Insights

Insights

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well!

Fueling the Organic Growth Cycle for Web Products
Growing a vast customer base for an online product is a complex process that encompasses marketing, product development, and luck. However, it is possible to stack the odds in your favor and to make the best of your marketing dollars by creating a product experience that fosters the organic growth cycle. The Organic Growth Cycle For all products, new customers are generated through a combination of paid and word-of-mouth marketing. In some cases, the majority of a product’s new customers come from organic, word-of-mouth marketing. While traditional marketing such as online advertising requires a constant input of resources, word-of-mouth marketing
Boom Factor Helps Design TiVo’s Revolutionary UI
To much fanfare and critical acclaim, TiVo announced last week its new Premiere DVR that features a ground-breaking user interface. I’m very happy to say that we had the privilege to work alongside TiVo’s talented design team to define and design the novel user experience that extends TiVo’s high interaction standards. TiVo, Inc. is featuring the new release on its home page and the device, with its complete redefined HD interface, has already received fantastic reviews from the likes of CNET, TechCrunch, and Gizmodo. Gizmodo’s Mark Wilson highlights the user experience improvements as: Despite the redesign, you’ll find the experience
NBC Winter Olympics Information Displays
Watching the winter Olympics this year, I took note of the great use of information overlays by NBC. Overall I have been impressed with their sparing use of graphics to convey the critical information. I hope that this simple elegant design will be the standard rather than the exception in television and web videos that are pushing the limits on pop-ups and unnecessarily heavy overlays. Below is a great example of the biathlon’s simple hit/miss shot penalty information displays: On the actual broadcast, these small information units of hit/miss were stacked up beside appropriate flags to show multiple competitors at
Preview of Nokia’s New Symbian 4 OS
Nokia has started circulating specifications and previews of its new Symbian^4 OS interface and interaction design (via Symbian.org). Some notable improvements include: New interface layout and interaction structure (see diagrams below) Consistent look and feel across all applications Contextual menus providing quicker access to common actions Customizable home screen New Interaction Models in Symbian^4 Below are some diagrams from the Symbian^4 User Interface Concept Proposal (PDF).
Interview with Netvibes’ CEO, Freddy Mini
I had the opportunity to speak with Netvibes’ CEO, Freddy Mini, as a follow-up to our original article on the company’s RSS reader. In our interview, we mainly discussed the strategy and vision for the product—who are the customer segments, how Netvibes meets their needs, where the product has been and where it is going. We also discuss the product development and design process at Netvibes. We get a fascinating look into how Mr. Mini plans to stay ahead of the competition, which includes iGoogle among others, by turning Netvibes from an aggregator to an automated publishing platform while continuing
Toward an Integrated Approach to Product Strategy and Design – Part 3 of 3
In part 1 and part 2 of this series, I explored synergies that exist between product development and user experience design as well as how the two fields fail to leverage those synergies in the product development process. In this part, I explain what product development and user experience teams can do to collaborate effectively. What Can Product Developers and User Experience Designers Do Better The instances where product developers and user experience designers collaborate poorly can be easily ameliorated. Overall, this means incorporating a more dynamic and integrated product development process where both teams work together on key phases
Eyetracking: Is It Worth It
Jim Ross posted an excellent article on UX Matters describing the good and bad of eye tracking studies, entitled Eyetracking: Is It Worth It. Ross clearly itemizes the positives and negatives, expelling myths about eyetracking’s ability to answer all issues and expose full meaning of the user’s actions Ross states that eyetracking helps to solve issues, including: why participants had problems performing a task where participants expected to find certain elements whether participants noticed a particular element whether elements are distracting in a negative way And, summarizes: If you know how to use eyetracking effectively, it can provide
Toward an Integrated Approach to Product Strategy and Design – Part 2 of 3
In part 1 of this series, I explored synergies between product development and user experience design. In this part, I write about how product development and user experience design teams fail to collaborate effectively. How Product Development and User Experience Design Fail to Work Well Together As described above, there are many intersections in the product development and user experience design methodologies, and where those methodologies meet, they approach the same problems and similar tasks from different perspectives and with unique competencies. This means that solutions derived collectively should be more robust and accurate. However, the two groups fail to
Toward an Integrated Approach to Product Strategy and Design – Part 1 of 3
Product development and user experience design are two fields that should, but rarely, collaborate effectively to design and define products that consumers will find delightful to use. There exist many natural synergies between the two disciplines, and each field’s strengths complement the other’s weaknesses. Despite this, product development and user experience teams often work in siloed circumstances with insufficient communication and collaboration and sometimes with quibbling. The current modus operandi leads to loss of productivity, longer time to market, higher costs, and products that fall short of their full potential. User experience design is a relatively new field that has
