As product folks, we are asked to drive value and in order to do this we need to be somewhat ruthless about what we do, and consequently what we do not do. I always refer to this as 'ruthless prioritization' but it's not quite as antagonistic as it sounds.
Why does it feel ruthless?
I want to address why it often feels ruthless or downright "icky" for us to prioritize work this way:
You are saying no, possibly a lot: you might feel like a killjoy as you constantly re-focus your peers on the less fun stuff that you might need to achieve. Or, this could lead to difficult conversations and/or escalations (depending on the type of company you work at).
You are ignoring known customer or operational pain points: this one took me a while to overcome; you know your customer, you empathize with your customer and so when you see something wrong, you desperately want to fix it. In this case, you can't — and that's okay, you will run yourself ragged if you aim for perfection.
I’ve previously written about dark patterns because, on their face, they represent an ethical problem in technology. Just because you can make it difficult for a customer to close a pop-up, for example, doesn’t mean you should. And, as we know now, technologists do not take an oath to behave ethically (quite the opposite with the proliferation of the ethos “move fast and break shit”) and the government has neglected to regulate.
Over the summer, I was complaining to a colleague about my love/hate relationship with fitness trackers. I fell in love with the Fitbit for a few years but I found their trackers didn't really last. That's something I'm less inclined to be okay with given how much more I pay attention now to where my waste goes. And, the other factor important for me is a tracker that fits nicely under my boxing gloves — something that sometimes wrist-based trackers aren't always great at.
On the surface, I was excited so naturally I ordered it immediately. The price point ($199.99) made it not so expensive that it seemed unattainable but definitely pricey enough so that I had some expectations about it being moderately good going in. After using it for a couple of months now, I can walk you through the good, the bad and my closing thoughts on whether it's a good buy or not. Continue reading "A Fitness Tracker for Lightweights: the Motiv Ring"
Many of my best life decisions were made by saying, "Let's see where this goes!" When my husband and I started dating, for instance, I thought, "This will be fun for the summer until we break up; we'll go off to college in different cities and never see each other again." And then that never happened: we were both in New York and the rest is history.
I can say something similar happened when I decided to apply for the Smartly Quantic program. I had just finished paying off 27K of student loan debt and the prospect of going back to school (read: more debt) was not exactly tempting. And the truth is age is a major factor; going back to school in my 30's was going to put a major cramp in my life goals of owning a home and having a child.
I saw ads for what was then marketed as "Smartly" on the train (specifically their fee-free MBA program) and figured it was worth at least throwing my hat in the ring. What happened next was unexpected; I was admitted to their Executive MBA track given my work experience. This track normally comes with a fee and I was offered a full scholarship to cover the one year program.
When I'm not writing this blog, I spend a lot of my time at work. For a living, I manage digital products, specifically web applications, for a well-known and respected brand. And, if I'm being honest, I've been using and making for the web for the better part of half of my existence on this earth! All of this is to say, I know a thing or two when it comes to what works, and what doesn't.
I'd like to share a story about an experience that didn't work so well for me and how I'd recommend fixing it.
Ever since I moved, I've been thinking about switching up my gym routine. The other day, I was scrolling through Instagram (as one does) and saw something about Rise By We. Based on the post, it looked like they had a boxing or kickboxing program which I'd be really into since I've been doing Muay Thai for years now. Intrigued and because they mentioned something about a free intro class, I clicked on the link from my phone to arrive at RiseByWe.com.
The homepage set an odd tone. The "Refer a Friend" button is more prominent than I'd expect — it blocks the marketing copy that someone went to great efforts to write. Meanwhile, that copy is changing at an interval (in the screenshot below, the blue words are constantly changing so as I'm trying to make sense of what's behind that button, it goes away.
I can get around this, it's just some marketing, but I'm curious — where is this place? In essence, realistically, does this gym work with my getting to work/home routines? I decide to check out the navigation menu (the delectably named "hamburger" menu for all you insiders) to see where it's located. Continue reading "An Exercise in Frustration Online"
With stars in our eyes as we admired a little red house that was in our budget — and in a safe, walkable neighborhood near public transit — we overlooked a lot of little issues and placed an offer.
Fast forward to living in the house and we noticed a small, nagging issue (one of those we overlooked): no doorbell.
I figured we'd just go to Home Depot and buy a regular shmegular doorbell but my husband declined this option. He's not a technophile or super into keeping with the Joneses or anything like that. In fact, as a woman working in technology teams, I've always been the tech nerd of this couple. However, when it came to the doorbell, he insisted we get a video doorbell. Essentially, with the blank slate of nothing existing to replace, let's go big or go home!
Now that we have a house, I feel like I can finally utilize all the core competencies I've been building watching approximately a bajillion hours of HGTV. Of course, on TV every contractor is lithe, attractive and looking out for your best interest. In reality, it's more like you are lucky if they aren't weird and/or shafting you.
Hearing about so many horror stories, I was really happy to discover apps that can help with sourcing and vetting vendors. One of those is Houzz, but their mobile app leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, I believe some features are buried and perhaps it's because the organization is not ready to invest in their success. Continue reading "Houzz: Mobile isn't always Better"
I was scrolling through Twitter today when a Tweet by someone I don't follow about a topic I'm privileged not to be intimately familiar with happened to catch my eye:
So you know all those emoji and punctuation marks in your Twitter names get read aloud by screen readers, right? If it takes me longer to hear your Twitter name than to read your tweet? I scroll right on by. Please remember this when adding lots of emoji to things. Thanks.
I say I'm privileged because, while I joke about being blind because I've been wearing glasses since 2nd grade, I'm not actually impaired. I've never had to experience this wild and wonderful thing we call the internet without the gift of sight. And, throughout my career as a web developer, accessibility was often an after-thought.