Let’s talk about Relationship Cartography in general. What is it? Well, I’m not 100% sure yet as I just made it up. The thing is, I’ve been looking at so-called Social Graphs, Commercial Graphs, Economic Graphs and more lately. And I’m struggling to find a unifying theme for these various sub-types of relationship visualizations. Maybe I’ll go into these various types in detail later on in a follow on post Types of Relationship Graphs, but for now I’d like to just blather a bit about graphs in general. You’ve probably heard of them. And maybe done a little research. Still, it’s sometimes useful to take a high level conceptual view of things to understand the parts a little better.
This post isn’t about a fight between the two. Though that can certainly happen. It’s for describing the difference between the two. [Read more…]
To Go Anywhere, At Least Four Things Are Useful
Any of these four may actually be challenging to acquire.
There’s probably as many ways to do product roadmapping and define feature priorities as there are product managers. Most any skilled product manager with any degree of experience is familiar with both Waterfall and Agile methods, at least in concept. Not everyone has necessarily been formerly trained in either or both. Most often, a true pro will at least seek out self-learning resources to really understand their chosen method. They may choose to diverge from full on formal Work Breakdown Structures, (in the case of Waterful), or may not be using formerly defined Scrum methods, (in the case of Agile).
Regardless of method, in most smaller development efforts some basic ideas have to start somewhere. Whether this is with a defined Product Manager role, a product oriented CEO, the Marketing Department or wherever, you’re still at the very, very early idea stage. Long before an idea even gets to any kind of Sprint planning meeting or a line item in a Project Plan, there’s probably a high level gut check first. In smaller start-up organizations, a lot of times these are first generated in simple spreadsheets; be they Excel or increasingly something shared such as a Google Docs spreadsheet. Of course, there’s been an explosion of tools from the basic idea level through the full development life cycle, but nevertheless, there’s some very basic, simple judgments that are useful first.
You’ve all seen the pages. The endless pages. As you scroll down, the page keeps growing and growing and growing longer and longer; forever. Or at least until you run out of products or the user either finds what they want or becomes bored. We see this becoming more common on Home Pages for a handful of intro pages, but most especially on product listing pages whether they’re in grid or list view.
Why? And is this always a good thing?
The why seems fairly clear. Over time we’ve learned from usability, (both user observations and analytics), that users are OK with scrolling. Sure, the old thoughts still apply regarding having critical initial content “above the fold,” but for certain content types it seems perfectly appropriate to scroll along. (Just for the quick history lesson: “above the fold” originally came from the idea of folding newspapers to read what’s most important at the moment. For web pages or mobile, it’s more simply what a user would see first in the initial top of the viewport without scrolling.)
This method has obviously become a common design pattern. As of this writing, this little web site itself uses similar methods on the Home Page. And with Angular.js seemingly the code flavor of the year, scrolling has become even more common in the other case; which is most often for long lists of things, especially products.
First Word: If you get this book, I don’t suggest doing so for a black & white device or a handheld. (So small Kindle is likely a bad idea. iPad would be fine.) There’s a lot of graphics and meaningful color use, so I think small screen or b&w would be a bad experience.
As to the content…
If you’re doing anything with big data, designing dashboards, or otherwise dealing with info graphics, this is a great read. We’ve had the cliche of “Death by PowerPoint” for awhile now, but the reality is solid presentations and graphical representations of data can show us patterns and clarity in data not typically available from raw tables. (Even if a lot of the weaker efforts have resulted in serious audience abuse via PowerPoint.)
Yes, it’s a long title for an Excel Spreadsheet used to create utm tracking scheme variables for Google Analytics. I’m just doing a tiny bit of keyword stuffing here so the page gets found and people can use the spreadsheet I made if they like.
The Poor Site’s Tracking Method!
For the under $15 price on Amazon, this book is likely worthwhile for those brand new to the field of online interaction design. For any with even a little bit of experience, however, it’s not very deep. Moreover, for all readers, there’s some odd problems with the book itself given its topic.
It’s been years since I’ve read the original. This book is a must read if you have anything to do with marketing products of any sort to just about anyone. Does that seem a bit strong of an endorsement? Perhaps.
Underhill may have written this book primarily to offer up insights into the retail marketplace and the mind and behavior of retail shoppers, (as well as promote his own business), but the insights are useful beyond these goals. One basic tenet for just about anyone marketing or selling anything is to “Know Your Customer.” Underhill’s depth of experience in this area is amazing. From simple day-to-day observations to the insights he draws from them, you can get a real feel for what’s going on inside a consumer’s decision making process.
This is somewhat a rant on an article about an article… In Tech is the New Wall Street, Joseph Walker seemed to feel like coming up with the pithy headline, “Tech is the New Wall Street.” Quoting from “The End of Wall Street As They Knew It,” there’s an arrogant comment by a current finance exec explaining how right now, you’d go to Silicon Valley instead so maybe you could be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Uh huh. That’s all it takes.
It’s disturbing, though perhaps not surprising just how shallow that article is. While it’s possible a migration of folks who otherwise might have gone to Wall St. into tech will have value, it’s conceivable there’s an attitudinal problem that will need to change on the way to such a transition. That is, one of unbridled selfishness vs. desire to create value. Obviously, a talented manager with financial chops can provide value to just about any company. But tech isn’t just about management; it’s about vision and value. Things the pure quant folks don’t seem to fully realize. While there’s nothing wrong with a healthy amount of personal selfishness, my personal belief is that this kind of motivational imperative isn’t what typically leads to good product craft. In fact, in a lot of cases for B2C products, something decidedly non-finance and not even technical is needed. That being, some empathy that could allow a visionary or product manager to sense a pain point worth solving or an unmet desire.
Sent to their respective email addresses today:
The Honorable Representative Jim Hines
The Honorable Senator Joe Lieberman
The Honorable Senator Richard Blumenthal
As one of your constituants I urge you to reject the upcoming bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R.3261. While it’s cleverly named in such a way as to suggest anyone against it clearly supports criminality, the provisions of this legislation are more pirate-like than what it proposes to protect.