I’m so excited to talk about the brand new native experience we delivered to our LandmarkShops customers in India. And even so because it sports Google’s latest visual language — Material Design! Read on at our official Medium blog.
We’re thrilled to tell you that we’ve just launched a shiny new app for LandmarkShops India, using Google’s latest visual language - Material Design and I’d love to tell you more about it! Game of phones Earlier this month, IDC confirmed that Android’s dominance of the global smartphone market is expected to grow further, from 81% to 84% in 2016.
As part of the Landmark Group’s Web Team and my Product Management portfolio includes leading digital engagement channels for Shukran – web, mobile, in-store engagement – and mobile apps for LandmarkShops in UAE & India. More on LinkedIn
Aditi had done her bit of making our wedding cool by getting me to do a pre-wed photo shoot – that turned out awesome thanks to Frames of Mind. It was my turn and I had to prove to the lady (who had agreed to risk her life with me) that as a Product Manager I was creative enough, and thought of surprising her with our own “wedsite”. When the question of build-or-buy came up, I couldn’t find anything that matched my needs and the flexibility I needed to fiddle with it. So without much thought, I created a sub-domain, grabbed a copy of Bootstrap and got glued to NetBeans. I released the first cut online in less than 8 hours of work, and improved it over the next couple of weeks part-time (24 hours in all I guess). And yes, it really cost me $0, because I had already purchased hosting space and the prasadgupte.com domain.
In the last couple of years that I’ve owned an Anrdoid, I’ve tried everything from ColorNotes to Any.Do to store small bits of information. Trivial stuff such as
daily medicine dosage
recipe of my favorite sub (which my wife needs me to text every time)
frequent flyer / loyalty membership numbers
utility / bank account numbers, etc.
Such information that needs to be handy is usually lost under complex navigation menus. I’ve seen folks saving this information as draft messages (SMS) or even using memos which does not allow tags & full-text search. And that’s precisely the problem I tried to solve with Bitstore.
Google Reader had been a close buddy for quite a while, after Chitresh Jain got me addicted to a bunch of feeds, most importantly FMyLife 🙂 And then comes the sad shut down news that creates a lot of rant all over the web. After trying a few alternatives immediately, I was hopeful (and sure) that this would tickle opportunists and deliver a much better RSS reader. The threat of data lock-out that Google users were anticipating after the announcement was more than relieved with Google TakeOut and their commitment to Data Liberation (FYI, this was #6 on my list of the top 7 non-functional requirements for web-based products). And I am huge fan of the Google PR team. They made good sound great, and bad sound hopeful. And they’re so unbiased, they even delegated listing out the best alternative to end users itself.
Early July, Google Reader finally went down – RIP Reader – and I was exposed to Feedspot through Anuj Agarwal‘s bio on Quora. I had some troubles importing my subscriptions directly from Reader, but that looked like a problem at the Google end. It gulped the Reader TakeOut export without a hitch.
Every Product Manager is a ninja when it comes to dealing with functional requirements. But it doesn’t end there in the B2B space. You may not be a technical product manager, but you still need to understand and address some non-functional requirements without which your product isn’t ready to sell – especially if its transactional in nature, holds sensitive data or requires integration with the client’s IT eco-system. By ‘address’, I don’t mean you need to plan these as features or get involved in the R&D – it’s just about getting answers to what has been done in this regard.
What makes non-functional requirements so important?
Good question! If your product touches any of the 3 aspects mentioned above, the client’s decision to buy the product is incomplete without involvement of the IT team. You might have the CXO’s approval, but even if a single IT executive deems your product unfit for the IT security standards the client is committed to – the sale is likely to fold. You need to make a compelling offer, not just to the functional decision makers, but also to these non-functional evaluators whose buying is equally important. And there is a fair reason to it. Imagine, if you’ve worked hard to keep a floor clean, and someone wants to walk in with their own shoes – no matter how clean they claim to be, would you let them in? IT doesn’t want to risk their network either. I really don’t see this coming in the way of B2C sales – a LinkedIn premium membership or even Online Banking for that matter.
What needs to be taken care of?
Here at at-least 7 areas for which you will need clear answers.
Software requirements: With SaaS, customers have fallen in love with apps that railed on web browsers. But IT remains unsatisfied with the ‘my app runs in a browser’ response. They need to understand whether it runs ‘best’ on a particular browser or a specific version. As a product manager, you need to know the share of each browser version and build support accordingly. Dependency on components (e.g. FLASH) can cause the deal to hit a road-block.
Data Security: Customers always question the security of their data while using hosted services. And this becomes all the more critical when you’re selling a multi-tenant application. If you’re able to help them get over the SaaS phobia, the next questions could be around data security & access control, data center certifications, third-party quality assurance reports, etc. Apart from this, customers solicit information about user authentication and authorization capabilities, user management from the application console and integration with existing user management solutions like LDAP. Don’t be surprised if a client demands a sandbox for a hands-on verification.
