An Exercise in Frustration Online

When I'm not writing this blog, I spend a lot of my time at work. For a living, I manage digital products, specifically web applications, for a well-known and respected brand. And, if I'm being honest, I've been using and making for the web for the better part of half of my existence on this earth! All of this is to say, I know a thing or two when it comes to what works, and what doesn't.

I'd like to share a story about an experience that didn't work so well for me and how I'd recommend fixing it.

Ever since I moved, I've been thinking about switching up my gym routine. The other day, I was scrolling through Instagram (as one does) and saw something about Rise By We. Based on the post, it looked like they had a boxing or kickboxing program which I'd be really into since I've been doing Muay Thai for years now. Intrigued and because they mentioned something about a free intro class, I clicked on the link from my phone to arrive at RiseByWe.com.

The homepage set an odd tone. The "Refer a Friend" button is more prominent than I'd expect — it blocks the marketing copy that someone went to great efforts to write. Meanwhile, that copy is changing at an interval (in the screenshot below, the blue words are constantly changing so as I'm trying to make sense of what's behind that button, it goes away.

Refer a Friend? But I don't even know if I actually like you yet!
Refer a Friend? But I don't even know if I actually like you yet!

I can get around this, it's just some marketing, but I'm curious — where is this place? In essence, realistically, does this gym work with my getting to work/home routines? I decide to check out the navigation menu (the delectably named "hamburger" menu for all you insiders) to see where it's located. Continue reading "An Exercise in Frustration Online"

Houzz: Mobile isn't always Better

Now that we have a house, I feel like I can finally utilize all the core competencies I've been building watching approximately a bajillion hours of HGTV. Of course, on TV every contractor is lithe, attractive and looking out for your best interest. In reality, it's more like you are lucky if they aren't weird and/or shafting you.

Hearing about so many horror stories, I was really happy to discover apps that can help with sourcing and vetting vendors. One of those is Houzz, but their mobile app leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, I believe some features are buried and perhaps it's because the organization is not ready to invest in their success. Continue reading "Houzz: Mobile isn't always Better"

Another Perspective on Stuff You Fill Out

I was scrolling through Twitter today when a Tweet by someone I don't follow about a topic I'm privileged not to be intimately familiar with happened to catch my eye:

I say I'm privileged because, while I joke about being blind because I've been wearing glasses since 2nd grade, I'm not actually impaired. I've never had to experience this wild and wonderful thing we call the internet without the gift of sight. And, throughout my career as a web developer, accessibility was often an after-thought.

Continue reading "Another Perspective on Stuff You Fill Out"

Dark Patterns

Sometimes things happen and they are just coincidence and sometimes things happen, especially on the internet, and someone explicitly went out of their way to make that happen. You may find this when you are casually browsing a retail site for a pair of shoes and then, through the magic of something called "retargeting," you keep seeing advertisements for that same pair of shoes. At this point, we all see this coming so it doesn't come as a surprise.

Everyone is tracking us everywhere — and sometimes we willingly let them track us by volunteering information about ourselves (i.e. what we all do on Facebook day in and day out). This is okay as long as everyone's complicit; when the product you are using is free, YOU are the product (the selling of information about you to target selling you stuff, in essence).

What I find far more disturbing is a trend toward dark patterns that I'm seeing in the design of products. I define a dark pattern as a product that takes you somewhere that you as a user don't want to go. It's intentionally leading you to something you may not want — usually the end game is to lead you to something that is profitable for the product but not so great for the consumer.

Dark Bouquet by Jen Gallardo
Dark Bouquet by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "Dark Patterns"

In the Eye of a Hurricane

In case you've been living under a rock, there was a massive hurricane that impacted the Gulf Coast (Hurricane Harvey) and now another even bigger storm heading toward southern Florida (Hurricane Irma). I've now gotten to the point where I've typed the word hurricane too many times; so much so that I'm starting to doubt that I'm spelling it correctly.