Web Squared: What It Means for Product Design
It has been five years since John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly launched their Web 2.0 Conference. The Web has changed immensely in that short period. Since 2004, web-enabled mobile devices have gained wide-spread adoption, all kinds of devices have started interfacing with the internet, events on the Web have started occurring in real-time, and we have increasingly been emitting data in our everyday life through our mobile devices, on websites, as well as countless other channels. John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly have recently published a report, titled “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On,” that reviews major changes over the
Ratings by Communities Are Skewed—Now What?
Many online and mobile applications rely on ratings and reviews from their communities to provide wisdom for their remaining users. Services such as Yelp, Amazon, Digg, and even the Apple App Store use input from their users to evaluate some intrinsic value of a set of items—be they books or iPhone applications.  However, new research recently published in the MIT Technology Review suggests that the wisdom of crowds can be inaccurate and misleading. Does this cast doubt on the utility of community-driven rating systems? Vassilis Kostakos, an adjunct assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University and his team confirmed that the
U.S. Postal Services Launches Virtual Box Simulator
The United States Postal Service recently launched an augmented reality application (originally on prioritymail.com but no longer available) that simulates a virtual box for your shipment. The application projects a “hologram” of a shipping box over an item that the user holds up to the computer’s webcam. It remains to be seen how useful and accurate the application is, but it definitely wows for its “cool” factor. The video below shows how it works.
Paint Me a Picture: Empowering the Consumer
When people consider buying anything, whether it be clothes, a gadget, or home, they often spend a lot of time comparison shopping and trying to gather information to inform their choice. In fact, a major effort is generally exerted to try to experience the item: When shopping for shoes, we will put on one shoe and walk back and forth; then the other shoe, check ourselves out in the mirror and hold on to the item while scanning for other options. For hotels and trips, we read reviews, look at pictures, and find out what our friends know about a
BBC Online Shares Its Usability and Accessibility Methodologies
Jonathan Hassell of BBC online shared a presentation on the challenges and methodologies of the company’s Usability & Accessibility team. The short presentation describes the challenges, such as a wide range of platforms and audience types, as well as the wide-range of research tools that are used to understand and address them, from card sorting to ethnographic research. Although, I would have liked more details as to the organizational interactions and long-term research approach, and don’t necessarily agree with the over-simplification that “TV is simple,” the slides do show the breadth of methods used to satisfy the BBC online audience
The Evolution and Future of Web 2.0
John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly recently published a fascinating white paper on the evolution of the Web (PDF). The report, titled Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On gives an excellent analysis of the last five years of Web 2.0, current trends, and where the Web is heading in the future. Battelle and O’Riley write that “Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence,” and in the future, it will be the semantic web, sentient web, social web, and mobile web combined.  The web will increasingly happen in real time and will harness network effects to learn from the vastly
Most Important Feature in a Web Browsing Device
Earlier this month Nokia Conversations posted a poll for the most important feature in a web browsing device and the results are in from 461 respondents. No surprise, the ‘all of the above’ choice was the top-rated feature, but following that were ‘big screen,’ and ‘high speed connectivity.’
Fly Lufthansa Home Screen
A Walk Through of Lufthansa’s Touch Screen Entertainment Application
I flew on Lufthansa during a recent trip to Europe. Not only was it one of the nicest flying experiences that I have ever had, but it also turned out to be an opportunity to experience a very well-done interactive experience. Despite some shortcomings, Lufthansa’s touch screen entertainment application was a prime case study in good user experience design. I have seen and used other in-flight applications on other airlines, but they were always clunky, often confusing, and not very enjoyable to use. Lufthansa’s application (pictured below), on the other hand, was elegant, simple, intuitive, and did everything that a
Netflix Experience on Multiple Devices
The Many Things Netflix Has Done Right
Netflix has been a trend-setter since it first entered the DVD rental scene with its big red envelopes in 1999. Since then, it has continued to push the envelope of what rentals should be: Engaging and easy to use web service which is continually being improved (and mimicked)  
And how is one to sit on this contraption?
Oops Award for Bad Product Design 2009
This year’s batch of nominees for the Oops Award for Bad Product Design are truly exemplary. I highly encourage the reader to feast your eyes on some of the world’s biggest product design disasters. While most of the nominees have earned their spot in these echelons for aesthetic reasons, there are also some that are clearly included for their utter lack of utility—see below.