My Red Hot Love Affair

April 11, 2011 in Startup, Tech, Usability

This is a orphaned post I wrote a few months ago for a source that ended up not using it.

Man, it’s good to be back in Austin. I’m not completely thawed out yet, but I’m still beaming after watching two good college friends get married in Boston this weekend.

Weddings are pretty amazing things. We’re surrounded by friends and family, and love seems to be everywhere. And of course, like the sap I am, I found myself falling in love too.

With a clothing iron.

Now, feel free to chuckle (the rest of the wedding party sure did), but I’ve never been so enamored with a home appliance. As I was getting ready on the morning of the big day, nothing seemed unusual about this device that emitted a beep and a cool, blue-colored glow as soon as I plugged it in. But after a short pause, another soft beep and a hue change to green, I wondered if something might be amiss.

I propped up the iron and took a step back. Am I doing something wrong here? Had I deviated from my tried and true Ironing Playbook™?

– Plug in iron. Check.
– Crank the dial all the way up. Check.
– Start ironing immediately. Check.
– Singe shirt. Check.
– Quickly spin the dial way down. Check.
– Realize I went too far and crank it back up. Check.
– Get frustrated that it’s 2011 and I STILL don’t have a flying car or a robot to iron for me. Check.

Seemingly sensing my apprehension, the iron beeped softly once more and turned a rosy red. It was only then that I noticed the colored dots on the temperature dial. Subtly, and elegantly, this device had obliterated years of pent-up frustration with ironing, with a small light that simply told me how hot it was.

The lament I hear most often from budding entrepreneurs is that “I want to go out on my own and start something, but I just don’t know what to build.” Sadly, most follow the crowd and try to catch a ride on the hot wave at the moment, but my advice is always the same: Find a pain point and remove it. Figure out what annoys you, your friends, and your family every day, and create a novel way to eliminate it.

The very best products remove that pain and make us mini-superheroes. Whether it’s my personal goal of turning fans into Super Fans that are never the loser at the watercooler that missed the big game, or you’re the product designer that transformed me into an Ironing Ninja creating shirt creases so sharp I need a concealed weapon permit, your goal should be to make customers better at what they do every day.

Build a product or service that’s able to do that, and you just might see me walking it down
the aisle.

2 Comments to My Red Hot Love Affair

  1. Mark, I am giving you a standing ovation. SERIOUSLY. I’ve often had entrepreneurs tell me that user research is of no value to them, because their big, innovative idea is something way too creative for the end user to have thought of. My response lines up directly with yours – we don’t research to get the answers (that’s the magical design process which, contrary to popular belief, is a key component of UCD!) Rather, we research to understand the problems. Because if we don’t understand the problems, our solutions are worthless. LOVE IT.

  2. Erin Young on 11 April 2011
  3. Thanks much, you. Hope you had a great birthday…

  4. Mark Phillip on 11 April 2011

Leave a comment