Mobile first or workflow first?

Mobile first was suggested as a means to help an organization build both for mobile devices as well as the desktop application. The attempts at taking fully featured applications and wedging them into the mobile device did not work. Trying to take something with few constraints and simplifying to something with greater constraints seldom works. In this case the addition of unique features and abilities were missed on many developing mobile applications.

So mobile first arose as a way to build out applications considering the greater constraints of the mobile applications and then expanding to the desktop. This process all works well when the intent is to give the same features in both applications. However, when do you ever want the least common denominator between 2 technologies?

How does this work in real life? Are we designing to the workflows the users do? Or are we designing to the silos we build in the organization? We make the desktop apps in the desktop team and the mobile apps with the mobile team. This means that we hire UX designers for mobile or desktop applications but we are not hiring them to solve the user’s problems.

IDEO design for Bloomberg

IDEO design idea for Bloomberg integrating desktop and mobile devices for enhancing workflows -2007

When you are at work, are you using mobile devices? Do you use them in exactly the same way as the desktop application? Do they serve different purposes depending on the tasks you are working on?

By analyzing the user’s workflows and how they do work we can do a better job designing for them. Incorporating the tools they use in the context of the work and environment will drive differing designs for each device. The strengths of the device in the context of their work can be enhanced. For example, at the desktop, many users have large monitors or multiples. The real-estate available allows for a greater display of information in context of what they are trying to do. Using both monitors to do, track and monitor work is helpful and increases productivity. When at their desk, off loading messaging and alerts to the phone is helpful for when they get up and move away from their desk the message is in hand.

The coordination of the use of different mobile devices and the desktop can be used to make a person more effective at their job not just mobile. UX designers should be oriented around the workflows and fixing the problems not around the organizations implementation teams. The designer should focus on delivering designs that optimize the workflow for any combination of devices. We are not living in a world where it is one or the other. It is the phone, tablet, desktop at work, at home and someone else’s desk.

What is the right way to organize your teams to make optimal designs for your users? Why aren’t your designers organized around the user’s workflows?

Portfolio Summary: Summarizing Non-Normal Data

We are designing the information displays for portfolio managers. In the process of understanding what information is needed we have identified from our resident portfolio managers and customers the need to get a quick overall status of the portfolios under management.

If we are looking at one portfolio there are some specific characteristics we would like to roll up and summarize. Let’s take the example in the fixed income world. If we have a portfolio of 100 securities, when we look at that portfolio summary we would like to get a sense of the spread, duration, convexity, and credit quality. When asked how they would roll this data up, the portfolio managers tell us to use a weighted average.

The problem is that the distribution of the data is non-normal most of the time so taking an average is useless. What would you do to express the overall distribution in non-normal data?

Some thoughts:

create a plot –  it is non-normal and the distribution is irregular so perhaps a distribution plot would be useful (a little sparkline of the distribution to give a general idea)
monitor control boundariesupper and lower bounds with counts below, in the middle and above would be helpful (this would allow the user to see the outliers quickly)
measure driftpositive and negative drift from a benchmark or model where you want to be at for each position and identify the drift (this may be normal but I am not sure)

It seems to me that we could come up with many much more useful and truthful representation of the underlying data than the weighted average.

Have you played around with this?
Is there an industry standard for expressing this data?
Do you have some ideas?

The Cost of Free

Are we so giddy about seeing something for free that we are no longer able to compare the value of the item? Why is it that most people will by a 15 cent Lindt truffle over a 1 cent Hershey Kiss but when the Kiss is free people barely buy the truffle.  If you want to see the value of free review the series of experiments done in the Predictably Irrational chapter called “The Cost of Zero Cost: Why We Often Pay Too Much When We Pay Nothing.”

Dan Ariely believes that we forget the downside of free. That we are so wired to be afraid of loss that the idea of “free” removes the loss – after all it is free.

This ends up being very useful in marketing. Give away something free with a purchase. Buy a computer and get a free printer. Buy $25 of stuff and get free shipping. (How much will you buy that you do not need for that free shipping.)

So when you are trying to sway the purchase decision consider having something free. It makes for such irrational choices and that may your product or service.

Paying More

Do people only pay more when the supply is low and the demand is high? Isn’t that what basic economics assumes? If you want to influence what people will pay review the series of experiments done in the Predictably Irrational chapter called “The Fallacy of Supply and Demand: Why the Price of Pearls – and Everything Else – Is Up in the Air.”

There is the idea that people will glom onto the first number that they process. They use this number to make the next set of decisions on how much they will pay. Dan ran a simple experiment where the people wrote their last 2 digits of their social security number down. Then they were asked to identify how much they would be willing to pay for each object. The amount they were willing to pay increased as the size of the last 2 digits went up. So from 0-19 people were willing to pay a lot less than the folks with the digits 80-99.

There are many places this trick is used such as in advertisements and suggested retail prices. When was the last time you have seen an advertisement that sold a car for 30,000? It is always priced at 29,999. When you get to the dealership they know that you now will be willing to consider some of those higher priced ad-ons.

So the next time you are setting a price and trying to get someone to buy, lead with a high number that the person will process. Next have them pick from a set of options, they just may be willing to buy more.

Making a Choice

Do you ever find that when you provide people a choice between 2 things that they always seem to pick the wrong one? If you want to influence what people select take the series of experiments done in the Predictably Irrational chapter called “The Truth about Relativity: Why Everything is Relative – Even When It Shouldn’t Be.”

Try the experiment done with a magazine subscription. One magazine had a very interesting deal.

( ) buy the online version for 59

( ) buy the physical copy for 125

( ) buy the online and physical copy for 125

Why do this? Well they were guaranteed more people would take the 3rd option for 125. If they removed the physical copy by itself most people would take the online version for 59.

To make this more generic, any time you have an Option A and an Option B, if you provide an option A-, most people will select A.

It does not matter whether it is magazines, TVs, people for dates or buying houses. If you provide 2 options and make one of them a less version of the same thing. People will take the full version. They will do this even if option B is the better fit. However when you take away A- it is not always clear what people will select.

Dan theorizes that this happens because people try to compare what they know. If there is only A and B you do not know what they are comparing to because A and B are different so they use something in life that is familiar to them. When you add A- the person is really comparing and A and A- and discounting B almost completely.

So the next time you are trying to get a decision made and you provide choices A and B, remember to add A- if you really want people to pick A.