When Josh went on stage and announced the #domosocial experiment, I was a bit disappointed. It felt as though we were idolizing cat picture projects and hoisting them as the only people understanding UX, whereas I often see them in quite the opposite light. I can certainly see the value of understanding the latest in user experience, but to suggest that the best of UX comes entirely from social projects is laughable. Surely, if I want to see the latest in connecting people, I will look at the problems Facebook is solving. If I want to look at how to leverage a large group of users to consistently add value to a community for free, I’ll look into Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, or even GitHub. There are plenty of unsolved problems smart people can help solve. However, a lot of those smart people are creating the next cat picture project.
We are connected, not because you “like” me on Facebook or because you “follow” me on Twitter. Rather, because we are both human. There is an element of the digital world where the basic aspects of human interaction disintegrates, and the process of turning human connection into electricity loses nearly all parts that make that connection “human”.
You see it all the time. People become more active on the Internet and less active in the real world, more capable of trending a hash tag, and less capable of making eye contact over dinner. Worse, this pandemic idea of “social” has infiltrated some of our best minds and wreaked havoc on proper resource allocation in the world of software development. Don’t get me wrong; the world needs a place to share cat pictures. However, we do not need another image sharing site.
Consumers seem to find the flood of digital goods to be perfectly acceptable, perhaps because they are often “free”. This “consumer apathy” has led to a wave of mediocre digital products. Take for example Hollywood. In 2011, there were 27 sequels (the most in history) and 13 comic book adaptations; what’s more disappointing is the consumer apathy driving all of this mediocre work. The trend of consumers accepting any level of garbage, of course, extends beyond Hollywood to app developers themselves.
As a developer, you can however still maintain your principles, create something amazing, and fill buckets with cash. App developers can stop doing mediocre work and still make money. There is a wealth of companies dedicated to adding something beautiful to the world, while still churning out the Washingtons. Can you imagine if Apple said, “Hey, turns out people really want small phones, so lets make something thinner than the Motorala Razr.” I’m glad they didn’t, because I can now write this post on my iPhone. Just because people will buy “the thinner phone” or “the newer way to share cat pictures”, doesn’t mean you can’t make more money putting that energy into something new. You might just leave the world a more interesting place then when you found it.
I look into nearly every application that has a trial or a free version because I am interested in how people solve technological problems, but I can promise there is a wealth of companies in the #domosocial requirements who have less then adequate UX. For example, TweetDeck or Spotify have infamously bad UX. Also, QR Codes have no place in this experiment. Have you ever been anywhere with anyone and said, “I really wish this had a QR code?” I view more than half of the projects I am required to use in the #domosocial project as a waste of resources. It is talented people wasting their time in the name of money and cat pictures. Furthermore, a lot of these products have user experiences I would have been embarrassed to produce.
So honestly, in a lot of ways I am not a fan of the #domosocial project. In some ways I am—a shared vocabulary when talking about certain experiences is nice. However, I would hope that everyone in this company be a master of their craft to the best that their faculties provide; and the thought that we need marketing to decide what projects have good UX and require us to experience it is a saddening thought. I don’t want to re-create the mediocre software I see today, I want to take the best of it, and make it even better. I want to apply social where social is useful and no further. I want to leave the world uniquely different than it ever could have been if I hadn’t existed. I want the people who use our products to ask themselves, “How did I ever run my business without this?” Last but not least, I want the developers that use the software I create to contemplate why they are still wasting time building cat picture projects.
Anonymous – Thanks for the feedback. I think we are on the same page but I want to respond with a little more clarification around the project, which hopefully will put any cat-sharing nightmares to rest.
The #domosocial experiment was designed to initiate a broad range of experiences with new technologies and social platforms. We’re also trying to provide for a common set of experiences and language, so we can communicate more effectively here internally as we are discussing product development and the user experience we are trying to build. We picked platforms and technologies on the basis of variety rather than on a ranking of what we think kills it on the UX front. The expectation is that some platforms will deliver a good or great experience, some not so much. The goal is to let you form an independent assessment of what works and what doesn’t for a killer product. For Domo, borrow or improve up on what you think falls into the awesome category — and make sure we don’t replicate the mistakes and bad experiences that others have already made.
I’ve always said that some of my best-learned lessons come from the mistakes I’ve made. Hopefully this experiment will allow us to learn from the successes and failures of others. And, more importantly, deliver a shockingly great user experience for enterprise software, while keeping those annoying cat-sharing picture projects far, far away.