Easter eggs and why every product should have them

Thursday, July 11, 2013

1. Go to Youtube.com
2. Play any video you want
3. Pause it
4. type (keyboard) 1980
5. That's an easteregg!

Unlike those colorful eggs associates with the Easter bunny which we all know, when talking about Easter eggs in technology products they mean a hidden little secret that are undocumented and many time, no one except for the developer knows that they are included in the product, some may be considered as cheats.

Easter eggs go far into the past but let's take a look at Atari (which for most of this blog readers is way back).
Atari didn't allow developers to credit their names, so they hid it in places hard to get and which required a special navigation to get to.

Atari Easter Egg (hidden developer's name).

Even good old Google has more than a few Easter eggs, here's just a few for you to try:

  • Google the term: do a barrel roll.
  • Search for atari breakout on Google Images.
  • A geeky one would be to search for recursion and having Google ask: Did you mean "Recursion".
  • Google for "binary" and get the number of results in binary instead of decimal.
The developers of vogue, have included an Easter egg that by pressing a specific key combination, shows a raptor with a fashionable hat running at the bottom of the screen.
www.vogue.co.uk - try "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A"

You should definitely look for Easter eggs, one company hid a 1000$ bounty in their EULA (End user license agreement) - that thing which you always press "Yes, I read it", it was found only 7 years later (!!!).

An example from facebook who has its own Easter eggs:

Facebook has not skipped it's own Easter eggs - English Upside down.

Here is a mobile Easter egg found on safari browser on iPhone:

Speedtest.net's mobile app has an Easter egg dedicated to the cat which the company "Ookla" is named after:

So why does having Easter eggs in your product important?
First, it's a motivator for the developers.
This is the developer's unique footprint in the product that he is developing, all other stuff comes from the PM. It allows creativity and motivation to thrive and involves the important element of FUN.
Secondly, for the user of your product, finding these Easter eggs is (did we already mentioned) fun.
The element of discovery is amplified, and the satisfaction of finding one is so great as you find something most users have no idea of.

If you found any cool Easter eggs, please share them with the readers in the comments - Thanks!

5 Psychological concept to get users to take action

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Emotional Contagion:
Yes, some emotional expression is contagious.
Ever wondered why you yawn when you see someone else yawn?
This behavior is subconscious and since from an evolutionary  point of view we are a part of a herd, it is meant to send a social message.
Smiling has a similar effect, and here is where emotional contagion comes in handy in your product:
Just like the explanation above, when we see someone smiling at us we smile back sometimes uncontrollably.
When we smile our body releases serotonin, dopamine and other "feel-good" indicators.

When you use a smiling avatar or image, you contribute to the user's positive feelings and actions.

Obligation - Public commitment:
Did you ever promised yourself "I'll start a diet tomorrow" ?
If you did promise but didn't keep it, think now whether the outcome would have been different if you said it in public - most likely yes.
When we commit to something in front of others we are way more likely to inspire for completion of this commitment.
If a user shares a good thing about your product to facebook, and he gets likes showing that people paid attention to this piece of his, he is most likely to stand behind his statement in the future.

Authority and Likes:
We highly regard opinion and reviews made by specialists and people we like.
If I see a Mashable good quote about a product, I am likely to accept this quote as opposed to a user which I am not familiar with.
Having many reviews, testimonials, "as seen on...", etc. will gain you credibility and users will feel confident.

Less is more.
We instinctively assign greater value to things which are in low availability due to the fear of losing them.
Good examples are: 4 last rooms available (in a hotel), 9 seats available on a specific flight, etc.
A good way to leverage this concept is to offer membership program.
An interesting implementation can be seen with Gilt.com, where offers are available for a specific time period, Premium users don't get a discount nor a free item, they get 15 minutes head start for auctions.
Yes, that's right, so think about scarcity next time you want to push sales.

We think we like to have many options to choose, we don't.
When building a flow in your product, don't give the user too much choice, he should have as least options as possible.
Too many options might cause confusion and inability to reach a decision, ending up in churning.

