Error 37 is a UX fail and a PR Win

#Error37 is trending as a top term on twitter right now. What is that? It’s the error code for the recently released Diablo III game from Blizzard. And it’s a total UX fail. Twelve years in the making, they say, and yet they didn’t implement a waiting queue? It’s 2012 and the best they could do on their launch night was a popup dialog box with an error code? Really? Literally, millions of people stared at that dialog box over and over before just turning in to bed. I actually got past the dreaded Error 37 only to find out that there’s just another line of errors behind it. Error 3007, Error 3005, and Error 300008, for instance. In their defense, I will say that I’ve never been able to type in and be rejected by an authentication system as fast as in Diablo III. Because just like better failure experiences, performance is a key component of the user experience of software. In this case, it gives all new meaning to the phrase “fail faster”.

Error 37 Diablo

That said, you just can’t buy the kind of free publicity that Blizzard will get out of this. Well, you could but it’d be expensive. And before long, people will just remember that the game was really popular and there were long lines.

But maybe Blizzard is feeling enough heat at the present moment that they’ll implement a better ux than just an error popup dialog next time. And hopefully it’s a good lesson to all of us in the industry that predicting common failures/errors and handling them gracefully is part of what makes great experiences for customers.

PR goes to the dogs

So in moving from Microsoft to tech startup buuteeq there was a press release and some coverage in various trade journals and websites. I knew one of the Microsoft-focused journalists might pick up on it related to the fate of Silverlight which would be understandable with the Build conference happening. What I didn’t expect was this:

Leaving Microsoft

admiraltwin_redrocks.jpgToday, six years to the day that I started at Microsoft, I’m leaving. I wanted to take a moment to thank all of my friends from my time at Microsoft for the things that they’ve taught me and the assistance that they granted. I sent an internal email already but many key people are no longer at Microsoft so I’m putting this out there for those of you that left ahead of me. In fact, those who know me and know the strategic shifts Microsoft announced earlier this year shouldn’t be surprised to see me leave now. But it was actually over a year ago that I decided I was ready for the next thing. It just took me this long to figure out what that should be.
Most at Microsoft have only ever known me as a business/marketing guy but the rest of my last 20+ years have been as a developer, a product designer, and even a long run as a professional musician. (Attached is a picture of my band playing at red rocks–I’m on the left). I’ve never stopped writing and recording and I actually even considered cashing out from the corporate world and going back to my roots as a songwriter; moving to LA or Nashville. I may yet, but right now there are some opportunities in the tech startup space that were too good for me to pass up.
Starting next week, I’m going to join buuteeq as chief experience officer. This gets me back to my product design/user experience roots and throws me into the middle of the rapid innovation that is the modern startup experience. There’s a lot to do, but I’™ll be able to simply and directly impact the customers and the business. Being a startup focused on the global travel industry, it also encourages me to take my family to see the world a bit. I’ll be managing a design team in Santiago so we’ll be moving there for a few months in January. Luckily that’s summer in Chile (we’ll be thinking of you seattlites then). buuteeq also has a policy called Trotamundo where you get a personal budget for travel to exotic locations to check out the hotels there. I plan to hit my numbers on that. And of course, it will be my third time working with Forest Key, now the CEO at buuteeq. They’ve assembled a good team there and I’m looking forward to the work at hand.
Reflecting now, it feels a little as if everything I accomplished at Microsoft is sand in the desert and has been wiped clean already. It’s almost as if I was never there. It’s a great lesson on permanence. Ultimately, the lasting results are the things I learned and the relationships I made while at Microsoft. With that in mind, I want to thank all the folks I worked with over the years there again, and wish you all the best of luck in your endeavors. Special thanks to Brian Goldfarb, the Silverlight/.NET/Expression product teams, and the folks on my team (John, Pete, Chris, Chris, David, David, Mik, Tara)–if it wasn’t for the pleasure of working with you all, I wouldn’t have stayed two years too long at Microsoft. :)
My page has links to my social media and you can find my email address on my site here.

UX design for startups

I like this adaption of the Lean Startup ideas for UX design with the pivot that you should start the process with learning before building. It’s a very typical dev temptation to code first and ask questions later. A temptation worth resisting unless you like to throw away code.
I also agree that paired design can increase the quality of design–I’d say also that unless the two designers are identical clones, it will allow each to focus more on their individual strengths which is another reason the quality of output should go up.

Silverlight helps jobhunters

Found this article that says half of IT jobseekers still find work quickly. Favorite quote:

The survey found that the most in-demand skills are in software development and testing–in particular, those with experience of agile programming, Scrum methodology, and Microsoft’™s .Net, Silverlight and SharePoint tools. Business analysis and project management expertise are also proving popular.

Half of IT jobseekers still finding work quickly –

Making Technology Work For People