Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grey-Haired Product Management

Or more correctly: Product Management for Grey-Haired Users

I've twice recently been reminded how precious the gift of sight is.  Thanks to laser spot welding I can still see but it is now more challenging spending long periods in front of a computer. <gory details over a beer if you like>

My desk at work has a nifty 22 inch flat monitor for when my laptop is docked.  Even though this monitor is big, I have lowered the resolution a notch to make everything larger, despite the reading correction I have in my glasses. <insert joke about old guys here, if you dare> 

The laptop has a 13 inch screen.  I set the resolution to a larger display when I am undocked but it apparently doesn't believe I really mean it.  Every time I open the lid to start using it, up pops a little reminder telling me that the resolution I have chosen is not optimal.  I don't care about optimal for IT, I care about optimal for ME.  Every once in a while it takes matters into its own hands and changes it to what it (or some young whippersnapper PM) thinks it should be, despite my protestations.

A User-based Product Management View

This is not going to be another rant about Microsoft or Lenovo, however.  Instead, let's look at this from the user persona standpoint to see how the user experience (UX) might be different and differentiated.

In its current iteration, the UX is unpleasant and a nuisance, especially after it changes the settings I want.  The settings were created with the display in mind, not the user.  Who doesn't want the highest resolution, sharpest detail, etc.?  Well, me and anyone else with glasses and a reading correction who does not want tension headaches from squinting all day long, that's who.

My reading correction is +1.75. My wife's is +2.25.  I know other people whose corrections range from +1.00 to +3.00.  All the screen resolution settings are based on pixel count.  As a result, us non-prefectly-sighted folks have to use trial and error guessing which resolution will be the easiest to read.  And we have to remember what it was when the computer overrides the choice and sets it back to "optimal."

The recommended distance from the monitor or laptop screen is a fairly constant 3 feet (1 metre).  Wouldn't it make more sense to have the screen resolution setting recommendations "optimized" for whatever correction the user may have?

Sample set up process:
  1. Do you wear glasses?
  2. If yes, do you have a reading correction?
  3. If yes, what is it? (present a slider with different corrections)
  4. Click Okay
The UX takes into account a large and growing user base and presents the solution on their terms and in their language.  A laptop vendor who did it this way would have a nice differentiator and a supportable reason to claim they understand their customers.

What other marketing and positioning opportunities are you missing because you are thinking of the hardware and not the users?

Key Take-Aways:
  • If you allow 'customization' to your products, at least have the courtesy of allowing your users to mean it.  Don't override those settings even if they aren't optimal to you.
  • Have you considered ALL the use cases and ALL the users in your product design?  Who are you missing?
  • Old folks will happily give their money to a vendor who treats them with respect.
Up Next: Crossing the Departmental Chasm: Thinking it Through

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