When your user breaks up - do U(x) break up?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

When a user decides to uninstall your product, does the outcome must be a lost user? No!
You can save that user, and it all depends on your approach!

A sub category within my product was showing high churning rates, and I was asked to come up with a solution to mitigate this behavior.
I started analyzing data and trying to get into the user's mind, and I asked myself - why do these users uninstall this product? it's useful, easy to use, and they downloaded it independently. So why do they uninstall?

Eventually I had to show some results, and fight back with the uninstallers!
I thought to myself that a user that has decided to uninstall and walk away from my product has a fixed state of mind. But the great thing here is that no matter what I'll do I can't get the situation worse! he is already uninstalling. What do I have to lose ?!
I decided to approach the users with a custom uninstall screen, right after they click remove/uninstall.
The screen had a neutral figure, mascot if you'd like, in the center of the screen, and two buttons on the sides: Keep and Uninstall.

When the user moved the mouse over the half part of the screen where the "Keep" button was, the neutral figure turned into a happy figure:

But when the user moved the mouse over the half part of the screen where the "Uninstall" button was, the figure turned to be upset:

This simple idea has saved 7% of the users that initially wanted to uninstall the product, but the connection between the figure and the emotion created by the effect caused these 7% users to reconsider the product.

The above screen is just an example, and obviously the figure shown had to do with the product itself, but I would suggest using it when possible.
Think about it as the last stop, last chance to engage your user before you lose him. You have nothing to lose at this point, give it your best shot - gamify the experience like in the above example. You might want to offer another incentive to make the user keep the product (i.e. temporary access to pro version, benefits in gaining status, etc.).

And again, the bottom line is - try it, you can't go wrong!
Good Luck!

Tools for Internet Product Managers

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hi all,
This post will be pretty much straight forward and will present the tools I use in my everyday work and can help anyone managing internet products.
I don't have any incentive for you to use them except for my pure advice to you.
Ohh and these tools... they are FREE

UI/UX are very important in every product, here are some tools that will help you in your work through design.

The most important tool to pass the idea in your mind to the engineering teams.
There are plenty of good and free tools out there, some are available online and some are downloadable clients.
Here are 2 good ones: mockflow, mockingbird

Pixel Ruler (download page):
This simple but efficient ruler allows you to measure up to a single pixel, and see if components are aligned.

Left mouse click will switch between horizontal and vertical, right click will close it.

Greenshot (download page):
A free open source tool for capturing screen images.
The tool allows you easily obfuscate sections of the image you don't want to expose.
You can add captions and draw basic chart forms (arrows, box, etc.).
It simply catches the standard printscreen command from your keyboard.

GIMP (download page):
Your designer most likely works with Photoshop, but in cases where you want or need to get your hands dirty with visual design, GIMP is your solution.
Gimp is an image manipulation program, think of it as a free version of Photoshop with many features, some basic compared to Photoshop and some pretty close.
I wouldn't say it's a fair substitute to Photoshop but some might disagree, either way it's a great open source tool.
In addition it's not too intuitive for those unfamiliar with design programs, hence consider some learning hours when trying it out.


Fiddler (download page):
No internet professional's working station should be found without this web debugger.
Fiddler monitors all the calls and replies to/from the client and shows you everything you can ask for in regards to each call like response code, headers, cookies and much more.

JsonViewer (download page):
Don't try to read a long JSON string. use this simple tool where you enter the text and immediately can navigate through the items in a hierarchical form.

XML Formatter - Notepad++ plugin (download page):
Easy tool to work with XML, just install the plugin and you can get it to beautify the tags which will make your work easier.

CookieManager (download page):
Simply, view, edit, delete existing cookies.
Cookie manager is an add on for Fire Fox (tools -> Cookie Manager).
Very useful when you need to manipulate a cookie for tests with your own data or test data.

