Design Success Ladder: Meaningful Products

Via design.org: The UX Design Success Ladder: Achieving Meaningful Product Design.

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Product success envisioned as rungs of a ladder, that you climb up from the bottom: functional, usable, comfortable, delightful, meaningful.

I first heard this concept last year at WordCamp Phoenix in a presentation by Ward Andrews; the article showcase examples of products or services at each level.

Takeaway message: don’t stop at functional and usable. Set the bar higher.

Family Scrapbook and Rolomeal

This isn’t my typical post on business, web design, or technology. Instead, I decided to put two of my product ideas up for cool web applications that I’ve been tossing around for a few months. I might pursue them someday, but I thought, “Why not share these in case someone else can take them and run with them?”

Family Scrapbook

View and share your family stories, photos, and memories.

This product would tie in photos, stories, and events to create a virtual scrapbook. Think of a private version of Facebook where only your family is involved. Ideally it would be web-based so that sharing and managing the data could happen at any time from various locations.

The application would include historical pages that have scrapbook-like collections of photos and stories. To improve from the typical photo gallery where you simply view photos, Family Scrapbook would focus on a design where the photos and stories could be visually linked, just like a real scrapbook.

As a bonus, the Family Scrapbook could tie into a third-party family tree software to include (or pre-populate) important names, dates, and events. As a result the bulk of the family history would be quickly started and you could concentrate on filling in the details.

This idea came about after I tried to set something up with Flickr to get my family to share photos. My wife took on the task of digitizing and organizing all the family’s photos, and she needed help with dates and identifying certain people. After we started the project we realized that we also wanted to record the stories, memories, and special connections that the pictures represented to family members.

To get the project going we set up my family with Flickr accounts, scanned and uploaded a ton of photos, and sent everyone instructions on how to participate. We received comments that helped with organization and identification, but the sharing and memories part of it never got of the ground as an online project. The encouragement to write a story, upload photos and mementos, and tie in the entire family history just wasn’t there with the Flickr setup.

With something like Family Scrapbook, however, I think it could make this activity be fun and rewarding for the people who put effort into it. It would bring families together—especially if they live long distances from each other—while creating a visually engaging archive of the family history.

Rolomeal

Keep track of your meals.

This product seeks to answer two questions: “What should I have for dinner” and “What did I have for dinner?” It would include two basic items: (1) a meal index and (2) a recipe index.

The purpose of the meal index portion is to be able to easily track the food you eat1. You would enter details for each meal: date, title and brief description, link to recipe(s), and list of needed ingredients. Then you’d use the application to browse your meal history and get ideas for what to make again, or as a historical reporting tool to help you remember details of previous meals.

A key feature is the simple input for new entries; for example, you’d want to allow just the bare minimum of a title like “Macaroni and Cheese” without all the rest. If the entry is too complicated the product won’t be used much, I’d imagine… You could also have different settings for restaurant meals versus meals eaten at home.

The recipe area would go along with the meal index, both as a reference and as a starting point for inspiration. It could be built into the same product or accept recipes from other existing desktop or web applications. The recipes would be attached to meals so that when you are inspired by a meal (as seen while browsing your history) you could quickly find the recipe and ingredients needed to make it.

This product could be expanded to a social application in order to share ideas for meals (via a Facebook app, e.g.). Things like “See what your friends are having for dinner” or “View the top-rated meals including chicken in your community/group” come to mind. As a web application this type of sharing would be easier than with a traditional desktop program.

The idea for this application first came to me one night when—like we do often—my wife and I discussed what we should have for dinner. “When did we last have Beef Stroganoff?” “Have we had chicken yet this week?” These questions would be easy to answer with Rolomeal.

Bonus features: allow people to request random entries from the meal index for quick inspiration, similar to the “I’m feeling lucky” button on Google. You could have this “Surprise me!” feature for recipes, too. You might also track statistics to see your eating habits. But, I see it as being geared towards an inspirational meal idea tool rather than a nutritional or weight-loss tool.

Other possible names: MealDex or ChowDex.

There’s an app for that!

If anyone knows of existing web applications that already are similar in purpose, please leave a comment below with the details.

1 In discussing this idea today with my wife, she reminded me that what she really wanted is a way to see if she’s made her favorite meals recently. She wouldn’t want to keep track of all meals, just the memorable ones. When it comes time to decide on a meal, she could then see all the favorites and pick one that hasn’t been made in a while.