My goal is to write one 'Pattern Recognition' a week. Just the top 3-4 stories that stayed under my skin. Here's what stuck this week:
- The Principles of User Interface Design: Many, if not most, products deliver a poor user experience (see the excellent book 'The Inmates Are Running the Asylum' for more fodder on this topic). While it's easy to throw out terms like 'keep it simple' or 'minimalism,' that still doesn't answer the larger question about what the guiding principles are for sound user interface and interaction design. Having built a ton of products across: A) Type (hardware, software, service, tools); B) Segment (consumer, enterprise, developers, carriers); and C) User Environment (PC, mobile, Web, network device), I thought that this article provides an excellent compass for newbies and leathered veterans alike. EXCERPT: "To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse."
- OEM Roadkill Ahead: In 'The end of the road for OEMs,' Sebastian Anthony puts forth a compelling argument that the days of the hardware OEM are numbered. But, in doing so, he misses a key reason why. The simple fact is that in the post-pc era, software is a greater differentiation point than hardware. Software, as Marc Andreessen correctly notes, is eating the world, and today's hardware OEM doesn't understand software as anything other than a layer to be abstracted away. As such, this isn't the end of OEM's per se; just the end of OEM's that lack true software competency (see Acer's feckless attack on Microsoft for their hardware end-run). Bubbling under the surface, however, are hardware OEMs that natively grok software. Look to Kickstarter and other Maker-friendly spots to see the seeds of such innovation germinating.
- Cheesecake, Chains and the Health Care Industry: In this excellent New Yorker piece, Atul Gawande looks at the processes and management culture by which a restaurant chain like Cheesecake Factory can serve its 80M customers a year a diverse menu of fresh, high quality food at a reasonable price, and do so consistently, year-after year, and location after location. It makes Gawande wonder what the health care industry can learn from Cheesecake Factory, a great entry point to some illuminating writing. EXCERPT: "In medicine, too, we are trying to deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, we haven’t figured out how. Our costs are soaring, the service is typically mediocre, and the quality is unreliable. Every clinician has his or her own way of doing things, and the rates of failure and complication (not to mention the costs) for a given service routinely vary by a factor of two or three, even within the same hospital."
- Can I get a Quote? If you have ten minutes or an hour, Fred Wilson's Fun Friday post is a group thread on favorite quotes. There are many gems, but this dandy by Teddy Roosevelt stood out for me: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."