Monthly Archives: August 2008

User-test everything… even ATM machines

untitledThis morning I hit my local drive-through ATM for weekend cash. 

The annoying thing about this ATM: I need to open my door to use the machine.  My car window window isn’t quite right to see the ATM screen and use the buttons – it’s a bit too high and for some reason the machine is not adjustable for short cars like mine.  Plus, they inserted 2 poles to prevent us from driving into the machine in the event we make a sudden 90 degree left turn while at the machine (has that happened?).  Bottom line: if you are in a short car, and have short arms, you can not possibly reach the machine. 

Today there was someone in front of me getting cash.  It was an SUV, and SHE had to open HER door to use the machine!  It wasn’t an over sized SUV,it was a Landcruiser.

That really validated the time my team is spending getting user feedback on SmartZip.com.  Diverse feedback.  Feedback from “Super Users” and “Not-so Super Users”, younger, mature men and women.  While it can be challenging, as everyone’s instinct is to art direct, it’s well worth it.

I doubt the lack of user testing/feedback has hurt business for the ATM machine.  After all, those of us that won’t exit the car and walk 15 feet to the other ATM will put up with the inconvenience of opening our door to use the machine.   But, at least I know people will be able to use SmartZip.com without opening their car doors!

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“These are the GOOD times” (that’s what I keep telling my team)

smartzip_final3 

Bootstrapping. 

I don’t think that term for growing a start-up really encompasses all the blood, sweat and tears, nor does it reflect the passion, fun and relationships forged from marching toward a single goal.

Late last year, our CEO had a vision (as most entreprenuers do) to build a killer online version of our brick/mortar company in our niche of the real estate industry (real estate investing).  He’s brilliant.  It’s timely, relevant to the current swirl in the real estate industry and because of one specific KILLER app will be game-changing.  We all beleive it.  Bringing it to life has become our only focus.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to be a part of something from conception to launch, and you are a person that thrives in challenge, I hope you will try it at least once. 

WE ARE COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS TO OUR OCTOBER 15TH <— delayed … fingers crossed for a Feb 09 ALPHA LAUNCH (gulp).

In truth, I can’t wait.  I work best under pressure.  I will get the launch plan done, content developed GUI tested and spread the word – and my personal goal is to have a life while doing it.  Not always easy when you’re in the office 6 days, 12+ hours per…. but as I tell my team when they are feeling the pressure …. “one day we will look back and say ‘these are the good times'”.