Amazon’s Echo is a brilliant, brilliant gadget

Rakesh Agrawal is an expert in product design, having designed products for leading companies such as Microsoft and Aol. He has also reviewed products and written for TechCrunch, VentureBeat, The Washington Post and GigaOm.

The best $100 I’ve ever spent on a gadget. The price has since gone up to $150, but it would be a bargain at $300.

Full review to come. But don’t wait, just BUY IT!

After you watch this video, of course.

redesign | news: The Washington Post

The Washington Post | May 15, 2015

Why Google and Facebook won’t suffer the same fate as AOL

Our CEO, Rakesh Agrawal, writes for The Washington Post on why Google and Facebook won’t suffer the fate of AOL.

With Verizon finally putting an end to the misery of AOL’s decade and a half long decline, some are wondering whether today’s juggernauts — Facebook and Google — will face the same fate. The answer is unequivocal: No.

To understand why, it’s helpful to look at why AOL went from being the No. 1 Internet provider in the country to a has-been outpaced by companies such as Facebook and Google. Facebook is worth more than 50 times the acquisition price for AOL. Google nearly 100 times.

ux: Lists should be presented in an easy-to-understand order

How could this experience be improved?

Notifications screen in iOS.

This is so bizarre that I can’t believe Apple missed it. The notification settings screen is in no discernbile order.

If you want to turn off or change notifications, you have to scroll through the list until you find what you’re looking for.

Continue reading “ux: Lists should be presented in an easy-to-understand order”

redesign | ux: Localization should be personalized

How could this Uber experience be improved?

Uber dialog

The text in the dialog here is in Spanish. It’s of no use to me, who speaks only English. Uber knows my language preference because I use it primarily in the United States to get cars in the United Statest.

It’s extra frustrating because the prominence implies that it is imporant.

Messages like this should (ideally) be translated into the language of the user.

Continue reading “redesign | ux: Localization should be personalized”

redesign | transport: Uber’s transportation revolution is part of something much bigger

Uber has revolutionized urban transportation in the past two years. The change, so far, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Uber and other alternative transportation providers such as DriveNow, car2go and more than a dozen bike-sharing services will combine with public transportation to completely reinvent the urban core.

Among the changes we can expect in urban cores:

  • Less congestion.
  • Fewer people circling for parking.
  • Parking lots becoming much less valuable, and the spaces being put toward more valuable uses.

car2go is a service that allows one-way car rentals within a city. Instead of having to return a car where you found it, which is the case with Zipcar, you return it to a designated zone and metered parking is included. At 41 cents a minute, the cost is often competitive with public transportation. In the United States, car2go operates in Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Diego, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and a few other cities. It doesn’t operate in San Francisco because of the city’s refusal to grant the company the necessary permits.

Continue reading “redesign | transport: Uber’s transportation revolution is part of something much bigger”

redesign | journalism: Why the Dow Jones Industrial Average is a terrible metric

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It’s the number that we hear about the most when journalists talk about the economy: the Dow. What is the Dow exactly? It’s a basket of 30 stocks. The full name, which we rarely hear, is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It reflects 30 companies, which are supposed to be representative of the economy.

Today, these 30 stocks are hardly representative of the economy. Only recently was Apple added to the Dow. Apple is so big that its market capitalization exceeds that of the eight lowest value Dow companies combined. Service businesses have become so big that only eight of the stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average are actually industrial companies.

It’s great marketing for Dow Jones & Co. (now owned by News Corp., which also owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal).

A better, broader metric of the economy is the S&P 500.

There’s another, more important, reason why journalists should focus on Standard & Poor’s 500: Its performance directly affects the well-being of many Americans. A lot of us invest (through retirement plans) in index funds that seek to replicate the performance of the S&P 500.

The Dow gets more glory, but the S&P 500 is what matters.
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redesign | UX: Why the American Express mobile app is one of the best in fintech


I love the American Express mobile app for one big reason: it turns boring credit card data into visual, actionable information.
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Whereas many apps just show you your transactions in a manner not much different from your monthly statement, AmEx lets you analyze transactions.IMG_0006

You can see some of the tools above. And it’s not just pretty charts. Continue reading “redesign | UX: Why the American Express mobile app is one of the best in fintech”

redesign | UX: A human-centric approach to design is what makes this page great

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Easy passwords

There are a couple of things that I really like about this site.

The first is the use of easy, human readable passwords. Where some companies use complex order numbers, sometimes 20 or more random alphanumeric characters, this site uses words that will stick in your head. What would you rather say to a customer service agent: miffed-wispy-crab or JKS421DA9oC?

Continue reading “redesign | UX: A human-centric approach to design is what makes this page great”

redesign | payments: Facebook and peer-to-peer payments

Connect buttonFacebook’s upcoming move into peer-to-peer payments brings it into a crowded field. The most obvious competitors are Square Cash, PayPal’s Venmo and PayPal itself. There are also competitors on the bank side, including Popmoney and Chase QuickPay.

Clearly Facebook is in a strong position to dominate the space. But with a near universal user base in the United States, that could be said about any space Facebook enters.

Facebook Payments will leverage the Messenger product and let people send money back-and-forth while messaging each other. Instead of using ACH, the system uses debit cards. (Just like Square Cash.)

Some of the big questions are: Continue reading “redesign | payments: Facebook and peer-to-peer payments”