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 user experience (4)


Will We Ever Really Get TV Anywhere?

I was raised on television and I consume a lot of it.  I am not a couch potato, but rather a road warrior, who likes to see favorite shows when and where it is convenient for me.  And, I subscribe to a lot of services that aspire to let me do that on my tablet, laptop or smartphone.

Admittedly, my family is not ready to cut the cord completely, but I have been evaluating several services that are meant to encourage just that.  Unlike Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, services like Aereo and NimbleTV (currently in beta) are pushing the envelope of broadcasting by enabling subscribers to watch live TV channels on a mobile device over the Internet, and providing cloud storage for recordings of the shows that I want to time-shift my viewing.

Where Aereo struggled to provide the breadth of programming I receive on a full cable package, Nimble TV has chosen to address this issue by subscribing users to a Dish Network account, which then streams most major basic cable channels in my area.  This opens up an array of programming that starts to make this solution truly viable as a cord cutting option.

Unfortunately, the quality of the stream has been sporadic, and this is particularly true of the recorded content.  Quality control tools appear in the UI (Low, High, and Auto) but, as of the beta, do not seem to allow toggling between SD or HD recordings.

Both Aereo and NimbleTV seem to struggle with executing robust DVR capabilities, one of the most essential experiences of my current home television provider. As an inaugural TiVo user, DVR features have become integral to my TV viewing.  On NimbleTV, programs appear to be available to be recorded in the guide even if they have already aired, but in fact can’t actually be recorded once they have aired.  Episodes appear in the “recorded” list, but actually won’t play back.  When I have been able to watch a recording, the image is pixilated, blurry and often unwatchable, even with full wifi connectivity. Riffing on what Seinfeld said about rental car reservations, scheduling a show to be recorded is only half the battle. Being able to actually view the recorded content really is the whole point.

 Which brings me back to my point about being a TV junkie and a road warrior. Streaming services are fine when coverage is strong, when there is wifi, and when data caps aren’t a limiter.  But as a traveler on trains, planes and subways, they fail to service my addiction.  Plane, rail and hotel wifi often provide me with inadequate bandwidth for uninterrupted streaming (and in some cases the airlines, Amtrak and wifi providers prevent streaming video services altogether.)  Many media players don’t effectively throttle to changing bandwidth, and my history with both Aereo and NimbleTV is that they have yet to perfect the user experience for variable bandwidth conditions.

 Without a complete solution for enabling quality television viewing when bandwidth is constrained, I find I still revert back to the dependability of purchased programming downloaded from iTunes paired with a streaming service from Hulu, Amazon, Netflix or a broadcaster’s own mobile app, like HBO GO.  Television substitute services may provide the convenience of aggregation and the benefit of smaller monthly bills, but if it is at the expense of quality and usability, they don’t feel like a better deal to me.

Editor's note: In fairness, I used both products in beta, and have assessed these experience based on my interest in switching from my existing services based on the interactions I had in beta.


An Interview with Bill Buxton on The State of Design

"What do you see being the biggest trends in technology over the next three to five years?

I see a shift to a place where we won't be dazzled just because a product is well designed and works well. Our collective customers should be able to take that for granted, and it is our job to make it so. But that is not enough. The problems of design and complexity do not go away, even if we all surpass that bar. Rather, they just move to a different place: the complexity that is emerging in terms of how all of these (individually) easy to use devices work together. We need a comprehensive ecosystem that combines elements of each to produce an integrated set of experiences for people, so they don't have to manage each of the underlying separate devices."

Full post on Engadget



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.


Favorite Tweets of the Day

I've been doing some holiday message cleaning. And I found some gifts to start the year, which I am glad I didn't throw out with the gift wrapping.

@JasonSpector We need to be aware of why as much as how systems should be designed.

@exectweets "The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all - doing nothing."--Ben Franklin

@edwardboches Comment to Millennial Marketing re: Will 2010 Be Digital Media Breakout Year

@gigaom How To Present Like Steve Jobs

@OpenHQR: 2010's Key Evolution: The Next Generation Web: To build something new, one may have to...