Guest article

sample Take your software developers to Neiman Marcus Café for lunch. Here’s why:

The Neiman Marcus store has incredible attention to detail. Everything from the shiny waxed tile floor, to the lighting, to the art on the walls, to the display cases and the merchandise in the display cases is first class. When you walk into the Neiman Marcus Café everything is immaculate and color coordinated: place mats, white cloth napkins with silver rings, silverware, glasses, plates, saucers, table cloths, mirrors, windows, chairs, booths etc. When food is served it feels more like food is being presented for your pleasure. Every 15 minutes a tall beautiful model comes around to each table wearing a fabulous outfit you can buy in the store right now.

sample When you clean up in the restroom after lunch everything is clean, the bathroom stalls have slatted wood paneled doors with vacant and occupied signs, the mirrors near the door are full length and perfectly clean, the granite counter tops and tile work is gorgeous.

sample I was thinking as I left the café to return to my car, this is the kind of experience customers should have with software. This is the kind of attention to detail, design, color, function, user interface and service great software shops should strive for. If we designed software like Neiman Marcus designs their stores and cafés, customers would be delighted every time they use our product. So go have lunch at Neiman Marcus Café, look around and learn what a great user experience should be like.

This month's tip

I have a few clients who are extremely dependent on email to the point where if they don't answer an email within a few hours it could mean losing a casting call or audition. For these clients no amount of email downtime is tolerable, yet they cannot afford to pay for a system that delivers 99.999% uptime, so we came up with a clever compromise for their situation.

Each email these clients receive is also setup to CC to one or more 3rd party email systems such as Yahoo or Hotmail. If the primary email access on their private domain ever goes down for a few hours, they have a backup of every incoming email on one or more 3rd party email sites they can use until the primary email access comes back up again. Of course they have to remember to clean up the email in those 3rd party accounts.