Feedback mechanisms that aren’t helpful

The other day I was trying to figure out how to schedule a post to appear on this blog on a future date.  I invested some time in trying to figure it out on my own, and when success eluded me I went to the trusty “Help” link.

Long story short, I was not able to find anything about this topic.  At one point I had clicked on a promising link and not found my answer, and I noticed at the bottom of the page a question: “Was this what you were looking for?”  It had two radio buttons, Yes and No, and a submit button.  Wanting to be helpful, I clicked “No” and submitted it.

I am not sure what I was expecting to happen.  I suppose in my wildest dreams some nice chat guy from India would have appeared on my screen and asked me if he could help me find the answer to my question.  At the very least I think I should have been asked to “please tell us what you were looking for, so that in the future we may improve our help system.”But none of those things happened.

Actually nothing happened.

I don’t even think I got a thank you.  But that didn’t even bother me, what bothered me was the fact that they asked me a question, the answer to which was completely useless to them.  Like… why bother?  This type of stuff only makes me LESS likely to give you feedback in the future.

I read somewhere recently that “your web site should not have any features that aren’t easily explainable in an online FAQ.”  I think it was in David Meerman Scott’s latest book (I’ll be posting more about this fabulous book later).  It’s not news really, but I like the way it’s phrased, and Juntopia [Grouvia] will follow this principle.


Productive insomnia

I have chronic insomnia.  At least once or twice a week I wake up after a few hours and can’t get back to sleep.  I often see two or more hours go by before I finally drift off again.
The thing is, I used to fight it.  But when your mind is going full speed it is almost impossible to quiet it down.  Most experts agree that you should not just lay there, you should get up and do something, or at least sit up and read.  But for me, the thought of turning on a light at 3 am is not appealing at all.  I prefer to lay in the dark with my eyes closed.  And think.

I discovered that I was able to make this work for me.  In an attempt to tire myself out, I began giving my brain something difficult to work on.  Maybe it was a problem I had at work that day, or the thought of a daunting large project coming up.  Maybe I had a fight with my husband, or had come up with a new idea that I hadn’t had time to flesh out.  Whatever it was, I latched onto it and said to myself, ok since you’re not going to sleep, let’s think about something worthwhile.  And bam!  I started solving problems, coming up with strategies for dealing with difficult situations, and working out concept maps in my head.

Usually I can remember most of what I came up with, or at least enough of it to have something to work with the next day.  Of course not every thought you have in the middle of the night when you’re sleep deprived is rational or usable, but one bad idea can lead to a good one when you think about it enough.  I also have a set of index cards and a pencil sitting on my nightstand.  If I have something really juicy and I think I might be in danger of not remember it in the morning, I grab a card and write it down (yes, in the dark).  Just a few words or phrases to jog my memory.

Then, if I can, I try to sleep a little later in the morning to make up for it.

The Amazing Disappearing Navigation Trick

Why is it that most e-commerce sites with shopping carts corner you when you get to a certain point in the checkout process?  Are they afraid you might click the wrong button and end up leaving without buying?  What benefit could it possibly have to not show the person the exit door until after they’ve forked over the cash?  Imagine yourself in a physical retail establishment where they hide the exit signs until you’ve signed your credit card receipt — how creepy would that be?

I’ve been known to abandon my shopping cart on numerous (perhaps hundreds) of occasions.  If I change my mind about my purchase, *nothing* is going to stop me from leaving.

Many times I’ve actually decided to go back and buy MORE stuff so I can get a better deal on shipping for example.  But if the navigation has disappeared, I’ve got to work that much harder.

Now, maybe I’m smarter than the average bear, but I don’t think many people are really fooled by this, nor are they discouraged from leaving without paying, if they really want to leave.

Juntopia [Grouvia] will never do this to people.  There will never ever be any feature that makes people feel cornered or lost or confused.  That is my mission.

Just keep your head down

Yesterday I went for a run after spending the day doing techy stuff like getting this blog up and running and tweaking the lame excuses I call web sites that support this project. I was getting discouraged because *everything* was taking 10 times longer than it should have and I have so much still ahead of me.

So I said screw it — I need a break. I had taken about 10 days off from running due to a nasty cold and then procrastination so I was not expecting much out of myself at any rate. About 2-1/2 miles into the run I was feeling ok and I realized something. I had my running cap on and it was pulled low and I could only see about 30 feet of the road in front of me (don’t fret I was running in my nice-safe-25mph-speed-limit-residential-neighborhood) and I looked up briefly. That brief look jolted me and I put my head down again. I did not even expect to make it the whole 3.1 miles, but I realized that if I just concentrate on the 20 feet in front of me I wouldn’t think about the fact that I still had another .6 miles to go (ugh!) and before I knew it I was at the end.

5K 37:20 blech

So, I need to do that with this project. I need to put my head down and just focus on the immediate task in front of me and not worry about the *scads* of work left to do before I can even think about going live.

Yup, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Hi there, it’s me.

I think a basic intro is in order here…

I am Lisa Pecunia, founder of Avarra Solutions, LLC.  Please don’t look at the web site, it really sucks right now.  In a nutshell, I have recently arrived at a place in my life where I am comfortable leaving childish things (like working for someone else) behind me… again.

My husband and I had this awesome idea for a web site that supports clubs and organizations.  We went looking for one last year for his bike club and couldn’t find one.  A few have popped up since then (more on that later), but the idea has stayed with me since we first threw it around.  So that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what this blog is about – the process of creating this … thing.  I don’t know if it’s a portal or a web application, or a community, or just a web site.  I think it’s a little bit of all of those things, and more.

I look forward to sharing this process with you.  I also look forward to looking at this blog a year from now and seeing how far I’ve come.

That’s all for today.  I’ll see you again in a day or so.