Why did inclue! suddenly label our RSS Feed discovery browser button, "the Magic Browser Button"?
Hmm, sounds silly, non-technical and has nothing to do with RSS...which is exactly the point.
We have been listening to people; an old skool anthropologist mind trick. A lot of our users downloaded inclue! and then kind of waited to see what happened. People would go into their Outlook or Express and see the inclue! folder. The next question was usually, "...and so what". Ouch that is a design failure. Our goal is deliver a good time for our users and we made our users think. Good consumer design is about playfulness and delight, we had a problem.
Consumers kind of get the media inbox thing: hmm some cool singing dancing stuff will be in my inbox. The thing they didn't get was how to get cool singing dancing stuff into their inbox. When the user doesn't get it, that means the designer needs to start over. Educating the user is the death sentence for products and services. Ask your favorite VC about how they love to educate customers.
So our small team of 3 huddled and thought...how do we explain an RSS feed discovery button that works in FireFox and IE discovering ATOM, RSS etc. which then creates a unique folder in Outlook or Express.
Our first instinct was to put an FAQ item up and maybe some help items. Yuck! Like most first design ideas, this one sucked. We were interrupting users out of the experience box. Instead of a fun discovery flow, we would be making them conciously learn a key feature of the product by asking for help. This is seriously wrong for a primary benefit. Our product does 2 things to deliver benefits:
- Recieve, Watch and share media in Outlook and Outlook Express.
- Get media from their favorite sites.
The out of the box experience for our users was 0 for 2. Humility time. Our next release in a few days is going to hopefully solve both issues. Firstly, we will preload media for users in the app, like most media players: video and music is available within moments after download.
Users want to explore and play. They might say, "cool I can watch video, but I want to watch my style of video or add my favorite blog." We didn't want them going to a help menu (ick) to figure out there is a button in their browser. Asking for help or directions isn't fun; ask any man and we will tell you,"it isn't natural".
The solution was to elevate the 2 key features into the product description. Since most users aren't familiar with cross application functions we have to present it early on. The name says it all.
Media Inbox with Magic Browser Button.
For technical people this has a high cheese/BS factor. Magic isn't too high on the serious RSS crowds wish list, but makes sense from a Clarkian perspective. We aren't trying to preach to the converted, a lot of technology gets built to impress other technologists. Hey engineering features is fun and can make some cool stuff, but it only has impact if it benefits the rest of the population. If the only people who say "cool" or "i Love it" have Comp Sci degrees, then that better be your market. Our market is the average websurfer who uses e-mail and might like to play around with getting more video and music, but doesn't want to surf all over to get it.
We are throwing in "magic" as it fits the inclue! brand and ethos, discover play and have fun. If you download a product with 2 key features you will seek them both out.
For example if you buy an electric toothbrush that sings, you definitely want some tunes with your paste in the morning and will seek the feature out. You bought 2 concepts together. This only works with limited and simple concepts. Don't go stuffing all of your features into the product name, another engineer faux pas. Unless of course your market buys features, but most buy benefits.
Technology without internal marketing (messaging and design) is like a day without sunshine. Good design is about features telling your or showing you how they work via "affordances" The name becomes the affordance. Users get inclue! "magic" from the sites they surf to and visit.
So users check out the inbox and then go play with the magic browser button. Who wouldn't want to push a magic button to see what happens :)
For the end user, it is a heck of a lot more fun than considering who is pushing or pulling what RSS feed XML thingy. I know this may bum out Dave Winer a bit, but RSS like HTML and electricity will succeed when it disappears from the consciousness of those using it.
Letting users have fun and discover is what the consumer software space is all about. If you work in the "consumer software space" don't ever think you make technology for users. You are trying to engage people's emotions, you are in the service business. Our job at inclue! is to let people have a good time. Our mission: deliver fresh information and entertainment politely.