The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in product deisgn (4)


On a Mission to Disrupt the Apple Accessory Market

Two of my new favorite obsessions are Fab and Quirky, so I was delighted to learn about their new partnership. If you have an idea for an Apple accessory, then you can submit your idea and in lightening fast time, with the support of the online community, your idea can become a reality. And as if that wasn't enough, you might even earn a perpetual royalty for your genius. 

To kick off the company's new focus on Apple accessories, Ben Kaufman, Quirky's CEO, described the all night online design push that kicked off this partnership on his blog, "The launch of this project (and specifically the events that close out this week) is a bit of a throwback for me, having first run a live 24-hour product design sprint at mophie after a Steve Jobs keynote in September 2006, and another shortly after the launch of Quirky in September 2009 (see PowerCurl). These events produce great products, and are amazingly inspirational to watch."

Fab, a rising ecommerce star on a mission "to help people better their lives with design," will feature the results of the launch sprint in a sale on their site within a week from inception. On his blog, Betashop, Fab's CEO, Jason Goldberg writes, "Wednesday September 19, 3pm EST, just 7 days after the iPhone 5 was announced,  Fab launches a special sale featuring the newly design accessories. Smile, you’re designed to."


Materials, Meaning, and Mistura


Mistura watches are made with materials that derive from the South American tropics. But they also send a message of meaning about sustainability and craftsmanship.  Created from Bamboo, Macana, Coconut skin, Carreto, Guayacan and Nazarene woods, these watches first require each designer to use a specific technique of preservation and a way of cutting the material that reminds the wearer how valuable time is. Mistura Designs

One of the founders, Daniel Schemel, whom I met at an arts festival, described how woods like Bamboo and Macana must be cut after 5:00 pm and before 5:00 am on moon’s last quarter night making sure that the circulating liquids in the main tree limbs are resting down in the roots. Using this particular night to cut the wood, he claims, helps to void cracks during the drying process that takes exactly 6 months. It's only then, his story goes, that designers start their creations.

The watches are made with a soft leather band, punched with large holes, which make it easy to use the oversized wooden clasp to secure them comfortably. The combinations of wood - teak and purple heart, for example - set against turquoise and white crackled straps are eye-catching. And the Japanese watch movement the artists use helps keeps them affordable. Ironically, the natural materials make them even more susceptible to the elements, especially heat and humidity that can change the shape and color of the wood and leather. Every piece merges art and nature as part of its lifecycle.

I have often said that every product has a story, and the man from Mistura surely had an interesting one to tell. You can buy these watches directly from their website or you can follow them on Facebook to find the next summer arts festival where they are appearing.


What Makes The Product Guy Tick?

In my travels around the Twitterverse, I was lucky to meet Jeremy Horn, who has branded himself The Product Guy. Jeremy writes an informative blog about designing products, the people behind them and the trends they represent. His domain runs the gamut from Modular Innovation to User Experience. I've enjoyed reading his posts, and thought you all might enjoy meeting him, too.

You call yourself the “The Product Guy”.  How would you describe what kind of product guy you are?

As “The Product Guy” I work with startups, small and medium sized organizations in Product Strategy, Product Management, User Experience, and Technology Strategy.  I am the kind that understands both the high- and low- level details across all areas of an organization, from Design to Marketing to Technology to Business.  As The Product Guy I enjoy diving into products both on and offline, understanding how they work from as many angles as possible, exploring and sharing how I might do them better.

What do you think makes the difference between a good product and a great product?

There are many good ideas, unique business models, and innovations that are or could be great products.  What’s more important than the idea is the successful execution of that idea to product realization. To that end, what makes the dfference between a good and great product is the product person (team) behind it.

Give us the value proposition of The Product Guy?

The value proposition of The Product Guy lies in the unification of the key disciplines that make companies successful, coalescing product vision, and identifying the right ‘next steps’ in-sync with the long-term product strategies -- whether for a client, or in an article exploring a variety of products and trends. 

Put more succinctly, The Product Guy helps companies figure out the right things to focus on and when to focus on them.

What is the best advice you have given to people just starting out?


What is the best advice you ever received when you were starting out?

Pick something, one thing, and strive to be the best you can be at it.  In that, I strive to improve and broaden my skills everyday as a creator, innovator and enhancer of products.

Please explain Modular Innovation.

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping products' successes and challenges.

Today, Modular Innovation is a prevailing trend that can be described as products and platforms consisting of or facilitating… 

  1. Relationships (people-people, products-products, people-products)
  2. Control of Experience (from creation to storage to interaction)
  3. Ownership of Content (personal content from comments to friend lists and more)

The role and presence of relationships within and between people, products and platforms are ever increasing in importance and influence.

The more relationships, the stronger the relationships, in turn, the stronger and broader can be a product’s acceptance, support, and success. These relationships comprise Modular Innovation.

How would you describe yourself as a consumer?

Analytical.  I experiment with all of the latest and greatest, but become a permanent user of much less. 

Speaking as that consumer…

What is the first and last app you downloaded for your personal use?

The first was probably a simple Commodore 64 game or BBS software for both playing/using and learning what made it tick.

Most recently I downloaded a Basecamp client for Android phone; but, quickly uninstalled it since I didn’t find it meet my task requirements.

What product is sitting in a “saved shopping cart” to buy soon?

None; if there is ever an e-ink device that supports color, is cost effective, and speedy, that may be among my first next purchases.

What product or service have you bought recently that most disappointed you? 

The majority of the products I use for work are through free services online.  It has been a very long time that I have purchased something (especially after having tried it) that has disappointed me. 

My purchase disappointments tend to be in the realm of overpriced movie tickets and Xbox games (of which I haven’t purchased in quite some time due to lack of anything of particular interest coming across my radar).

What one piece of technology innovation would you say changed your life the most?

The most... Electricity...  Computer.

Much less than that, a recent major positive impact was when I went from my painfully slow, and constrictive Windows Mobile phone to my HTC Hero Android – enabling me to be better connected and more productive.

What product did your family or friends have before you, that you eventually had to buy, too?

There wouldn’t be a purchased product that friends and family had before I did.  However, I arrived later to podcasting than most of my friends and family and have since become an avid listener to many podcasts.

Are you a Mac or PC?

I am whatever the occasion calls for: Mac, PC, Linux

What phone are you carrying now?

HTC Hero (the GSM one)

Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

Each has their strengths and through each I am able to reach different groups of friends and followers.


Trying to Think Differently? Here Are Stories To Challenge and Inspire You

Some of my favorite business and design thinkers - John Maeda, Roger Martin, Bill Buxton, Paola Antonelli, Don Tapscott - recently participated in the Business Innovation Summit, and their videos have now been posted to the summit's website. One of the co-hosts of the event, Bill Taylor, also wrote one of my Favorite Reads, "Mavericks at Work", which I picked up in a European paperback edition at an airport in Seoul, Korea when I needed a book for the long flight home.

In each of the videos, speakers share their personal stories and their perspective about the changing face of business, the economy and the impact of both on design and innovation processes. Perhaps because I am a woman, and a huge fan of the MOMA catalog, I found Paolo Antonelli's story about her job interview resonated most personally. Listening to her, I was reminded of the interview question posed to me by Phil Schiller, the famed Apple SVP of Product Marketing. In reviewing my qualifications for a position at Apple, he searched through my work history, looked up from my resume and said, "How does it feel to have been the product manager of such crappy products?"

Click here to