Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm Confused

A fast rate of return
With half of today's gadgets brought back to stores in perfect working order, manufacturers are aiming to simplify.
By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Trudy Schuett's top-of-the-line car stereo is so complicated that she hasn't figured out how to change the radio station.
She only learned how to work the CD player when her minister, riding in the passenger seat, started pushing buttons and stumbled on
the right combination. And forget setting the car clock - she has more important things to do than pull out the owner's manual
and hunt for the instructions. She also has an MP3 player she doesn't use, and a digital camera that sits mostly idle because she
has to relearn how it works each time she wants to use it.

Interesting article. Why are things so damn complicated? Yes, these products offer many great advantages but why are they so user un-friendly? People generally don't read the manual, and if you put the manual on a CD no one will ever read it, believe me.

So, this article started me thinking
Since I spend a fair amount of time on the road I'm exposed to a wide variety of different consumer products and some are just too damn confusing to try and operate.
At "Hampton Inn" every room has the exact same alarm clock which you can set with 2 or 3 button pushes. Now I'm sure that Hampton Inn spent a ton of money doing research and holding focus groups on what is the easiest alarm clock for their customers to use. (Customer, see that's who the audience is, it's not the project manager, CFO, marketing manager etc.) I would imagine that it's paid off for Hampton Inn, now of course no one is going to choose a hotel based on an alarm clock but I would believe that the front desk has had a decrease in phone calls asking "How do I set the alarm?" and I would also believe that fewer people have over slept due to an incorrectly set alarm clock.
Why are marketing people so concerned with everything being an experience. When you go to Starbucks it's designed to be an experience. For crying out loud I'm paying close to $5.00 for a cup of coffee isn't that enough of an experience? Know why McDonalds is such a huge success it's because it's consistent. They are all the same, by design, and it works.

Now of course the bigger question is "What am I doing reading The Christian Monitor?"

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