extra services for large companies” but I just want to see your products.
- Have decent search. If I use google to find your content then you’ve failed. (use a google site search if you can’t/don’t want to)
- If you’re launching a new site is going to get any form of interest, turn the CDN on prior to launching. Have a scaling plan that means you bring up a load of Amazon instances. The cost of turning these on upfront is less than the press coverage that “the new Widget site that launched today fell over”
- If you’re using WordPress use one of the caching plug-ins
- Root level domain not working: example.com/stuff should work, even it’s a redirect to www.example.com/stuff
- Avoid ambiguous addresses: but if you have catch example.com/walkforlife and redirect to the correct example.com/walk4life
- If you provide a mobile version of your site at m.example.com, redirect me to the actual page I wanted and not the frontpage again.
- I shouldn’t ever see the underlying technology in URLs: clean ones look nicer and will give you better SEO, example.com/about/services and not example.com/viewgen/page.asp?pageid=123
How are you doing, long no time no speak, how are the kids? That new house you bought? Your family, they’re doing well? The cat? Oh…run over, that’s really sad.
How’s that project whose name I can’t remember with the things and stuff? And the weather?
BTW CAN YOU HELP ME BECAUSE I NEED SOMETHING?
I’m looking for new opportunities at the moment (Technical Product Management: check-out my Linked-In). I’m speaking to people in my network, including the sleeper-cells I’ve not spoken to in some time.
I’m trying to avoid emails like the ones above. People are busy: even before you open a message from someone you’ve not spoken to in years, the subtext is pretty obvious.
Sure I’ll genuinely say “Hope you are well” but anything else seems insincere.
Am I wrong to skip the dance, get to the point quickly and save everyone some time? Or am I being rude by not playing the game?
Updated for accuracy: current seasonal flu includes swine flu.
Most people I suspect, when asked, probably want policy to be evidence based.
However, today, the govt is under attack from the Labour opposition about the withdrawal of Flu vaccines for children under five. I’ll caveat that I’ve not read the research, and even if I was am unlikely to be in a position to appraise it. The attack seems to have arisen from the situation the under-5′s were recommended for H1N1 swine flu vaccine as they were more likely to experience complications. The current seasonal flu vaccines included H1N1 as one of the strains, and the majority of complications/deaths have arisen from H1N1. However, the fact that the media hook onto stories like this shows that really, “the public want science led policy, when it’s what they believe in”.
Epidemiological studies sometimes lead to advice that people don’t like, we don’t screen for all illnesses in all age-groups because for some of these groups the impact of testing outweighs the benefit. New treatments for cancer, always emotive when they are denied, are assessed on evidence of significant improvement over existing treatments. These are all too easily spun as “cost cutting is costing lives”, but if you want science led policy, somethings that won’t appear as tabloid friendly “common sense”.
I’m not a supporter of this government and I don’t think they should have axed the TV campaign for the vaccine – but when the science led policy isn’t what the public want to believe, all governments are vulnerable to allegations against them that the science is just an excuse for cost-cutting.
Ben Goldacre has been asked by the lovely Lawyers at Global Radio to take-down his 44 minute extract of Jeni Barnett’s piece she did on MMR. Jenni, who later admitted she was woefully ill-prepared and started off an emotive debate on her blog with the standard pathos laden phrases like “as a mother…”, spouted a load of quasi-plausible pseudo-science about how awful vaccines were.
As Goldacre and others have pointed out many times, the Wakefield claims are totally refuted/withdrawn/dismissed now. There is no evidence that immune systems are overloaded by vaccination. There is a plethora of evidence that Measles is returning.
I hope he finds some legal representation, because at a time when we’re questioning the impact finance reporting can have on the real world economy, we should ask the same about science. But “as a mother…” people don’t tend to have opinions about the state of the credit default swaps market.