Following, appreciating & criticizing change is so important in this fast moving world. Changes, especially those to internet products, is what Product managers should be keen about. One should spend time understanding 3 aspects about any product: changes, what’s good & what’s not. When it comes to internet banking, there are a ton of players out there and I know that you can’t get a sneak peak into all. And looking over the shoulder when someone’s using Net Banking is criminal. But you can always ask your friends for a tour of internet banking account (what are friends for?) with greater focus on features & design, and lesser on the numbers $$$!
Anyway, the point is that I’ve had the chance to look at quite a few online banking portals, of which AXIS stood out and had something to be written about. Somewhere around Diwali last year, AXIS Bank introduced a great new feature called NetSecure that ties your account to a computer via a special password (over and above your login & transaction passwords) which has remained unmatched. In December, they revamped their internet banking website which was otherwise constant since the UTI Bank era (Until mid 2007 AXIS Bank was called UTI or Unit Trust of India Bank). Trust me, when compared to a host of competitors (see below), this portal is a unique blend of style & a de-cluttered interface; an overall WIN in terms of the features, usability & design. Here’s what I loved, with some suggestions at the bottom.
1. A clean header that is in line with the branding (unlike the ICICI website that can be confused with the RSS portal). Another bank with excellent, consistent branding is Saraswat Bank: pleasant colors that looks great everywhere: from leaflets to hoardings to their website.
As is evident from several posts on my blog, I am a total food freak! I am also a regular burrper. I have written several valuable reviews at Burrp and also received written appreciation from Burrp. A couple of months back I was thinking of copying food review from Burrp to my blog. Since that was going to be tedious, I went looking for a RSS feed from Burrp. It was sad they don’t offer it, but I wrote them my feedback. Now I was left with no option but to think out of the box!
And then the Web 2.0 enthusiast in me came to life! I had been using a service called Feed43 to process several feeds and remembered that it allows creating a feed out of any page on the internet. I checked the HTML source code of my Burrp profile page to find that reviews were quite structured in terms of markup. So why not let Feed43 read out the page and create a feed for my reviews? This way I won’t have to copy anything manually. Moreover, whenever I post a review to Burrp, it will be available on my blog in less than 6 hours (that’s the refresh rate for free feeds at Feed43) Continue reading Get updates from any web page via a Feed43 RSS feed→
Off-late, I have had too much social presence on the internet. How do I manage it? Ping.fm! This service lets you pre-configure & then simultaneously update multiple social media sites by pinging Ping.fm which can be done via email, SMS (to a UK number – noooooh!) or a Jabber/Gtalkbot. Now that’s enough for the aam zindagi, but when you live the mentos (or should I say prasadgupte) zindagi, you might just want some processing to be done before you post to multiple services. That’s where TarPipe kicks-in! Here is a short tutorial.
Tarpipe lets you build custom workflows through an intuitive UI (like Yahoo pipes) to control how, where, and what part of your data is to be published. In my example, I’m creating a workflow to upload a photo to Facebook via email and then post its URL to Twitter & FriendFeed. I avoided using a URL shortening service to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
I first drag a Email Decoder connector onto the canvas, and then Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed. Note that bubble on the left side of a connector indicates ‘input’ & the one on the right side indicates ‘output’.
So when I connect the Mail Attachment bubble to the Photo in Facebook, it means that the attachment (a photo) will act as input to Facebook. On similar lines, the message body acts as the caption for the photo. The URL for the photo, generated by Facebook, will be available as output which I will use as a link in Twitter. The photo-thumbnail goes to Friendfeed along with the title & link. The title in either case comes directly from the email. Continue reading Tarpipe workflows for publishing updates to multiple social media sites→
Last week I stumbled upon this amazing service called Google Transliteration that can be accessed through a bookmarklet (jargon explained at the bottom). You can use this to type in one of the Indic languages in any text input box on the internet! (whether it really gets saved depends on the website 🙂 ) Language currently supported: Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu & Urdu.
After reading this post, one my valued readers questioned the utility of this service! And this is what I wrote back:
Few years back acquiring Indic fonts, and learning to use Indic keyboard layout was a challenge. Google eased that with a web service which takes away reluctance to reply in local languages.
With such a service, an application developer need not provide for transliteration as a feature (its a feature in Gmail). Creating a database with double-byte storage is enough to record input in any language.
Also, Transliteration can help people understand how words are pronounced when they are familiar with a different script. However, this may not work when the same word is spelled in multiple ways. eg. Mohammed [Read more]
With CJV languages, transliteration will often yield only an approximate result.