FireBug (download):
Another development handy tool, which you as a product manager might not use to it's full power.
FireBug is a FireFox extension which allows to you to get or set (inspect) any parameter on the current HTML page.
You can use it to understand how other pages are doing what they do, see the effect of style and layout change immediately, make sure the page is built with the right settings, monitor performance and much more.

ChromeBug (download page):
Let's make it simple, it's FireBug for Chrome.

Inspect element:
You might not need FireBug or ChromeBug for your work at all.
Why? well, first Chrome includes this feature and so do the latest FF versions, so it's you choice which one works better for you.

In FireFox and Chrome you need to right click the element and select Inspect Element, in Internet Explorer (IE 8 and above), you will have to turn on the developers tools (F12) and select the arrow icon and point the element on the site.
This option will enable you to inspect, see real-time affect on style and layout changes.

I hope you find this post useful, please comment if you believe other alternatives are better or in case I am missing a tool in the above toolbox,


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Unless you do not update on trends, you have heard of Crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing can be also called multi-sourcing, distributed sourcing and so on, it simply means there is not a single source, not a one point to contact for a specific issue or task.
Crowdsource is the concept of using the power of a crowds to accomplish a task.
For example see what Google had done, it has no support on its behalf, everything is managed through their forums.

Crowdsource should be strongly integrated with gamification.
Take for instance stackoverflow which has questions posted with number of views,  number answers, some social aspects on the user taking part in the thread of the question and more.
The developers community is helping itself by answering the questions opened by members in the forum:

A cool thing is that for orphaned questions with no answer, it offers an award of points bounty:

But do not mistake crowdsource for support solutions only.
A few years back, Google faced a problem coming to index images. It had a huge amount of images with index that it didn’t trust.
Google wanted to label the images and did it using a crowdsource game, where each time 2 people from around the world got the same image and had to write what the image is.
If both got an image with a cat, and both wrote that there is a cat in that image, then most likely the image is a cat image. Google had labeled an incredible number of images and photos like this.
From the users’ point of view, they were happy to see that I, Joe from NYC identified an image same as Chang from Beijing.

You might have asked yourself why should one invest his time in helping the masses? How come this crowdsource idea is working well?
Research have shown that motivating a person by giving him more money or other material benefits is effective for the short run, but in the long run people will do what they are interested in and show off what they believe they are good at.

The bottom line is that crowdsource will get wider and include gamification concepts to increase the response rate and input quality.
Crowdcourse is a wonderful driver to supportive solutions by the community, and it brings great value to a company and to the community in return.

Product design workshop insights

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hi all !
Conferences and workshops are common events we all take part in, but only few are eventually worth  our time.
I would like to share with you the insights I gathered in the Product Design Workshop held by Ben Blumenfeld - Product design manager for facebook.

Along the insights I added questions you should be asking yourself on order to apply the insights and improve your product. So without further a dew, let's kick it off:

Day 1 (Brand):
Brand (definition): A person's feeling about a product, service or company.
Brand has a financial value. Google for example has 140B$ for brand name value !!!
Brand drives choice.

What makes a great brand? a meaningful promise to consumers/users, and time & time again deliver on that promise. (Apple is percepted as innovative company and time over time it delivers on this promise - Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Siri).

Questions for you:
What is your meaningful promise/mission?
       - facebook promises to help people share and connect with the people in their lives.
       - Google promises to organize the world's information.
How could you deliver on that promise?

People buy because of why you do it, and not how or what. Dell had music players before the iPod, HP had tablets before the iPad...

Questions for you:
What do you believe?
       - We believe people should have equal access to information.
       - we believe in thinking differently.

Day2 (Visual design):
The visual design building blocks are the following:

Fast food chains like KFC are using bright primarily colors since they must overcome the "noise" in the street and stand out.
Inside the fast food chains one will also find strong colors that make you uncomfortable which is intended to get you out right after you are done eating and maximizing turnover.
Sturbucks on the other hand has very pleasant colors indoors to make you feel comfortable like at home and stay and drink as many coffee cups you want.
Pinterest - yellow bar with red button - obvious call to action.
Airbnb - has too many calls to action (List you space, search and see infographics).