I knew some people in Harvey's path but most of my family could potentially be in Irma's path so it's more top of mind for me. I haven't yet turned on the (cable) news because I have a feeling it's going to be devastation porn so, in order to get a sense of where this storm is going, I've been looking at my Weather Underground app (which I love) that has a hurricane tracker and also googling a bit for pieces of information here and there.

And this is where technology gets a little weird. Continue reading "In the Eye of a Hurricane"

Subways and Countdown Clocks

In a world where you might be stuck underground waiting for a subway train, a digital screen that can tell you when the next train is coming can be a godsend. If you live in a city with a modern train system, you are probably used to screens that announce train arrivals and don't think anything of it. In New York, this is novel like a great white buffalo.

Well, it depends what train line you are on. And, for me, it's not great. I take the A train and the train is often crowded or delayed; and when it is delayed, there's usually not a "countdown" clock in sight.

Continue reading "Subways and Countdown Clocks"

The importance of feedback in user experiences

I wrote this piece on Medium first about my work as a Product Manager:

I work in a large room that’s offset from a larger and more public area. The room is locked, so that only people who work for my company can enter as long as they have an ID badge with the appropriate permissions assigned. There are two doors through which one can enter the room. These doors can be opened by anyone from the inside of the room, but you must first push a red button adjacent to the door.

Buzzers
Buzz Me by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "The importance of feedback in user experiences"

Finding a Home

Finding a home is probably now one of my new-found least-favorite activities. I think it ranks up there with cleaning floors and doing laundry, which are some of my least favorite chores. I should probably clarify; finding a home that is within the realm of what I want to pay, doesn't increase my already hour-long commute and has laundry within the unit is a huge chore. Continue reading "Finding a Home"

Whatever happened to digital photo albums?

Anthony and I were in Montreal over the weekend. We had a blast and, unsurprisingly, spent a lot of time eating. During one of those moments, we happened to be in the Old Montreal area at a restaurant called Le Robin Square enjoying a leisurely lunch. We had VERY leisurely lunches. While the service at all the restaurants we visited was great, we noticed there's a bit of a slower pace of life in Montreal — especially when it comes to dining — that is pretty much unheard of in New York. Not a bad thing but just different!

This poutine did not stand a chance!
This poutine did not stand a chance!

While we were there for lunch, we happened to notice the restaurant had a TV screen with some digital ambiance playing on it. This consisted of a stock video of a vineyard and you could see the leaves gently swaying in the wind. This got me thinking about the idea of the "digital picture frame."

Remember when that was a thing? Continue reading "Whatever happened to digital photo albums?"

Luxury User Experiences: Chanel

If you know me, you know that I'm mildly obsessed with nail polish. I have a large box in my dresser containing various colors and styles – as well as nail art tools. Selecting a polish to wear can sometimes be really difficult (seriously, it's like choosing among children!) so I'll ask my dear husband to weigh in. Most recently, he selected one of my all-time favorite polishes, Essie's Chinchilly.

Chances are you are not like me and know the names of all your favorite nail polishes. However, Chinchilly is a legend so you've probably seen it without knowing you were looking for it. I've had women in the elevator stop me and ask me if the color they are admiring on my fingers is Chinchilly. It's a seriously "greige" color; a bit of neutral and grey and even lavender depending on the light.

Essie Chinchilly on a chilly day
Essie Chinchilly on a chilly day

When I decided to begin painting my nails with my bottle of Chinchilly, I discovered a dire situation — the bottle was past its prime and beyond repair. I have some nail polishes that get a bit gloopy (really thick and barely manageable because they are probably actually expired…) but they are still somewhat useable so I keep them around. But this time, most of the bottle had been used and what was left over was the nail polish equivalent of backwash.

I considered instantly re-buying it on Amazon but I held off because I thought that might be a bit excessive (and dear husband would've surely made fun of me!). Instead I bought a new bottle later at Rite-Aid. But that's not the point. The point is I thought about the experience of re-buying something that you absolutely love. Continue reading "Luxury User Experiences: Chanel"