Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dolphin Stadium

Here is a better example of finding a customer need and satisfying it. One of the worst part of going to a live sporting event is that the lines to get food take longer than the time-outs. So if you want to eat, you either have to find someone hawking your favorite food row by row, or you have to miss some of the game.

Not anymore at Dolphin Stadium (and many others). Their new wireless Internet will include a system where you can order food and have it delivered to your seat. They have not set any delivery fee yet, but at the prices of stadium food, it can't be that much worse. This is a customer requirement that is worth some design effort !!

They are also adding a service to take pictures of the fans in their seats using the kinds of camera angles you see on TV. Is this a need too? I guess even if they get 1% of the fans, that is still thousands of sales a year. But I would rather bring my own camera.

Sony's new eBook

Here is a recent review of Sony's new eBook. Forgetting about the price issue for a moment, the biggest drawbacks of eBooks in general has always been the flexibility and readability of the hardware. If you can't read them comfortably over long periods of time (many people read books for an hour or more straight), they will not replace paper books.

So how should you test an eBook? I suspect that the reviewer at Tech Review (linked above) read it sitting in a chair in his office or home. Where do you read? Personally, I lie down on my back on my couch or on a lounge chair by the pool. And I prefer magazines and soft paperbacks so I can fold them up into smaller footprints (so I don't block the sun by the pool). If I tried to do this with an eBook, I wonder if it would be as easy to read as the reviewer found in his test?????

This is a great example of what call Activity-Based Evaluation. You always need to design realistic tasks to test a device like this. I don't know what variety of environments and postures people like to read in, but a good test will have the most common, most important, and most likely to cause problems. If Sony's eBook can be successful in all of these (and the price comes down), I would be a likely customer for them.

human factors in election news coverage

As most of you know by now, I am a big advocate of understanding what users want before designing a system so you can best meet their needs and expectations. The news coverage of this critical election sucked in this regard.

What most people wanted to know in this situation, besides the results of a particular race, is what the democrats' chances of taking the House and/or Senate were. So what we would have liked to know during the coverage is "of the races that are still too close to call, the dems need 4 out of 5 in the Senate and 3 out of 10 in the House" or something to that effect. That would help us to estimate they have a 70% chance of taking the House and a 20% chance of taking the Senate.

Instead, the news said "The democrats need to take 3 more seats from Senate Republicans and 20 more from House Republicans." But this is totally not helpful because some of those races could be easy to call (for either party), and some of the democrat encumbents could also be in close races. And we don't know how many close races are left. From this information, it is impossible to even estimate the odds. There is too much missing information.

So news guys, listen up. Think about what the viewers need and present information in a way that helps!!!