Financial brands are square - indicate stability
Some insights from facebook - they use rounded corners since it gives a more comfortable feeling but it comes over speed since these rounded corners load slower ( a trade off that needed to done).

The eye goes to largest thing first and so on.
See how the eye goes first to the right image of the phone, than to the left upper part - logo and application name and finishes at the button - the call to action.

In order to create hierarchy in the product use contrast, pay attention not to make things look like they are disabled...
Here we see how the gray level creates a hierarchy between the focused tab, tabs with further menus under them and finally leaf categories.

Great way to create a tone or a mood.

Like when taking a photo, use the thirds method - put important objects on the intersection of the thirds line.
You can also use imaginary diagonals to emphasis a point.

Keep things ordered when you use a grid in your product layout.
Pay attention that when using a grid, the eye might join separate sections together just since they are in the same row or column.

All these concepts end up to one thing, what I want to communicate to my users.

Day3 (Interaction Design):
Be data informed, not driven 
Know what you're optimizing 
Awesome payoffs 
       - Donate money and we will post your photo on our website.
       - Casino are great at this. Slot machines are optimized to generate a visual impact and sound you are seeking when you win, whereas 
         when you lose it's desert silent.
No dead ends 
       - if I look Metalllica (3 times the letter l instead of 2) on the iTunes client you will get no results, but if I run this    
         on the iTunes web site I will get "Did you mean Metallica?"
       - If I ask a question on Quora and no one answers, instead of leaving this thread orphaned, they offered you the 
         option to engage and ask someone specific to answer it - wouldn't you answer it if asked personally?

       - Facebook's message: John Smith has accepted your friend request. Write on his wall.
         So here you are not just informed but get an option to continue acting in the connection.

In product marketing
       - Facebook ads "Create an Ad". User sees a cool ad and thinks "ohh cool why shouldn't I create an ad?!"

Social design
       - Pinterest - see people, content, conversations.
       - Dailymile - One of your friends didn't work out in a year. Send a personal message saying "I miss your activity 
       - Hulu is a bad example, they have the social data but it's placed at the bottom of the page and user needs  to 
         scroll to see it. I am more likely to watch something that my friends are watching or commentating on so why not 
         use it ?

All these concepts for interaction design are meant to satisfy the needs & desires of people using the product.

I am sure you are familiar with most of the points I describe above, but if it only made you rethink your product and freshen your memory on these aspects by the real world examples - I got what I wanted, thanks for reading!

Gamified training experience

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Congratulations! You have just bought a new software pack.
You had to pick between the Standard version or the Professional version which includes dozens of features you don’t really know what they are used for, but you were convinced you might need them someday and it would be useful to have them (haven't we all been there?!).

Ok, now you have installed the software and you are ready to rumble! When suddenly it strikes you… You have no idea how to work those features out !!!

In this post I want to present some products that have used Gamification for a teaching experience.
Remember clippy ?
Microsoft used this character to suggest help on all sorts of actions the user came across.
But lately Microsoft has introduced Ribbon Hero 2 for teaching Office 2007 and 2010 through a themed Gamified experience which takes the "getting to know the product" experience to a whole new level.

You are taken through the various capabilities by simplified missions and gather points, badges and titles along the way, like the following example: 

Another Software that provides a cool plug in to push you into becoming an advanced user is LevelUp for Photoshop.
LevelUp becomes part of Photoshop’s window and present you with an image that needs work.
Missions are to fix the image and you get a thorough guidance on the various tools and additional tips and tricks.
As further you advance you get points and badges to symbolize your level. Additional credit is given on timing of individual assignment and the total pace.

For top motivated users, a leaders board can be found on Adobe’s website:

To conclude this short Gamification implementation: be open minded, Gamification can be implemented in various functions in your product, by encouraging the user to learn about your product he truly understands the benefit and added value of your product.
Finally think about the hours it took to design and implement one of these advanced features – you surely want it to be in use.