Saturday, July 19, 2008
I still owe a day 2 download on the aging conference, but I've been distracted by consumerism lately. Gone, apparently, are the days when you walked into a store, there were 1 or 2 versions of a product and you decided then and there what to buy. I am now paralyzed by my fear of purchasing an inferior product.
First, it's time for a new computer. Honestly, I just want a red one. But, it also needs to run Photoshop, Illustrator, support multi-tasking, have bluetooth, ideally a webcam, be light enough for easy travel, and work fast enough to keep up with my oh so fast typing speeds (my current computer can't always do that...) And it needs to store a LOT of data and run large programs. So, off I go comparison shopping, Dell, Sony, Toshiba. Circuit City, Best Buy, Staples (never shop for a computer at Staples).
Back home to the Dell Outlet, Sony online, Toshiba. (Toshiba has a really great interface called the Laptop Finder to help you choose the best model for you, but each time I engage with it it selects something different. Hm.)
The purchase has been on my mind for months as my computer slows to a halt, but the options are brain numbing and my fear of making the wrong purchase has me making none at all. Then, it's time to get a TV converter box. The TV in my kitchen (keeps me company when preparing a meal or during a late night snack) does not have cable. My coupon arrived and a LIST of 49!! converter boxes that are eligible for use with the coupon. 49?! How complicated is this? Now the government in their infinite wisdom has created yet another mind boggling piece of technology that I must have in order to enjoy the company of David Letterman as I eat a late night bowl of cereal.
The issue is, what can we as information and product designers do to make things easier for consumers? How can we create simple, elegant devices? Or, how can we create simple, elegant decision trees for the overwhelmed consumer? Find out what they want/need in the device then show them the top three choices. Don't make them spend time searching forums, consumer reports, asking the neighbor and the barista what they did. Make the information gathering for the ever more complex devices as simple as possible, even if the device is not.
Once again, I thank Apple. There was 1 iPhone. Now there are 2. One is old, one is new. That's it. Let's make the best product and put it out there in an understandable way so consumers can simply purchase and use it, not get a stomach ulcer over a ridiculous box that will take my already lousy reception on a TV with a 10" screen and make it visible for years to come.