Chevron Pump – Product Review 2

Chevron Gas Pump

I had a product moment when I was refueling over the weekend. As is often the case with refueling, my mind was on auto-pilot. The fuel system was very good – no hitches until I had to pick the grade of fuel I wanted. My hand naturally moved towards clicking the button on the left. But, just as I was about to press it, I stopped.

“91” was written on the button. And, there seemed to be lower numbers next to it. By now, my brain was getting out of auto-pilot mode. Ah – so, Chevron had the most expensive product on the left while my natural instinct was to expect the cheapest variant on the left. I chose regular and smiled at the smart product design.

3 questions emerged –
1. Is there a real difference between the 3 variants of fuel? I tend to be skeptical of such variants and view them largely as pricing gimmicks.
2. How much more had Chevron earned due to other users who’d clicked the “Supreme” variant out of instinct?
3. Assuming users generally realized they picked the most expensive variant by mistake (and assuming people don’t normally do that), does this happen more than once? I’d imagine people are on their guard the next time they refuel.

Small changes in products can make a big difference. Companies like Facebook have run millions of experiments on which locations optimize clicks, for example. And, a big part of smart product design is understanding “auto-pilot” behavior – both to make the product intuitive as well as, in cases like this, to monetize.

 

Audible app for iOS – Product Review 1

A big part of this blog has been about learning “how to see.” I see failure as learning today. And, getting to that has been an incredible journey. I’ve wanted to learn how to “see” and understand products for a while now. So, thanks to a suggestion from a wise friend, I’m going to review interesting products and services. In looking at products and services critically, I hope to understand what makes great products/services and also develop an awareness while I use them so I can, hopefully, design great experiences myself.

My framework for reviews will be based on Jeff Weiner’s 5 attributes of a great product. Hope you enjoy these posts.


 

My first product will be Audible’s app for iOS.

Attribute #1. Delivers on a singular value proposition in a world-class way (purpose): Grade – A+
The Audible app exists to enable users to read audio books. It does that better than any other app out there. The Audible audio book library is fantastic and the app ensures easy access to it.

Attribute #2. Simple, intuitive, and anticipates needs (design): Grade – C
The app does okay on being simple and intuitive. You click it open, pick a book from “your library” and start reading. The other tabs are easy to understand.

I definitely think there still is room for improvement – for example –
– I’d like it to play and pause no matter where I touch
– I wonder if the “more” tab could do with less options
– I wish they did something useful with the badge collection
– And, I’d love for them to analyze my reading data and push insights and/or reminders to read

However, it isn’t a bad experience so I would still give it a B. But, it gets a C because it fails in anticipating my needs. Audible has great improved its app over time but its recommendation engine / “Discover” tab remains woeful. For instance, I have 91 titles and a quick scan will tell you that I read certain kinds of book on audible – always non fiction with a heavy bias to topics like psychology and technology. And, yet, the Discover tab never does anything except list out current fiction best sellers.

Attribute #3. Exceeds expectations (customer love): Grade – A+
I have contact Audible many times over the past 7 years and I’ve been well taken care of every time. And, every once a while, I’ve been blown away. They do a great job here.

Attribute #4. Emotionally resonates (feel): Grade – A+
3 words that come to mind when I think of how Audible makes me feel – learning, productive, and happy. 

Attribute #5. Changes the user’s life for the better (impact): Grade – A+
I’ve been thankful to Audible many a time over the past years. It has helped me read a lot and enabled me to learn and grow as a person. Definitely among the highest impact app that’s been an ever present on my home screen and the quick access bar.

Overall Grade – A-
The team has improved the app a lot over the years. And, I’m hoping the team keeps improving. It is a “star” product. A few changes could make it an “all star” product.

Fitbit and lifestyle

Since receiving a Fitbit as a wedding gift from a couple of close friends 2 years ago (thanks guys!), I’ve carried a Fitbit around most days. Thanks to traveling to my California, my new temporary location, without my fitbit charger, I went three weeks without wearing a Fitbit. As far as my lifestyle went, I’d been exercising as per normal. So, I assumed all was normal.

I finally managed to borrow a charger on Monday and realized within a few hours that all was actually not normal. I was barely walking a couple of thousand steps a day. I walk a lot more from home to school on normal days but, thanks to driving everywhere here, there’s barely any walking done. So, I stopped taking the elevator on Monday and have been trekking up and down our five floor building since. The step counts are getting closer to normal and I feel much happier.

I realized 3 things –

1. It is so easy to let things slip when you don’t measure them. The degradation may be gradual but it is degradation nevertheless.

2. Not walking much may seem like a small thing. But, over time, the effects of these small habits compound. Leading a healthy lifestyle, in my eyes, involves standing enough (go standing desks!), walking enough and exercising. And, the 10,000 steps on Fitbit / 8.7km / 5.4 miles is a great proxy for whether I’ve walked enough in a day.

3. I love how transformative a product can be. I know there are many fitness trackers out there these days but I associate the whole space with my Fitbit. I just want to express my gratitude to the Fitbit team for what they’ve done. To anyone on the Fitbit team who’s reading this, congratulations on your IPO – well deserved!