PulseUX Blog

Theory, Analysis and Reviews on UX User Experience Research and Design

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Why Cisco flipped over the Flip Video Cam (and paid $590 million for a small dose of simplicity)


What is simplicity worth; to Cisco Systems apparently quite a lot.  One can visualize the PowerPoint deck from Cisco’s investment banking group showing how acquisition of Pure Digital Media (maker of the Flip Video Camera) would: A) be a potentially decent financial investment and B) would imbue Cisco, a company whose products are arguably among the worst in terms of usability on the planet, with a much needed dose of positive brand equity. Recently, Cisco has apparently gotten religion around the idea of usability and user experience design, first by hiring a team of “user experience architects” and now through the acquisition of a product whose main feature list consists of basically one word, “Simplicity”. This comes as no surprise to anyone who tracks technology adoption trends. It has been known for some time that IT products overall are being driven toward less complex set up, use, and maintenance interaction sequences. This trend is known to impact products in all segments ranging from consumer applications to serious commercial IT offerings. Continue Reading…

What US Airways Flight 1549’s ditching in the Hudson River teaches companies about how to create world-class user interface design solutions

When tasked with creating compelling and empowering user interfaces for new high technology products and services, companies can learn more from the struggling airline industry than from Google or even Apple. The fact is, there is scant reliable data available on how to actually create compelling user interface solutions that are based on demonstrated real-world solution excellence. For sure there have been hundreds of books written on the topic and as many seminars are sold each year. However, when one looks deeply at this literature there is almost nothing that is based on proven and repeatable conceptual frameworks drawn from commercial success. This is a major problem for companies that now have the need, desire and technology to create products and related interfaces with high levels of automation and massive feature sets. Where then can companies turn for reliable insights into the design of compelling and empowering user interfaces in the future? The answer is not what you might assume…one of the best places to look is the struggling commercial airline industry.

 Photo by Greg L. available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license.

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Why the music industry doesn’t have a prayer against iTunes

It is a fact that the music industry is flat on the mat. CD Sales have been in near free fall for the last 4-5 years. Exactly why this is happening is the subject of a good bit of back and forth by industry pundits, music executives and a raging herd of music industry lawyers. From media accounts one would think that this massive decline in sales (translate revenue) started with Napster and has reached a perigee with iTunes….ah, yes iTunes. To hear a typical music industry executive talk about iTunes is to understand the true definition of the “Death Star”.

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How new theories in human information processing explain the meltdown on Wall Street

Response to The New York Times article on Wall Street Risk by Joe Nocera (1/4/2009)

In The New York Times Sunday Magazine section Joe Nocera produced a column that was important, well researched and insightful on how computer-based decision tools (VaR models) led Wall Street down the path to near ruin. However, Mr. Nocera missed an important, deeper point that is impacting critical analysis of what actually happened on Wall Street that allowed these seemingly intelligent executives to continue to pile on massive levels of risk long after they should have known better.

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How the SUV User Experience Trashed Detroit

What do the SUV and the iPhone have in common?

Here is an interesting question: what was the single most profitable factory in the history of modern mass production? Would you be surprised to know that it was an outdated Ford Truck Plant in Wayne Michigan?  Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker said, “In 1998, the Michigan Truck Plant grossed eleven billion dollars, almost as much as McDonald’s made that year. Profits were $3.7 billion. Some factory workers, with overtime, were making two hundred thousand dollars a year.” How is this possible given the vast efficiency of the world’s production facilities ranging from Berlin to Bangkok? It was possible because what was produced there was a product so outdated and low cost yet so overpriced and in such demand that it drove the entire American automobile industry to staggering levels of profitability. Starting in 1996, the Wayne Michigan Truck Plant produced the Ford Expedition SUV…the vehicle that some have said started it all…the SUV generation. As it turns out on July 22nd, 2008 Ford announced that it was converting the Wayne Truck Plant to production of the Ford Focus, a sub-compact design. When the last Expedition rolled off the assembly line, so went the SUV, and for the most part the American automobile industry. Here is our take on what went wrong and why, surprisingly, the SUV is important to corporations large and small that are focused on developing powerful and robust user experiences. Continue Reading…

How Obama whacked McCain on the web and why it is important

The 2008 presidential campaign was dominated by four powerful women—Hillary, Sarah, Michelle, and Amy. You probably don’t recall Amy. However, Amy was at the center of how the Obama campaign created the most engaging and powerful web experience, not only in political history but possibly in web history. This was a user experience that so overwhelmed the McCain camp as to make one wonder if McCain actually knew the web existed. In brief, here is Amy’s story and how she expanded our understanding that Web 2.0 user experience design is more science than art and more MTV than CNN. Continue Reading…