I’ve recently found myself getting frustrated at products that don’t close the loop – meaning they don’t come back around and solve their original purpose. Here are three quick examples and my recommendations on how to fix them. If you’re a product designer on any of these products, please feel free to implement any of these features and charge me more for the product – these fixes would be worth higher prices to me.
Google 411 exists to solve the problem of not having immediate and easy access to a phone number. The voice-activated interface is easy-to-use, and it does a great job of putting you in contact with your target, but it fails in the home stretch – it doesn’t eliminate the root cause: the lack of easy access to a phone number. As much as Google 411 may be easy, it’s slower and more lumbering than simply looking up the number in your phone book. Google could close the loop by automatically sending me a text message with the phone number (like Canada 411 does) or even better – by sending me a vCard with the address & phone number. In fact, I would go so far as registering my phone number and email address in my Google account if Google would then email me a vCard.
Bluetooth headsets exist so you can keep your hands unfettered, and your eyes on your road/sidewalk/papers/etc. There’s a dissapointing trend towards single-button control systems for bluetooth headsets (like these motorola headsets) – you hold the button till a light flashes to connect, hold it longer till the light flashes in a different pattern to disconnect/pair/etc. The issue is that for the 5-10 seconds that you’re holding down the button and watching flashing lights, you can’t be holding a steering wheel or watching where you need to be. Slap a slide-switch on there, and we’re good to go – hands back on the wheel in a couple seconds and eyes never leave the road.
Events Registration Systems
I’m an avid user of EventBrite and Guestlist, but both solutions (and everything else I’ve tried) fall short of the mark. People run events to help an audience engage with eachother and/or with the facilitators. Events registration systems do a great job of collecting my information, but they fail to actually help with the engagement. For example, why not automatically include a feedback survey after the event, or reach out to me (as an attendee) to help me reconnect with other attendees? Even easier, why not ask the admin what hashtags are going to be used, and create ScribbleLive-like feeds? As it is, to run a web-savvy event and retain the audience, I likely need to use a combination of Event Registration + Engagement (Newsletter or User Survey or Live Blogging) – a tool that actually took me past simple data-collection would be a huge boon.